Cypriots knew for some time that Sunday’s run-off in the leadership race in the Turkish-occupied north would be crucial for the island’s future.
They knew the result would determine whether Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s influence might be curbed somewhat if his chosen candidate were to lose.
They knew the outcome would be decisive as regards whether the two communities would have a greater say in shaping the future of the island on their own or whether the Turkish president would play an even more interventionist role.
The Greek-Cypriot side had put great stock in the prospect of reaching an understanding with the more moderate outgoing leader Mustafa Akinci due to his disputes with Ankara, but his defeat makes the situation considerably more complicated.
With the election of Erdogan’s chosen candidate, Ersin Tatar, many believe that Ankara’s control over the occupied territories will be even tighter and more glaring.
Those fears were confirmed when Tatar right after his election dismissed the prospect of a federation (the UN and the two sides had for decades held reunification talks on the basis of a bi-zonal, bi-communal federation) and declared his support for a two-state solution.
The new realities create an urgent need for Athens and Nicosia to cooperate closely and agree on careful moves for the day after in handling the Cyprus problem. The must carve out a decisive policy with new alliances, similar to the Cyprus-Greece-Egypt cooperation.
The European Commission yesterday called upon Tatar to begin a dialogue in a constructive manner and with a sense of urgency in order to reach a comprehensive settlement and reunification of the island.
Recent history has demonstrated, however, that in dealing with Erdogan such admonitions do not suffice.
The time has come for both Greece and Cyprus to adopt a multi-dimensional policy that can ensure their national interests.