Position: President of the Republic of Cyprus
Incumbent: Demetris Christofias
Date of Birth: Aug. 29, 1946
Term: Five year presidential term won via general elections. Wields executive power through cabinet. Appointed Feb 28, 2008.
-- The European Union's first and only Communist head of state, Demetris Christofias won his first bid at the presidency with a pledge to revive long-stalled peace talks aimed at reunifying Cyprus, ethnically split between its Greek and Turkish Cypriots.
-- He spearheaded a resumption of peace negotiations with Turkish Cypriots in Sept. 2008, but talks are progressing very slowly. The sides are attempting to relink Cyprus's de facto partition as a federation of two largely self governing zones.
-- Widely viewed as a moderate, he was considered too moderate by some of his own partners. Two years into his presidency, a junior coalition partner, the socialist Edek party, pulled out of the government.
-- Christofias's government is comprised of Communist AKEL, the party he lead before becoming president, and the Democratic Party , which wants a tougher stance in reunification talks.
-- Under his tenure, the island has forged stronger relations with Russia, which is an important business partner. Critics accuse him of failing to heed signs that Cyprus would experience its first recession in 30 years, and had appeared indecisive in tackling deteriorating public finances.
-- Educated in the Soviet Union, Christofias was awarded a PhD in history from the Institute of Social Sciences and the Academy of Social Sciences in Moscow. He is a fluent Russian speaker.
-- An able and direct communicator, he has been the subject of several jokes for his tendency to transliterate from Greek when speaking in English, or for speaking off the cuff.
-- After graduation and returning to Cyprus from Moscow, Christofias took up positions in Communist AKEL, working his way up from the youth wing of the organization to Secretary-General in 1988. He stepped down in 2009, a year after becoming president. Communist in structure, AKEL says it espouses free market economics, though any talk about privatizing state enterprises under Christofias's watch is ruled out.
-- Christofias's family were made refugees in the 1974 Turkish invasion of Cyprus triggered by a brief Greek inspired coup. He underwent a life-saving kidney transplant in 2002, donated by one of his sisters.