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Tatar Prime Minister wins Northern Cyprus presidential vote, says people want their own state

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ISTANBUL (Reuters) – Prime Minister of the breakaway state of Northern Cyprus Ersin Tatar won a run-off in Sunday’s presidential election with almost 52% of the vote, a result that could further strain ties with the Cypriot government.

Tatar is a supporter of divided administrations on the Mediterranean island which split after a 1974 Turkish occupation in response to a brief Greek-inspired coup.

Incumbent President Mustafa Akinci, 72, whose relations with Ankara had soured, had been a supporter of reunification.

As well as having an impact on inter-island talks, the election result could also affect negotiations on disputed maritime claims in the eastern Mediterranean, which has Turkey at odds with Greece and Cyprus.

Turkey, which is the only country that recognizes Northern Cyprus as an independent state, said recently that separate administrations were the only solution after UN-mediated peace negotiations between Cyprus and Northern Cyprus broke down in 2017.

In his victory speech, Tatar thanked Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan, with whom he has strong relations.

They will never sever ties between us and Turkey, he said.

In light of the approval we received, it is the preference of our people in all disputes to claim our state, to claim our land and to claim the guarantee of Turkey, Tatar added.

Yes, we are open to an agreement with Cyprus but the Turkish Cypriot people will accept the terms of this agreement of their own free will.

The footage showed voters wearing masks and gloves as part of measures against the new coronavirus when they voted. With a population of about 326,000, Northern Cyprus reported 852 infections and five deaths as of Sunday, according to official media.

Erdogan congratulated Tatar on a tweet and said Turkey would make every effort to protect the rights of Turkish Cypriots.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said in a tweet: We will defend the rights and legitimate interests of (the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus) in the eastern Mediterranean all together.

Earlier this month, Tatar, speaking alongside Erdogan, said northern Cyprus was reopening part of the coast of a 46-year-old abandoned resort, in a move seen as potentially damaging to efforts to revive settlement talks. of disputes. Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades said the reopening was illegal.

Reporting by Ali Kucukgocmen; Editing by Kevin Liffey and Alexandra Hudson

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