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Does it matter who gets elected in Cyprus?

Does it matter who gets elected in Cyprus?

Greek Cypriots will go to polling stations on Feb. 4 for run-off polls to elect their new president. Will it be the incumbent Nikos Anastasiades, supported by the Democratic Rally Party (Disi), or Stavros Malas of The Progressive Party of Working People (Akel)?

Anastasiades campaigned over the past week urging Greek Cypriots to avoid “trying something new” as “these are not times to waste with hopes for change.” He, indeed, was lucky that in the first round of voting on Jan. 28 that he and Akel’s Malas scored the highest votes and qualified for the run-off this Sunday. If instead of Malas, voters opted for Nicholas Papadopoulos of the Democratic Party (Diko) for example, it would be far more difficult for Anastasiades to hope for reelection; though there was hope that rather than anti-federalist Papadopoulos Jr., Akel supporters might prefer to vote for the “federalist Niko.”

Run-off elections on the Greek Cypriot side have always been problematic. Nicholas Papadopoulos’ father, former President Tassos Papadopoulos, for example, won over legendary center-right leader Glafcos Klerides in the second round of elections at the time with Akel’s support. A communist party supporting a neo-fascist candidate would perhaps be unthinkable anywhere else, but it was with Akel’s strong support that the independent George Vassiliou, a businessman, climbed up to leadership in the 1988 elections. Indeed, in hopes that pragmatist businessmen would cut the Gordian knot over Cyprus and speedily solve the Cyprus problem, international game setters wanted to elect Vassiliou for the Greek side and Asil Nadir, also a businessman, for the Turkish side. Vassiliou was elected, but Nadir opted out and his business empire eventually collapsed.

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It is the very fact that both candidates of Sunday’s run-off were defending a “federal Cyprus,” a false spring optimism along with their elevation to the second round, that whoever wins over half a century of talks – aimed at reaching a federal resolution on the island but repeatedly failed – would be given a new chance. As told to people in their deathbed: As long as there is breath, there is hope. But such an approach is not realistic; it is romantic and fits well to human psychology. Just like Albert Einstein once said, “the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results.” How many more times do we need to see talks aimed at establishing a federal Cyprus get crushed either in the heat of Cyprus or on the cold mountains of Switzerland, where recent talks took place, to acknowledge the fact that Greek Cypriots are not willing or even intending to share power in any form with the Turkish Cypriot people on the basis of political equality?

The 2004 simultaneous but separate referendum on the so-called Annan Plan clearly demonstrated which side wanted settlement, and which side was adamantly against any power-sharing deal. The Turkish Cypriots that accepted the U.N. plan were left out in the cold, while the Greek Cypriots that rejected the plan and the hopes of settlement were awarded with European Union membership representing the entire island. Twelve years later, it was again the Greek Cypriot side to deliver a very strong “Oxi” (no in Greek) at the Crans Montana talks even though a defeatist Turkish-Turkish Cypriot delegation agreed (though verbally at that stage) to for an end to Turkey’s guarantor status, withdrawal of all Turkish troops except 650 of them and open renegotiation of withdrawing that 650 in 12 years’ time.

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About The Author

Yusuf Kanli

Born in Cyprus in 1959, Yusuf Kanlı is a graduate of the English Language and Literature Department of the Faculty of Letters of the Ankara University. He started journalism with the Turkish Daily News in 1978. Until he briefly left the paper in 1985 (for military service in Northern Cyprus) he served as diplomatic correspondent, assistant foreign news editor and assistant editor. During this period he was as well one of the two co-authors of an annual reference book on Turkey, “Turkey Almanac”. After completing his military service he returned the Daily News as assistant editor. In 1989 he became executive editor and also started writing daily opinion articles. He continued to be one of the co-authors of the “Turkey Almanac” annual reference book. In February 1993, over differences with the publisher on editorial policy, he quit the paper and joined the Anatolia News Agency (AA) as deputy foreign news chief. He stayed with the Anatolia News Agency until September 1995. In this period, he covered the Armenia-Azerbaijan war over Nogorno-Karabagh, covered developments in the post-independence Central Asian republics. Because of his refusal as the duty editor to run a manipulated news story demanded by the then lady prime minister of the country, he was fired from the AA, a development that Kanlı considers as his “medal of honor” in the profession. On his return to the Daily News for a third time in October 1995, he first became an editor at large but soon assumed the responsibility of electronic publishing and established Turkey’s first daily updated English language news web site, the TDN Online on May 19, 1996 (now In January 1997, he became executive editor of the Daily News for a second time and stayed in that post until he was appointed as editor-in-chief in June 2004. In February 2007, he quit all executive duties and became a contract columnist of the newspaper. He has been also writing weekly articles in Turkish for a variety of newspapers and news portals in Northern Cyprus. He is a former chairperson and the honorary chairperson of Diplomacy Correspondents Association (DMD) of Turkey, an active member of Association of Foreign Policy Council, a member of the executive board and vice chairperson of the Association of Journalists and coordinator of the Press for Freedom project, which has been monitoring and reporting on press and freedom of expression issues in Turkey since 2013. He has been a member of several associations and foundations, mostly established by Turkish Cypriots living in Turkey or abroad. He is married to Dr. Aydan Kanlı and has one daughter, Cansu. He has Turkish, Turkish Cypriot and Cypriot triple nationality.

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