( dpa ) - Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos and eight others handed in their candidacy Friday to run in the island's February 17 presidential elections, which will focus on such issues as reunification talks.
Papadopoulos, a hardliner currently leading in opinion polls, will be running a tough race against two main candidates - popular Communist AKEL leader Demetris Christofias and MEP and former foreign minister Ioannis Kassoulides.
The latest poll, carried out by Insight Market Research, showed Christofias to have gained ground over incumbent Papadopoulos. The poll shows Christofias with 32.6 per cent to Papadopoulos' 33.1, and Kassoulides with 29.1 per cent.
Other candidates in the presidential race include businessman Andreas Evstratiou, researcher Anastasios Mihael and writer Kostas Kiriakou.
"I am sure we can make it," Papadopoulos said after submitting his candidacy.
Among the main issues on the table are reunification talks which have been deadlocked since Greek Cyriots rejected a UN reunification plan in 2004 under the Papadopoulos government.
Unlike Papadopoulos' hardline policies towards the Turkish Cypriots, both Christofias and Kassoulides have said they will attempt to build bridges with the Turkish Cypriot community in the north.
The divided island of Cyprus has remained one of the main hurdles in Turkey's aspirations to join the European Union.
The bloc has frozen membership negotiations with Turkey in eight chapters due to Ankara's refusal to open its ports and airports to Greek Cyriots.
Runoff elections will be held on February 24 if no candidate is able to win an absolute majority.