By Constantinos Psyllides
Former Cyprus Republic president Glafcos Clerides was a fierce warrior for peace with a vision for a reunified Cyprus, but he was never fortunate enough to have as an interlocutor at the negotiating table someone like Mustafa Akinci, said President Nicos Anastasiades on Monday, speaking at the opening of an exhibition of the former president’s personal effects.
“Today, I have the privilege to be here with Mustafa Akinci, a Turkish Cypriot leader, who shares the same vision. A vision of transforming Cyprus into a model of ethnic, cultural, religious and linguistic cooperation and coexistence,” said the president, adding that both leaders agree on the fact that turning that vision into reality will not materialise overnight.
Calling Clerides his personal mentor, Anastasiades said that he was deeply committed and determined to put an end to the status quo, “and reunify our country and its people in a prosperous European member state, fulfilling in this way the promise to Glafcos Clerides.”
The president called Clerides “a perceptive visionary” that understood world politics and Cyprus’ position on the geopolitical map.
“With a calm, dialectical, moderate yet courageous approach, Clerides became the proponent of the main political school of thought in Cyprus politics. His realism, coupled with his Europeanism, envisioned a peaceful Cyprus, a member of the larger European family, and a state in which all its citizens would enjoy equal rights to life, education, prosperity and security,” said Anastasiades. “He considered the accession of Cyprus to the EU as a historical achievement for his country and its people. An achievement that was never a given, or an easy one, but to which he dedicated his political life and applied his political skills with ultimate success.”
Akinci also praised Clerides’ vision of a reunified Cyprus, saying that he was an exceptional person. Akinci quoted the poem by Greek poet Constantine Kavafis “Ithaca”, saying that the two sides should always keep their sights on the end of the journey. Akinci said that within the frame of a bi-communal, bi-zonal federation both Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots can live harmoniously. “We should join forces to achieve our goal,” said the Turkish Cypriot leader.
Glafcos Clerides was the fourth Cyprus president and served from 1993 to 2003. He died on November 15, 2013. The collection of his personal effects, which include medals, certificates and photographs, is on display at the Costas and Rita Severis Centre of Visual Arts and Research in Nicosia. The exhibition runs from September 8 until September 19.