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Dora Bakoyannis interviewed
by an international audience

City Mayors invited those who participated in World Mayor 2005 to put questions to Athens Mayor Dora Bakoyannis, winner of the 2005 World Mayor Award. From the many questions received, a representative selection was forwarded to the Mayor. Below, she replies in detail, as well as with candour and thoughtfulness.

Questions & Answers
From Demetris K., Athens
Question: During your service to the city of Athens as Mayor, is there one particular accomplishment and/or case study that you are especially proud of and that you consider to be a valuable example of a 'best practices' approach that can be applied by the Greek government and European cities in the future?

Dora Bakoyannis replies: I must say that I am particularly proud of our building façade renovation programme, Prosopsi (“façade” in Greek). More than 3,000 facades have been repainted and restored since July 2003 when the programme was launched with an awareness-raising campaign whose catchphrase was “Athens is getting on in years… it needs a makeover”.

Unlike similar programmes implemented elsewhere, the 4.5m-euro programme is not just aimed at revamping historical buildings. All owners of apartment blocks and buildings within the City of Athens can apply for a subsidy covering a percentage of the cost of façade restoration. Historical and heritage-listed buildings are eligible for a 20 per cent subsidy, while a 15 per cent subsidy applies to all other buildings.

Though the programme was focused on improving the aesthetics of the Greek capital ahead of the Athens 2004 Olympics, we continue to receive applications from building and homeowners interested in participating. Prominent restoration examples include the apartment block where opera diva Maria Callas once lived. The City aims to restore 5,000 buildings, which represent 20 per cent of all buildings in the City of Athens, by April 2006.

The City took the initiative to propose the introduction of this highly effective and flexible programme nationwide and secured funding from the European Union’s Third Community Support Framework. Following discussions with Greece’s 13 regional governors, the model has been incorporated in regional development programmes and will be implemented starting early 2006 in municipalities around the country.

Furthermore, the EU has indicated interest in employing a similar method of financing projects such as these. I am especially proud of the fact that in September 2005 Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government introduced Prosopsi as a case study in a programme focused on private-public sector cooperation.

From Stephanie, Denver (CO), USA
As Mayor of Athens you have demonstrated unlimited vision and produced many wonderful and positive changes. As an attendee of the 2004 Summer Olympics, I saw incredible warmth and friendliness to all. What would you say is your greatest asset that helped you to achieve this accomplishment for Athens and for Greece?

Dora Bakoyannis: I would have to say that the citizens of Athens are our greatest asset! The notion of philoxenia, which means hospitality, is an inherent trait of the Greek people. In 2004 when we called on Athenians to join our volunteer programme for the Athens 2004 Olympic and Paralympic Games, we had an overwhelming response.

If you were there, you would have seen many of our 3,650 volunteers wearing big smiles and yellow t-shirts that read “City of Athens: May I Help You?” The majority of volunteers staffed information booths at key points throughout the city while small teams took to the streets answering the queries of visitors.

Our volunteers represented 32 nationalities and we had quite a number of Greeks from abroad, while most spoke at least one foreign language. I personally congratulated each and every volunteer and saw how proud they felt to play such an active part in welcoming guests to our city.

Aware that the tradition of volunteerism in Greece was mostly limited to one’s network of family and friends, we decided to create a permanent volunteer scheme. We anticipate the involvement of some 4,000 citizens of all ages in our “Volunteer for Athens” programme, in which youth and senior citizens have shown especial interest.

Volunteers will continue to operate our visitor information booths in the summers. Some will assist in the upkeep of recreational areas and parks, while a select group will be trained to assist in emergency situations.

From Gkrinia I., Athens
Why is it that the biggest municipality in Greece has not yet a concrete plan regarding local e-government? Please outline your plans for integrated electronic services.

Dora Bakoyannis: As regards e-government, the City of Athens has made significant progress in this area over the past three years. As part of the municipality’s efforts to open up the lines of communication between the City and the citizen, the City of Athens operates a very comprehensive, interactive and user-friendly portal ( under the guidance of the municipality’s information systems unit (DAEM). The company, which was established in 1983 and possesses ISO 9001 quality assurance certification, offers its services and expertise to local authorities throughout Greece.

The aim of the portal is to improve and simplify the services we offer citizens and visitors. We actively participate in European Union programmes such as Info Point Europe and Europe Direct. Citizens can check what documents they require for a specific application, for instance a marriage certificate, while business owners can access information on tenders.

Queries on a wide range of matters can be submitted electronically to City Hall directly or to the ‘195’ Citizens Helpline. Citizens wishing to participate in the volunteer programme can apply via the portal. Owners of homes and businesses interested in our building façade renovation programme can obtain application forms online.

Citizens can check for upcoming arts and cultural events taking place in Athens. Individuals can report stray dogs or apply to adopt one of the many dogs that have been sterilised, inoculated and tagged as part of our stray welfare programme.

There are certain concrete benefits that can be derived from the implementation of our e-government project, whose total budget is €4.65 million. We are developing a system enabling the e-supervision of our garbage-truck fleet, with the aim of improving the garbage collection procedure. This method was very successfully employed during the 2004 Olympic Games.

The main objective of an Integrated Information System, focusing on the provision of electronic and Internet services, is the upgrading of the quality of services offered to citizens.

Such services include provision of information and documents to Athenians, businesses or any Greek citizen. They include transactions and services that were partially provided at e-level.

Furthermore, we are also introducing the digital registration of legal infringements and the resultant fines issued by City Police, with the aim of securing municipal revenues. This will help modernise our police force, allowing them to become more flexible and effective.

More recently, citizens have been able to request quotes from the City’s insurance company via the portal. On the English version of our portal, visitors can read our “Strolling Through Athens” guide, which includes the history of the city and interesting walking routes.

From Anna B., Athens
What plans do you have to solve the problems of waste management, which Athens and the greater Athens urban area face?

Dora Bakoyannis: For many years I have stressed the urgent need for alternative solid waste management in greater Athens (Attica). We have a single landfill, which is close to saturation point, and this causes numerous problems. Greece is under continual pressure from the EU for the establishment of new sanitary landfills and the state is in the process of reviewing possible sites and developing alternative treatment methods such as recycling.

As regards the municipality’s competences, limited to solid waste collection, we introduced the “Clean Up Athens” campaign, urging residents to do their part to keep the city clean. We boosted our sanitation staff and upgraded our waste management equipment with state-of-the-art street sweepers, garbage collection trucks and specialised cleaning vehicles. New regulations have been implemented, incorporating steeper fines for those who litter.

The City of Athens considers recycling an issue of critical importance. The municipality is working closely with the Hellenic Recovery Recycling Corporation and recently finalised a four-month pilot recycling scheme involving three firms. Dozens of waste receptacles for paper, aluminium and steel, glass and plastic are situated in eight areas throughout the city.

This sorting-at-the-source programme has proved to be exceedingly popular among citizens who have demonstrated their commitment to the concept by disposing of quality recyclable items in the recycling bins and centres.

For every tonne of plastic that is recycled, we save between 700 and 800 litres of petrol. A new bicycle can be made from 700 aluminium cans, while for every ton of recycled paper packaging, we save two tonnes of timber. Once the results of the pilot project are reviewed, the appropriate sorting-at-source schemes will be selected and implemented as part of a comprehensive and efficient recycling programme for Athens.

From Gabriel J T., Athens:
Has the city any plans to dispose of garbage ecologically, for example, by producing energy from it?

Dora Bakoyannis:
As part of its recycling strategy, the City of Athens has incorporated measures taken on a national level that fall in line with EU directives requiring the recovery, reuse and valorisation of packaging waste and other items such as tyres, electrical goods and oils. It is vital that new technologies are harnessed in the international effort to recycle waste. By 2011 we aim to achieve the objectives defined within the context of the national strategy.

The City of Athens was a key partner in an 18-month European programme “Athens Energy Savings Towards the Athens 2004 Olympic Games”. The project, funded by the EU and the four partners involved, aimed to raise public awareness of the rational use of energy and renewable energy sources. The programme promoted the use of renewable, environmentally-friendly energy sources such as natural gas, which is in widespread use by industry but only in recent years has it entered households. Solar energy is utilised extensively, but not to its maximum potential - for instance, to heat water. There is great scope also for the application of wind energy.

Most importantly, efforts are being made at greater Athens’ waste treatment facilities and landfill to exploit biogas as an energy resource. We work closely with schools to convey the concepts of recycling and energy conservation and keep citizens regularly informed on how they can contribute, for instance, by making compost for their gardens.

From Fred B., Athens and others
Question: The introduction of sidewalk ramps eased the problems faced by wheelchair users and mothers with prams. However, inconsiderate parking by cars and scooters on pavements still continues. I realise it requires great political will to bring about changes. Will you grasp this nettle?

Dora Bakoyannis:
This is an issue I feel particularly strongly about. The difficult part was not installing the access ramps but educating drivers and motorcyclists that they must respect the needs of the disabled. Progress has been made, but to change mentalities is always a gradual process. We have significantly increased the number of city police officers – from 148 to 623 in 2004. One of their main responsibilities is to enforce parking and traffic laws, and this, of course, includes fines for those who block access ramps.

From Anthi F., Boston, USA
In your work as Mayor of Athens, what difficulties, if any, have you faced as a woman leading a mostly male dominated culture?

Dora Bakoyannis:
I have been in politics for over 20 years and cannot say that I have faced any major difficulties. I must say that when I announced my candidacy for the mayoralty, I did meet some interesting reactions, as the City of Athens had never been led by a female mayor. I have never really felt that my gender makes any difference in my profession, and nor should it.

From Maria N., Athens
Which of your achievements as Mayor are you most proud of? Do you feel you are paving the way for young Greek women to pursue careers in male-dominated fields like politics?

Dora Bakoyannis:
I am extremely proud of the volunteer programme I mentioned earlier, though I must say that the comments I hear from citizens and visitors about the transformation of Athens – both in aesthetic and functional terms – give me great satisfaction.

I would like to think that Greek women seeking a career in traditionally male-dominated fields feel that they no longer face insurmountable obstacles. Young women in this country are highly-educated, multi-lingual, committed and ambitious. It is true that the percentage of female politicians is still very low compared with other European countries, but the situation is improving. In the 2002 municipal and prefectural elections, there was a 70 per cent increase in the number of female city councillor candidates. Of the 41 elected Athens City Council officials, 16 are women. Greek women’s voices are being heard in all professional fields and around the world and their accomplishments are quite remarkable.

From Aristotelis A., Athens
Since you have been Mayor you implemented many of your plans which you put forward before your election. But which do you feel is the most important of your plans, which you did NOT succeed in implementing?

Dora Bakoyannis:
We have managed to implement all of the plans we had proposed ahead of the elections and, in fact, took our programme a few steps further. For instance, we planted more plants, flowers and trees than was originally intended. Our building façade renovation programme exceeded our expectations. Barcelona undertook a similar programme ahead of the 1992 Olympics and restored 2,772 buildings over a period of seven years. In Athens some 1,500 were renovated within the first 12 months and the figure has now exceeded 3,000.

Running a city like Athens, which faces a multitude of difficulties, is a demanding task. Athens is a city that was hastily planned and it developed very quickly. It is not easy to correct the mistakes of the past. I should mention that I would have liked to see our recycling programme up and running as it involves a forward-thinking, well thought-out strategy.

From Maria L., Chicago, USA
Athens (and all of Greece) seems to be the bureaucratic capital of the world. It’s so difficult to get anything done because of all the red tape. Do you have any plans to clean up the bureaucracy in the Athens government?

Dora Bakoyannis: Cutting down on bureaucracy is one of our major goals and I believe we have managed to greatly improve our relations with citizens and business-owners. The City operates Citizen Service Centres in all seven districts, offering residents easy access to information and efficient service in their day-to-day dealings with the municipality. The centres, basically “one-stop shops”, are open from Monday to Saturday. The centres are linked with the toll-free ‘195’ Citizens Helpline which operates seven days a week until late in the evening, offering a wide variety of services to citizens. Residents can reserve a parking space, seek public transportation information, request the repair of street lighting and report problems, among other things. Of course, our City portal is another critical link in the “Athens Network” and soon citizens will be able to file documents online.

From Diane, Washington DC, USA
I was born in Greece and raised in the US. I decided to open a business in Greece. Why does the red tape have to be so difficult? It was so hard to open my business that I now regret that I did it. I want to do business in Greece but it is not a user-friendly country.

Dora Bakoyannis: The central government has implemented concrete measures to cut down on red tape, particularly for new businesses and foreign investors. For instance, the number of documents for certain procedures has been reduced to a minimum. At the City of Athens, we consider the minimisation of bureaucracy essential to encouraging private enterprise and job creation. For the past three years, the City’s Enterprise and Employment Centre has held a very successful annual forum on business and job creation. Individuals have the opportunity to obtain information on business support programmes offered on a national and European level.

From James B., Athens
Question: What are your plans for the long overdue landscaping of Monastiraki Square and the removal of graffiti in the surrounding area?

Dora Bakoyannis: Monastiraki Square is one of Athens’ most significant locations historically, architecturally and culturally. As such, its refurbishment requires a great deal of research and planning so as not to pose a threat to the city’s heritage. Although responsibility still lies with the central government and the relevant ministries, the City of Athens has tabled a carefully examined proposal for the best utilisation of the area, pushing in the meantime for a final decision that will highlight the Square’s unique historical value. The City is also working closely with Karcher and Clean Up Greece to ensure that monuments and buildings are restored to their original glory.

From George V., Aix-en-Provence, France
Would it be possible to use palm trees (foinikes) to give back to Athens its original look of 1900? Our avenues, especially those on the beach, could be like Nice in France.

Dora Bakoyannis: Making Athens greener has been at the top of our agenda for the past three years. In this time, we have brought colour to the Greek capital by planting over 15,000 trees and 750,000 plants, shrubs and flowers citywide, in parks and squares, along pedestrian walkways and historic hills, in the seven districts of the capital. And we’re still planting! The City’s Greenery Network is looking into ways of transforming unused space into parkland, and of course, planting even more trees. As for the species, we have also planted palm trees but have chosen to plant indigenous flora that can adapt to Athens’ climatic conditions. In this way, we ensure their longevity.

From Bridig K., Penticton (BC), Canada
For the first time in my life I will be running for public office and I am particularly interested in housing. I would like to ask the Mayor of Athens how does she ensure that the interest of developers of up-market housing are met, while at the same time ensuring that the city includes affordable housing for those less fortunate and unable to pay for expensive housing?

Dora Bakoyannis: First of all, I wish you the best success in your fledgling steps in public service. I am confident it will prove to be a fulfilling experience. In Greece, housing development and investment are the focus of central government and relevant ministries. On a local government level, we address neighbourhood development, expanding the network of parks and recreational areas and further improving the quality of life. In this direction, I can speak of a project I am especially proud of: the re-development the Votanikos area. This is the largest-ever urban renewal project undertaken by local government in Greece - an initiative that will add over 138,000 square metres of greenery, create new jobs, and ultimately improve the standard of living in this neglected area.

However, to ensure that such projects are in the best interests of the people, local government must initiate substantial dialogue with the government, political parties and social partners to formulate new policies and come up with modern, alternative solutions that will suit all sectors of the market.

From Dr James N. B., Los Angeles, USA
Madam Mayor, emissions of particulate matter which come from taxis operating with diesel fuel in Athens, are the single greatest threat to the health of the citizens of your city, especially the more sensitive younger and older population. What will you do to influence the needed changes at the central government's Environmental Ministry so that you can bring about some control of diesel taxis and improve your City's air quality? Thank you.

Dora Bakoyannis: In the last few years, Athens has become a much cleaner city in terms of air quality thanks to new infrastructure in public transportation, the ring roads, the metro and the Attiki Odos motorway, which have de-congested the city centre and contributed to this change. On a municipal level, we have tabled a proposal to close off the historic triangle, pedestrianise roads within this area and introduce a new controlled parking system that will reduce incoming vehicles to the city centre. We also encourage citizens to use public transportation through a series of awareness-raising campaigns such as World Carfree Day. However, challenging old ways and effecting change requires time, planning and coordination between local and central government.

From Elaine R., Boston, USA
Question: How do you plan to reduce crime in Athens?

Dora Bakoyannis: Athens has proved to be one of the safest cities in Europe. Visitors to the Greek capital during the 2004 Olympics can vouch for this. At the City of Athens we concentrate our efforts on preventative measures. That is why we expanded our city police force, which though unarmed, works closely with the state police regularly carrying out joint patrols of Athens neighbourhoods. Their mere presence on the streets and squares has provided a sense of security. I do believe there are very few cities in the world where you can walk around safely at 3am.

From Nikolaos D G., Burnaby, Canada
What role should local government play in preserving and promoting culture and facilitating cultural integration in their cities?

Dora Bakoyannis: Promoting culture and cultural integration are two very different tasks that involve the synchronised efforts of local and central government. I feel the beginning for the successful promotion of culture is understanding and abiding by what our ancestors said centuries ago: “Sound mind, healthy body” - a sound mind is a direct result of culture. That is why it is vital we work in this direction and meet the public need.

As for cultural integration, our policy focuses on encouraging the active participation of ethnic communities, securing residency rights, offering equal opportunities and citizenship. We work with the government, ethnic community associations and NGOs to embrace migrants and help them integrate into Greek society.

The City of Athens is spending a large part of its budget on social policies that will ensure their smooth transition and integration. We promote equal access through our Migration Office, and our Centre for Employment and Entrepreneurship serves over 4,000 immigrants annually, providing them with information and assistance in finding employment. We offer a ground for growth and social support through our Intercultural Centre. And Athens International Radio 104.4 FM, Greece’s first multilingual radio, broadcasts in 12 languages, aiming to serve the city's international communities.

From Nikos K., Vrilissia, Athens
Greece is proud of its history, civilisation and language. We were unfairly treated when Lord Elgin ‘stole’ the ‘Elgin Marbles’ from the Parthenon in the first decade of the 19th century. What will you do as Mayor of Athens or possible future Greek Minister to have the marbles returned?

Dora Bakoyannis: The Parthenon Marbles are a primary part of the Parthenon, a legacy handed down to the world, not solely to Greece. These monuments, removed from Greece in a highly dubious manner, form the most precious part of Athens’ artistic heritage. In order for the Parthenon to be truly appreciated, it must be viewed as an integral work of art in the new Acropolis Museum we are constructing in view of the monument itself and in the surroundings that inspired it. By depriving visitors of this, we are in essence depriving them of their right to a legacy that is also very much their own.

The vision of political leaders as well as of art experts and relative authorities is not only to preserve the integrity of this masterpiece but also primarily to make it accessible to younger generations. We in Greece are well aware of our responsibility to the world to preserve this heritage as it does not only belong to the Greeks but is a very important part of European heritage and Western civilisation.

Furthermore, the British public itself has overwhelmingly expressed its desire for the return of the Marbles, visualising perhaps what it would be like to see fragments of Westminster Abbey in central Athens.

From Ruedi H., Athens International Airport
How can we, as foreign representatives of the travel industry, help Athens to become one of the world’s ‘must visit’ tourist destinations?

Dora Bakoyannis: I believe Athens has always been a primary tourist destination due to its antiquities but also because of its proximity to the Greek islands. But there is much more to modern Athens than the wonders of the ancient world. Safe and easy to move around in, Athens may be the oldest city in Europe, but it also offers the visitor the latest in art, culture, shopping and dining. It’s a city that never sleeps, a vibrant metropolis, where there is something going on all year round.

Furthermore, Athens successfully hosted the world’s largest event, the 2004 Olympics, demonstrating that it is today a dynamic tourist destination, boasting state-of-the-art conference facilities and top-quality accommodation, and strategically located in the heart of Southeastern Europe.

I am confident that if the tourism industry works together with the City’s Tourism and Economic Development Agency and relevant bodies, Athens’ diverse tourism offer (conference & meeting tourism, incentive travel, cultural, sports and religious tourism) will serve as a major attraction in the future, boosting Athens’ competitiveness as a year-round tourist destination, promoting foreign investment and encouraging sustainable tourism development.

From Penelope N., Del Mar (CA), USA
Now that Athens has become so very international, can it maintain its ‘Greekness’?

Dora Bakoyannis: Athens is and has always been an international city. The Greek capital is not only the universal symbol of humanity but also of democracy and freedom. This is, after all, its enduring power throughout the eras. It has throughout the centuries served as a crossroads of cultures and peoples, producing great schools of thought and making the greatest impact on contemporary societies of the West. True to its universal character, Athens today is a bustling multicultural metropolis which people from across the globe call home. With the return of the Olympic Games to Greece, Athens has once again come into the spotlight, reclaiming its role as a meeting point of cultures and peoples with respect to the eternal ideals of peace and brotherhood.

From Amalia T-M., Athens
Being a woman that has overcome so many obstacles and odds, what would be the one piece of advice she would give to the many young women, from around the world, who have been and are victims of terrorism and trying to better their worlds through their experiences?

Dora Bakoyannis: In one word: fight back. We always have a choice. We could give in to fear or fight back. Having personally suffered from the tragedy of terrorism, I chose the latter, entering politics and parliament and making the anti-terrorism struggle a banner at home and abroad. Fighting is by no means an easy thing to do but it is our only weapon against violence. Resigning to terrorism is literally paving the way for it to grow. I have learnt the hard way that the fight against terror is never-ending. We must always be vigilant.

From Mario C, Athens
If you were Prime Minister of Greece, what steps would you take to better relations with Turkey and thus ultimately bring the Cyprus question to a close?

Dora Bakoyannis: As a precondition for the advancement of the political relations between the two countries, I would firstly accelerate all forms of interaction (economic, social, cultural etc), between the two cultures. I would try to convince Turkey that facing such issues as respect for minority rights and guaranteeing the functions of the Ecumenical Patriarchate is primarily in the interests of the Turkish people. The role of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, for example, does not depend on its recognition by Turkey. However, Turkey’s denial of it is depriving our neighbouring country of the huge advantage of claiming that Christianity’s second largest denomination has its seat in its largest city.

I would then urge Turkey to work closely with the European Union, the United Nations and the governments of Greece and Cyprus, in order to reach a final solution to the Cyprus problem - thus removing one of the main obstacles to Turkey’s EU accession.

Finally, I would try to reach a final conclusion on ways to delineate the Continental Shelf of the Aegean Sea, which is the major issue facing the two countries. I am confident that Greece and Turkey can develop a highly effective framework of cooperation in the future, and together become the twin pillars of stability in the Balkans, the Black Sea, and the Eastern Mediterranean and beyond.

From Tammy I., Melbourne, Australia
After, hopefully, being elected World Mayor 2005, what are your three main priorities for 2006?

Dora Bakoyannis: As much as it is an honour to win the World Mayor Award, it does not mean that my priorities will change, as I will continue to honour the public who placed their trust in me. Governing a 3,000-year-old city is indeed a challenging job that requires vision, planning and coordination. The City of Athens will continue with its ambitious infrastructure and social programmes, focusing in 2006 on one of the most ambitious urban renewal projects in Greek history, the redevelopment of the Votanikos area. I am very proud of this 240m-euro project as it will transform this underdeveloped area into a centre of activity, create new jobs, make Athens greener and ultimately improve the living standards of our fellow citizens.

We will also continue with our 123m-euro infrastructure project programme, providing the Greek capital with a solid foundation for the future. This includes our recycling programme based on sorting waste at source, currently in the process of implementation following a successful pilot programme, and a system of controlled parking in the capital which will help ease traffic in the city centre and provide parking opportunities for more motorists.

From Eleni K., Munich and many others
Will you contest the 2006 mayoral elections or will you move into government with the aim of becoming Greece’s first woman Prime Minister?

Dora Bakoyannis: I am still the very busy mayor of a very demanding city! It is our job as politicians to make way for change that will secure a brighter future for all. To do this, you must be able to identify the needs of the people who entrusted you with their future. This has always been the driving force for me. Having worked at several posts has heightened my awareness of these needs.

I have come to realise that interaction, lending an ear to people’s problems, truly listening and tuning in to their real needs, is what brings about productive change. That is why I decided to go into politics in the first place - to make a difference, and I feel blessed to be in a position to do so. In the end, nobody can foresee the future. It is after all the public that decides on who the prime minister will be.

Dora Bakoyannis, Mayor of Athens and winner of the 2005 World Mayor Award

Dora Bakoyannis

Athens is said to be the ‘cradle of democracy’ by virtue of the city state which governed during the time of Aristotle, though women and slaves during that era might have disagreed with the description. Today’s Greek capital is in fact governed by a female mayor whose deceptive appearance closer resembles an actress or television presenter than a politician. Mayor Bakoyannis was elected as mayor of Athens in October 2002 with the largest majority in the city’s history. In 2005, Dora Bakoyannis won the World Mayor Award.

Born in 1954 as Dora Mitsotakis, eldest child of Constantine Mitsotakis who later went on to be Greece’s prime minister in the early 1990s, she studied politics at the University of Athens and in Munich, Germany. During the period of military dictatorship under the regime of The Colonels which lasted between 1967 and 1974, the family lived in exile in Paris. They returned in 1974 and Dora was married to Pavlos Bakoyannis, a politician. She then embarked on a career as a civil servant and worked in several government ministries.

In 1984, her father Constantine Mitsotakis became leader of Greece’s centre right party New Democracy and she was appointed his head of staff. New Democracy had played an important role in the transition from the period of military dictatorship, winning the first free elections in 1974 under the leadership of Constantine Caramanlis, who had served as Prime Minister during Greece’s post-war period under the former monarchy, between 1955 and 1963. Caramanlis’ New Democracy-led government phased out the last remnants of dictatorship and took Greece into the European Economic Community. More