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Dimitrios Gounaris

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Dimitrios Gounaris


Dimitrios Gounaris (Greek: Δημήτριος Γούναρης; Patras, 5 January 1867 – Athens, 15 November 1922) was the Prime Minister of Greece from 25 February to 10 August 1915 and 26 March 1921 to 3 May 1922. Leader of the People's Party, he was the main right-wing opponent of his contemporary Eleftherios Venizelos.

Biography

Dimitrios Gounaris

He studied law in Bismarckian German social laws), his conservative political thinking turned him into a leading opponent of Eleftherios Venizelos. He was appointed Prime Minister after Venizelos' first resignation in 1915 by King Constantine I. For his anti-Venizelist role he was exiled with other prominent anti-Venizelists to Corsica in 1917 after Venizelos' return to power in Athens. He managed to escape to Italy in 1918, but was able to return to Greece only in 1920, as to partake in the crucial November elections as the de facto leader of the "United Opposition", amidst the ongoing Asia Minor Campaign.

Gounaris with officers in Asia Minor, 1921

After Venizelos' defeat, he controlled most deputies in the parliament, and was the main driving force of the following royalist governments, but himself only assumed the office of Prime Minister inMarch 1921. Despite his pre-electoral promises over a withdrawal from Asia Minor, unable to find a way for an 'honourable' extrication, he continued the war against Turkey. Although he was willing to compromise with the Turks, as he showed in the London talks in early 1921, in order to step up pressure on the Kemalist Turks, he agreed to the launch of the Greek offensive of March 1921. The Greek Army was not prepared, and the attack was repulsed in the Second Battle of İnönü, resulting in the first Greek defeat in the Asia Minor Campaign. After the successful Greek advance towards Eskişehir and Afyon in July, he urged the continuation of the advance towards Ankara, which was however stopped in the Battle of Sakarya. After the Greeks retreated to form a new front, he appealed to the Allies, and especially Great Britain, for assistance and mediation. Although he threatened the British with unilateral withdrawal, his government maintained the Greek Army's positions, not being able to shoulder the political cost of abandoning Asia Minor and the many Greeks living there to Turkish reprisals. The deepening political crisis caused the fall of Gounaris' government in May 1922, after marginally surviving a vote of confidence, but the predominance of his followers in the National Assembly meant that he only exchanged the post of Prime Minister with that of Justice Minister in the government of Petros Protopapadakis.

After the disaster of August 1922 and the rout of the Greeks by Mustafa Kemal's forces, the remnants of the Greek Army revolted in September, and the government was deposed. The predominantly Venizelist rebels,

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