Turkey's European Union minister on Wednesday called on the Turkish and Greek Cypriot leaders to accelerate peace talks to end the 40-year division of Cyprus, Anadolu Agency reported.
"Representatives from both sides should meet at least twice a week and the leaders should meet more often to negotiate and accelerate the process," Mevlut Cavusoglu said as he met with Turkish Cypriot Foreign Minister Ozdil Nami in Ankara, the Turkish capital. "We wish to reach a fair and lasting solution within this year."
The Turkish and Greek Cypriot leaders previously announced in February in a joint declaration outlining the contours of a federal state reuniting the island.
Nami said the Turkish Cypriot government wants to reach a new and comprehensive solution with the joint declaration as "a comprehensive solution will integrate the Turkish Cypriot people with the European Union."
Meanwhile, former Turkish Cypriot president Mehmet Ali Talat has said about 80 percent of the Turkish Cypriots would say "no" to Turkey's annexation of northern Cyprus if talks failed to reach a deal on the reunification of the divided island.
When asked about the former president's comments on northern Cyprus, Nami said "bonds of love with Turkey does not mean annexation...Turkey has very close ties with many Turkic countries and our ties with Turkey will not break whether there is a federal solution."
"We will either reach a federal solution or continue our existence," he added.
The island of Cyprus has remained divided into Greek and Turkish parts since a Greek Cypriot coup was followed by a Turkish peace mission to aid Turkish Cypriots in the north in 1974.
The Greek Cypriot administration is a member of the EU and is internationally recognized except by Turkey, which is the only country that recognizes the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.