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Count Ioannis Antonios Kapodistrias

Count Ioannis Antonios Kapodistrias was a Greek statesman who served for the Russian Empire as ambassador and later as Foreign Minister. After his career for Russia, he was elected as the first head of state of the newly established and independent Greece (1827-1831). He entered the service of Alexander I of Russia in 1809 and his first important mission was to establish, together with ambassadors of other countries, the neutrality and independence of the Swiss Cantons as the unofficial Russian Ambassador to Switzerland. During the Congress of Vienna, Kapodistrias fulfilled the role of the Empire’s Minister. Besides obtaining international guarantees for Switzerland’s neutrality, Capodistrias was able to counterbalance the major influence of Prince Metternich. He also insisted on putting a Bourbon monarch on the French throne in order to maintain French state unity. To reward him for his services, Alexander I declared Kapodistrias Foreign Minister of Russia, together with Count Nesselrode in 1816. Kapodistrias’ counterbalancing of Metternich, who envisioned an Austrian domination of European affairs, further developed as he expressed his progressive and liberal visions at the multiple congresses he attended for Russia. It resulted in a latent stand-off between the two men. Aside from the European affairs, Kapodistrias had always held the interests of his homeland, most notably the possibility of Greek’s independence, close to heart and tried to bring them to the attention of the European statesmen present at the congresses. When conflicts between Russia and the Ottoman Empire broke out over the status of Greek territory, Kapodistrias stayed in Alexander’s service, but became increasingly active in support of Greek independence from the Ottoman Empire. As Alexander did not support this cause, Kapodistrias saw himself forced to resign from his function. He moved to Geneva, from where he supported the Greek revolution both morally and materially. In 1827, after the Greek revolution had succeeded, the National Assembly elected him as the first head of state of the liberated and independent Greece.

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