Nikos Christodoulides elected as next President of Cyprus

World Monday 13/February/2023 07:19 AM
Nikos Christodoulides elected as next President of Cyprus

Nicosia: Former Foreign Minister Nikos Christodoulides on Sunday was elected as the next President of Cyprus, reported Al Jazeera.

With a clear foreign policy vision due to his diplomatic and government background, he is expected to set out priorities for Cyprus bilaterally and regionally amplifying its geostrategic role. Christodoulides, 49, defeated fellow diplomat Andreas Mavroyiannis with 51.9 per cent of the vote compared to 48.1 per cent on the divided Mediterranean island, reported Al Jazeera.

Mavroyiannis, 66, told reporters: "Tonight a journey has ended, a great journey that I shared with thousands of people. I regret we couldn't achieve the change that Cyprus needed."

Widely tapped as the election favourite during the campaign, Christodoulides is seen likely to take a hard line on moribund United Nations-backed talks on ending the island's decades-old division, reported Al Jazeera.

Former top diplomat Christodoulides earlier voiced confidence about a win when he told reporters, "The Cypriot people know and understand what is at stake ... I have complete confidence in their judgement."

"Congratulations & best wishes to President Elect @Christodulides! #UKCYties are long, strong and important to the UK & its people. I look forward to working with you & your team across our bilateral & #Commonwealth partnership & in support of your efforts on Cyprus Settlement," tweeted Irfan Siddiq, British High Commissioner to Cyprus.

Voter turnout was 72.4 per cent with more than 405,000 citizens casting a ballot, a fraction higher than in the first round.

Top concerns for many voters are the cost of living crisis, irregular immigration, and the island's almost half-century of division between the Greek-speaking south and a Turkish-occupied breakaway statelet in the north that is recognised only by Ankara, reported Al Jazeera.

Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkish forces occupied its northern third in response to a Greek-sponsored coup, but voters appeared split over whether the division was a priority in the election.

The current issue between Cyprus and Turkey is an ongoing dispute between Greek Cypriots in the south and Turkish Cypriots in the north. According to a recent report by American broadcaster Voice of America (VOA), tensions between Greece and Turkey over the divided island of Cyprus appear to be escalating.

Moreover, as per the mandate of the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP), Security Council expressed concern over unauthorised activities in the buffer zone separating Greek and Turkish communities in the northern and southern regions of the Mediterranean island since 1974.