World Bulletin / News Desk
Turkish Cypriot president Dervis Eroglu was in the United States on Monday, where he met with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.
The two discussed progress in the Cyprus peace talks between the Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots, which resumed in February after a two-year stalemate.
"We have recently resumed negotiation as I have mentioned and during the course of the negotiations we will try to bridge our differences and try to find a comprehensive settlement in the shortest possible time," Eroglu was quoted as saying by Hurriyet Daily News.
"We believe a settlement is possible within this year, and then we can finalize the settlement and take it to separate simultaneous referenda in 2014," he added.
A similar referendum proposing the re-unification of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) and the Greek Cypriot-controlled south was held in 2004 on both sides of the border.
While Turkish Cypriot largely voted in favor of re-uniting the island, which would have paved the way for Turkey to pull out its troops from the north, the vast majority of Greek Cypriots voted against the 'Annan Plan' proposal, which was drawn up by former U.N. secretary-general Kofi Annan.
However, the discovery of natural gas reserves in the eastern Mediterranean sea-bed just off the shores of Cyprus, which brings hope for the Greek Cypriot's crisis-hit economy if they could only pump it through Turkey to the European market, has prompted the Greek Cypriot government to reconsider its relations with its northern neighbor.
The new peace plan proposes a bi-zonal federal state in which Turkey will maintain a small, symbolic force to protect the Turkish Cypriots.
While the peace talks are being promoted to both Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots, who will ultimately decide whether or not to accept the plan in a referendum, there are some pockets of resistance against re-unification.
Last month, former TRNC president Mehmet Ali Talat was attacked by far-right Greek Cypriot group ELAM as he gave a conference in the Greek Cypriot city of Limassol.
Turkey have maintained troops in the north of the island since 1974 when a coup conducted by the far-right Greek Cypriot militant group EOKA prompted Turkey to use its constitutional right as a guarantor of peace to carry out a military intervention.
There have been many tried and failed attempts to re-eastablish the constitutional government since, but stalemates primarily regarding land issues have left the 40-year problem unresolved.Last Mod: 22 Nisan 2014, 12:16