Sunday, February 24, 2008

International Press

"The win by Christofias makes the strategically important island a rarity among itsEuropean Union partners -- a country led by a president with firmly communist roots.

The 61-year-old Soviet-educated history professor won comfortably with 53.37 percent of the vote, compared with 46.63 percent for former foreign minister Ioannis Kasoulides."

"Mr Christofias, aged 59, a Moscow-educated populist who is the first communist to run for the Cyprus presidency, appears to have given up his eurosceptic views. He re-invented himself during the campaign as a champion of EU citizens' rights, saying "We shall become 'Euro-fighters' struggling on behalf of the poor."

Although the communists still embrace Marxism-Leninism, the party controls a wide range of businesses, including an investment company listed on the small Nicosia stock exchange."

"Christofias, 61, will be the only avowed communist leader in the 27-member EU. Although proud to declare himself a communist, he says he will not tamper with the free-market economy. His AKEL party still boasts busts of Lenin and red flags at its headquarters, but it also owns a number of large lucrative businesses on the island."

"Communist Demetris Christofias has been elected president of Cyprus.
He will become the first communist to lead the Mediterranean country in its history and the only Communist head of a member nation in the European Union."

Christofias pledged to preserve the country's 15 billion- euro ($22 billion) market economy, ruling out nationalization of companies in the island known as a tourist destination.

``I am not a Euro-skeptic,'' the communist leader said in a debate on Feb. 22. ``I'm a Euro-fighter. I fight for Cyprus's best interests within Europe. I won't say yes to everything the EU says.''