In the summer of 1999, the popular Greek composer Mikis Theodorakis said during an interview: "I hate Americans and everything American. I hope that the youth will begin to hate everything American." This most popular of Greek contemporary composers-a close friend of Slobodan Milosevic, who was reportedly ferried around in the latter's private plane-had already been widely acclaimed for his assertion during the Kosovo war that "there is no difference between Hitler and Clinton." Moreover, he advocated at the time a nuclear alliance formed of Greece, Belarus, Serbia and Russia and directed against Greece's erstwhile NATO allies-the United States in particular.
Celebrities everywhere have been known to say foolish things about political matters of which they know little and understand less, so Theodorakis' ranting might not seem worthy of much attention-except that he was soon nominated as Greece's candidate for the Nobel Peace Prize. Theodorakis' candidacy was supported by leading Greek politicians and intellectuals from across the spectrum, including Prime Minister Costas Simitis, Foreign Minister George Papandreou and the leader of the conservative opposition New Democracy Party, Costas Karamanlis.