Cyprus bids farewell to Vassos Lyssarides

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Cyprus bade farewell Wednesday to the founder and honorary President of the Social Democrats Movement (EDEK) and veteran politician Vassos Lyssarides, who died on April 26, aged 100.

He was a central political figure since the independence of Cyprus in 1960 and elected to the Republic’s first parliament, remaining an MP until 2006, also serving as House speaker from 1985 to 1991.

At Vasos Lyssarides’ funeral service, President Nicos Anastasiades praised the deceased’s emblematic personality.

“His guidance and legacy will remain a primary duty for those who survive him but also the highest honour and obligation towards one of the protagonists of Cyprus’ modern history”.

“The chapter of Vasos Lyssarides does not close today and will not close as Cyprus continue to bleed from the wound of occupation.”

Marinos Sizopoulos, President of EDEK, said Cyprus bids farewell “to the last of a generation of great politicians that left his mark in the country’s history.”

Sizopoulos recalled the assassination attempt against Lyssarides on August 30 1974, during which he was wounded while his associate Doros Loizou died.

“Lyssarides’ remark that ’ideas cannot be assassinated’ remains a timeless legacy for future comrades.”

The funeral service was attended by leaders and representatives of the political parties, diplomats and the Greek Deputy Foreign Minister for Diaspora Greeks, Konstantinos Vlasis, who represented Greece’s Prime Minister.

Lyssarides was one of Cyprus’ most respected politicians active in the island’s politics since its 1960 independence from British colonial rule and involved in the global socialist movement.

A trained doctor, Lyssarides figured prominently in efforts to restore democratic governance to Cyprus after a 1974 coup by supporters of union with Greece.

The coup triggered a Turkish invasion which split the island along ethnic lines.

Lyssarides founded in 1969 the socialist party EDEK, which he led until 2001.

He also served as vice-president of the Afro-Asian Solidarity Organization, a non-governmental group with a presence in more than 90 African and Asian countries that struggled against colonialism, apartheid and armed conflict.

He was also secretary-general of the International Committee in Solidary with South Africa, a body aiming to free then-imprisoned anti-apartheid leader Nelson Mandela.

He established many close relationships with African and Middle Eastern leaders, including Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and Cuban leader Fidel Castro.

Lyssarides’ wife Barbara, a native of the U.S. city of Detroit, died in 2019 at 85.