Veteran pro-Turkey politician Dervis Eroglu has won the Turkish Cypriot presidential election on the divided island of Cyprus, defeating incumbent Mehmet Ali Talat.
Dervis Eroglu of the National Unity Party, took 50.4 percent of the vote, while Mehmet Ali Talat secured only 43 percent.
Mr. Eroglu is seen by many voters as a hardliner, who opposes reunification of the Turkish Cypriot northern part of the island with the Greek south, instead calling for a two-state solution.
That proposal is long been rejected by Greek Cypriots. President Talat, who favors reunification, has been in office since 2005 and has been holding U.N.-sponsored reunification talks with the Greek Cypriots since September 2008. His defeat has heightened fears that the talks could breakdown.
Shortly after he cast his ballot, Mr. Talat said election laws bar him from commenting on the voting results, but he wished all of the candidates good luck. "I wish all the best to everybody, both Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots. I am sure that it will be for the benefit of the whole island. That is my expectation and my wish," he said.
After casting his ballot, Mr. Eroglu told reporters that he hoped he would be in a position to continue the Cyprus peace talks. "I am also willing to have a settlement in Cyprus," he said.
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has urged Cypriot leaders to continue peace talks, whatever the results in the election.
The continuing division of Cyprus also poses one of the most difficult issues affecting E.U.-Turkey relations, with the future of Turkey's accession hinging on the successful resolution of the Cyprus issue.
More than 155,000 voters participated in the election - strong turnout compared to five years ago.
Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded the northern part of the island in response to a military coup that was backed by the Greek government.
South Cyprus joined the European Union in 2004 and the self-proclaimed Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus is recognized only by Turkey.