Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu has blamed a ‘no’ vote by Greek Cypriots in a 2004 peace plan for a lingering crisis on the divided island.

Davutoglu was speaking at Ankara’s Esenboga Airport shortly before his departure to the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus on Tuesday – his first formal foreign visit since becoming prime minister last month.

New Turkish prime ministers and presidents follow a protocol of making Cyprus their first overseas destination after taking office, something Davutoglu described to reporters as “a beautiful tradition.”

The prime minister is due to discuss ongoing negotiations between the Greek Cypriot side and Turkish Cyprus in talks with TRNC president Dervis Eroglu.

Following “many serious rounds of negotiations under the auspices of the U.N.” over 40 years, Turkish Cypriots created the best opportunity in 2004 with their extremely positive attitude, said Davutoglu.

However, it was missed because of a ‘no’ vote by Greek Cypriots in a referendum and this crisis still lingers on, added the prime minister.

“Parallel to economic growth in Turkey a substantial economic development has been achieved by the TRNC within the last 12 to 13 years. Certainly we are providing a significant support to TRNC with very important projects,” Davutoglu said.

“One of the most prominent of these projects is the connection of TRNC to mainland Anatolia with a water pipeline; water needs of the island will be fulfilled with clean, pure Anatolian water. We will definitely watch these developments today.”

Hailing the country’s democratic system Davutoglu said that despite all obstructions and intimidations, the TRNC has set democratic standards and many presidents and prime ministers have been elected through transparent and just elections for 30 years.

The prime minister said he will hold talks with President Dervis Eroglu, Parliament Speaker Sibel Siber, Prime Minister Ozkan Yorgancioglu and leaders of all political parties before returning home in the evening.

Former U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan had presented a plan – the Annan Plan – for the solution to the Cyprus issue before a referendum held on the proposal in 2004 that was overwhelmingly approved by Turkish Cypriots but rejected by Greek Cypriots.