Incumbent Turkish Cypriot president to seek re-election
The current president of Turkish Cyprus announced on Feb. 5 that he will contest the 2020 presidential election to be held on April 26.
The best solution to the Cyprus issue “is a solution…based on political equality, where both sides will take part in the decisions and the rotating presidency will take place,” Mustafa Akıncı said in his speech at the launch ceremony of his campaign in the capital Nicosia.
“We neither want to be Greek Cyprus’ minority nor a sub-government dependent on Turkey,” he said.
Akıncı told reporters that he will run as an independent candidate.
The 72-year-old leader said the most reasonable solution to the decade-long divided Mediterranean island was a bi-communal and bi-zonal federation.
Stating that the federal settlement is the most realistic solution model under the current conditions, Akıncı emphasized that “this [federal settlement] has become a necessity for the region.”
“We have two options ahead of us: Either a federal solution or consolidation of division,” Akıncı said.
“It is clear that it will not be possible to ensure the recognition of Turkish Cyprus in the visible future. Two separate independent sovereign states within the EU discourse also cannot be described as a possible formula in this respect,” he said.
“The continuation of the status quo will not be a positive development not only for Turkish Cypriots, but also for Greek Cypriots,” he added.
Turkey-Turkish Cyprus relations
“The establishment of equal, not a hierarchical, relationship between Turkey and Cyprus, is a factor that will strengthen the bonds of friendship and sisterhood,” Akıncı said.
“Therefore, overseeing the basis of mutually beneficial cooperation with Turkey, we emphasize from the outset the importance of establishing esteem relationships,” he added.
“The sensitivity of Turkish Cypriots should be observed, especially in situations that directly affect our [Turkish Cypriots] lives. It should not be forgotten that coercion steps will not give positive results and that they will disrupt good relations,” he warned.
On Oct. 12, Akıncı drew similarities between the 1974 Turkish Peace Operation and Operation Peace Spring, stating that both operations were ultimately war.
Akıncı’s remarks drew Ankara’s harsh reaction and Turkey’s vice president Fuat Oktay condemned Akıncı.
Speaking about the tension that has been going on for some time in eastern Mediterranean, Akıncı called on the parties and the countries of the region to cooperate.
“Natural gas around Cyprus contains potential wealth for both the communities and the countries in the region if they cooperate. Both communities have a share in this common wealth,” Akıncı said.
“It is necessary to evaluate the natural gas deposits under the sea not as a cause of tension but as an efficient cooperation area,” he added.
“We want cooperation and peace conditions to develop rather than tension and conflict in eastern Mediterranean. We will continue to work in this direction,” Akıncı noted.
Aga Khan award recipient
Born in 1947 in Limassol, a city on the southern side of Cyprus, Akıncı is an architecture graduate from one of Turkey’s most prestigious universities, the Middle East Technical University (ODTÜ).
He was part of the “constituent assembly” in North Cyprus established in 1975.
Akıncı was the mayor of Nicosia, or Lefkoşa, for 14 years between 1976 and 1990.
He was the leader of the Communal Liberation Party (TKP) between 1987 and 2001 and was a lawmaker for parliament between 1993 and 2009.
The Turkish Cypriot leader was deputy premier and tourism minister between 1999 and 2001.
He received the “World Habitat Award” in 1989 and the Aga Khan award in 2007.
Five candidates so far
Apart from Akıncı, four politicians have announced their candidacy so far: Prime Minister Ersin Tatar from the National Unity Party (UBP), Foreign Minister Kudret Özersay as an independent candidate, main opposition Republican Turkish Party (CTP) leader Tufan Erhürman and Rebirth Party (YDP) leader Erhan Arıklı.
Turkish Cypriots will go to the polls for the 10th time since 1974 to elect a president.
In 1974, following a coup aiming at Cyprus’s annexation by Greece, Ankara had to intervene as a guarantor power.
In 1983, Turkish Cyprus was founded.
The decades since have seen several attempts to resolve the Cyprus dispute, all failing.
The latest one, held with the participation of the guarantor countries — Turkey, Greece and the U.K. — came to an end without any progress in 2017 in Switzerland.