Cyprus Mail

Rolandis’ memoirs tell of a forgetful Castro, stingy Thatcher

Nicos Rolandis, Margaret Thatcher and Spyros Kyprianou

By Evie Andreou

A new book by political veteran Nicos Rolandis promises lots of interesting anecdotes about the world leaders and international personalities encountered by the former foreign minister, commerce minister and MP throughout his long political career.

The hardcover 432-page book in Greek, ‘Maties stin Zoi and stin Istoria’ (A glimpse in life and history) published by Elias Epiphaniou Publications will be launched on May 16.

Rolandis – “the oldest former foreign minister of Hellenism still alive” – narrates his encounters with heads of state from all over the world: royalty, beauty pageant winners, a pope, “historic leaders” such as Fidel Castro, Yasser Arafat and Josip Tito, international personalities such as David Rockefeller, Chuck Norris, Katherine Graham and many more.

“During my involvement in the political space I have had meetings, substantive contacts or consultations with at least 160 international personalities,” Rolandis says in the prologue to his book.

Rolandis started his political career in 1976 and has served in various political and state offices. He was also the first minister to look into the possibility of a gas find off the Cyprus coast in 1998.

His political path was not always smooth, particularly with Cyprus’ second president, Spyros Kyprianou.

“I resigned from my post as foreign minister in September of 1983 due to my disagreement with President Kyprianou on the Cyprus problem,” he writes.

While much of the book focuses on the serious political encounters, challenges and changes he has seen over his many years in politics, it is also peppered with humorous anecdotes.

Among them are the time anarchists threw eggs and lemons at the then Greek foreign minister Constantinos Mitsotakis when he visited Cyprus in 1981, the story of British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, who “instead of the £200m we had asked for, offered us a £7m loan”, and a meeting with Fidel Castro who had forgotten President Makarios had died.

Then there was the time the Cypriot delegation was almost kicked out of the Oval Office because the then US President Ronald Reagan did not immediately realise who they were.

Another chapter tells the story of how after a visit to Libya Rolandis had to chase after a departing airplane on the runway because it had set off without him. Yet another mentions the two ambassadors who fell asleep while President Spyros Kyprianou was delivering a long speech.

The book launch will take place on May 16 at 7pm at the events hall of the ‘Archangelos’ cultural centre of Kykkos Monastery in Lakatameia, Nicosia.

The event will be addressed by the daughter of Rolandis, Ariana Hadjikyriacou, President Nicos Anastasiades, Foreign Minister Nikos Christodouldies and publisher Elias Epiphaniou.

The author will sign books at 6.30pm.

For more information on the event: