Hopes for a unified Cyprus are fading

Peace activists in Cyprus see the possibility of reunification disappearing with the election of a Turkey-backed nationalist hardliner as president, Politico said on Tuesday.

Turkish Cypriots voted in Ersin Tatar as the new president of the self-declared Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus on Oct. 18.

Tatar advocates fully aligning Turkish Cypriot polices with those of Turkey, such as pursuing a possible two-state deal as an alternative to the long-held federal model for the divided island. United Nations-sponsored talks to reunite Cyprus have long been based on a federal model.

The result of the election came as a shock for many Turkish Cypriot activists, Politico said.

“My disappointment lasted for, like, 12 hours,” Deniz Birinci, a peace advocate who also worked as an international relations advisor for the former pro-reunification Turkish Cypriot president Mustafa Akıncı.

“I was expecting Tatar would be elected … Akıncı was there for five years, willing to discuss, and we did nothing,” Politico cited Katie Economidou, a 61-year-old Greek reunification activist.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan dismissed talk of a federation with the Greek Cypriots as a “waste of time” during a press conference with Tatar on Oct. 26.

“The more time we lose, Turkey is economically, demographically, socially, politically gaining an upper hand in the northern part of the island,” said Kemal Baykallı, one of the founders of the bi-communal pro-unification group Unite Cyprus Now.