Papadopoulos, Tassos

▪ 2009

      Cypriot politician

born Jan. 7, 1934, Nicosia, Cyprus

died Dec. 12, 2008, Nicosia
triumphed over Pres. Glafcos Clerides and eight other candidates in 2003 to become the Republic of Cyprus's fifth president. In that position he called on the Greek Cypriot community to reject a UN-sponsored reunification plan and then oversaw the entry of the Greek portion of the island country into the EU in May 2004 and its adoption of the euro currency in January 2008. His later attempts to reach a settlement with the breakaway Turkish zone failed. Papadopoulos trained in law at London University's King's College and Gray's Inn and returned home in 1955 to practice law. A member of EOKA, the anti-British resistance group during the last years of colonial rule, he took part in the negotiations leading to independence in 1960. Afterward he became minister of the interior—the youngest member of the cabinet—and he later held other important posts. For years he was a political ally of Clerides, until he broke with his mentor in the mid-1970s. When Papadopoulos ran for office in 2003, as leader of the moderate-right Democratic Party (DIKO), his EOKA credentials tended to identify him with the right, but he was elected with the support of the Social Democrats and the communist-led Progressive Party of the Working People (AKEL). In February 2008 Papadopoulos lost his reelection bid and was succeeded by the AKEL candidate, Dimitris Christofias (Christofias, Dimitris ).

▪ 2004

      On Feb. 16, 2003, with a convincing 51.5% of the vote, Tassos Papadopoulos triumphed over Glafcos Clerides, president of Cyprus for the preceding 10 years, and eight other candidates to become the island nation's fifth president. Papadopoulos had a reputation as a constitutional expert, and his skill would soon be put to the test. The elections were held at a crossroads in Cyprus history, when Greek Cyprus was looking forward to joining the European Union (EU) in May 2004 and the status of Turkish Cyprus after that date was anything but finally resolved. Papadopoulos had no honeymoon period for getting settled in the job.

      Papadopoulos was born in the Cypriot capital, Lefkosia (Nicosia), on Jan. 7, 1934. He trained in law at London University's King's College and Gray's Inn and returned home to practice law. He was also drawn to politics and participated in the island's political life even before independence. A member of EOKA, the anti-British resistance group during the last years of colonial rule, Papadopoulos took part in the negotiations leading to independence in 1960. Afterward, he became minister of the interior—the youngest member of the cabinet—and he remained prominent in the island's politics for four decades. For years he was a political ally of Clerides, but he broke with him in the mid-1970s.

      Papadopoulos ran for office in 2003 as leader of the moderate-right Democratic Party (DIKO). Although his EOKA credentials tended to identify him with the right, he was elected with support of the Communist and Social Democrat parties. He billed his campaign as a “ticket of change,” and characterized the Clerides administration as being “in tatters.” Clerides, he said, had given too much away in the UN-sponsored unification talks and had allowed domestic issues to drift while he concentrated on unifying the Greek and Turkish sectors and gaining EU membership.

      As president Papadopoulos had perception problems to overcome. He was seen by some as being anti-Turkish, and allegations circulated that his law firm had assisted Serbia in circumventing the UN embargo in the 1990s. Turkish Cypriot Pres. Rauf Denktash, who had enjoyed a productive personal relationship with Clerides despite their differences, remarked that he could not do business with the new Greek Cypriot president, citing Papadopoulos's “Turk-bashing” past. Rhetoric aside, Papadopoulos established himself as a tough negotiator but rejected his anti-Turk image. He reached out to Turkish Cypriots, asking them to judge him by his actions and stressing the benefits to all Cypriots of unification and EU membership.

George H. Kelling

* * *


Universalium. 2010.

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