Defence Minister Tasos Mitsopoulos was laid to rest yesterday as thousands of mourners gathered to pay their final respects to an “honourable man and outstanding politician”.
The funeral service officiated by Archbishop Chrysostomos started at noon, while Mitsopoulos’ close family including his wife Katerina Vati, their two children Hara and Aris, as well as his father Aris Mitsopoulos, a former officer in the Greek army, and sister Eva accepted condolences at the church from 10.30am.
Mitsopoulos’ coffin, carried into the church by members of the National Guard, was draped with the Cypriot and the Greek flags as a tribute to his love for the two countries he served from since the beginning of his political career.
A guard of honour stood to attention as the funeral cortege entered the packed church of Ayios Georgios Kontos in his home town in Larnaca.
The service was attended by the island’s political leadership, headed by President Anastasiades and his wife Andri, government spokesman Christos Stylianides, the entire Cabinet, all Disy members, representatives from all political parties, House President Yiannakis Omirou and former president Demetris Christofias. Army officers, including the National Guard Stylianos Nasis, as well as Larnaca residents also turned out in force.
The Greek army commander Michael Costarakos, Greek Defence Minister Demetris Avraamopoulos and Greek Ambassador to Cyprus Vassilis Papaioannou also attended the funeral on behalf of the Greek government.
The eulogy was delivered by a visibly emotional President Anastasiades, while Mitsopoulos’ 14-year-old daughter Hara also bid farewell to her father in a short but touching address.
“A big thank-you for the ethos and modesty with which you raised us. Thank you for being who you were. Know that we are very proud that you were our person. A big thank-you for all the wonderful memories you have given me. You were there during moments of joy and sorrow. I also thank you for everything you taught me. Thank you for letting me form my own opinion and making my own decisions. Thank you for teaching me about morality, dignity and pride. And finally, thank you for teaching me the important meaning of love.
“That love is what will keep us together from now on,” the 14-year-old said.
Archbishop Chrysostomos said that during his time on earth, the minister adorned himself “with a fragrant bouquet of virtues”, with the most important being the virtue of love.
As it made its way to the cemetery at around 1.30pm, the coffin was met by military gun salutes and an outburst of applause by the crowd shouting ‘Immortal’ and ‘Farewell’, while the National Guard philharmonic band played funeral marches.
The minister was buried in his family grave along with his maternal grandfather Evangelos Mouskos and his mother.
Meanwhile, at around 13.40pm television cameras were turned off in respect of the family’s wishes not to broadcast the burial.