Politicians, dignitaries, and hundreds of ordinary people gathered Tuesday for the state funeral of Cyprus’s former president, Glafcos Clerides, who died on Friday at the age of 94.
The service was the culmination of a three-day mourning period for Clerides, whose statesmanship was the driving force behind the divided country’s successful European Union membership bid.
Hundreds of people applauded and shouted “Worthy!” as Clerides’s coffin, draped in the Cypriot and Greek flags, made its way to the Church of the Lord’s Wisdom in the capital Nicosia atop an artillery gun carriage that was flanked by a military guard of honor.
Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, Serbian President Tomislav Nikolic and Israel’s Tourism Minister Uzi Landau were among those in attendance. The leader of Cyprus’s Orthodox Christian Church, Archbishop Chrysostomos II, presided.
Samaras was joined in Nicosia by Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Evangelos Venizelos, Parliamentary Speaker Evangelos Meimarakis and Defense Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos.
“Clerides had the courage to face problems with daring and to create prospects,” Samaras said in a statement ahead of the funeral. “He had the gift of foresight and the virtue of pragmatism. All this was part of his undying vision for a truly free and happy Cyprus.”
In his eulogy, Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades thanked Clerides for teaching him that in times of crisis, the homeland is best served not by grand oratory, but “daring and determination to assume your responsibilities irrespective of the political cost.”
“Duty to country is to be useful, not to be adored,” said Anastasiades, who in March negotiated a painful, multi-billion-euro financial rescue that crushed the country’s banking sector. [AP/Kathimerini]