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The island has suffered sporadic intercommunal violence since independence from the UK in 1960. Turkey sent in troops in 1974 to protect Turkish communities after a coup organised by the Greek military aimed at uniting the island with Greece. Nine years later, Turkish Cypriot leaders declared a breakaway state in the north, which is recognised only by Ankara.
Many on the island fled their homes during the violence that culminated in the Turkish invasion, and have remained displaced to this day. The impasse has been one block to Turkish membership of the EU.
Formally the talks cover property, governance – including a rotating presidency – the economy, territory and security guarantees. One issue blends into another, and neither side is likely to make a final compromise until they see the overall shape of the package.
It has always been agreed that some of the territory controlled by the Turkish Cypriots will be ceded to Greek Cypriot control in any peace deal. The debate over how much land should be handed over and its location has hampered previous talks.
The security issue focuses on the extent, size and terms of a continued Turkish army presence on the island. Akıncı also insists on a rotating presidency with a Turkish Cypriot elected every two years, a proposal unpopular among Greek Cypriots.
Britain has offered to give up half the territory of its sovereign bases as part of any deal.
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