By Elias Hazou
THE condition of ailing former President Glafcos Clerides is irreversible, his doctors said late Thursday.
“Sadly, it is just a matter of time,” Iosif Kassios, one of Clerides’ personal physicians, confirmed.
The former President had developed various complications, he said, but did not elaborate.
“His condition has deteriorated, it seems it is irreversible…and nature is taking its course,” added Kassios sombrely.
Earlier, Kassios had told the Mail that rumours Clerides had fallen into a coma were inaccurate. Nor was it true that the former President was transferred to the intensive care unit.
“He is calm in his bed…but the situation is grave,” the doctor said in a brief phone conversation around 8pm.
“His condition cannot be pinpointed to a single cause…it is many things, essentially it’s old age,” he added.
Clerides, 94, was admitted to the Evangelistria private clinic on Wednesday morning.
Friends and relatives flocked to his side once news broke early in the afternoon that Clerides was in critical condition. His daughter Katy and her husband were at the clinic until late into the night.
Also visiting the former President in the evening were House Speaker Yiannakis Omirou, the ministers of the interior and of transport, DISY leader Averof Neofytou and Clerides’ long-time associate Pandelis Kouros.
Clerides, who served two terms as President from 1993 to 2003, has had a troubled medical history, but had always recovered fully.
The former President has beaten both colon cancer and heart problems. In November 2011 he underwent surgery to remove a malignant tumour from his large intestine.
In February 2007 he was admitted to the American Heart Institute after suffering acute bronchitis. He underwent an angioplasty to open two narrowed coronary arteries.
More recently, in June of this year, he was treated for a leg infection and released a few days later.
Clerides quietly withdrew from the limelight in recent years, which he has spent in a veterans’ home in Pallodia.
One of his last public appearances was at a 2004 gathering of DISY, the party he founded; there, Clerides made a brief speech in favour of supporting the Annan Plan.
Born in Nicosia in April 1919, Clerides was the fourth President of Cyprus, serving two consecutive terms from 1993 to 2003.
During World War II, he served in the British Royal Air Force. In 1942 his plane was shot down over Germany and he was captured. He remained a prisoner of war until the end of the conflict. His name was mentioned in dispatches for distinguished services.
Following the war, he studied law at King’s College London, graduating in 1948, and later practiced law in Cyprus. He was a member of the EOKA organization that sought the liberation of Cyprus from British rule and participated in the uprising under the pseudonym “Ypereides.”
He participated in the 1959 London Conference on Cyprus and during the transitional period, from colonial administration to independence (1959–1960), he served as minister of justice.
In July 1960, Clerides was elected to the House of Representatives which, in turn, elected him as its first Speaker, a position he held until July 1976.
In this capacity he served for a few months as acting President of the Republic following the 1974 coup and subsequent invasion, until the return of Makarios to the island in December of that year.
In 1976 Clerides founded the rightwing Democratic Rally (Dimokratikos Synagermos, DISY).
After winning the presidential office twice, he ran for a third term but was defeated in the 2003 elections by Tassos Papadopoulos.
Clerides is credited with putting on track Cyprus’ application for accession to the European Union, finalised and signed by his successor Tassos Papadopoulos in 2004.
In June 2007 Clerides suffered a personal tragedy after losing his wife of many years, Lila-Irene. On offering his condolences, the late Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash, Clerides’ long-time political adversary, described them as “the most devoted couple.”
Often dubbed a latter-day Churchill, the cigar-chomping Clerides was known for his laconic but incisive remarks and a penchant for cracking jokes.