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This Week in History: January 1 to 7

January 1:

On this day in 2008, Cyprus and Malta adopted the Euro joining 13 other European countries using the single currency. The government of Cyprus approved the designs for the national sides of the euro coins on June 22, 2006, following an open competition. The designs show three national motifs – the mouflon, the ship of Kyrenia, and the prehistoric idol of Pomos. The euro replaced the Cyprus pound (CYP) at the exchange rate of €1 = CYP 0.5852. Cyprus has been a member of the European Union since May 1, 2004 and is a member of the Economic and Monetary Union of the European Union.

January 3:

On this day in 1911, Alexandros Papadiamantis, the influential Greek novelist, journalist, short story writer and poet died of pneumonia on his native island of Skiathos in the western part of the Aegean. He has been referred to as the father of modern Greek literature. Papadiamantis studied in Athens as a teenager, eventually enrolling in the School of Philosophy at the University of Athens. However, he never received his degree due to economic reasons. His father was a priest and believed in the simple life. Papadiamantis shared the same philosophy as his father – he did not care much for money and would often ask for lower fees if he thought he was getting paid too much for his various assignments. His stories provided lucid and lyrical portraits of country life in Skiathos, or urban life in the poorer neighborhoods in Athens – with frequent flashes of deep psychological insight. He never married and was known to be a recluse, whose only true cares were observing and writing about the life of the poor, and chanting at church; he was often referred to as ‘kosmokalogeros’ (‘a monk in the world’). Many of his works have been translated to English and can be found on Amazon.com. Papadiamantis’ house in Skiathos Town was bought by the Greek State and has been turned into a museum.

January 7:

On this day in 1934, Tassos Papadopoulos, the Cypriot politician and lawyer, was born in Nicosia, Cyprus. After studying law at King’s College London and Gray’s Inn, Papadopoulos returned to Cyprus to practice law. Papadopoulos was always drawn to politics and participated in the island’s political life. He was eventually elected as the fifth President of Cyprus and served the country for exactly five years – from February 28, 2003 to February 28, 2008. Papadopoulos has been described as a “hardline champion of Greek Cypriots.” In 2004, he urged the Greek Cypriots to vote against the UN-backed reunification proposal – the Annan Plan – with Turkish Cyprus. While Turkish Cypriots voted to accept the plan, Greek Cypriots overwhelmingly voted to reject it, and, as a result, Greek Cyprus alone was admitted to the European Union in May of 2004. Papadopoulos, an avid smoker, ultimately died of lung cancer in 2008. Almost one year after he was buried, his corpse was taken from his grave. At the time, news sources said that police described the act as “highly organized” – the body snatchers shifted a heavy marble slab encasing his tomb and dug through several feet of dirt to reach the corpse before covering their tracks with lime. Three months after the act of sacrilege, the body was found in another cemetery in Nicosia after the police received an anonymous tip that the body had been moved there. DNA testing confirmed that the body was indeed the late president’s corpse.

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