What Anastasiades’ Re-Election Means for the Prospects of Cyprus Reunification

What Anastasiades’ Re-Election Means for the Prospects of Cyprus Reunification
Cyprus’ president, Nicos Anastasiades, gestures to supporters after voting in the recent election, Limassol, Cyprus, Feb. 4, 2018 (AP photo by Petros Karadjias).

In the end, the result was little surprise. On Feb. 4, Nicos Anastasiades won a second term as president of the Republic of Cyprus. Although the margin of victory was perhaps a bit closer than many predicted—he won by 56 percent in a runoff against Stavros Malas, an independent backed by the Greek Cypriot communist party, known as AKEL—polls had shown Anastasiades with a comfortable lead for many months.

Now that the elections are over, attention inevitably turns to the long-running efforts to reunify the ethnically split Mediterranean island. Since violence first flared up between Greek and Turkish Cypriot communities in 1963, just four years after Cyprus achieved its independence from Britain, the United Nations has been responsible for trying to find a solution to the “Cyprus problem.” Even after Cyprus was divided in 1974 when Turkey launched an invasion in response to a Greek military coup on the island, the United Nations has continued to search for a settlement.

Despite the best efforts of seven secretaries-general, though, every effort has failed. In 2004, it looked as if reunification was within reach. But a comprehensive proposal pushed by then-U.N. chief Kofi Annan was rejected by three-quarters of Greek Cypriots in a referendum.

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