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Posted on on February 25th, 2008
by Pincas Jawetz (

Cyprus elects communist president.

By Elitsa Vucheva, for EUobserver, February 25, 2008.

Cyprus’ communist party leader Dimitris Christofias won Sunday’s (24 February) elections, becoming the EU’s only communist head of state.

Mr Christofias, the head of the communist Akel Party, won against former foreign minister Ioannis Kasoulides with around 54% against Mr Kasoulides’ 46.6 percent.

About half a million people were eligible to vote at these elections, including 390 Turkish Cypriots, with some 91 percent of them voting, according to Bloomberg.

Despite being Soviet-educated and leading a communist party however, Mr Christofias has vowed to preserve his country’s market economy and ruled out nationalisations of companies.

In addition, countering attacks to his EU commitment in a debate with his rival last week, he insisted he was “not a Eurosceptic”.

But he added: “I’m a Euro-fighter. I fight for Cyprus’s best interests within Europe. I won’t say yes to everything the EU says,” Bloomberg reports.

{The Silver lining}

However, what Mr Christofias’ election also brings to the table, are hopes for a relaunch of discussions on the reunification of the divided island.

Cyprus has been independent since 1960 and divided since a Turkish invasion of the island’s northern part in 1974, triggered by a Greek-inspired coup.

Currently Northern Cyprus is only recognised internationally by Turkey.

Both Mr Christofias and Mr Kasoulides campaigned on re-launching the peace talks that had stopped in 2004 after a failed referendum on the matter, when Greek Cypriots rejected the idea of reunifying Cyprus.

“There is only one ideology: Cyprus and its salvation and a more just society,” the new president told his supporters in Nicosia last night.

Mr Christofias’ Akel party has traditionally good relations with Cypriot Turks and analysts note that the conditions are currently good for a re-launch of the process, as Northern Cyprus has also been run by moderate left-wing President Mehmet Ali Talat since 2005.

Turkish Cypriots welcomed Mr Christofias’ election.

“We consider this change as a chance and we wish that negotiations [on the island’s reunification] start immediately, without useless preliminaries,” stated Hasan Ercakica, spokesperson for the Turkish Cypriots.

“We cannot wait another 34 years to solve this conflict,” Turgay Avci, Northern Cyprus’ foreign minister, told the Daily Telegraph.

But according to some, good personal relations between Mr Christofias and Mr Talat need to be backed by serious efforts and compromises in order to obtain real results.

“Having good relations is a positive factor, but it won’t be enough to deliver a solution,” Ozdil Nami, a member of the Turkish Cypriot parliament who belongs to Mr Talat’s party, was quoted as saying by Bloomberg.

“Christofias and Talat would have to make a compromise necessary for a solution and then succeed in convincing their populations,” he added.

For his part, European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso also insisted that Mr Christofias’ election “offers the opportunity to overcome the longstanding stalemate on the Cyprus issue”.

“I would strongly encourage you to grasp this chance and without delay start negotiations under United Nations auspices with the leader of the Turkish Cypriot community on a comprehensive settlement”, Mr Barroso said in a statement.


Our posting was echoed by a Marxist media from India:

akel.gif“First Communist president in the European Union – The winner of last week’s presidential runoff in Cyprus was Dimitris Christofias, from the AKEL party (which is the Communist Party of Cyprus in all but name). He is, I believe, the first-ever Communist head of state in the European Union. Somehow I would guess that this Cypriot Revolution will not cause Washington’s generals and bankers to quake in their boots (not least because news reports suggest that AKEL has become a Social Democratic party) — but hey, still cool.”… That website says:   “Social democracy equals Stalinism.”

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