The first round of elections in Turkish-occupied Cyprus, which took place amidst the uproar over the decision to re-open the closed (since the 1974 Turjish invasion) ghost town of Varosha in the occupied area, was not a mere contest between the “president” (Mustafa Akinci, photo) and “prime minister” (Ersin Tatar).
It was a clash between two political lines regarding the resolution of the Cyprus problem.
The one is that of Tatar who wants to subjugate the occupation regime to the agenda of Ankara and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
The other is that of Akinci who wants the Turkish-Cypriots to control the northern part of the island and to exhaust all means in an effort to re-unite Cyprus.
UN resolutions call for a bi-zonal, bi-communal federation.
It is therefore no coincidence that these elections have been described as the most important ever in the occupied territories.
Sunday’s run-off will to a large extent determine the future of Cyprus.
The issue to be decided is whether dialogue and negotiations will proceed or whether a combination of Ankara’s provocative stance and the political fatigue of the Turkish-Cypriots will result in deeper impasses and obliterate hopes for a solution.
The outcome of this election will have an impact beyond Cyprus and above all on the climate in Greek-Turkish relations.
It is important that the message of these elections be unifying and not advance a breakup.
That requires support for the moderate candidate, Akinci, who in recent days has received death threats.
The Republic of Cyprus has to date avoided taking a position. Perhaps this week would be a good time to do so.