Obituary: Yiannos Kranidiotis

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IF THERE was one politician to strike a chord in the hearts and minds of Britain's 250,000-strong Greek Cypriot community, it was Yiannos Kranidiotis, the Cyprus-born deputy foreign minister of Greece, who was killed on Tuesday, with five others, when the plane he was travelling in apparently hit turbulence and went into a steep dive. He was standing briefing reporters on the meeting of Balkan foreign ministers in Bucharest which he was on his way to attend.

Nowhere was Kranidiotis's unique relationship more visible than during his encounters with the handful of British Cypriot journalists on his frequent trips to London. There existed an air de complicite. Kranidiotis was more relaxed with them, more himself. He could afford to be teasing as they brought out in him something of the patrician, and he, in turn, was a little provocative. With mainland Greek journalists, he always had to consider the impact his comments would have back in Greece.

He would feign an air of exasperation. "What is it now?" he would say. But he was generous with their questions - which invariably concerned developments over Cyprus; of all the politicians, they exacted from him the most precise information on Cyprus, a cause which he so effectively promoted as Greek minister for Europe, Europarliamentarian and, since 1995, as deputy foreign minister.

Kranidiotis was born in Cyprus as a British subject, the son of Nicos Kranidiotis, the Cypriot writer and diplomat; his links with Britain were personal (his son Nico, who died with him, lived and studied in London). More to the point, though he spoke Greek like a true Athenian, his English accent echoed the special dolce tones of his native Greek Cypriot. There was a hide-and-seek about his personality which is typical of the Greek Cypriots, who need to juggle with their timeless Greekness, their Europeanness, their Britishness, even their dash of the Middle East. This trait served him well in the jungle of Greek politics.

He was a lawyer, who had studied at Sussex University and at Harvard. He wrote a number of books on Greece and on Cypriot matters. Lately, there were strong indications that Kranidiotis was destined to become the next President of Cyprus.

Constantine Buhayer

Yiannos Kranidiotis, politician: born Cyprus 25 September 1947; twice married (one son deceased); died over Romania 14 September 1999.