Nicosia, Cyprus (AP) – Cyprus President Dimitris Christofias says he will not seek re-election because there is little hope the ethnically split island will be reunified by the time his tenure expires in February.
Christofias said Monday his decision fulfills an earlier promise not to run for a second term if long-running talks with breakaway Turkish Cypriots weren’t close to a resolution.
“A realistic analysis of the facts leads to the conclusion that there are no real hopes for either resolving the Cyprus issue or achieving substantial progress in the remaining months of my presidency,” he said in a nationally televised address.
The 66-year-old, Soviet-educated Christofias is the first incumbent president not to seek re-election since the island gained independence from British colonial rule in 1960.
His decision ends weeks of speculation and caps a dismal final two years of a five-year tenure that saw his popularity plummet amid the faltering peace talks and an economy hard-hit by Europe’s financial crisis.
Cyprus was split into a Greek-speaking south and a Turkish-speaking north in 1974 when Turkey invaded after a coup by supporters who wanted to unite the island with Greece.
Turkish Cypriots declared an independent state in 1983, but only Turkey recognizes it and stations 35,000 troops there. Although the island joined the European Union in 2004, only the internationally recognized south enjoys EU membership.
Christofias’ 2008 election buoyed hopes that reunification, which had eluded numerous rounds of peace talks, would become reality.
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