Clerides was the eldest son of the lawyer and stateman Ioannis Clerides.
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.
Following the war, he studied law at King's College London and later practiced law in Cyprus. He was a member of the EOKA organization that sought the union of Cyprus with Greece and participated in the struggle under the pseudonym "Yperides". One of his most famous accomplishments was a preparation of a dossier that enumerated and provided evidence of instances of Human Rights violations by the Imperial administration of Cyprus and its agents.
He briefly served as Minister of Justice of the transitional colonial state, and after independence was achieved he was elected the President of the House of Representatives at the first national elections. He held this position until July 1976.
After Cyprus became independent in 1960, Clerides gained political power as a member of the United Democratic Party. On July 23, 1974, amidst the turmoil following an invasion by Turkey and a military coup several days earlier, Clerides became acting President until it was safe for the previous President, Archbishop Makarios III to return to Cyprus and serve as President again later in 1974.
Later, as a member of the conservative Democratic Rally (Demokratikos Synagermos), he served as President for 10 years between 1993 and 2003. He was elected to two five-year terms, in 1993 and in 1998. In 1998 his main opponent was Georgios Iakovou. He was defeated in the Presidential elections of 2003 by Tassos Papadopoulos.
He was the author of the autobiographical overtoned depiction of the 20th century Cypriot History, ``My Deposition," of four volumes.
During his presidency Cyprus prospered significantly. Its stabilised economy made Cyprus the wealthiest of the ten inductees to the European Union in 2004. The Clerides administration is heavily credited with the ascension to the European Union. Clerides, with his suave Churchillian persona, was respected by world leaders at the time of his presidency, and locally he was a popular leader because of his accomplishments. He lost some of this popularity due to his strong support of the widely unpopular Annan Plan for the reunification of Cyprus, that came to be defeated by the Greek Cypriots in the 2004 referendum when the overwhelming Greek Cypriot majority voted against it.
|President of Cyprus
|President of Cyprus