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Speech by the General Secretary of the C.C. of AKEL S. Stephanou at the Memorial Service for Demetris Christofias



18 June 2023


Today we commemorate the memory of Demetris Christofias. We honor the memory of a leader who marked the modern history of our country with his presence, a man who, no matter how high he rose, remained humane, modest and humble with integrity to the very end.

I do not aim to make a political assessment of D. Christofias’ work and intense presence in AKEL and our country’s political life. This brief speech does not permit me to do so, nor do I aim to reply to the unjust accusations that various people in an unfair and petty way have been launching for years against D. Christofias, even after he passed away. I believe that the space in which we find ourselves does not lend itself to such an approach. Most of all, I believe that such an approach would diminish the stature, the resonance that D. Christofias has.

I want to focus in particular more on the human dimension of D.Christofias. Whether one disagreed or agreed with him, one cannot deny the fact that he left a strong imprint on AKEL, the Left in general, on the political affairs of the country and our country’s modern history.

Christofias, coming from the common people and regardless of the offices he held, remained throughout his life genuine, accessible, sensitive, truthful and sincere. In politics he remained dialectical, consistent with the ideals of peace, freedom, justice and solidarity in which he firmly believed, while he was always persistent in achieving the goals he set.

But above all, what stood out in D. Christofias was his humanity. Rather than the harsh arena of politics changing him, Christofias achieved the opposite. He succeeded in infusing political engagement with his fundamental characteristic: humanity.

For him, politics became meaningful only when it served the common people and their needs. That was his motto. That was his ideological identity. In the long years of close cooperation we had and in the many discussions we had about political struggle and ideology, D. Christofias often repeated that the central axis on which the ideology and actions of the Left revolves is love for the people. “The Left strives to make people more human and societies more humane”, he repeated with conviction.

His humanity, together with his earthiness, simplicity and innate humor, made him very dear to the people, forming – without seeking to do so – an exemplary politician who set the bar very high for all of us.

Dear friends,

Four years after D. Christofias passed away, his absence remains as pronounced as his presence in public affairs and Party life. A presence that was characterised by his strong personality, his solid opinions and political courage to step forward where difficult and controversial situations arose. From the very beginning of his assumption of office as leader of AKEL, he faced great difficulties and challenges. He had to maintain the unity of AKEL, its leading role in political life, but also to look ahead, to look far ahead, to chart policy in the new conditions, in a different context.

Christofias did not just act as the head of AKEL; he proved himself to be a leader. He managed to convince, inspire and work collectively, but also to be the first to pull ahead. He dared to think ‘outside the box’, to act radically and boldly, to breathe new life into it, to go off the beaten track. A pragmatist who acted based on principles, D. Christofias did exactly what the Movement needed to do at that moment. He identified the needs of progress and made them the political agenda of the Left, writing history for the good of the country, the people, workers and society. This made him a historic leader of AKEL and an influential figure of the left movement internationally.

I have said that I will not make an overall political assessment of his work and I will remain consistent with that. But in honoring his memory, I cannot overlook the fact that life stubbornly brings before us chapters of the political legacy left behind by D. Christofias.

More than ten years after the completion of his Presidency and four years after he passed away, the convergences on the Cyprus problem that he managed to achieve [during his Presidency] after many efforts constitute a reference point for the international community and all those who sincerely want and are seeking a solution. For D. Christofias, the solution of the Cyprus problem on the agreed basis and framework was his life goal.

The solution of the Cyprus problem was the decisive motivation for him to run for the Presidency of the Republic. For a united and peaceful Cyprus, a people united in a common bicommunal state. This was his great vision. Failure to achieve this goal was his greatest bitterness, which he took with him when he passed away. Speaking of the importance of the convergences that were registered, I cannot but mention what Alekos Merkids (Note: former Attorney General and leading official of     DISY) said, with whom D. Christofias had forged a relationship based on mutual respect, even though they belonged to different political spectrums. Alekos Merkids said: “Mr. Christofias left behind important, beneficial and valuable convergences for all of Cyprus. I hope they don’t get lost. History will restore much of what was unjustly attributed to him“.

The memory of D. Christofias becomes even more vivid when today everyone refers to energy developments in our country and region. A chapter that under his administration D. Christofias opened very decisively, but unfortunately, in the administration that subsequently emerged was not followed up, resulting in the loss of valuable time.

The memory of D. Christofias becomes more vivid when, in times of the growth of corruption and entanglement/interwoven interests, friends but also opponents alike refer to the man’s ethics and the honesty of his administration.


Dear friends,

Throughout his entire political life, D. Christofias remained committed to his beliefs, to the Marxist-Leninist ideology that guided him, to the people themselves, Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots. I feel the need here to point out the strong relations he had established with the Turkish Cypriot community, being a political leader who in practice promoted the policy of rapprochement of the two communities against nationalism and bigotry.

His greatest accolades were not the titles, awards and decorations he had received. It was the genuine and sincere tears that flowed from the eyes of thousands of ordinary people as they bid their final farewell. They did so because they felt that a man passed away who never sold them out, who never cheated them, who never said one thing in front of the cameras and another behind closed doors. Because they felt that he was one of them, who lived, served and fought for them. For a social and just state that supported the people and gave perspective to the young people, to whom he always considered great importance and paid special attention to.

Christofias was generous, both as a man and a politician. Throughout his political career he often found himself in disagreement and at odds with his political opponents, sometimes in high tones. But he never crossed the line, never engaged in personal attacks targeting or, even more so, smearing and undermining them. And although he himself was the victim of unprecedented destructive attacks resembling cannibalism, and despite the fact that this traumatized him mentally and emotionally, he nevertheless continued to act with the same magnanimity.

Unfortunately, this magnanimity was never returned. Even today, four years after he has passed away, his memory is frequently treated with resentment and pettiness.

Mr. President of the Republic,

I would like to express my appreciation for the fact that you are honoring the memory of D. Christofias with your presence here today. I personally know that you had a long acquaintance stretching back to the period when D. Christofias was still President of the House of Representatives, perhaps even before. Let me take advantage of your presence to raise again the issue of paying tribute and recognition to a man who selflessly and with immense patriotism gave his all for our Cyprus that he loved so much.

I believe that Demetris Christofias also deserves to be honored by the State, just as all recent Presidents of the Republic have, even politicians who did not hold the highest office of the Republic of Cyprus, have been honored by naming public buildings, stadiums, gymnasiums, roads and even the Larnaca International Airport after them. This is a request that AKEL has been making for a long time, but unfortunately it has not received a response. The honor attributed by the State to people who have offered a lot, first and foremost, honors our political culture, whose standing we must all try to keep high.

Dear friends,

If there’s one thing that is left behind when someone passes away, it’s his/hers memory. For those of us who knew, lived and worked with Christofias, it is as if he never left. Because he left behind a strong, living imprint of his struggle. In everything he did, everything he lived, everything he built. His political legacy is for AKEL and the People’s Movement a legacy and a debt. To march forward to vindicate the expectations of the working people, of the many, of society. To struggle for the Cyprus we long for, for the future we assert, for freedom, justice, for the people and the world we envision.


May his memory live on!













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