George A. Papandreou

A visionary of our times, George A. Papandreou has worked tirelessly in the pursuit of Democracy, Peace, Equality and Freedom in a lifetime of action in global and domestic politics.

The Statesman 

George A. Papandreou served as Greece’s Prime Minister during the outbreak of the Greek financial crisis, preventing his country’s bankruptcy, whilst applying a series of structural reforms for modernising his country. In 2010 he was awarded Germany’s Quadriga Award in the category “Power of Veracity”, for his achievements related to government transparency. For his efforts to reform Greece he was named one of the Foreign Policy magazine’s TOP 100 Global Thinkers in 2010. 

The Global Politician 

Currently he is the President of the Socialist International, the largest global political family. The SI brings together 153 social democratic, socialist and labour parties from all continents. 53 member parties of the SI are in government and many others represent the main opposition in national assemblies throughout the world. The SI has a consultative status – Category I – with the United Nations and works with numerous international organizations. Its thematic and geographic Committees deepen, broaden and promote focused initiatives in global policies, balancing and highlighting the input of hundreds of different national experiences. 

The Innovator

An active supporter of the information society and e-democracy, in 2003 Papandreou was selected as one of the “25 People Who are Changing the World of Internet Politics”. As PM, he established the “opengov” web presence for the first time in Greece, with programs calling for:

– compulsory web publication and public consultation of every proposed new law prior to legislation by Parliament

– compulsory web publication of all state decrees, as condition to implication

– compulsory web announcement of all higher government job openings, applications and hiring through a transparent process

– compulsory web publication of all election expenses by political parties.

The Peace Builder 

As Minister of Foreign Affairs and Prime Minister of Greece, George Papandreou pursued and initiated action to establish common ground between different countries in the Eastern Mediterranean region and the Balkans. 

In 1997, as Foreign Minister, George Papandreou in collaboration with his Turkish counterpart, the late Ismail Cem, achieved a breakthrough in Greek – Turkish relations, initiating a gradual rapprochement following the Imia crisis that brought the two countries almost at the edge of a war. 

In 2000 he was widely praised for his diplomatic bridge building and received the East-West Institute  Peace Building Award, jointly with Ismail Cem, for their unprecedented efforts that improved relations between their formerly rival countries. He also played a key role in the negotiations that led to Turkey’s EU candidacy in 1999 and Cyprus’s entry into the European Union in May 2004.

In 2015, wishing to inspire a new generation of peace builders and honor personalities and organizations contributing to conflict management and stability in the broader region he established with Ismail Cem’s family, the Papandreou-Cem International Peace Award.

Following his systematic efforts, in 2003, the European Council adopted the “Thessaloniki Agenda for the Western Balkans: Moving towards European Integration” which represented a major step in the privileged relation between Eastern European countries and the EU. 

Since the beginning of the nineties, George Papandreou promoted the  revival of the Ancient Greek tradition of the Olympic Truce. A tradition that dates back to 776 BC. In 1996, the resolution of the 50th session of the UN General Assembly supports the idea of building a peaceful and better world through sport and the Olympic ideal and invites all member states to uphold the Olympic Truce during the games.

Three years later, the International Olympic Committee, announced the Establishment of the Olympic Truce Foundation and the Olympic Truce Center, where George Papandreou serves as Vice Chairperson. 

The Educator 

As a Member of Parliament (1981-2015), he served in several government posts, as undersecretary of Culture, then as  Minister of Education, before becoming Foreign Minister from 1999-2004. 

As Minister of Education, he founded the Greek Open University, which allowed for all to participate in distance studies for university degrees, he established multi-cultural schools, and instituted a minimum quota for students in Greek universities who were members of the Muslim community in Greece.

The Party leader 

George Papandreou was leader of PASOK (Panhellenic Socialist Movement), from 2004 until 2012. During his tenure he  changed the party by initiating – for the first time in European politics – primaries for the election of the party leader, implementing innovative methods of democratic participation of the grassroots in shaping policies, spreading the use of new technologies, promoting educational programs and leadership training seminars for party members and elected cadres. 

In January 2015, Papandreou, underlining the need for a groundbreaking change of the Greek political system, created a new party the Movement of Democratic Socialists. 

At the beginning of 2017, the Movement of Democratic Socialists decided to collaborate with PASOK, DIMAR and a number of civil society movements in the ”Democratic Alignment.”.

The Thinker 

Inspired by the Ancient Greek “symposium” tradition, in 1998, he convened the Symi Symposium. an annual gathering bringing together thinkers and decision makers from different backgrounds and origins to debate on the most important topics of the international agenda, aspiring to generate new ideas. Taking place in a different locale in Greece every year, the International Annual Symi Symposium, through creative combinations of people and topics, provides participants the possibility to think out of the box in a very informal atmosphere. 

Papandreou is at the forefront of the discussion on contemporary forms of populism, authoritarianism  and xenophobia, Named as one of Foreign Policy magazine’s “Top 100 Global Thinkers”, he is involved in different think tanks and groups debating  on the future of the European Union,  the refugee crisis, global security and shifts in geopolitical alliances.

Education

Graduated from Amherst College, with a graduate degree in Sociology and Development from London School of Economics (MsC). He was a fellow at Harvard University’s Center for International Affairs (1992-1993) and a fellow at the Institute of Politics (2012). In 2013, he served as a Global Fellow and Adjunct Professor at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs as well as a faculty member in the Master of Public Affairs program at Sciences Po in Paris. He speaks Greek, English and Swedish.

Recent – current international activity

  • President of Socialist International

  • Founder & Vice-Chairperson of the International Olympic Truce Foundation

  • Council Member of the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR)

  • Founding Member and Commissioner of the Global Commission on Drug Policy (GCDP)

  • Member of the Board of Directors of of Mercy Corps

  • Member of the World Refugee Council

  • Member of the Club de Madrid

  • Member of the Aspen Ministers Forum