In brief

Erdogan-backed candidate wins in Northern Cyprus, reunification is even further away

Ersin Tatar calls for international recognition of Turkish Cypriot sovereignty

Ersin Tatar, with the flags of Northern Cyprus and Turkey.
Ersin Tatar, with the flags of Northern Cyprus and Turkey. Author: UBP
Ersin Tatar, the conservative candidate backed by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, yesterday won the presidential election in the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. With 51.7% of the vote, Tatar (UBP) defeated incumbent left-wing president Mustafa Akinci (48.3%), who favoured reunification with the Greek Cypriot part of the island.

Akinci denounced Turkey’s “interference” in the vote, and claimed having received threats against him and his family from Turkish officials.

The Union of Cypriots, a Turkish Cypriot movement in favour of reunification, said that the elections had “no legitimacy” because of the Turkish occupation of the north of the island since 1974 and the settlement of tens of thousands of people from Turkey.

Tatar does not see it that way, and claims Akinci sought to “destroy” the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus by subsuming it into a unified —even if federal— state with the Greek Cypriot side. “We deserve our sovereignty,” Tatar said. The new president, in the line of what the UBP has maintained since the 1980s, calls for international recognition of Northern Cyprus —until now only Turkey has done it— and, at most, the establishment of a Cypriot confederation made up by two sovereign states, Turkish Cypriot and Greek Cypriot. The UBP also advocates closer ties with Turkey.

Akinci and Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades held talks between 2015 and 2017 aimed at settling the Cyprus conflict with the establishment of a federal, bicommunal state. The talks failed, and have not been resumed since.