Hopes of peace for Cyprus
Mustafa Akıncı won Sunday's presidential election in the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, which is not internationally recognised as a state. Akıncı is widely regarded as a proponent of dialogue with the Greek Cypriots. This is precisely why he was elected, commentators conclude. They argue that Northern Cyprus is tired of Turkey telling it what to do and predict that Akıncı will face heavy opposition from Ankara.
Northern Cyprus would dare to defy Turkey
On the day after his election Mustafa Akıncı has reiterated his goal of reducing Northern Cyprus's dependence on Turkey. Meanwhile Turkish Presient Recep Tayyip Erdoğan warned against trying to resolve the Cyprus question "at any price". Erdoğan is seeing his influence in Northern Cyprus wane, the liberal online paper Radikal comments: "Cyprus's Turks are sick of Turkey increasingly interfering with their politics and trying to shape the society there in recent times. They have opted for a Northern Cyprus that maintains its own identity instead of being a child of Turkey. Akıncı has understood this better than the others and that's why he was elected. … The peace talks will gain more importance for Turkish Cypriots with Akıncıs's reformist approach. … And it looks very much like the Turkish part of Cyprus is determined to experience a peace process not only despite Turkey's stance, but even by exerting all the pressure it takes on Turkey if necessary."
Ankara has the final say
Expectations of Mustafa Akıncı after his election shouldn't be too high, the liberal daily Phileleftheros warns: "It would be nice if a solution was only dependent on the will of the Greek and Turkish Cypriots. Because that will is there. Both sides fervently want a solution to be freed of this cumbersome burden that forces us to live with occupying forces and settlers. … If it was just a matter of will the issue would be resolved within a few hours. … Although we don't see it, we all want the same thing. The question is however what the others want for us. It seems highly unlikely that a Turkish Cypriot leader - as progressive and patriotic as he may be - will be able to sign a solution against the will of the occupying power."
Reunification a distinct possibility
The election outcome in Northern Cyprus has unexpectedly opened up new possibilities for the island that has been divided for the past 41 years, the left-liberal daily Süddeutsche Zeitung believes: "All at once those in power on both sides of the demarcation line are saying they want the same thing: to overcome old obstacles and reunite the island. With the left-liberal Mustafa Akinci, Turkish Cypriots have now elected a man who can believably represent the call for reconciliation. And the president of the Greek Cypriots Nikos Anastasiadis also speaks openly of a 'common fatherland'. ... However in all of Cyprus's history its fate was never decided entirely by Cypriots alone. If Turkey is unable to change its attitude, even Akinci won't be able to push through peace on the island. In addition the EU should now put its weight behind Anastasiadis. Ultimately reunification would also mean new financial sacrifices on the part of the EU crisis state."