NICOSIA, Cyprus – Former Cyprus President Glafcos Clerides, a political force who dedicated most of his 50 years in politics to reunifying the ethnically split island and guided it to European Union membership, has died. He was 94.
Joseph Kasios, Clerides’ personal physician for over a quarter century, said he died at a private clinic early in the evening of Nov. 15. The country’s fourth president, Clerides was a political survivor respected for navigating the Mediterranean island’s treacherous politics.
After two failed attempts in 1983 and 1988, Clerides ascended to the presidency in 1993, winning back-to-back elections to hold the post for 10 years. He led the completion of negotiations for Cyprus to join the EU, though he was out of office before it was formally admitted in 2004.
He had been admitted to the clinic earlier in a “very grave” condition. Kasios said that Clerides’ advanced age and past health problems had been the cause of his iillness.
Friends and relatives flocked to his side once news broke that Clerides was in critical condition. His daughter Katy and her husband were at the clinic.
During his Presidency from 1993-2003, Cyprus prospered significantly. Its stabilized economy made Cyprus the wealthiest of the 10 inductees to the European Union in 2004, although it unraveled this year when a banking crisis forced the government to seek international bailouts with onerous terms.
The Clerides Administration gained international respect for the tiny country that was still struggling with reunification in the long aftermath of the unlawful 1974 invasion by Turkey, which still occupies the northern third of the island.
Clerides lost some of this popularity due to his strong support of Annan Plan for the unification of Cyprus. While 65% of the Turkish Cypriot community voted in favor of the plan in a referendum, the Greek Cypriot community rejected it by over 75% of the popular vote.
(Material from the Associated Press was used in this report)