On This Day: Charilaos Trikoupis Declares Greece Bankrupt



charilaos-trikoupis“Regretfully, we are bankrupt” is one of the most famous phrases in modern Greek history and was uttered by Prime Minister Charilaos Trikoupis at the Parliament on December 10, 1893, referring to the state’s economic situation and its inability to repay its public debt.

His government went bankrupt, which led to the imposition of Greece’s international auditing. Since then, the phrase has been used to indicate failure, mostly in financial issues.

Although it is assumed that the phrase was said during a Parliament speech, that has been disputed since there is no such evidence from the House records.

However, the opposition took advantage of the situation and said that the Prime Minister had officially declared Greece’s bankruptcy on the Parliament stand. Meanwhile, the newspapers reported it as it was presented by the opposition, thus disappointing Trikoupis’ supporters.

A few decades later, in May 1932, Prime Minister Eleftherios Venizelos used a similar phrase. His government declared the country bankrupt due to its high debt to international lenders. Venizelos blamed the Asia Minor Catastrophe, which had occurred ten years before, and the global economic downturn since the Great Depression of 1929 as the main reasons for Greece’s situation, however, it was actually the accumulation of debt since the beginning of the century that led to the bankruptcy.