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Politics

Cyprus’ New President Says He’ll Restart Stalled Reunification Talks

February 14, 2023

After squeaking out a win in a tight election, Cyprus’ new President Nikos Christodoulides said one of his priorities will be trying to reboot reunification talks with leaders of the occupying Turkish northern third of the island.

Christodoulides got 51.9 percent of the votes in a run-off to beat the Communist-backed career career diplomat Andreas Mavroyiannis.

Christoulides left his position as Foreign Minister for the then-ruling Democratic Rally (DISY) to run and was counted as a rogue by the party leader Averof Neofytou, who also ran but finished third in a first round.

Still bitter, Neofytou had said he wouldn’t have DISY work with Christoulides’ government as the new President faces an even more daunting challenge – the leader of the occupied side, Ersin Tatar, said he won’t discuss reunification and wants the world to accept a self-declared republic.

The isolated territory has been occupied by Turks since two unlawful 1974 invasions that Turkey said was because of a Greek-backed coup against the Cypriot government, the occupied side recognized only by Turkey.

Christoulides, who reportedly had offered to let Russian warships dock at Cypriot ports, campaigned as a unifying force for ethnically divided Cyprus, setting aside ideological and party divisions, noted EuroNews in a report.

https://www.euronews.com/2023/02/13/nikos-christodoulides-elected-president-of-cyprus-vows-to-revive-peace-talks-with-turkey

During his inauguration speech in Nicosia, the 49-year-old independent centrist said he hoped to unite the Mediterranean island nation, a goal which has seen so many envoys fail that Cyprus is called the “graveyard of diplomats.”

“My biggest concern is the end of the Turkish occupation and the reunification of our homeland. I will do everything to break the deadlock, to restart the dialogue, to create the conditions for solving the Cyprus problem,” he said.

He said repeatedly that convincing Turkey and the Turks occupying the top of the island, and some in homes still legally owned by Greek-Cypriots, is a top task for him without indicating how he can make that happen.

“In the Cyprus that I envision, there is no ‘us’ and ‘them.’ In the Cyprus that I envision, I will be the President of all Cypriots,” he vowed although Turks living in their self-declared republic had wanted one of theirs to be President in alternating terms as was brought up in earlier discussions.

The last round of negotiations fell apart in July, 2017 at the Swiss resort of Crans-Montana when Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and the then-leader of the occupied territory, Mustafa Akinci, said a 35,000-strong standing army on their side would never leave.

They also wanted the right of further military intervention, demands making Cyprus’ President Nicos Anastasiades, who finished two terms of 10 years in office in this election, walk away from the table.

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