Cyprus’ incumbent President Nicos Anastasiades won a new 5-year term in office capturing 55.99 percent of the vote during Sunday’s run-off election against Stavros Malas.
Anastasiades, 71, has taken credit for steering the Cypriot economy out of a financial crisis that began in 2013 under the previous Marxist AKEL administration. Anastasiades’ cabinet is expected to meet for the first time on Thursday, but the newly re-elected president may begin discussing the details of the new administration earlier. The ministers of the outgoing government will continue in their positions until February 28.
“The President has a strong conviction that the problems and the challenges ahead can be efficiently addressed through collective action, as the problems have no ideological colour,” government spokesman Nikos Christodoulides said on Monday.
Participation was slightly higher than in last week’s first round, with 73 percent of registered voters casting their ballot, according to Chief Returning Officer Kypros Kyprianou. According to the official results, turnout was highest in the Greek-Cypriot Famagusta district, where 77.1 percent of eligible voters turned out for the election. Participation was lowest in Paphos, where only 69.2 percent of voters took part in the run-off.
“We will address problems and challenges before us,” said Anastasiades reiterating that he is determined to represent all Cypriots. “There is only our Cyprus and we want to take it forward,” he added while thanking Malas and his other opponents in the first round of the elections.
Referring to the ongoing Turkish occupation of the north of Cyprus, Anastasiades said he will continue to work to achieve a maximum possible unity of political parties and work will be done to achieve the goal of “terminating the (Turkish) occupation and reunite Cyprus as a modern European state, without any guarantees or intervention rights, and without the presence of foreign troops”.
Anastasiades reiterated that his policies will meet the expectations of the Greek Cypriots, but will not ignore the sensitivities of Turkish Cypriots. He called on both Greek and Turkish Cypriots to understand that the current status quo cannot be a final settlement.
Juncker, Tusk, and Tajani stand ready to assist in Anastasiades’s efforts to reunite Cyprus
European Commission President Jean- Claude Juncker conveyed on Sunday his congratulations to Anastasiades on his re-election, stressing in an official letter that he is ready to assist with the reunification effort.
Juncker also stated that he is looking forward to continuing work with Anastasiades’ goal to deliver a more united, stronger and more democratic union”, on the road to the Romanian May 2019 EU-27 Sibiu Summit.
“Following the renewal of your mandate, I am confident that you will continue to pursue, as skilfully as you did during your first term in office, the policies that have steered Cyprus on the path of economic growth,” said Juncker.
On behalf of the European Council, President Donald Tusk conveyed his congratulations, stating that thanks to Anastasiades’ presidency, “Cyprus has overcome the financial crisis from only five years ago. I trust that over the next years, under your leadership, Cyprus will continue contributing constructively to the development and improvement of the European Union.”
“I know you as a strong and devoted supporter of the reunification of Cyprus. You can count on my personal continued political support for a comprehensive settlement within the United Nations framework,” said Tusk.
European Parliament President Antonio Tajani said he was “looking forward to working together with Cyprus for a Europe that delivers security, prosperity, and stability”.
Runner-up Malas wished the newly elected President well, adding that his aim is to build bridges between politics and citizens.
“The fight for the reunification of Cyprus for social justice, the rights of the working people and the lower social classes, the rights of women and the future of young people, the right for the values of solidarity, democracy, and progress will continue,” Malas said while thanking AKEL.
AKEL General Secretary Andros Kyprianou said “we are not satisfied with the vote but we respect the choice of the people. The fight doesn’t end here – it continues throughout next five years. We congratulate Anastasiades for his election. Malas did not win, but we fought a hard, honest battle together.“
Changes expected in Anastasiades’ cabinet
Anastasiades may make an announcement about his new administration before March 1, but there is no indication as to when according to government spokesperson Christodoulides, a candidate for foreign minister post. Harris Georgiades, Cyprus’ current Finance Minister, is said to be interested in heading the foreign ministry. Anastasiades may also have to consider Democratic Party (DIKO) members that defied Nicolas Papadopoulos’ presidential candidacy.