Cyprus loses a statesman: Ex President Glafcos Clerides dies

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Glafcos Clerides, former President of Cyprus, died late on Friday, having been hospitalised and in critical condition on Wednesday morning. He was 94 and left his own mark throughout the 70 years thattroubled the island.



He died at 18.20 local time (16.40 GMT), at a private clinic in Nicosia, his personal physician Iosif Kasios announced here this evenng. His daighter, Kate, had been by his side all this time.

Clerides, who served as President of the Republic for two terms of office between 1993 and 2003, was born in Nicosia οn April 24, 1919, the eldest son of lawyer Yiannis Clerides QC, CBE.

Ηe studied at the Nicosia Pancyprium Gymnasium. In 1948 he was awarded the LLB from King`s College of the University of London and in 1951 he was called to the Bar at Gray`s Ιnn.

In 1939, he volunteered for the British Royal Air Force. In 1942 his airplane was shot down over Germany and he was captured, remaining a prisoner of war until the end of the war.

By King`s Order his name was published in the London Gazette as mentioned in a dispatch for a Distinguished Service.

From 1951 to 1960 Clerides practiced law in Cyprus.

During the 1955-1959 liberation struggle of EOKA, he served under the nom-de-guerre "Yperides". During that period he defended in court numerous ΕΟΚΑ fighters arrested by the British.

He was also responsible for the preparation of a dossier for the violation by the British of human rights in Cyprus which the Greek Government submitted before Human Rights Commission of the Council of Europe.

He participated in the 1959 London Conference on Cyprus and during the transitional period, from colonial administration to independence (1959-1960), he served as Minister of Justice. During the same period he was Head of the Greek Cypriot delegation in the Joint Constitutional Committee.

In July 1960 he was elected to the House of Representatives which, in turn, elected him as its first President. He held this position until July 1976.

Clerides led the Greek Cypriot delegation in the London Conference called in 1964 to study the Cyprus problem.

On July 23, 1974, in the tragic circumstances created by the coup and the Turkish invasion of Cyprus, he temporarily assumed the duties of the President of the Republic, in accordance with the relevant provisions of the Constitution.

He exercised these duties until December 7 1974, the day of the return of Archbishop Makarios, President of the Republic, who was forced to leave the island on July 16 1974.

In February 1969 he founded the Unified Party. In May 1976 he founded the Democratic Rally Party (DISY) comprising selected members of the Unified Party, the Progressive Front and the Democratic National Party.

In 1968 Glafcos Clerides was appointed as the representative of the Greek Cypriot side to the inter-communal talks. From this position he carried out negotiations with Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash until April 1976.

He led the Democratic Rally Party during the 1981, 1985 and 1991 Parliamentary elections and was elected in all three elections.

As leader of his Party in the House of Representatives, he led the Parliamentary group of the Democratic Rally until his election as President of the Republic of Cyprus on February 14 1993.

After his election as President of the Republic, Clerides was awarded the Grand Cross of the Redeemer of the Greek Government by the then President of the Greek Republic Constantinos Karamanlis.

Glafcos Clerides was re-elected President on February 15 1998 and he remained in office until 2003.

He was married to Lilla-Irene and leaves behind one daughter, Katherine Clerides, who served for years as a member of the House of Representatives and serves now as Presidential Commissioner responsible of Cypriots abroad and religious groups.