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World Turkish Cypriots vote for new leader amid east Mediterranean tensions

08:16  18 october  2020
08:16  18 october  2020 Source:   msn.com

Turkish army to reopen Cyprus beachfront sealed off since 1974

  Turkish army to reopen Cyprus beachfront sealed off since 1974 Turkish troops prepared Thursday to partially reopen the Cyprus seaside resort of Varosha, sealed off since its Greek Cypriot inhabitants fled in 1974, sparking controversy days before a Turkish Cypriot election. But the Turkish invasion prompted a mass exodus of the city's Greek Cypriot inhabitants, consolidating an ethnic divide that has persisted to this day. The only regular visitors to Varosha have been Turkish troops guarding the fenced zone's southern limit where it abuts Cyprus government-held territory and the occasional UN peacekeeping patrol.

Turkish -held northern Cyprus , a breakaway state recognised only by Ankara, voted Sunday for a new leader amid charges of interference by Turkey 's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The election comes amid tensions in the eastern Mediterranean over the planned exploitation of hydrocarbons between Turkey on the one hand The self-proclaimed Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus was voting on Sunday for a new leader amid heightened tensions on the divided island and

Turkish-held northern Cyprus, a breakaway state recognised only by Ankara, votes Sunday for a new leader in a run-off election held amid heightened tensions in the eastern Mediterranean.

Map of divided Cyprus © Paz PIZARRO Map of divided Cyprus

The presidential vote pits the incumbent and favourite, Mustafa Akinci, 72 -- who supports reunification with the majority Greek-speaking EU member the Republic of Cyprus in the south -- against the right-wing Turkish nationalist Ersin Tatar.

a close up of a bridge: A view of deserted buildings of the tourist area of Varosha, in the fenced off area of Famagusta, in the Turkish-occupied north of the divided eastern Mediterranean island of Cyprus © Birol BEBEK A view of deserted buildings of the tourist area of Varosha, in the fenced off area of Famagusta, in the Turkish-occupied north of the divided eastern Mediterranean island of Cyprus

Tatar, 60, who advocates a two-state solution, now holds the title of prime minister in the self-proclaimed Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC). He has controversially received the open backing of Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Greece, Cyprus threaten EU sanctions against Turkey over Varosha

  Greece, Cyprus threaten EU sanctions against Turkey over Varosha Greece says if Turkey does not reverse reopening part of Cypriot ghost town, it may seek to trigger economic sanctions.On Thursday, Turkish troops reopened parts of the resort that became a ghost town during the war in 1974, sparking controversy days ahead of an election in Northern Cyprus.

The election comes amid tensions in the eastern Mediterranean over the planned exploitation of hydrocarbons between Turkey on the one hand The self-proclaimed Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus was voting on Sunday for a new leader amid heightened tensions on the divided island and

The election comes amid tensions in the eastern Mediterranean over the planned exploitation of hydrocarbons between Turkey on the one hand The self-proclaimed Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus was voting on Sunday for a new leader amid heightened tensions on the divided island and

a man standing in front of a box: Turkish-Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci, a pro-reunification moderate, faces a challenge from Ankara-backed Ersin Tatar in the vote in breakaway northern Cyprus © Birol BEBEK Turkish-Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci, a pro-reunification moderate, faces a challenge from Ankara-backed Ersin Tatar in the vote in breakaway northern Cyprus

Under Erdogan, Turkey has become an increasingly assertive regional power that is now engaged in a bitter dispute with Greece and Cyprus over oil and gas reserves in Mediterranean waters.

Sunday's second-round ballot was triggered after Tatar won 32 percent of the vote on October 11 ahead of Akinci, who garnered almost 30 percent in a field of 11 candidates.

But Akinci is in a stronger position now having won the backing of Tufan Erhurman, a fellow Social Democrat, who came third last time around.

The vote also comes after Turkey on Monday resumed gas exploration in the eastern Mediterranean, stoking tensions with Greece and the Republic of Cyprus in the south.

Turkish Cypriots vote for new leader amid east Med tensions

  Turkish Cypriots vote for new leader amid east Med tensions The self-proclaimed Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus was voting on Sunday for a new leader amid heightened tensions on the divided island and in the wider eastern Mediterranean. The election comes amid tensions in the eastern Mediterranean over the planned exploitation of hydrocarbons between Turkey on the one hand, and Greece as well as its close ally Cyprus on the other. Erdogan announced on Tuesday, together with Tatar, the partial reopening of Varosha, a beachside resort that drew Hollywood stars and other celebrities in the 1970s before it was abandoned by its Greek-Cypriot inhabitants during the Turkish invasion.

The election comes amid tensions in the eastern Mediterranean over the planned exploitation of hydrocarbons between Turkey on the one hand The self-proclaimed Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus was voting on Sunday for a new leader amid heightened tensions on the divided island and

The election comes amid tensions in the eastern Mediterranean over the planned exploitation of hydrocarbons between Turkey on the one hand The self-proclaimed Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus was voting on Sunday for a new leader amid heightened tensions on the divided island and

The European Union has deplored Turkey's deployment of exploration vessels and warned Ankara against further "provocations" while multiple countries have staged military drills in the region in recent months.

- Opening up ghost resort -

The TRNC, now with a population of about 300,000, was established after the north was occupied by Turkey in 1974 in reaction to a coup that aimed to annex Cyprus to Greece.

Earlier in October, Turkish troops angered the Republic of Cyrus and many Turkish Cypriots by reopening public access to the fenced-off seaside ghost town of Varosha for the first time since Turkish forces invaded the north.

That move drew EU and UN criticism and sparked demonstrations in the Republic of Cyprus, which exercises its authority over the island's southern two-thirds, separated from the north by a UN-patrolled buffer zone.

Turkey has repeatedly said it seeks to defend Turkish and Turkish Cypriots' rights in the eastern Mediterranean against a cabal of nations including Greece and Cyprus.

Turkey restarts hunt for Mediterranean gas, reigniting Greek row

  Turkey restarts hunt for Mediterranean gas, reigniting Greek row Turkey will redeploy the research ship at the centre of an energy row with Greece to the eastern Mediterranean on Monday, a decision slammed by Athens as a "direct threat to peace". The row over gas exploration in the eastern Mediterranean saw the two NATO countries stage rival military drills in August in strategic waters between Cyprus and the Greek island of Crete. Greece claims rights over the waters around its island of Kastellorizo but Turkey says its longer coastline makes the territory a legitimate area for its vessels to explore.

The election comes amid tensions in the eastern Mediterranean over the planned exploitation of hydrocarbons between Turkey on the one hand The self-proclaimed Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus was voting on Sunday for a new leader amid heightened tensions on the divided island and

The self-proclaimed Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus started a vote Sunday for a new leader amid heightened tensions on the divided island and in the wider eastern Mediterranean region. The election in the breakaway TRNC that is recognised only by Ankara comes three days after Turkish

But Akinci's relationship with Ankara has come under strain, especially after he described the prospect of the north's annexation by Turkey as "horrible" in February.

"The results of the first round tell us this: half of the Turkish Cypriot community defend a federation despite all kinds of pressure," Umut Bozkurt, vice dean and assistant professor at Eastern Mediterranean University, told AFP.

"This election was dominated more by Turkey-northern Cyprus relations than the Cyprus issue."

The first round's results also show that a significant part of the electorate seek to be free of "pressure" from Ankara and to live in a united Cyprus, she added.

- 'Don't want to be puppets' -

In the days leading up to the vote, Turkish Cypriot Twitter users used the hashtag #BarisCunku, meaning "Peace because" in Turkish.

One user calling himself Ahmet Karaca wrote on Thursday, "#PeaceBecause, we don't want to be puppets in our own country, we want to be the actor, the director."

When Akinci took office in 2015, he was hailed as the leader best placed to revive peace talks with the Republic of Cyprus.

But hopes were dashed in July 2017 after UN-mediated negotiations collapsed in Switzerland, notably over the question of the withdrawal of tens of thousands of Turkish soldiers stationed in the TRNC.

The polls come amid an economic crisis, deepened by the Covid-19 pandemic, which has largely shuttered the tourism sector and led to the closure of Ercan airport in the north and crossing points to the south.

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Cyprus urges new leader in island's north to back UN peace push .
Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades on Monday congratulated right-wing Turkish Cypriot nationalist Ersin Tatar on his election victory and called on him to back a new United Nations-led peace initiative. Turkish Cypriots in the breakaway north of the divided island on Sunday narrowly elected Tatar, who was backed by Ankara, at a time of heightened tensions in the eastern Mediterranean. "The verdict of our compatriots to elect Mr Ersin Tatar as the new leader of the Turkish Cypriot community is fully respected," said Greek Cypriot leader Anastasiades."I congratulate Mr Tatar and look forward to a familiarity meeting as soon as possible," he added in a statement.

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