Tassos Papadopoulos is dead, struck down by lung cancer, having lived 74 years, nearly all of which were dedicated to the struggle of Cypriot Hellenism, to rid itself of British colonialism, to unite the island with the rest of Greece, to defend it against Turkish Cypriot terrorism, the Greek junta and their American masters, to resist the Turkish invasion and occupation and the scurrilous plans of the international community to wipe Cypriot Hellenism from the face of the earth and consign it to history and memory.
Papadopoulos joined EOKA aged 21 at the outbreak of the war against British rule in 1955, and as the struggle intensified became head of operations in the Nicosia district. In 1958, Papadopoulos was put in charge of EOKA's political wing, PEKA, responsible for directing the war of information, promoting the case for Enosis domestically and internationally. In 1959, Papadopoulos and Vassos Lyssarides were the only members of the Cypriot delegation (apart from communist AKEL delegates, under instructions from Moscow) who voted against the London and Zurich agreements, which granted Cyprus a restricted, poisoned form of independence; after which Papadopoulos served in a variety of senior positions in President Makarios' governments, in a period characterised by enormous economic and social strides on the island and the successful containment of Turkish Cypriot terrorist militias; until the Athens-CIA engineered coup in 1974, when Makarios was ousted and Papadopoulos arrested and imprisoned by the treasonous regime.
After the Turkish invasion and Makarios' restoration, Papadopoulos was part of the Greek Cypriot negotiating team in the intercommunal talks, heading it from 1976-1978. With Makarios' death and the subsequent presidencies of Spyros Kyprianou, Georgios Vassiliou and Glafkos Clerides, Papadopoulos was estranged from the centre of power and became known as a strident critic of continuing concessions to the Turks. In 2000, after an ailing Kyprianou stood down as head of the Democratic Party, Papadopoulos was elected leader, opening the way for his successful bid for the Cyprus presidency in 2003.
As president, Papadopoulos oversaw the island's entry into the EU in 2004 and in the same year saved Cypriot Hellenism from disaster – and Hellenism more generally from disgrace – by resisting the extraordinary pressure from the USA, the UK, the UN and the EU to accept the despicable Annan plan, which would have turned Cyprus into an Anglo-Turkish protectorate.
In a famous television address, two weeks before Greek Cypriots were due to vote in a referendum on the Annan plan, Papadopoulos, in a manner worthy of Hellenic defiance down the centuries, urged the Greeks of Cyprus to say 'ένα δυνατό Όχι' (a resounding No) to the shameful UN formula and to continue the fight for Cyprus' deliverance from the Turkish occupation.
Below are excerpts from Papadopoulos' address of 7 April 2004. Read the whole thing here:
'In these conditions of particular historic importance, I feel obliged to address myself to you, the sovereign people of Cyprus. Every people formulates and writes its own history. At times with liberation and social struggles, at times with democratic procedures through voting. Now the Cypriot people is called on singularly and collectively to write the history of the future of Cyprus.
'Our country is going through the most dramatic hours in its age-old history. Decisive times not only for the present and for our own generation but also for the future and the coming generations as well.
'I am convinced that the whole of the political leadership of this country and each and every one of you fully realise the gravity of the decision we are called on to make with the referendum of the 24 April… This decision belongs exclusively to the Cypriot people. I hope our foreign friends will respect the people and the Republic of Cyprus. I hope they will understand that interventions and pressure offend the dignity of the Cypriot people, that they are contrary to the express provisions of the UN Charter and that in the end they are counterproductive.’
(Papadopoulos then proceeded to give a detailed denunciation of the Annan plan, before concluding…)
'My fellow Cypriots… My feelings are no different than yours. I have dedicated myself to your service all my life, but particularly since my election as president of the Republic. All my actions have been aimed at and guided by the interests of the people and nothing else, dedicating myself to its service and carrying out my responsibilities with frankness, in words and deeds. The final decision was and will always be yours. Your verdict will be expressed in the 24 April referendum.
'Taking into account all the elements, in a calm and objective spirit, and being fully aware of the historic moments we are living in and the share of responsibility I bear, I am truly sorry to say that I cannot endorse the Annan plan as it has been finally shaped.
'I took charge of an internationally recognised state. I am not going to hand over ''a community'', with no say internationally and in search of a guardian. And all this in exchange for empty and misleading hopes, and the baseless illusion that Turkey will keep its promises.
'On 24 April you will vote either Yes or No to the Annan plan. You will decide the present and future of Cyprus. You will decide for our generation and the generations that will come after us.
'I trust your judgment. I am certain you will not be affected by false dilemmas, nor will you be scared by threats about alleged international isolation. I am certain you are not convinced when it is claimed that this is the last chance.
'I am sure that for you the moral principles and values of our people, its culture and national historic life, are still worth a great deal to you and you aspire to continue living in security and freedom and with justice and peace.
'Greeks of Cyprus… in weighing the advantages and disadvantages of voting Yes or No, it is clear that the consequences of Yes will be heavier and more onerous; and so I call on you to reject the Annan plan. I call on you to say a resounding No on 24 April. I call on you to defend justice, your dignity and history.
'With a sense of responsibility towards the history, present and future of Cyprus and to our people, I call on you not to mortgage the future to Turkey's political whims; to defend the Republic of Cyprus, to say No to its dissolution; and to mobilise for a new, hopeful course aimed at reunifying our country, inside the European Union.'