A true journalist of past times
He missed the latest Cyprus round by days. Mr. Stathis Eustathiadis, the doyen of Greek journalism, one of the last of the old guard who took the profession as a serious passion, died in Athens at the age of 92. For many journalists who met him and worked with him in his long professional life, he was an example that many of us know that we could not surpass.
I remember him as a distinct figure among almost all the journalists following Greek ministers who started coming to Turkey, especially after the earthquake diplomacy period produced a thaw in relations between Turkey and Greece. He was a small man, always dressed in a suit and tie, always looking serious if somewhat strict and remote from the rest of the group of journalists who were then trying to get the big story, which was then the “Greek-Turkish friendship.” Even Nikos Kotzias, the present foreign minister, was often part of that group as an adviser of George Papandreou, then the Greek foreign minister. But the late 1990s were exciting times for the relations between the two countries and there was a lot of excitement that a new era was about to start. So, Mr. Eustathiadis, as a respected commentator for To Vima newspaper, could not have missed such an opportunity.
Like all true journalists, Eustathiadis never retired. He started working in the profession in 1952, but until his death last week, he retained an office and never lost his curiosity for the news, for analysis, for critical thinking and for giving an insight to every development with his informed knowledge.
He had an interesting past. He studied chemistry, but he loved news and newspapers. And that was not unique in the days just before World War II. The interest in the news and the anxiety of where Greece would head after the war sent many young educated men from the university to the newspapers. Several friends of my father, who was a decade older than Mr. Eustathiadis, chose to write about the economy instead of seeking employment in various sectors or become political commentators instead of practicing law. During the years after the war, when the Greek press was thriving, a wide readership was keen on learning what was going on not just in Greece but in world affairs. And like many journalists with progressive ideas, Eustathiadis experienced the tough years of dictatorship after the 1967 military coup; he was arrested, kicked out from the Athens Journalists Union for “communist activities against the nation” and eventually managed to flee Greece, ending up in the U.S. where he settled as a foreign correspondent filing mainly for To Vima.
Eustathiadis was the epitome of the foreign correspondent, covering American politics for decades for his wide Greek readership, but his profound knowledge of diplomatic affairs and his personal contacts among American politicians and policy makers enriched his writings with a unique insight. From Washington, he filed stories which covered not only American- Greek politics but also Cyprus and Turkey. And it was that inside knowledge that gave him enough material to continue writing opinion pieces after his post in the U.S. fell victim to his newspaper’s cuts. He went on writing for his newspaper about the U.S., Turkey, Cyprus and world affairs – most recently for its web edition – almost until his death.
When, as members of the BBC Greek Language Section, we prepared a special program on the 20th anniversary of the Greek Junta, we could not think of anyone better to put us in touch with American political figures who had inside knowledge of the role of the Americans in the Greek coup. He helped us with the generosity of a true professional.
At a time when journalism is one of the most vulnerable human preoccupations, the lonely figure of Stathis Eustathiadis is a powerful enough example to keep us going.