A historic victory for the Cypriot Left that raises optimism for a solution of the Cyprus problem. State Department congratulates the new president
Nicosia.- Demetris Christofias, House President and General Secretary of left-wing AKEL party, is the new President of the Republic of Cyprus. Christofias supported by Centrist DEKO, Socialist EDEK and smaller parties got 53.36%, while Ioannis Kasoulides of the right wing DISY got 46.64%.
Both Christofias, 62, and Kassoulides, 59, have pledged to try to relaunch reunification talks with the breakaway Turkish Cypriots in the north of the island but differ on the process. The conflict is an obstacle to better relations between NATO allies Greece and Turkey. Ankara’s EU entry negotiations have been partly suspended because of the stalemate over Cyprus and there will be a new review in 2009. AKEL has a long standing relationship with the Turkish Cypriot Community and Christofias victory raises hope of a new rapprochement between the two Cypriot communities.
U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Matthew Bryza congratulated Christofias for his election.
“We congratulate Presiednt-elect Christofias on his election and the citizens of the republic of Cyprus on a free and fair election. We look forward to working with President-elect Cristofias’s new government, once it is sworn in, to deepen our bilateral relations and pursue a comprehensive Cyprus settlement that reunifies the island into a bi-zonal, bi-communal federation.”
Newly elected President of the Republic of Cyprus Demetris Christofias, in his first remarks after his election victory, said he would work to reunite the country, divided since the 1974 Turkish invasion.
“Today the people have spoken, this victory does not belong to AKEL but to a lot of people, parties, personalities and the ordinary man,” he said to jubilant supporters who gathered at his headquarters to celebrate his election victory.
“Tomorrow a new day will dawn, we have many difficulties ahead, we will join forces as of tomorrow, we will work together to reunite our country,” he added.
“I have often said that today our ideology is one: Cyprus and its salvation, this is the vision we are going to work for.”
Christofias thanked his opponent Ioannis Kasoulides for his telephone call to congratulate him.
“I promised him we shall work together,” Christofias said.
“I thank President Tassos Papadopoulos for his congratulations and the cooperation we have had these past years,” he said, extending particular thanks to the younger generation.
Christofias was expected to be officially proclaimed President of the Republic later on Sunday..
Newly-elected President of the Republic Demetris Christofias, a historian, was born in 1946 in the village of Dikomo and studied history in Moscow.
He joined the AKEL ranks at an early age and has served the party youth branch. In 1982, he was elected member of the party Central Committee, in 1986 of the Political Bureau and a year later to the Secretariat of the Committee.
In April 1988, he was elected to the post of General Secretary of AKEL, a post to which he was re-elected four more times. He was first elected to the House in May 1991 and in 2001, he was elected President of the House of Representatives, a post he still holds.
Ioannis Kasoulides, who conceded defeat in his bid to be elected President of the Republic, has assured the newly elected President Demetris Christofias that he would be by his side in the effort to find a negotiated settlement in Cyprus.
Speaking after the outcome of the election was announced, he said, “I shall be always present in the struggle of the people of Cyprus for justice and progress and for a country free of Turkeyʼs occupation.”
“Today our ideas are stronger than before, they have won a large part of Cypriot citizens, and these ideas have won a battle of principles against organised party mechanisms. Nearly 47% of the people have embraced with warmth these ideas and this gives us hope,” he added.
He expressed regret for having lost this election battle and pointed out: “we should be proud because today we are stronger. We have healed wounds of the past; we have strengthened our unity and overcame issues that divided us.”
“Throughout my political career, I have fought with consistency, honesty and responsibility for specific proposals and principles. I struggled to promote our national interests, to rid our country of the Turkish occupation and make the life of the citizens better, to ensure that our country gets the place it deserves in a modern democratic Europe,” he told his supporters.
He referred to the long election campaign, during which he said he presented a comprehensive programme for modern and European governance.
“We began this journey alone, at a time when nobody gave our candidacy any possibility of success, we rallied together and confronted organised interests and very powerful party mechanisms which operated on the basis of their own agenda and we have managed with hard work, with clear messages and faith in our principles and values to get very close to the biggest political reversal in the countryʼs electoral history,” he said.
Kasoulides said the foundations have been laid for DISY (Democratic Rally) to become again the largest political force in Cyprus and added “we have to invest in this, very soon we shall be called upon to give answers to the concerns and the expectations of the people of Cyprus and fight battles for the interests of the people and the future of our country.”