Cyprus’ Greek and Turkish leaders have for the first time given a joint TV address to wish residents a happy holiday.
President Nicos Anastasiades and Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci said they hoped for a peace deal in 2016.
The latest round of negotiations aiming at reunification of the divided island has been going on for more than seven months.
The Turkish-controlled north broke away in 1974 after a Greek-inspired coup.
Nicos Anastasiades said his wish was for Greek and Turkish Cypriots to be able to live peacefully together in a reunified Cyprus, while Mustafa Akinci said he hoped 2016 would bring lasting peace for all.
“I wish the New Year will bring lasting peace, serenity and prosperity to all Cypriots,” Mustafa Akinci was quoted as saying by the Cyprus Mail.
According to the Cyprus Mail, Nicos Anastasiades and Muastafa Akinci will meet three times in January.
In 2004, Greek Cypriots rejected a UN plan to reunify the island. They were unhappy at limits on their right to return to property in the Turkish north.
Turkish Cypriots voted in favor of the plan.
The self-declared Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus is diplomatically isolated, recognized only by Turkey.
UN peacekeeping forces estimate that 165,000 Greek Cypriots fled or were expelled from the north, and 45,000 Turkish Cypriots from the south, although the parties to the conflict say the figures are higher.
Mustafa Akinci has won the presidential election in the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.
Standing as an independent, leftist Mustafa Akinci, 67, won 60.3% of the votes in Sunday’s runoff, according to election commission figures.
He defeated incumbent conservative President Dervis Eroglu, a conservative elected five years ago.
Mustafa Akinci has said he would work with renewed urgency to find a peace deal on Cyprus after four decades of division.
The island was divided in 1974 by a Turkish invasion staged in response to a short-lived Greek-inspired coup staged to secure a union with Greece.
Peace negotiations came to a halt last October, when Greek Cypriots walked out in protest over Turkish rights to explore natural gas off northern Cyprus.
Correspondents say that Mustafa Akinci is viewed as a moderate who can push forward the stalled reunification talks that are expected to resume next month.
The new president capitalized on a wave of discontent against Dervis Eroglu, who failed to unite right-wing supporters.
“We achieved change and my policy will be focused on reaching a peace settlement,” Mustafa Akinci told thousands of joyful supporters at a victory rally.
“This country cannot tolerate any more wasted time.”
Mustafa Akinci said that he had already spoken to Greek Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades and that they had agreed to meet soon.
“[Nicos] Anastasiades and I are [of] the same generation… If we can’t solve this now, it will be a tremendous burden on future generations,” he said, pointing out that the strength of his victory was a riposte to those who accused him of selling out to Greek Cypriots.
Mustafa Akinci earned his political colors during a 14-year term as mayor of the Turkish-Cypriot half of the capital Nicosia from the late 1970s to the early 1990s.
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