Turkish Cypriot casino owners declare support for pro-Erdogan candidate in elections

The Casino Operators Association in the breakaway Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) issued a statement on Friday implicitly supporting Ankara’s favoured candidate in the upcoming presential election. 

“It is imperative for our country that TRNC’s relationship continues on a healthy foundation with motherland Turkey, which stands by us at all times for our economy, security, health and education,” Independent Turkish cited the statement as saying.

Without naming the candidate, the statement appears to endorse Ersin Tatar, who enjoys a close relationship with Turkey’s government.

Cypriot Turks are going to the ballot on Sunday for the second round in their presidential elections, as no candidate was able to win 50 percent of the vote in the first round.

The race in the Mediterranean enclave, which only Turkey recognises as a state, will be between the left-wing incumbent Mustafa Akıncı and challenger Tatar, who currently serves as prime minister in the administration.

Turkey has contributed to TRNC’s economic success via ongoing infrastructure investments, the casino association’s statement said.

Repairs on the main pipeline carrying water to Cypriot Turks from Turkey were completed last week, and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan gave a speech at its inauguration ceremony.

Ankara has stood strongly on the side of Turkish Cypriots, advocating for their right to natural resources in the territorial waters of the Mediterranean island, risking European Union sanctions.

“We cannot allow our relationship with Turkey to suffer over presidential elections,” the casino association said.

President Akıncı, a proponent of a federal solution for the divided island, often criticises Turkey’s policies and most recently spoke against its military incursion into Syria. He also objects to the positioning of the TRNC as the junior partner in the relationship between the two.

Tatar, on the other hand,  has received support from Turkey for the majority of his policies, including plans to reopen the disputed holiday town of Varosha, which began on Oct. 7 following months of preparations.

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