Government spokesman Nicos Christodoulides said on Sunday it was too early to focus on presidential elections at a time when it was important to see how the Cyprus talks could be re-started.
Christodoulides was speaking at an Eoka memorial service in Paphos. He said that over any five-year period there were three election cycles in Cyprus.
“Imagine if we started campaigning a year before each one, we would not get anything else done,” he said.
“Currently Cypriot society is in place that requires seriousness, commitment and continuity in an effort to bring about very specific results whether it be for the development of the economy, reform measures or the implementation of energy plans, or the upgrading regional and European level of the role of the Republic,” he said.
“We also still have to see how we can restart efforts to explore the prospects for a positive outcome to the talks. There is no other choice but to work to reunite our country.”
Smaller hardline parties have already begun their election campaigns and plan to put forward a centersit candidate to defeat President Nicos Anastasiades should he run again in 2018. He and the government have denied the president is already focusing on being re-elected, which has reportedly taken his mind off the Cyprus talks, saying he has not yet decided whether to stand again.
However, since the talks reached an impasse last month, Anastasiades has turned his attention more to domestic issues that some see as electioneering such as giving in to hefty pay rises for nurses – that he had balked on for over a year – and ordering that steps begin to build a new psychiatric hospital.
The Cyprus talks reached deadlock last month when Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci walked away from the table after the House voted to allow schools to commemorate a 1950 plebiscite by Greek Cypriots for Enosis, or union with Greece. Akinci said he would not return to the talks until it was rescinded.
Since then, the Greek Cypriot side and Greece are insisting there is no point going back to the table in any case until the constitutional referendum is over in Turkey in the middle of next month. They say Ankara is distracted and no progress on Cyprus can be made in the immediate period, and that this was the real reason Akinci shut things down.
However, UN Special Adviser Espen Barth Eide said in a CNA interview published on Saturday the situation was “quite the contrary”. “There is no external force behind the absence of meetings, this particular crisis was created in Cyprus and can be solved in Cyprus, this is a Cypriot crisis,” he said.
Later that morning, he told reporters in the north during a visit to a bicommunal coffee club, that Cypriots have to make a choice as to whether they believe that they are stronger together or stronger divided and that choice should be made reasonably soon.
“I think if people believe in a solution in Cyprus this is the moment to speak up in favour of it, because frankly I am worried that things are not going as well as they used to do a few months ago,” Eide said.
He added that “we don`t have an eternity of time and I would not only leave it to the leaders. The leaders are essential, but they also need support from society at large. People should think about what choice they want to make at the end of the day. Do they believe that they are stronger together or do they believe that they are stronger divided?”