By Poly Pantelides and George Psyllides
TRIBUTES to former President Glafcos Clerides began pouring in on Friday night soon after the news of his death at the age of 94.
Clerides personal physician announced the news in the evening.
“Unfortunately the great leader Glafcos Clerides left us at 6.20 pm,” Iosif Kassios said.
At his side were his daughter Katy and her husband Costas Shiammas.
Clerides had been admitted to the Evangelistria private clinic in critical condition on Wednesday morning.
From the first moment, his doctor said the former leader’s condition was critical and irreversible.
Earlier Friday, Kassios said he and Clerides had gone through a lot throughout the years and they had taken many difficult decisions.
“We always succeeded, thank God, but at this point I do not think we will make it,” Kassios told reporters.
Speaking to state broadcaster CyBC from Sri Lanka, an obviously upset President Nicos Anastasiades said Glafcos Clerides was more than “just a political father” to him.
“I feel so shocked,” Anastasiades said, adding he had not yet taken in Clerides’ death.
“Glafcos Clerides left behind him a political heritage that no one can ignore whether or not they agreed with him,” Anastasiades said.
He said he was looking to get on the earliest flight back home.
In a written statement later Anastasiades added he was proud to have served by Clerides’ side.
Widely respected, Clerides was one of the last European leaders who saw active service in World War Two as a gunner and wireless operator, escaping German concentration camps three times. He turned 94 in April but his health had deteriorated in recent years.
He was a “great European statesman”, the centre-right European People’s Party group at the European Parliament said in a tweet marking his death.
Joseph Daul, the head of the European People’s Party (EEP) also offered his condolences to his family and Cypriots.
“Clerides was a convinced European,” Daul said.
“Thanks to the statesmanship of Clerides, Cyprus finally joined the EU in 2004,” he added.
Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras said Cyprus had lost a “Great Greek,” adding Clerides was a sensible, daring and insightful man.
“Let me express my deep sorrow for his death and my sincere condolences to those close to him,” Samaras said.
The British High Commission said in a tweet marking his death that Clerides was “a true statesman and leader in every sense”.
Former aide to the Turkish Cypriot leadership Kudret Ozersay posted a picture of himself with Clerides on twitter. “Rest in peace Mr Clerides. My condolences to His family and the Greek Cypriot community…,” he said.
Archbishop Chrysostomos II said Clerides had given his best self to the country and the people.
“He’s left behind a legacy.”
He said that despite their disagreements, Clerides was courteous and respectful.
“He was never aggressive,” the Archbishop said referring to the way he dealt with those who disagreed with him.
Former President George Vassiliou said Clerides was a practical man, who saw things as they were and not as he wanted them to be.
“The thing is to describe the man. Anyone looking to analyse his work will see he was ready to deal with difficulties with realism and not by wishful thinking,” Vassiliou said.
Clerides had previously beaten colon cancer and fought through heart problems. In November 2011 he had surgery to remove a malignant tumour from his large intestine while a few years back in 2007 he had been admitted to the American Heart Institute after suffering acute bronchitis. He had an angioplasty to open two narrowed coronary arteries.
Cabinet is due to meet this morning to discuss official state actions in relation to Clerides’ death.
The leadership of DISY is also due to meet today to discuss what actions they will take to honour Clerides’ memory, an announcement said.