Who were the 11 Prime Ministers of Greece of Albanian origin?

Historically, Arvanites have significantly contributed to various spheres of political and cultural life in Greece. Their influence is evident in many facets of Greek history, yet their contributions, particularly in leadership roles, remain underappreciated. This article highlights some of the most prominent Albanian-origin leaders who served as prime ministers of Greece, shedding light on the Arvanite legacy in shaping modern Greece.

Some Greek prime ministers of Albanian origin through history
  Some Greek prime ministers of Albanian origin through history
The Rise of Arvanite Leaders

The Arvanites, descendants of Albanian settlers in Greece, have a storied history of valor and leadership. Many Arvanites played crucial roles during the Greek War of Independence in 1821, fighting for the nation's liberation from Ottoman rule. Their bravery extended beyond the battlefield, as several Arvanites ascended to the highest political offices in Greece, becoming prime ministers and guiding the country through critical periods of its development.

 Andon KRYEZIU (1796-1865)

Andon Kryeziu was born on the island of Hydra in 1796. His family had settled on the island in the 17th century, with roots tracing back to the Arvanite village of Krieza in southern Euboea. From the onset of the 1821 war, he fought at the forefront and served as the right-hand man to Admiral Andreas Miaoulis. In 1836, he became the Greek Minister of the Navy, later the chief steward of King Otto's court, and Prime Minister from 1842-1844 and again from 1849-1854. During his premiership, he resolved the major ecclesiastical issue by declaring the Greek Church autocephalous in 1850, permanently severing it from the Orthodox center in Istanbul. He was the first person to become Vice-Admiral of the Greek Navy and was appointed adjutant to King George I of Greece. He died in 1865 in Athens and was buried with great honors.

Gjergj KUNDURIOTI (1782-1858)

Gjergj Kundurioti was born on the island of Hydra. He belonged to the Kundurioti family, which significantly contributed to the 1821 uprising. Along with his brother Lazaros, they donated a substantial amount of 1,948,158 gold francs (4/5 of their fortune) to support the 1821 uprising. He served as the President of Greece from October 11, 1824, to February 6, 1825. He was also the Chairman and member of the Governing Commission in 1832. He was elected chairman of the first (1844-1845), second (1845-1846), and third (1846-1847) Elder Assemblies. In January 1844, he became the Prime Minister and Minister of the Navy. He served again as Prime Minister in 1848 but resigned due to disagreements with King Otto. Later, he was a deputy and chairman of the Greek Kingdom Parliament in 1856. He passed away in 1858 on the island of Hydra.

3. Dhimitër VULGARI (1801-1877)

Dhimitër Vulgari was born in 1801 on the island of Hydra, the son of Hydra's lord, Georgios Voulgaris. At the age of 17, he became a member of Hydra's council, and in 1822, he was elected chairman of Hydra's representation, also leading a warship from the island. In 1826, he was the prosecutor of Hydra, and in 1848, he became Minister of Economy. He served as Prime Minister multiple times between 1855 and 1875. During his premiership, the union of the Ionian Islands with Greece occurred, and he strongly supported the Cretan uprising for union with Greece. He died in 1877 in Athens.

5. Pavlo KUNDURIOTI (1855-1935)

Pavlo Kundurioti was born on the island of Hydra in 1855. He was the grandson of Georgios Kunduriotis and had a broad career as a Navy officer. In 1905, he became adjutant to King George I, and on the eve of the 1912 war, he became commander of the Aegean fleet and later Vice-Admiral. He captured the islands of Limnos, Tenedos, Thasos, Samothrace, Psara, and Mytilene. He defeated the Turkish fleet in December 1912 and January 1913. In 1915, he was elected Minister of the Navy, and in 1916, a member of the Arvanite Triumvirate with Venizelos and Danglis, leading the movement in 1917 and becoming Minister of the Navy. In 1920, he was the viceroy of the King of Greece, and in 1923, he became the first President of the Hellenic Republic until 1926. He was re-elected President of the Republic in 1929 but resigned due to health reasons in December 1929. He died in 1935 in Faliro, Greece.

Teodoros Pangallos

An influential Arvanite, Teodoros Pangallos served as both Prime Minister and President of Greece. His tenure as Prime Minister in 1926 was marked by his efforts to stabilize the country's economy and political landscape during a turbulent period. Pangallos' leadership left a lasting impact on Greece's governance and political stability.

Aleksandër Diomidhis

Aleksandër Diomidhis, born in 1875, was an esteemed member of the Academy of Athens before becoming Prime Minister. Serving from 1949 to 1950, Diomidhis faced the challenging task of post-World War II reconstruction. His policies focused on economic recovery and social stability, paving the way for Greece's eventual prosperity in the latter half of the 20th century.

Petro VULGARI (1884-1957)

Petro Vulgari was born on the island of Hydra in 1884. He served as a Navy officer in the Balkan Wars and was a close friend of Pavlo Kundurioti. Between 1926-1935, he was the general commander of the navy aviation, commander of the submarine base, and later military attaché in Ankara, Turkey. He became Minister of Aviation in the Middle East Government, and from April 8, 1945, to October 17, 1945, he was Prime Minister of Greece. He never accepted rewards for his role as Prime Minister. He died in Athens in 1957.

Diomidh QIRIAKO (1811-1869)

Diomidh Qiriako was born on the island of Spetses in 1811. The Qiriako family significantly contributed to the 1821 uprising. His brother, Jani Qiriako, was a Vice-Admiral of the Spetses fleet and was killed in the Mesolonghi battle. Diomidhi studied law at the University of Pisa and Paris. In 1835, he became a prosecutor at the Court of First Instance. In 1840, he was elected plenipotentiary of Spetses island. He was the main editor of the 1843 Constitution and, from 1851, a professor of Constitutional Law. He was Minister of Religion and Public Education, and from March 18, 1863, to April 29, 1863, he was Prime Minister of Greece. He died in Italy in 1869.

Emanuil REPILI (1863-1924)

Emanuil Repili was born in 1863 in Kranidi. He studied law and engaged in journalism, becoming the editor-in-chief of the "Acropolis" newspaper. He served as Minister of Foreign Affairs in 1910 and 1913 under Prime Minister Eleftherios Venizelos. He administered and organized Northern Greece. In 1925, he was elected Minister of Economy and in 1916 Minister of Foreign Affairs and Deputy Prime Minister. As Minister of Foreign Affairs, he drafted and passed the Municipalities and Communities law. He was Prime Minister from August 21, 1917, to August 28, 1917, and from October 19, 1917, to January 3, 1918. He died in Kranidi in 1924.

Aleksandër KORIZI (1885-1941)

Aleksandër Korizi was born in 1885 on the island of Poros. He studied law and, in 1903, was appointed an employee at the National Bank of Greece, becoming its director in 1921 and deputy director in 1928. In 1929, he established the Agricultural Bank and was its first director. In 1936, he became Minister of Communications, and in 1939, he was reappointed director of the National Bank of Greece. Upon the death of Prime Minister Metaxas in January 1941, when no one dared to take on the governance of Greece, he assumed the role of Prime Minister on January 19, 1941. On April 18, 1941, after a difficult cabinet meeting, he returned home and committed suicide.

Kiço XHAVELA (1801-1855)

Kiço Xhavela, although not the most prominent member of the great Souliot Xhavela family, was significant in the 1821 Revolution. The most notable Xhavela is Fotios, whom Kolokotronis regarded highly. Kiço Xhavela grew up in Corfu, where the Souliots had moved after the fall of Souli to Ali Pasha. In 1820, he returned to Souli after the Souliots' agreement with Ali and was declared captain at 19. He traveled to Italy to procure ammunition, but upon his return, Ali Pasha had been killed, and the Souliots were expelled again by Sultan's Turks. Xhavela went to Aetolia-Acarnania and participated in all local battles, either under Markos Botsaris' command or independently. When Georgios Karaiskakis became chief general of Rumelia, Xhavela and the Souliots followed him despite initial opposition. In 1835, King Otto made him a brigadier general and General Supervisor of the Army and his adjutant. Xhavela served as prosecutor, chief general after Karaiskakis' death, Minister of Defense in 1844, and Prime Minister from 1847-1848. He died in 1855 in Mesolonghi. Today, Xhavela descendants are found in Albania, Greece, the USA, and Australia. Those in Albania have changed their surname from

Other Notable Arvanite Prime Ministers

Each of these leaders, hailing from the Arvanite communities of Hydra, Spetses, and other regions, brought their unique contributions to Greek politics and governance. Their collective efforts helped shape the modern Greek state, guiding it through periods of conflict, expansion, and modernization.

The Arvanite Legacy

The contributions of Albanian-origin leaders in Greece extend beyond their political achievements. Arvanites have enriched Greek culture, heritage, and national identity. However, the recognition of their impact has often been overshadowed by historical and political narratives that marginalize their role. Today, the Arvanite heritage deserves a rightful place in the annals of Greek history, honoring their legacy as key architects of the nation's evolution.

In conclusion, the Albanian Arvanites who served as prime ministers of Greece played indispensable roles in shaping the country's destiny. Their leadership, valor, and vision guided Greece through crucial phases of its development, leaving an indelible mark on its history. Acknowledging their contributions is essential to understanding the full tapestry of Greek political and cultural heritage.
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