Greek Cyprus elects first Turkish Cypriot as member of European Parliament

Greek Cyprus elects first Turkish Cypriot as member of European Parliament

Greek Cyprus elects first Turkish Cypriot as member of European Parliament

The European vote in Greek Cyprus produced a landmark result on May 26 when a Turkish Cypriot was elected as an MEP for the first time on the ethnically divided island.

The majority Greek Cypriot and minority Turkish Cypriot communities are separated by barbed wire but both sides came together to vote for candidates on the same ballot in May 27's vote.

Among the six MEPs elected was university professor Niyazi Kızılyürek, 59, who was on the ticket of the main Greek Cypriot opposition party, the communist Akel.

A Greek Cypriot party having a Turkish Cypriot running was unique for Cyprus, as was the stream of 5,600 voters who crossed the U.N.-patrolled ceasefire line to cast ballots in the government-controlled south.

Akel leader Andros Kyprianou thanked Turkish Cypriots who worked with the party saying, "peace in Cyprus cannot be prevented.”

Turkish Cypriots are considered EU citizens and have the right to run and vote in European elections, even though under the current constitution they cannot participate in parliamentary ballots in the south.

There were an unprecedented nine Turkish Cypriots in the running to be MEPs.

But the election result did little for gender equality, as Cyprus returned no women to the European Parliament.

Kızılyürek, a self-confessed European federalist, campaigned on both sides of the divide on a pro-reunification platform.

The vote comes at a time of rising tensions with Turkey amid a dispute with the Greece and Greek Cyprus government over energy drilling rights.

Turkey has consistently contested the Greek Cypriot administration's unilateral drilling in the Eastern Mediterranean, saying Turkish Cypriots also have rights to the resources in the area.    

 In 1974, following a coup aiming at Cyprus' annexation by Greece, Ankara intervened as a guarantor power. In 1983, the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus was founded.    

The decades since have seen several attempts to resolve the dispute, all ending in failure. The latest one, held with the participation of the guarantor countries- Turkey, Greece, and the U.K. - ended in 2017 in Switzerland.    

Three German-Turkish politicians elected

In the meantime, three German-Turkish politicians have been elected to the European Parliament, according to the preliminary election results.

Social Democrat politician İsmail Ertuğ has managed to win a third term as a member of the European Parliament, despite his party’s poor performance in the elections.

Engin Eroğlu, a prominent figure of the Free Voters, has won one of the two seats gained by the liberal-conservative moment in the European Parliament.

The socialist Die Linke’s lead candidate Özlem Alev Demirel, a Turkey-born politician, was also elected as an MEP.

Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative-left coalition government suffered huge losses on May 26’s elections at the European Parliament, while the environmentalist and pro-immigration Green Party’s votes were at a record high.

According to the preliminary election results, Merkel’s conservative CDU/CSU bloc won 29 of Germany’s 96 seats at the European Parliament. The SPD, after its worst showing in European elections, could only win 16 seats.

The pro-European Green Party secured 21 seats at the parliament, up from 11 seats it had in the previous term.

The opposition Die Linke Party won five seats, while the far-right AfD secured 11 seats.