Dr. Vassos Lyssarides Visit to South Africa 25-28 October 2012
The Honorary President of the Movement for Social Democracy EDEK and former President of the House of Representatives of the Republic of Cyprus Dr. Vassos Lyssarides visited South Africa between 25-28 October 2012 as guest of the South African Government.
On 26 October 2012, H.E. the President of the Republic of South Africa Mr. Jacob Zuma bestowed the Order of the Companions of OR Tambo to Dr. Lyssarides at a special Ceremony held at Sefako Makgatho Presidential Guest House in Pretoria.
The event was part of honouring the legacy of national hero and icon, former African National Congress (ANC) President Oliver Reginald Tambo, after whom the National Order is named. The Order is awarded to foreign nationals and other foreign dignitaries for friendship shown to South Africa and its people.
The Order of the Companions of OR Tambo was bestowed to Dr. Lyssarides for his excellent contribution to the protection and defence of human rights and support in the struggle for the liberation of Africa. The curriculum vitae of Dr. Lyssarides published in the official publication of the Awards Ceremony is as follows:
“Vassos Lyssarides was born on May 13th 1920 in a small mountainous village in the Larnaca district called Lefkara in Cyprus. Dr Lyssarides is known as a man of vision and an optimist, with a firm belief in human equality. He is the founder of the Socialist Party of Cyprus, was its president for 33 years and is now its Honorary President.
He was, and still is an ideologist, who has the gift of looking at life realistically and offers visionary solutions. He is often disappointed and deeply disturbed, however, by developments which he sees as contrary to the well being and integrity of his country or to the detriment of both Greek and Turkish Cypriot communities.
His contribution to political life, not only of this island but also internationally is far-reaching. He served as President of the Committee for Peace in Cyprus from which he resigned when the Soviet troops invaded Czechoslovakia. He was Vice-President of the Afro-Asian People's Solidarity Organization and at the head of ICSA (International Committee in Solidarity with South Africa) which worked vigorously for the release of Nelson Mandela.
Dr Lyssarides has also helped freedom fighters from Africa and throughout his political career, meeting almost all of the African liberation leaders, either in a personal capacity or as General Secretary of ICSA.
He was deeply involved in the EOKA struggle in Cyprus against Colonial Britain from 1955 to 1959 and also treated fighters and offered them refuge in his Nicosia clinic. At the time, Dr Lyssarides had also established the movement of leftwing patriots and became a political district officer.
At the London Conference later he acted as a representative of EOKA and voted against the Zurich - London agreements which ended the guerrilla-led rebellion in Cyprus. He believed that the arrangement was not functional as it was based on racial distinction and was most divisive.
Dr Vassos Lyssarides was elected to the Cyprus House of Representatives in 1960 upon independence and was a member of the House till 2006. He served as President of the House of Representatives between 1985-1991. He was also the leader of the Popular army during the 1963-64 intercommunal violence that followed the Turkish Cypriot withdrawal from the state apparatus, which was instigated by Turkey.
In 1969 he founded EDEK, the Socialist political party of Cyprus and was its President until 2002. He is now the Party's Honorary President and is still active in politics”.
Dr. Lyssarides participated at the 3rd ANC International Solidarity Conference and addressed the conference.
On 27 October he attended a luncheon at the Sheraton Hotel in Pretoria with his two old friends, the former Minister in the Presidency of South Africa Mr. Essop Pahad and the former Deputy Minister of International Relations and Cooperation of South Africa Mr. Aziz Pahad at the presence of the President of the Hellenic, Italian and Portuguese Alliance Mr. Stavros Nicolaou. The same day, before departing for Cyprus, he visited Johannesburg where he met with members of the Cypriot community of South Africa.
All the photos from the event are available for viewing and downloading at the High Commission's page on Facebook