Glafcos Clerides: Man who steered Cyprus into EU dies

Glafcos Clerides (right) shakes hands with Rauf Denktash near Nicosia, 4 December 2001  Clerides (right) will be remembered as the sparring partner of Denktash (left)

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Former Cypriot President Glafcos Clerides, who oversaw his country's entry into the EU in 2004, has died at the age of 94 in a Nicosia hospital.

His personal doctor confirmed the news after reports that he was in a critical condition due to his age and past health problems.

Clerides served two terms, from 1993 to 2003, and was briefly acting president during the 1974 Turkish invasion.

However his career in Cypriot politics spanned half a century.

He was a "great European statesman", the centre-right European People's Party group at the European Parliament said in a tweet marking his death.

In an obituary, the Cyprus Mail noted that he "may fondly be remembered by the international community as the sparring partner of long-time nemesis Rauf Denktash, the leader of the self-declared Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus who died last year.

He backed a UN reunification plan, which was approved by Turkish Cypriots but rejected by Greek Cypriots in separate votes in 2004.

Clerides was also one of the last European leaders who saw active service in World War Two. As a gunner in the Royal Air Force, he was shot down over Germany and captured but tried to escape from captivity at least twice.

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