Cyprus ex-President Glafcos Clerides, who oversaw his country’s entry into the EU in 2004, has died at the age of 94 in a Nicosia hospital.
Glafcos Clerides’ personal doctor confirmed the news after reports that he was in a critical condition due to his age and past health problems.
He served two terms, from 1993 to 2003, and was briefly acting president during the 1974 Turkish invasion.
President Glafcos Clerides is the man who steered Cyprus into EU
However, his career in Cypriot politics spanned half a century.
Glafcos Clerides was a “great European statesman”, the centre-right European People’s Party group at the European Parliament said in a tweet marking his death.
In an obituary, the Cyprus Mail noted that he “may fondly be remembered by the international community as the sparring partner of long-time nemesis Rauf Denktash, the leader of the self-declared Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus who died last year.
Glafcos Clerides backed a UN reunification plan, which was approved by Turkish Cypriots but rejected by Greek Cypriots in separate votes in 2004.
Glafcos Clerides was also one of the last European leaders who saw active service in World War Two. As a gunner in the Royal Air Force, he was shot down over Germany and captured but tried to escape from captivity at least twice.
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Nicos Anastasiades has won the Cypriot presidential election with 57.5% of the vote.
It was a comfortable victory of the centre-right leader over Communist-backed Stavros Malas on 42.5%. Stavros Malas has conceded victory.
Nicos Anastasiades takes power as Cyprus stands on the brink of bankruptcy, hit by the knock-on effect of Greece’s economic woes.
He favors a quick deal with foreign lenders to finalize a bailout of the Cypriot economy.
“It is a clear and strong mandate for change, for reform, for our country to exit this vicious circle of crisis,” Tasos Mitsopoulos, Nicos Anastasiades’s spokesman, told reporters according to Reuters news agency.
Jubilant supporters of Nicos Anastasiades’s Democratic Rally party waved Greek and Cypriot flags, honked car horns and set off firecrackers in the capital Nicosia as the results came in, said reports.
But Stavros Malas warned his party would be “severe critics of anything that diverts from the interest of the people or the country”, said AFP news agency.
The Cypriot economy is in recession and the state has little money in its accounts.
Nicos Anastasiades has won the Cypriot presidential election with 57.5 percent of the vote
Cyprus first asked the EU for a bailout last July to shore up its banks.
Because of the bailout deal for Greece, and the restructuring of its debts, which saw private bondholders suffer big losses, Cypriot banks lost about 75% of their investments.
However, the Cypriot bailout deal has foundered in protracted negotiations.
The new president will have to finalize a deal with the other 16 countries that use the euro and with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
Stavros Malas supported a bailout but opposed austerity. Last week’s first round in the presidential election failed to produce a decisive result.
Nicos Anastasiades will aim to exploit massive natural gas finds off Cyprus’s coast, bringing in badly needed income and energy, but risking escalating tensions with Turkey.
He will also be under pressure to reach out to Turkish Cypriots in the north of the island, cut off since Cyprus was formally divided along ethnic lines almost four decades ago.
Who is Nicos Anastasiades?
- 66-year-old lawyer
- A member of parliament since 1981 and leader of his centre-right DISY (the Democratic Rally) party since 1997
- Says he would support austerity measures which would accompany an EU/IMF rescue package, saying the election is about “the survival of the country”
- Heavy smoker known for straight-talking style – sometimes seen as autocratic
- Widely respected despite political humiliation nine years ago when he supported a UN blueprint to reunify the island that was later rejected by the public