Demetris Christofias

Demetris Christofias, Greek: Δημήτρης Χριστόφιας, is a left-wing Greek Cypriot politician who has been the sixth President of Cyprus since 2008.

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Demetris Christofias[1] (also spelled Dimitris Christofias), Greek: Δημήτρης Χριστόφιας, (born 29 August 1946) is a left-wing Greek Cypriot politician who has been the sixth President of Cyprus since 2008. Christofias was the General Secretary of AKEL and is Cyprus's first, and the European Union's first and so far only, communist head of state. He won the 2008 Cypriot presidential elections in the second round of voting. Throughout the election campaign, he pledged to restart talks with Turkish Cypriots in order to find a solution to the Cyprus dispute and reunify the island. He has also supported the closure of the British military bases on Cyprus.[2]

Biography

Christofias had his secondary-school education at Nicosia Commercial Lyceum, from where he graduated in 1964. At the age of 14, he joined the progressive secondary-school students organisation PEOM and at the age of 18 he joined EDON (AKEL's United Democratic Youth Organisation), PEO Trade Unions and AKEL. In 1969, at the 5th Congress of EDON, he was elected member of the Central Council.

Christofias studied at the Institute of Social Sciences and the Academy of Social Sciences in Moscow. In Moscow he met his wife, Elsie Chiratou, and later returned to Cyprus and political life.

Dimitris Christofias married Elsie (Chiratou) Christofias in 1972 and they have three children – two daughters, Marianna and Christina, and a son, Christos.[3]

Career

Public figure



Presidents of Russia and Cyprus annual meeting in Moscow (2008)





Cyprus president Dimitris Christofias and Cyprus first lady with U.S. President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama (2009)

In 1974 Christofias was elected to the post of the Central Organising Secretary of EDON and in 1977 of General Secretary. At this post he served till 1987. In 1976 he was elected member of the Nicosia-Kyrenia District Committee of AKEL, and in 1982 – at the 15th Congress of AKEL – he was elected member of the Central Committee of the Party.

In July 1986 Christofias was elected alternate member of the Political Bureau of the C.C. of AKEL. After the 16th Congress of AKEL, held in November 1986, he was elected full member of the P.B. of C.C. AKEL and in 1987 (after terminating his service as General Secretary of EDON) he was elected member of the Secretariat of C.C. AKEL. In April 1988, following the death of Ezekias Papaioannou, he was elected General Secretary of the C.C. AKEL, a post he held until 2009.

Rise to local leadership

Christofias was elected Member of the House of Representatives for the first time in 1991 and was re-elected in the subsequent parliamentary elections of 1996 and 2001. On 7 June 2001, he was elected President of the House of Representatives. He was re-elected as president of the House of Representatives in 2006. In his function of General Secretary of the C.C. AKEL and President of the House of Representatives, he was a Member of the National Council, a supreme advisory body to the President of the Republic.

Christofias was ex officio chairman of the House Standing Committee on Selection and chairman of the Ad Hoc House Standing Committee on Rules of Procedure and of the Special House Standing Committee on Declaration and Examination of Property. He was also president of the executive committees of the Cyprus Group to the Inter-Parliamentary Union (I.P.U.) and of the Cyprus Branch of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (C.P.A.).

2008 presidential election



Rabbi Arie Zeev Raskin with president Demetris Christofias (2008)

The first round of the February 2008 presidential election, held on 17 February, saw a close result between the three leading candidates—Christofias, Ioannis Kasoulides of DISY, and the incumbent Tassos Papadopoulos—Christofias narrowly placing second with 33.3% of the vote, behind Kasoulidis with 33.5%. Christofias and Kasoulidis participated in a second round on February 24[4] for which Christofias received the backing of Papadopoulos's party, DIKO.[5] Christofias went on to win the election with 53.37% of the vote.[6] After his success he pledged to restart talks to find a solution to reunify the island. In addressing a jubilant crowd in the Cyprus capital Nicosia's streets the new president-elect said he looked forward to "substantial cooperation for the benefit of both communities." [7] "Tomorrow, a new day begins. We will see many difficulties ahead of us. As of tomorrow, we unite our forces...to achieve the reunification of our country,"[8]

Christofias was sworn in as President at a ceremony in the House of Representatives on 28 February 2008, vowing that "the solution of the Cyprus problem will be the top priority of my government".[9] Although proud to be a communist, he says he will leave the free market economy alone.[10] While much of the focus beyond Cyprus has been on Mr Christofias's communist background and education in Moscow, on the island voters have been more concerned with a solution to Europe's longest running conflict[11]—the island's partition since 1974.

Government



Official welcoming ceremony of Dmitry Medvedev by Dimitris Christofias in Nicosia (2010)

On February 29, 2008, Christofias proceeded to appoint his Government. Christofias' first government was a coalition between his own party AKEL, Marios Garoyian's Democratic Party and Yiannakis Omirou's Movement for Social Democracy. Christofias started talks with Mehmet Ali Talat on the reunification of Cyprus as a bizonal federal state,[12] but his hopes for Greek Cypriot approval of such a plan were soon scotched by the nationalist's victory in the 2009 parliamentary elections.[12]

Cyprus's cabinet tendered its resignation on July 28, 2011, bowing to political and public pressure after a massive munitions blast at Evangelos Florakis Naval Base threatened to force the island into asking for an EU bailout. President Christofias asked the people of Cyprus in his speech not to re-live episodes of the 1974 invasion, as crowds of citizens demanded his resignation over his alleged involvement in the blast. Both EDEK and DIKO had withdrawn their support for Christofias by the beginning of August 2011.

On 3 October 2011 the results of the investigation regarding the Evangelos Florakis Naval Base explosion were released to the public, placing the blame for the incident mainly on President Christofias, holding him “personally and institutionally responsible” for the blast.[13][14] Christofias rejected the results of the investigation and denied any personal responsibility for the tragedy.[15]

On 9 October 2011, the police report, "prepared by head of CID at police HQ", "recommend the prosecution of 12 people". The police rejected claims they were trying to protect the Presidential palace officials with their report, instead asserting that the "police perform their duties “impartially and objectively”". The police also report that they "carefully avoided saying who and how many we propose to take to court, because the final word on who will be brought to justice rests with the AG...in no way did we want to stigmatise someone who the AG may later judge there is insufficient evidence to prosecute”. [16]

References

  1. Christofias Demetris. Curriculum Vitae. presidency.gov.cy
  2. "Cyprus elects its first communist president", The Guardian, 25 February 2008.
  3. Michele Kambas (February 24, 2008). "FACTBOX — Five facts about Cyprus leftist Christofias". Reuters. http://www.reuters.com/article/2008/02/17/us-cyprus-election-christofias-idUSL1768541220080217.
  4. "Incumbent eliminated from Cyprus presidential election in major surprise", Associated Press (International Herald Tribune), 17 February 2008.
  5. "Communist chief gains edge in Cyprus poll", AFP (news.com.au), 21 February 2008.
  6. "Presidential Election 2008: Run-off Election: Official results". Cypriot government. 2008-02-24. http://www.ekloges.gov.cy/index.aspx?ci=en-GB. Retrieved 2008-02-24.[dead link]
  7. "Christofias wins Cyprus presidency". CNN. 2008-02-24. Archived from the original on 2008-02-29. http://web.archive.org/web/20080229001913/http://edition.cnn.com/2008/WORLD/europe/02/24/cyprus.election.ap/index.html. Retrieved 2008-02-25.
  8. USA Today "Christofias wins Cyprus presidential election" 25 February 2008. Usatoday.com (2008-02-24). Retrieved on 2011-12-17.
  9. "New Cyprus president takes office with pledge for solution", Xinhua (People's Daily Online), February 28, 2008.
  10. Kambas, Michele. (2008-02-24) Reuters "Communist Christofias Wins Cyprus Presidential Vote" February 24 2008. Uk.reuters.com. Retrieved on 2011-12-17.
  11. Birch, Nicholas. (2008-02-25) The Independent "Leftist victory revives hopes for a united Cyprus" Monday 25 February 2008. Independent.co.uk. Retrieved on 2011-12-17.
  12. "Cyprus country profile". BBC News. 27 May 2011. Archived from the original on 28 July 2011. http://web.archive.org/web/20110728172734/http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/country_profiles/1016541.stm.
  13. Kambas, Michele (3 October 2011). "Independent probe blames Cyprus leader for blast". Reuters. http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/10/03/us-cyprus-blast-inquiry-idUSTRE7921L920111003.
  14. Mari probe: President is blamed for blast. Cyprus Mail (2011-10-04). Retrieved on 2011-12-17.
  15. "Cyprus president denies blame for munitions blast". Reuters. 3 October 2011. http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/10/03/cyprus-blast-president-idUSL5E7L33SS20111003.
  16. Outcry as ‘leaked report’ puts some blast responsibility on the dead. Cyprus Mail (2011-10-09). Retrieved on 2011-12-17.