Turkey and the United States expressed their hopes for a solution to the 40-year-old Cyprus Problem by the end of 2015.
During a meeting with his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu in Washington, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said the dispute dividing the island’s Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots had gone on for “far too long.”
"This is a problem that just has gone on for far too long, and it is begging for international efforts to try to help bring about a resolution, a lasting settlement," Kerry said, adding that both the US and Turkey support the UN-led negotiations to reunify the island as a bi-zonal, bi-communal federation.
"We believe that the parties can make real and lasting progress in the year 2015."
It was announced earlier in April by the UN envoy to the island, Espen Barth Eide, that peace talks between Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots will resume within a matter of weeks.
Talks were stalled in October when Turkey, in agreement with the Turkish Cypriots, sent a seismic vessel to search for hydrocarbon reserves off the island’s coast after the Greek Cypriot administration failed to heed warnings to cease unilateral action over the potential natural gas fields.
Turkey, which this month withdrew its vessel following a pause in Greek Cypriot hydrocarbon research in the area, has been pressuring the Greek Cypriot administration to suspend drilling in the area until a deal has been reached with the Turkish Cypriots.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu on his part encouraged active participation from the U.S. in the peace process.
"Turkey and Turkish Cypriots have the political will for a solution, and we are waiting at the negotiating table," Cavusoglu said.
"Thanks to the efforts and the support of United States, we can finally reach a [lasting] and fair solution in Cyprus."
The island of Cyprus has been ethnically divided since a military coup by the Greek junta in a bid to unite the island with Greece in July 1974 led to Turkey exercising its right under the 1960 Treaty of Guarantee to conduct a military intervention in the island.
Almost a decade after Turkey secured the northern third of the island and a population exchange between Turkish Cypriots in the south and Greek Cypriots in the north, failure to reach an agreement with the Greek Cypriots to restore the constitutional government led to the Turkish Cypriots declaring the independence of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) - which is only recognised by Turkey.
A number of attempts to restore the constitution have failed since then, with the latest example being the Cyprus referendum of 2004 prior to the Greek Cypriot administration’s accession to the EU. While the majority of Turkish Cypriots voted to reunite the island, which would have secured the withdrawal of Turkish troops, the Greek Cypriots voted against reunification.
Turkish Cypriots vote on future
Turkish Cypriots in the TRNC are due to enter a second round of presidential elections April 26 after the first round failed to produce a clear-winner Sunday.
Despite collecting the most votes in the first round with 28.18 percent, incumbent president and right-wing veteran Dervis Eroglu is expected to be replaced in office by left-wing run-off rival Mustafa Akinci.
Akinci, who was the second most popular candidate after Eroglu with 26.92 percent, will enter the second round with the support of his own Communal Democracy Party (TDP) as well as that of rival left-wing Republican Turkish Party (CTP).
CTP announced support for Akinci after its candidate Sibel Siber, who came third with 22.54 of the votes, was eliminated in the first round.
Akinci is considered to be the most keen candidate to solve the 40-year-old dispute that has divided the island’s Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots ever since following the July 1974 intervention.
77-year-old incumbent President Eroglu, on the other hand, has been accused of being in favor of the status quo, under which the TRNC has remains economically isolated due to it only being recognised by Turkey.
Eroglu will enter the second round with the support of his former National Unity Party (UBP), as well as the backing of Serdar Denktas’ Democratic Party-National Powers (DP-UG).