The socialist leader of EDEK, Vassos Lyssaridis, passed away on Monday at the age of 100 on Cyprus. He was married to Barbara Cornwall.
A former Speaker in Parliament and the Honorary President of EDEK, the Socialist leader was born on May 13, 1920. He was chairman of the House of Representatives from 1985t to 1991, the chairman of the Social Democrat Movement-EDEK from 1969-2001 and a Member of Parliament elected to represent the Nicosia Electoral District from 1960-2006.
Lyssaridis, who was born in Pano Lefkara, went on to study medicine at the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens. He worked as a physician.
Lyssaridis led life of struggle for decades
During his studies he served as the chairman of the Pan-Student Committee of the Cyprus Struggle. The committee organized mass events for the unification of Cyprus with Greece.
In addition, Lyssaridis was the president of the Cypriot Student Union and the secretary of the Coordinating Committee of Cypriot Associations. He participated in EOKA from 1955-1959.
Lyssaridis persuaded Georgios Grivas to create within the EOKA the “Organization of Left Patriots,” through which they could attract members of the Cypriot Left to the struggle.
Lyssaridis’ active participation in the EOKA struggle and his collaboration with Grivas against the British led to his expulsion from AKEL; the group accused him of being “the leader of the factional spiral” and ” an element that plays a worthy role as an agent of the Intelligence Service.”
Lyssaridis himself later claimed that “the Organization (EOKA), despite what is said, was not ideological in nature. I participated with my ideology in complete harmony, I never had a problem.”
The Socialist politician was closely associated with Archbishop Makarios, whom he served as a personal physician for many years.
He was a member of the Greek Cypriot delegation to London in 1959, representing EOKA, where the independence of Cyprus was decided. He voted against the Zurich-London Agreements, “emphasizing that they legitimize the military-political presence of Turkey and lead to Great Britain and Turkey.”
During the junta period in Greece, Lyssarides was closely associated with the Panhellenic Liberation Movement (PAK) and Andreas Papandreou, to whom he remained a loyal friend until the end.
According to the testimony of the leader of PAK, Costa Tsima, Lyssaridis was the one who “opened the doors” of the Arabs for the PAK, and with his mediation the Palestinians and Yasser Arafat helped the PAK and Andreas Papandreou with money, weapons and education.
Previously, in 1964, Lyssaridis, together with Tassos Papadopoulos, had organized the visit of Papandreou to Cyprus, where the friendship and collaboration between Papandreou and Makarios was born.
During the bi-communal unrest of 1963-1964, he led the People’s Army (under the auspices of the Cypriot state, liberating the Pentadaktylos).
He led the resistance against EOKA B and against the coup of July 15, 1974 as well as the coup d’etat. On August 15, he canceled the signing of the Gunes plan in the presence of several dozen uniformed gunmen and insisted that legitimacy would return only with the return of the legitimately-elected Archbishop Makarios.
On August 30, an assassination attempt was made against Lyssaridis in which the militant poet Doros Loizou was killed. Nevertheless, he continued the fight against the coup until the return of Makarios. He was continuously elected as a Member of Parliament from 1960 to 2006 and in the period 1985-1991 he served as Speaker of the Cypriot Parliament.
He was also secretary general of the ICSA, the International Commission against Racial Discrimination, which agitated for the release of Nelson Mandela.