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Akinci wins Turkish Cypriot elections

first_imgA left-wing moderate has won the presidential election in Turkish-occupied northern Cyprus, in a move that many see as a major breakthrough in the stalled reunification talks.Mustafa Akinci, the 67-year-old former mayor of the Turkish half of Nicosia, was returned last weekend by a large majority, gaining more than 60 per cent of the vote compared to less than 40 per cent for the outgoing conservative Dervis Eroglu.During his election campaign, Akinci promised to do his utmost to end four decades of division on the island. Commentators have declared the result a significant boost for the chances of moving the stalled UN-brokered negotiations forward.Dr Michalis Michael, deputy director for the Centre of Dialogue and senior research fellow at La Trobe University, told Neos Kosmos that Akinci’s elevation to being the leader and chief negotiator for the Turkish Cypriots offers the best hope for resolving ‘the Cyprus problem’.“Without a doubt, Akinci is one of the most pro-solution and pro-reconciliation politicians in Cyprus, and with his Greek Cypriot counterpart, Nicos Anastasiades, there appears to be a real synergy – a meeting of minds – at least at a leadership level, to break the deadlock,” said Dr Michael.“While a solution may not exclusively depend on personalities alone – as we witnessed during the Christofias-Talat period – Akinci’s election constitutes a strong sign from the Turkish Cypriots to reach out to the Greek Cypriots and forge together a common destiny within the EU, and away from their dependency on Ankara. “For all those who truly wish to see a re-unified, prosperous and peaceful Cyprus, including here in Australia, now is the time to lend their support and contribute in a positive way to the reinvigorated peace process.”On the eve of the election Mr Akinci described UN negotiations – planned to start again next month – as holding “a possibility for all sides to win”.Cypriot president Nicos Anastasiades congratulated Akinci on the result and called him personally last Sunday. In a statement to the media, government spokesman Nicos Christodoulides said:“The Republic of Cyprus welcomes the choice of Mustafa Akinci as the leader of the Turkish Cypriot community, a man who through his public discourse and declarations, has referred to the need for reunification of the country.”Meanwhile the Anastasiades government will be looking for immediate gestures of goodwill to back up Akinci’s words. The Republic of Cyprus has made long-standing requests for Varosha, a resort town in the north (under the control of the Turkish army since 1974) to be opened up. In return for Varosha, the government has said it would allow direct flights into the north and open up Famagusta port to international traffic. Such actions would reduce the global isolation Turkish Cypriots have felt since their 1991 unilateral proclamation of independence.Increasing colonisation of the island’s north by Anatolians has prompted complaints by the 120,000-strong Turkish Cypriot community, particularly over perceived ‘Islamisation’ under the governing AKP party in Turkey.With 35,000 Turkish troops in northern Cyprus, moderates in the community have also voiced grievances about militarisation. They will look to Akinci to make real his vow that both communities “must heal our wounds together”. Facebook Twitter: @NeosKosmos Instagramlast_img

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