Cyprus’ President Nicos Anastasiades PHOTO: THIERRY CHARLIER/AFP/Getty Image
Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades announced on Saturday he would run for re-election in January to continue his efforts to reunite the divided island and sustain an economic recovery.
“No matter what differences divide us today… in 2023 the one who succeeds me, if the people renew my mandate, will receive a free, modern state, perfectly compatible with the expectations of our people,” Anastasiades told a gathering in Nicosia.
Conservative Anastasiades, 71, had been widely expected to run again despite his failure to reach a peace deal after UN-backed reunification talks collapsed at a Swiss summit in July.
Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkish troops invaded and seized its northern third in response to an Athens-inspired coup aimed at uniting the Mediterranean island with Greece.
Anastasiades is expected to run his campaign on a pro-solution ticket and underline his credentials from saving the Cypriot economy and banking system from collapse.
After coming to power in March 2013, Anastasiades had to broker a painful bailout deal with international lenders to avoid bankruptcy but turned the economy around in less than four years helped by bumper tourist arrivals.
The troika of international lenders — the European Commission, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund — bailed out Cyprus in March 2013 to prevent a banking collapse.
Cyprus has since recovered to post economic growth above the eurozone average with the government expecting a rate of more than 3.6 percent for 2017.
“We have succeeded in upgrading the reputation of the Republic of Cyprus. We have succeeded in gaining investor confidence by bringing stability and growth. We have taken important steps in modernizing the state,” Anastasiades said in his speech on Saturday.
When coming to power, Anastasiades also resurrected peace talks by striking up a rapport with Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci but two years of tough negotiations soured their relationship.
Anastasiades, a lawyer by profession, beat communist-backed Stavros Malas in 2013 on a pro-bailout mandate and will face the same opponent again in the 2018 election.
Also vying for the top political job is Nicolas Papadopoulos, the son of late president Tassos Papadopoulos.
Both Malas and Papadopoulos have criticised the incumbent for his handling of the conflict issue and the government’s economic reform agenda.
The first round is scheduled for January 28 and a possible run-off on February 4.
A Cyprus president by law cannot serve more than two terms in office.