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Last Updated: Sunday, 17 April, 2005, 18:12 GMT 19:12 UK
Turkish Cypriots vote for Talat
Mehmet Ali Talat
Mr Talat wants fresh reunification talks with Greek Cypriots
Turkish Cypriots have voted Mehmet Ali Talat as their new president, replacing retiring leader Rauf Denktash.

Mr Talat, a supporter of the island's reunification, is currently prime minister of the unrecognised Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.

Mr Talat won 55.6% of the vote, well ahead of his nearest rival, Dervis Eroglu, who won just 22.7%

Mr Denktash was a dominant figure on the island's political stage for more than half a century.

He was accused by Greek Cypriots, and by much of the international community, for inflexibility during talks to try to reunite Cyprus.

'Turning point'

Unlike Mr Denktash, Mr Talat is a keen pro-European who has lobbied hard for the reunification of the island.

As he cast his vote, Mr Talat underlined his determination to find a solution to the island's divisions.

"Today is a turning point," he said.

"We have to solve the Cyprus problem. We have to do this with the Greek Cypriot community."

Turkish Cypriots voted overwhelmingly in favour of a United Nations-brokered reunification plan last year.

The BBC's Tabitha Morgan in Nicosia says Sunday's result is likely to radically alter politics in Cyprus.

But, she says, Mr Talat's victory is unlikely to herald any immediate prospect of a political solution.

Greek Cypriots in the south of the island remain firmly opposed to the UN plan.

They hope Turkey will be forced to make further concessions on Cyprus before it can begin EU accession negotiations in October.

Find out if the elections will hasten reunification

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