ISTANBUL, Oct 11 (DPA / EP) –
The inhabitants of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus will vote this Sunday for their new president in an election marked by international tension after the announcement of the plan to reopen part of the abandoned city of Famagusta.
The Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus is a state only recognized by Turkey, and the opening of this area, abandoned since the war that divided the island into two parts, the Greek and the Turkish, has increased tension in the region and received Criticisms of international organizations such as the European Union or the Security Council.
About 200,000 voters will choose from eleven candidates, including the president, Mustafa Akinci, and the prime minister, Ersin Tatar, of the conservative National Unity Party (UBP).
The island’s separation dates from 1974 and the last UN-mediated peace negotiations ended in 2017, with no progress since then.
While Akinci has supported the unification of the island, Tatar, supported by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has advocated for a two-state solution. If no candidate achieves an absolute majority, a second round will take place on October 18.
The decision to partially open the village, which had been empty for 46 years, of Varosha in Famagusta has exposed cracks in the Tatar government coalition.
Foreign Minister and Vice President Kudret Ozersay, who has also stood for election, resigned in protest. Ozersay’s coalition ‘The People’s Party’ also left the government.
This partial opening of Varosha has also been a blow to the already tense relations between the Turkish side and the south of the island, the Greek and internationally recognized part.
Famagusta, in the east, has remained a symbol of the island’s division, since when the Turks advanced on the city in August 1974, the 40,000 Greeks who inhabited it fled and since then the area has been deserted.
The return of Varosha to the former Greek Cypriot residents was seen as a key to resolving the Cyprus conflict. However, Tatar told a press conference in Ankara on Wednesday that this partial opening was an “irreversible step” towards full reopening.