This is one of a series of articles from our new feature ‘Background briefing: The Divided Island‘. It is a comprehensive interactive information guide on the Cyprus problem which we are publishing at this critical moment in the settlement negotiations. There is a menu bar to the full package to the right of this article. Just click on any of the items.
Mustafa Akinci: 1947-
Turkish Cypriot leader: 2015-2020
Mustafa Akinci, a long-time supporter of the island’s reunification under a federal system, became ‘president’ of the self-declared ‘Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus’ in April 2015 after several years in the political wilderness.
A social democrat, he stood as an independent, securing 60.5 per cent of the vote, ousting the nationalist incumbent, Dervis Eroglu. Akinci promised to push harder for a peace deal during his election campaign. He also said that the relationship between northern Cyprus and Turkey should be one of “brothers and sisters” rather than of a “motherland and her child”.
He advocated the opening of the ghost town of Varosha, saying it would bring economic benefits to both communities and create momentum towards a settlement. Akinci was born in Limassol as was President Nicos Anastasiades, the Greek Cypriot leader, who called him personally to congratulate him on his election victory.
In local elections in 1976, Akinci, an architect by profession, ran as the candidate for the left-wing Communal Liberation Party (TKP) and became the first mayor of Turkish Cypriot municipality of northern Nicosia. He was just 28. Holding this position until 1990, he worked with Lellos Demetriades, the Greek Cypriot mayor of Nicosia south of the green line, on award-winning projects that straddled the divide.
These included a joint sewerage project and the Nicosia Master Plan, aimed at ensuring that the two halves of the capital did not develop along separate tracks before its eventual reunification.
Between 1987 and 2001 Akinci served as leader of the TKP and was a member of the Turkish Cypriot ‘parliament’ from 1993 to 2009, serving as ‘deputy prime minister’ and ‘minister of tourism’ from 1999 to 2001.
He was a founding member of and leader of the Peace and Democracy Movement (BDH) in 2003, a social democratic party created to promote reunification on the Annan Plan – a UN blueprint for a federal settlement of the Cyprus problem. He handed over the leadership of the BDH when it merged with the Communal Liberation Party in 2007 to form the social-democratic Communal Democracy Party (TDP).
Akinci was born on 28 December 1947.