The new leader of Southern Cyprus is ready to meet with the TRNC. Top news and events in EUROPE


Yesterday, in the second round of voting, the former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Southern Cyprus, Nikos Christodoulidis, was elected head of state. Christodoulides promised to form a unity government tasked with overcoming the bottleneck in the peace talks with the TRNC.

According to the official results, Christodoulides, 49, received 51.9 percent of the vote, while his second-round challenger, Andreas Mavroyiannis, 66, received 48.1 percent of the vote.

Christodoulides competed independently, with the support of the center and centre-right parties, which often took a hard line on the division of the island.

By splitting with his own party, the Democratic Mobilization Party (DISI), Christodoulidis has caused a split in the centre-right group supporting party leader Averof Neofitou, who was expelled in the first round last weekend.

“I will be the president of all Cypriots,” Christodoulidis said in a speech at an indoor stadium in the capital, Nicosia, which was filled with cheering supporters.

During the past decade, Nikos Christodoulidis has frequently appeared in public as a government spokesman or foreign minister until early 2022, portraying a young, energetic politician proposing new ideas.

What’s on the agenda for Christodoulides?

The challenges facing the new head of state range from deadlock in reunification talks with Turkish Cypriots on the ethnically divided island, to labor disputes amid rising inflation, from corruption scandals to a wave of immigration that has forced the authorities to consider thousands of asylum applications.

Presidential elections in Southern Cyprus are held every five years. Nikos Anastasiades, a conservative member of the ruling DISI, has been in power since 2013. Anastasiadis, who was re-elected in 2018, could not run for a third term as required by law.

There were widespread reports that Anastasiades preferred Christodoulides, which caused resentment within the ranks of DISY.

“These elections symbolize the continuity of the government of Nikos Anastasiadis,” said Hubert Faustmann, professor of history and political science at the University of Nicosia.

The division of Cyprus, which has been going on for more than half a century, has also left its mark on the election campaigns.

The latest round of peace talks failed in mid-2017. Christodoulidis says he wants to restart talks, but argues that the United Nations (UN) framework published in 2017 that governs the talks needs to be revisited.

Christodoulides ready to meet with TRNC President Tatar

In today’s statement by the new head of state, Christodoulides is ready to meet with the “leader of the Turkish Cypriot community.”

A spokesman for the Greek Cypriot leader’s office said Ersin Tatar called Christodoulides and congratulated him.

Touching on the date when the chairmanship will officially begin, the spokesman noted that Christodoulides said he was ready to meet even before March 1 and would repeat this through the UN.

Nikos Christodoulidis also expressed his deepest condolences to Tatar in connection with the Turkish Cypriots who died as a result of a strong earthquake that occurred in Turkey and Syria on February 6.

Parties backing Christodoulides typically take a hard line in island reunification talks, with two of his supporters rejecting a United Nations framework for negotiations that unite Cyprus under a loose federal umbrella.

Tatar, who is also a hardliner, says the only solution for Cyprus is a two-state solution where both sides have equal sovereign rights.

On the other hand, US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken congratulated Christodoulides on Twitter.

Blinken said: “Congratulations to @Christodulides and the people of the Republic of Cyprus on his election. We look forward to continuing our strong bilateral relationship,” he said.

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