We are very sorry to inform you that Gerasimos Arsenis, a founding member of the Delphi Initiative and a strong supporter of it has passed away.
Arsenis made a long international career as an economist. He directed, among others, the Department of Economic Studies of the OECD in Paris (1964-67) and he has been director of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD, 1967-1980). He participated and supported the effort to create a new, more progressive economic order (“NIEO”).
While in the USA, Arsenis was cooperating with PAK (Panhellenic Liberation Movement) struggling against the Greek military dictatorship (1967-74). He was invited by Andreas Papandreou to become the “economic mind” of the new PASOK party he founded after the fall of the junta. Arsenis became Minister of Economy and of Finance and he has shaped the economic policy of PASOK during its first, more radical period.
As Andreas Papandreou moves to a more conservative direction (as a result of the Francois Mitterrand abrupt turn, one year after his election, Arsenis believed), the Greek “economic tsar”, as was commonly named, resigns from his government posts and, later he is expelled from PASOK. He creates his own Greek Socialist Party, but in 1989 he will return to PASOK.
He becomes Minister of Defense in 1993. He is adopting a strong military posture in order to defend Cyprus, to the great displeasure of Washington and its friends. Probably, this displeasure of USA with him was one of the reasons he lost in the struggle for the succession of Papandreou from Costas Simitis, a more conservative, very pro-Europe and very pro-Germany politicians. The other two reasons were probably that he could not hide his intellectual superiority and he was not much involved in the “kitchen” of “PASOK apparatus politics”.
An opponent of the Maastricht Treaty, he was extremely disappointed by all the policies followed by Georges Papandreou, both under his capacity as Foreign Minister (1999-2004) and as Prime Minister (2009-2011). He opposed also strongly the Annan plan for Cyprus which was transforming the Republic of Cyprus into a “post-modern” protectorate of western powers.
He was in close cooperation, since many years, with SYRIZA economists, for whom he did not have the best of opinion, still he was trying to help them form an economic conception.
A strong supporter of the development of Greek-Russian relations, Arsenis has made desperate efforts during 2014 to persuade the SYRIZA leadership to create a serious group to study international policy and come forward with policy proposals. He has also tried hard explaining to Tsipras and his closest collaborators that they need to find a serious and credible communication channel with Russia.
Here is his speech in the Delphi conference last June about the crisis of EU and the “double” Greek crisis: