Cyprus president to seek second five-year term in January vote


Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades said on Saturday he planned to seek a second five-year term in elections scheduled for January 2018, pledging to pick up the pace of reunification talks which collapsed in acrimony in mid-2017.

Anastasiades, 71, a conservative, was widely credited with leading a renewed bid to reunite Cyprus, split in a Turkish invasion in 1974 after a brief Greek-inspired coup.

"Failure to reach a solution is not in the interests of either Greek or Turkish Cypriots, and naturally, not of Turkey either. I want to believe Turkey will see the benefits of a solution," Anastasiades, who represents Greek Cypriots in peace negotiations, told supporters in Nicosia.

Peace talks collapsed in July after the sides failed to agree on the status of Turkish forces on the island, as well as intervention rights of Turkey in Cyprus stemming from a 1960 independence treaty.

Anastasiades has faced criticism at home for either granting too many concessions in talks, or of tactical errors which hampered prospects of a deal.

The simmering conflict remains a source of tension between NATO allies Greece and Turkey and one of the obstacles Ankara has to face in its long-frustrated bid to join the European Union.

A "historic opportunity" to end the decades-old conflict was missed, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres wrote in a report to the Security Council on Sept. 28.

To date, there is no sign of the peace negotiations resuming.

Anastasiades is expected to run against at least three other contenders, including Nicolas Papadopoulos, son of late president Tassos Papadopoulos who rejected a United Nations reunification blueprint for Cyprus in 2004.

Elections will be held on Jan. 28, with a runoff a week later if a single candidate does not muster a majority in the first round.

The early days of Anastasiades’s presidency in 2013 were marked by a financial meltdown triggered by the exposure of the island’s banks to indebted Greece and fiscal slippage.

The island required a 10 billion euro ($11.8 billion) international bailout. contingent upon winding down one commercial bank and seizing deposits in a second.

Cyprus made a successful exit from the program in 2016. [Reuters]