Dr. George Vassiliou

Dr. George Vassiliou

Former President of the Republic of Cyprus

Born on 20 May 1931 in Famagusta, Cyprus. Both his parents were doctors.

After completing his secondary education in Cyprus, he first studied medicine at the Universities of Geneva and Vienna and later economics at the University of Budapest. In 1955 he graduated with honours from the University of Economics in Budapest and in 1958 he received his doctorate in Economics from the same university. He worked as researcher at the Institute of Economics of the Academy of Sciences in Budapest from 1956 to 1960. In 1960, after successfully defending his thesis on “Az allam gazdasagi beavatkozasanak eszkozel Angliában” he was awarded the title of "Kanditatus" by the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. From 1960-1962 he worked in London where he specialized in marketing and market research.

1963-1988 and 1993-2012 - Founder and CEO of MEMRB, a leading Market Research and Consultancy Organisation in the Middle East and Eastern Europe with offices in 32 countries. Coordinated and managed a huge number of projects in all countries.

Founded Institute of Directors (Cyprus Branch), 1972; Member of the Executive Committee of the Cyprus Chamber of Commerce, 1970-1986; Member of the Board and Executive Committee of the Bank of Cyprus, 1981-1988; Member of the Economic Advisory Council of the Church of Cyprus, 1982-1988; Member of the Educational Advisory Council, 1983-1988; Chairman of the WIDER/UNU (World Institute for Development Economic Research of the UN University) – Helsinki, 1995 –2000. Visiting Professor at the Cranfield School of Management in the UK, 1987-2008.

1988- 1993: President of the Republic of Cyprus.

In 1987 he ran for President of the Republic of Cyprus as an independent candidate, mainly with the support of AKEL, the left wing Party, and was elected on 21 February 1988.

Immediately after his election, he initiated a new round of intercommunal talks, under the good offices mission of the Secretary-General of the U.N., for the solution of the Cyprus problem. This effort culminated in the involvement of the Security Council permanent members in the 1992 round of negotiations. The Security Council made its position clear through a number of unanimous resolutions, the latest of which Res. 789, in November 1992 opened the way for a solution to the problem.

In the fields of government and management of the economy, President Vassiliou was also responsible for a number of considerable achievements, including the adoption of innovative tax reforms, introducing VAT and slashing income tax rates, the introduction of environmental protection measures, the establishment of the first Cyprus University and the Academy of Public Administration, the abolition of the state monopoly in public broadcasting, reform of the Foreign Service and significant improvements in public administration. During this period the economy of the island grew consistently and the GDP per capita almost doubled. Thus, Cyprus was able to apply for full membership of the European Community in 1991.

1993, Founder of the Free Democrats Movement

1996-1999, Member of Parliament

1998 – 2003, Head of the Negotiating Team for the accession of Cyprus to the European Union and responsible for co-ordinating the harmonisation process within the country and securing the accession of Cyprus. For successfully completing this huge task he was awarded the highest decoration of the Republic of Cyprus.

Dr. Vassiliou is an active participant in international fora and, among others, is a member of the following international organisations.

  • Member of the Trilateral Commission,
  • Member of the InterAction Council,
  • Member of the Board of Governors of the Shimon Peres Institute for Peace,
  • Honorary Professor of the Cyprus International Institute of Management (CIIM)


­Marketing in the Middle East­

Graham and Trotman, London, 1976

­The Middle East Markets­

Prognos Ltd, Basle, 1977

  • Towards the solution of the Cyprus Problem

Kastaniotis, Athens 1992

  • Modernisation of the Civil Service

Public Information Office, 1992

  • Overcoming Indifference – Ten key challenges in today’s changing world (Edited by Klaus Schwab in association with George Vassiliou)
  • Towards a larger, yet more effective European Union
  • Deposition of Responsibility – Articles, Speeches, Interviews (1998-2009)

New York University Press, 1995

Philip Morris Institute, Brussels, 1999

  • Nagyon jó egyetemre jártam, a magyar forradalom egyetemére

1956-os Intézet, Budapest 1999

  • Cyprus – European Union: From the first steps to the accession

Kastaniotis, Athens2004

  • The Accession Story: The Enlargement of the EU from 15 to 25 members
  • Pragmatism vs Popularism – The Vision and performance of the Government (1988-1993)

Oxford University Press, London 2007

Ellinika Grammata, Athens 2007