I will remember 2011 as the year of the big losses: after Lakis Santas we are saying goodby to Leonidas Kyrkos. After Thanassis Vengos, Iakovos Kambanellis and Manolis Rassoulis we bid farewell to Lykourgos Kallergis. All of them have been involved in politics and the arts in many, many ways but always from a progressive, democratic, left I dare say, perspective.

With his beloved wife Kali in the background

I first heard Leonidas Kyrkos speak back in 1974. That was the beginning of our “love affair” which lasted even when, after I returned to Greece, I joined the Communist Party of Greece, his opponent. It is my strong belief that Leonidas strongest point was his total honesty: he changed opinions sometimes and people were upset with him. In my view cde Leonidas always practiced what he preached: when he was on death row, during the civil war, when he chose Eurocommunism and mainly when he called for a unity of the left wing forces. Leonidas Kyrkos together with Charilaos Florakis managed to overcome their differences and create the Coalition of the Left and Progress with the participation of the two Communist Parties that existed till then.

He was an orator, he was a man, with a vision but most of all he was an authentic person, he was genuine and that is what his public always instantly realised. He brought a large number of Greek citizens closer to left wing politics and opened their minds to new horizons. One of the founding members of EDA (United democratic Left) he was elected to the National Parliament in 1961, ’63 and ’64. During the military dictatorship he was arrested and imprisonned. Later on,while heading small left wing parties, he was elected to both the European and Greek Parliaments
He is one more of the “drakogenia” – the dragon generation – to leave us. There is a feeling that this generation who lived, from the left wing perspective, through the German occupation, the resistance and the civil war was a generation of strong willed, dedicated and genuine believers who faced prisons, concentration camps, isolation and marginalisation within society, psycological and physical torture, were real dragons and their shoes cannot be filled. They remained young till their death in spite of their age and health because of their optimism and their love of life, a trait of the left that we must nurture in these difficult days.
Their memory, and there were many, is a constant reminder and help for us and the future generations to keep up our faith to left wing principles and continue our struggles.
Leonida you will always be with us, together with all the comrades who were with you during these long years of struggle but remained anonymous. You never forgot them and neither shall we.