Cyprus. Direct negotiations between Cyprus President Dimitris Christofias and his Turkish Cypriot colleague Mehmet Ali Talat continued during the year. During the fall, they both met twice a week for property, EU relations, finance and territorial negotiations. However, a solution seemed distant, especially since the nationalists won the re-election to the Turkish Cypriot Parliament on April 19. The National Unity Party (UBP) received 44 percent of the vote and 26 of 50 seats, an increase of seven seats. The largest party in the outgoing coalition government, the Republican Turkish Party (CTP), received 29 percent and 15 seats, a nine-seat drop. The turnout was 81 percent. According to countryaah, UBP leader Derviş Eroğlu formed a new government.
The European Court of Justice ruled on April 28 that Greek Cypriot Meletis Apostolides was entitled to recover land that his family lost in Northern Cyprus in connection with the Turkish invasion of the area in 1974. Approximately 200,000 Greek Cypriots were estimated to have similar claims, which complicated the negotiations considerably.
The remains of President Tassos Papadopoulos were stolen from his grave in Nicosia the night of December 11. Papadopoulos was president in 2003-08 and died in December 2008. Police took the help of Interpol in the hunt for the perpetrators.
EU pushes for sold citizenship
The European Commission is launching a legal process against Malta and Cyprus to persuade the countries to end the systems that enable wealthy foreigners to obtain citizenship in exchange for large investments. Citizenship gives the buyer the right to work and live throughout the EU. According to a spokesman for the Commission, such agreements are in breach of EU rules. In August, the TV channel Al Jazeera revealed that a dozen of those who applied to buy Cypriot passports were suspected of crimes, convicted or subject to international sanctions. Following the revelation, the government announced that the sale of passports would be terminated. However, the spokesman for the European Commission warns that it is easy to scrap one system and replace it with another.
Turkey’s man won presidential election in the north
The presidential election in northern Cyprus ends with a victory for Prime Minister Ersin Tatar, who wins just under 52 percent of the vote in the second round. He thus defeats incumbent President Mustafa Akıncı. Tatars closer to Turkey than Akıncı also won the first round of elections held on 11 October. A few days before the first round of elections, Tatar, backed by Turkey, opens the ghost town of Varosha on the east coast. The city has been closed since its Greek Cypriot residents fled in connection with the Turkish invasion of northern Cyprus in 1974. The opening of Varosha is causing great anger in southern Cyprus and is condemned by the EU.
Stop selling citizenship
Cyprus announces that it will stop selling citizenship to wealthy foreigners. The announcement comes after the TV channel Al Jazeera broadcast a documentary in which reporters pretend to represent a convicted criminal who wants to buy citizenship and get help from lawyers, brokers and even politicians to push through the process. In an earlier program, Al Jazeera has stated that a dozen of those who were able to buy so-called golden passports have been imprisoned or have been the subject of criminal investigations or international sanctions. One of those pointed out in the documentary, Parliament Speaker Demetris Syllouris, denies any wrongdoing but chooses to resign pending a police investigation. The program to sell citizenship in exchange for investments on the island was started in 2007 but escalated after the economic crisis that the country went through in 2013.
Turkish retreat is followed by new advances in the eastern Mediterranean
Turkey is taking back the oil rig Yavuz from disputed waters near Cyprus after EU heads of state and government threatened Turkey with sanctions, but the peace will not last long. Ten days later, on October 14, the Turkish Minister of Energy announces that the research vessel Oruc Reis has regained its position south of the Greek island of Kastellorizo and has begun new measurements. Oruc Reis was called home from the area in mid-September. Germany and the United States are urging Turkey to take the ship home again and Greece says it will not consider any diplomatic solutions to the conflict as long as Oruc Reis is in the area.