‘Cyprus Problem’ Top Priority for Island’s New President

Nikos Christodoulides was sworn in as Cyprus’s president on Tuesday, promising to make finding a solution to the “Cyprus problem” his top priority after winning an election runoff on Feb. 12.

Christodoulides, 49, inherits a deadlock in reunification talks on the ethnically split island, labor disputes over high inflation, and what he called challenges of “exceptionally complex” irregular migration.

Christodoulides took an investiture oath in parliament. Cyprus has an executive system of government, with power invested in the presidency and its council of ministers.

Backed by centrist and right-wing parties, Christodoulides, a foreign minister until early 2022, won 52% of the vote over his main rival, leftist-backed Andreas Mavroyiannis.

“A solution to the Cyprus problem is my top priority,” he said. He met with Ersin Tatar, the Turkish Cypriot leader, last week.

Christodoulides has already sailed into his first controversy by falling short on a pre-election pledge of women making up 50% of his cabinet and of avoiding appointments of individuals who served in past governments.

“He raised the bar, but fell short,” the opposition leftist AKEL said in a statement.

Of 25 appointments announced on Monday, 14 were male and 11 female, though there were fewer females in key posts.

Two of his ministers have served in previous administrations – Interior Minister Constantinos Ioannou, who served as health minister under the government of former President Nicos Anastasiades, and Finance Minister Makis Keravnos, who served in the same post 20 years ago.

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