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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Turkish Enclave Split in Cyprus

NICOSIA, Cyprus -- Turkish Cypriot politicians were wrestling on Tuesday with how to form a government after landmark elections that were seen as crucial to hopes for a solution to the island's division ended in a dead heat.

Sunday's cliffhanger parliamentary poll was effectively a referendum on veteran leader Rauf Denktash's hawkish stance against a UN blueprint to reunify the island, with opposition parties vowing to seek a swift deal with the Greek Cypriots.

The hung result, giving the pro-Denktash and anti-Denktash camps 25 seats each, leaves the breakaway Turkish Cypriot ministate in political deadlock and peace prospects in limbo. It could also hamper the ambitions of Turkey, the only country to recognize the enclave, to join the European Union.

Prime Minister Dervis Eroglu met Denktash on Tuesday for the formal business of submitting his government's resignation, but the real politics were going on in party backrooms.

Denktash said he would hold individual meetings with the leaders of the four elected parties from Wednesday to discuss who might be capable of forming a new coalition.

"There's no lineup of whom I'll meet first," he said at his colonial-style residency in the northern part of Nicosia, warning against reading anything into the order.

Denktash said on Monday fresh polls would have to be called in two months if no stable government could be formed.

The veteran leader said the election result showed Turkish Cypriots backed the reunification of Cyprus and European Union membership, but not at any price.

Turkey, which invaded in 1974 after a Greek Cypriot coup backed by Athens, is under heavy EU pressure to force the Turkish Cypriots back to talks before the internationally recognized government in the south joins the bloc next May.

Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul said Tuesday that Ankara was working with the enclave to map the way ahead and end nearly three decades of division along ethnic lines.

"We will bring out concrete measures next week. Right now, we are in preparations for a compromise [with the Greek Cypriots]," he told the Anatolia news agency on a trip to Japan.

"But compromise cannot be one-sided. We expect the other side to be in a mood to compromise. Only then can we get a result."