By Peter Stevenson
THE STATE funeral of former president Glafcos Clerides will take place on Tuesday, the cabinet decided yesterday at an extraordinary meeting where it declared three days of national mourning. The day of the funeral will be a public holiday.
The Ministry of Education however stressed that schools will be closed only on Tuesday while the Ministry of Finance will decide whether banks will be closed as well. The Employers and Industrialists’ Federation said that Tuesday is not a holiday for the private sector but urged employers to accommodate their staff should they wish to attend the funeral.
Flags were flying at half mast over the presidential palace and all government buildings yesterday morning and the cabinet observed a minute’s silence during the meeting, which was chaired by House President Yiannakis Omirou in the absence of President Nicos Anastasiades.
Anastasiades has cut short his stay in Sri Lanka and returns to Cyprus today. He will deliver the eulogy at Clerides’ funeral. The veteran politician died on Friday evening at a private clinic in Nicosia aged 94.
The former president will lie in state on Monday between 9am and 7pm at the Tis Tou Theou Sofias Cathedral in Strovolos where the public can pay their last respects.
A book of condolences will be opened at the Presidential Palace for diplomats and politicians to sign. Books of condolences will also be available at all Cyprus embassies abroad. A special digital book of condolences will also be made available at www.clerides.org for those wishing to pay their respects online.
During the three days of mourning all official events will be postponed and members of the government, and other state officials, will not be attending any public events.
“It was the Cabinet’s decision and the will of the family, that the eulogy at the funeral be given by President Anastasiades,” government spokesman Christos Stylianides said.
An extraordinary House plenum, in honour of Clerides will be held on the day of the funeral at 9am to honour Clerides as a former deputy, House Speaker, party leader and President of the Republic.
All House committee meetings scheduled for Monday and Tuesday will be postponed as well as the Youth Parliament.
“Glafcos Clerides left a political legacy that no-one can ignore whether they agreed with him or not,” Anastasiades told the public broadcaster CyBC on Friday night.
“It is inconceivable for me to believe that Glafcos Clerides is no longer with us,” the clearly emotional president added.
Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides is also due to return to Cyprus today from the UAE. He will not be attending the meetings of the Foreign and General Affairs Council of the European Union in Brussels on November 18 and 19.
Clerides was not only a great political leader of international stature but a rare personality, Stylianides said.
“You could see that Clerides had political acumen and a strategic mind with regards to big political decisions but you could also see an unlimited dignity and self respect and a unique ethos,” he said.
Stylianides added that those who were close to the former president were not led by his words but by the example he set as a person.
Speaking during the special cabinet meeting, Omirou said that Clerides left an indelible mark on the troublesome course of Cyprus and its people.
“He was a great personality who honoured Cyprus, politics and universal principles and values,” he said.
Omirou also referred to Clerides’ role in reconstructing Cyprus and the economy following the 1974 Turkish invasion and the country’s route to EU membership which was the greatest achievement of Hellenism after the disaster of 1974.
“He was moderate and perceptive, a competent negotiator and a protagonist in the difficult and troublesome course of the Cyprus people during the last six decades,” Omirou said, adding that “he never evaded the struggles and agonies of his country and its people.”
“The synopsis of his life will always be an exhibit of virtues, especially today, in the difficult times the Cyprus people are going through,” Omirou said.
“His political course sets an example of morality, honesty, contribution, dedication to the duty, selfless contribution and decency. Cyprus, and Hellenism at large, will always remember him with love, appreciation and gratitude.”
Omirou invited the members of the Council of Ministers to observe a one-minute silence in the former president’s memory.