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Cyprus Presidential Candidates Cross Swords in TV Debate

The Cyprus issue and the re-ignition of the UN-backed peace process dominated a televised debate between the candidates running in the island’s presidential election on Sunday.
The five main candidates — incumbent Nicos Anastasiades; Nicolas Papadopoulos; Stavros Malas; George Lillikas; and Christos Christou — adopted a defensive strategy, trying to avoid mistakes which would put them in a difficult position.
Anastasiades came under fire for either giving too many concessions to Turkey or not doing enough to make a peace deal possible when the stakes were high last year.
Three of the five candidates in the live debate argued that a different direction had to be taken in the Cyprus talks by ditching the previously agreed principles of a bizonal, bicommunal federation.
According to opinion polls, Anastasiades is unlikely to win the Jan. 28’s first round outright, and is expected to face a run-off on Feb. 4 against either communist-backed Stavros Malas or Nicolas Papadopoulos, a former president’s son who takes a tougher line on peace efforts.
Papadopoulos said a “different strategy was needed” to undo some of the “dangerous concessions” in recent negotiations.
Malas argued that the president had missed an “historic opportunity” to do a deal last year at a Swiss summit which collapsed.
Far-right Elam leader Christos Christou said the solution favored by his party was that of a unitary state.
He said the Cyprus problem had to be repositioned as a problem of invasion and occupation and not a bicommunal issue.

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