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Friday, 3 January, 2003, 18:08 GMT
Profile: Glafcos Clerides
Glafcos Clerides
Clerides came back from the political wilderness in 1993
Glafcos Clerides' political career has been dominated by two struggles - first for Cyprus's independence and latterly for its unification.

He is now 83, but his energy seemed undiminished as he sought, unsuccessfully, a third term in office.

Correspondents say he wanted to go down in history as the leader who ended the division of Cyprus between Greeks and Turks, but this will now not happen.

Greek-Cypriot woman with pictures of her missing relatives
Many Greek Cypriots have been missing since the Turkish invasion
He was president of Cyprus from 1993 to 2003, but his role in shaping the Mediterranean island's future began many years earlier.

During World War II, he served in the British Royal Air Force and was shot down over Germany, spending years as a prisoner of war.

In the 1950s he trained as a barrister in London and defended Greek Cypriot guerrillas fighting British rule.

By coincidence, his opponent in the courtroom in Nicosia was prosecutor Rauf Denktash, now leader of self-declared Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.

Mr Clerides also prepared a dossier on violations of human rights in Cyprus by the British, which the Greek Government submitted to the Human Rights Commission of the Council of Europe.

But his heart was in politics and he became closely involved in negotiations leading up to Cyprus's independence in 1960.

Failed coup

Afterwards, he became president of the House of Representatives and when Turkish Cypriots withdrew from the government in 1963, he was once again using his negotiating skills to try to reach a settlement.

Mr Clerides supported Cyprus's first president, Archbishop Makarios, and the failure of an Athens-backed coup triggered the Turkish invasion in 1974, he became acting president and speaker of parliament.

When Makarios returned six months later, he left office amid criticism that he had overstepped his authority.

Stone thrower
UN peacekeepers patrol the border of Turkish and Greek Cyprus
In 1976 Mr Clerides founded the Democratic Rally Party which opposition parties claimed harboured right-wing elements implicated in the 1974 foiled coup.

Years in the political wilderness then followed - until 1993 when he was elected president.

During his two terms as president, Mr Clerides has forged closer ties with Greece and brought Cyprus to the brink of EU membership - it is scheduled to join in 2004.

He broadly favours the United Nations peace plan, which envisages Cyprus reunified as a federation with a central government but with distinct Greek and Turkish regions.

Mr Clerides is married to Lila-Irene and has a daughter, Katherine, who is a member of the House of the Representatives for the Democratic Rally Party.


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