By Pantelis Kapsis
John Capsis, who passed away on Monday, November 13th, was a notable journalist and politician. He was born in 1929, into a family of journalists. During the 1967 military junta in Greece, Capsis was sent to prison for his “controversial” ideas and writings. After the fall of the junta, he became the editor of the largest Greek daily newspaper, Ta Nea, where he stayed until 1982. In April of that year, Capsis joined the government of Andreas Papandreou as Deputy and then Alternate Foreign Minister. During his time in office, he negotiated a new agreement for the American bases in Greece and was responsible for relations with Turkey in a period marked by crises; Capsis facilitated a landmark agreement for the normalization of the relationship between the two countries in Davos. The agreement was signed by the then-Prime Minister Papandreou and his Turkish counterpart, Turgut Ozal. Capsis was also a member of the Pan-Hellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK), the socialist party in Greece, from 1993 until 2004.
Continuing the thread of journalism within the family, here is a brief biography of the author’s father, who is also named Pantelis Kapsis:
Pantelis Kapsis was born in 1880 in Smyrna (today Izmir) where he became a schoolteacher before deciding to follow a career in journalism. He was the editor of the Greek language newspaper Armonia but left Smyrna before the “catastrophe” in 1922. He covered the activities on the eastern front of World War I as a correspondent for Greek newspapers. Kapsis returned to Smyrna in 1920 to cover the arrival of the Greek army under the mandate of the allies. As a war correspondent, he also covered the Greek resistance to the Italian invasion in 1940 even though he was in his 60s and hardly able to survive the heavy weather in the mountains lining the Greek-Albanian borders.