NEWS

Conservative takes helm in Nicosia

Cypriot president-elect Nicos Anastasiades was busy appointing a new cabinet on Monday after winning Sunday’s election runoff with 57.5 percent of the vote, defeating his Communist Party rival Stavros Malas who garnered 42.5 percent.

The crucial post of finance minister went to Michalis Sarris, a right-winger who held the same position when Cyprus entered the eurozone in 2008 and now heads Cyprus Popular Bank. The position of foreign minister was given to Yiannis Kasoulidis, an MEP who has served in the post in the past and ran against outgoing President Dimitris Christofias in elections in 2008.

Anastasiades, who leads the Democratic Rally party, faces tough talks with officials of the European Commission, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund with whom Nicosia launched exploratory talks last November. Those talks failed to yield an agreement but the aim is for a deal to be signed soon. The finance ministers of Germany and France, Wolfgang Schaeuble and Pierre Moscovici, welcomed Anastasiades’s election on Monday in a joint statement and pressed for a swift resumption of talks. “Discussions should resume shortly with a view to reach an agreement before the end of March,” they said, stressing the need for “a significant financial, fiscal and structural adjustment in Cyprus.”

After his victory, Anastasiades stressed the European nature of Cyprus, which remains divided into a Turkish-occupied north and a free south following a Turkish invasion in 1974. “Cyprus belongs to Europe,” he said, adding that Nicosia would be “absolutely consistent and meet out promises.” He is to be sworn in Thursday, assuming power on March 1.

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