Duvar English - Reuters
Ersin Tatar, prime minister of the breakaway state of Turkish Cyprus, won a presidential election runoff on Oct. 18 with almost 52% of votes, in a result which could further strain ties with the Cypriot government.
Tatar is a supporter of separate administrations on the Mediterranean island which split after a 1974 Turkish invasion in response to a brief Greek-inspired coup.
Incumbent president Mustafa Akıncı, 72, whose relations with Ankara had been strained, had been a supporter of reunification.
As well as having an impact on inter-island talks, the election result may also affect negotiations over the contested maritime claims in the eastern Mediterranean, which has Turkey at odds with Greece and Cyprus.
Turkey, which is the only country to recognise Turkish Cyprus as an independent state, said recently that separate administrations were the only solution after United Nations-mediated peace negotiations between Cyprus and North Cyprus broke down in 2017.
In his victory speech, Tatar thanked Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, with whom he has strong relations.
"They will never tear the ties between us and Turkey," he said.
"In light of the approval we received, it is the preference of our people in all disputes to lay claim to our own state, to lay claim to our land and lay claim to the guarantorship of Turkey," Tatar added.
"Yes, we are open to an agreement with Cyprus but the Turkish Cypriot people will accept the terms of this agreement with a free will."
Akıncı, meanwhile, said that he is ending his political career.
Footage showed voters wearing masks and gloves as part of measures against the novel coronavirus as they cast their ballots. With a population of some 326,000, northern Cyprus has reported 852 infections and five deaths as of Oct. 18, according to official media.
Erdoğan congratulated Tatar in a tweet and said Turkey would make every effort to protect the rights of Turkish Cypriots.
Kuzey Kıbrıs Türk Cumhuriyeti Cumhurbaşkanı seçilen Sayın Ersin Tatar'ı şahsım ve Türk Milleti adına tebrik ediyorum.— Recep Tayyip Erdoğan (@RTErdogan) October 18, 2020
Türkiye, Kıbrıs Türk halkının hak ve hukukunun korunması için gereken her türlü çabayı göstermeyi sürdürecektir.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said in a tweet: "We will protect the legitimate rights and interests of (the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus) in the eastern Mediterranean all together."
Warm congratulations to newly elected President Ersin Tatar of TRNC. Will work together for the welfare, development and security of Turkish Cypriots. Will protect all together the legitimate rights and interests of #TRNC in Eastern Mediterranean. @ersinrtatar pic.twitter.com/fwAoiZWRjT— Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu (@MevlutCavusoglu) October 18, 2020
Earlier this month, Tatar, speaking alongside Erdoğan, said northern Cyprus was reopening part of the beachfront of a resort abandoned for 46 years, in a move seen as potentially damaging to efforts to revive dispute settlement talks. The president of Greek Cyprus, Nicos Anastasiades, said the reopening was illegal.Akıncı says decision to reopen Varosha was hidden from him, calls it 'Ankara's interference in elections'