Re-elected Cyprus president eyes fresh unification talks
9 February, 2018
Cypriot president Nikos Anastasiades won a second term at the helm of the country, beating Stavros Malas in the presidential run-off on 4 February with 56% of the vote, news wires reported. Immediately after re-election, he stressed that unification of the island would be his priority during the second mandate. “The biggest challenge we face is reunifying our country,” Anastasiades pointed out, adding that he will “continue to work with the same determination in a bid to achieve our common goal, ending occupation and reunifying our country.”
Cyprus has been divided since Turkish invasion in 1974. While southern Greek Cypriot part is an EU member, the northern Turkish Cypriot part is still occupied by some 35,000 Turkish troops. A UN-led negotiation between Anastasiades and Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci stumbled last summer over the question of power-sharing between the two communities and of the Turkish troops withdrawal.
While Anastasiades blamed Turkey for the failure, some critics said that he himself did not show enough flexibility. Recently, Greek Cypriots have admitted in private that they were not prepared enough last year to propose concrete solutions on the most disputed issues in the talks, and that they would need a different approach. Anastasiades added, however, that “the effort will once again be doomed to failure” if Turkey's positions “are not in harmony with the UN parameters.” Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu was fast to counter that new talks under UN auspices will begin “only if Greek Cypriots change their mentality.”