CYPRUS: Leaders pick up phone to launch telecoms network across divide

Cypriot leaders who haven’t held peace talks for two years picked up the phone on Thursday to launch the divided island’s first interoperable mobile phone network to enhance people to people contact.

An integrated telecoms network that allows local calls to be made across the divided island was seen as a key UN-backed confidence building measure that had been delayed for several years.

In a statement, Greek Cypriot leader Nicos Anastasiades and Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci announced the implementation of the interoperability of mobile phones across the island with the aim of improving the communication between the communities and bringing all Cypriots closer together.

The first call took place between the two leaders at 12:45 pm Thursday, facilitated by UN Special Representative on Cyprus Elizabeth Spehar who confirmed that the arrangement is now live and working.

The achievement of this confidence building measure underlines the importance of dialogue, trust and co-operation between both sides, said the leaders’ statement.

Anastasiades and Akinci also discussed the possibility of meeting the soonest possible to evaluate the current state of play on the Cyprus problem as well as furthering more potential CBMs which will affect positively the daily lives of all Cypriots.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres this week told the Security Council that scepticism remained widespread and interest in and hope for the peace process remained low.

Peace talks have been in limbo since the collapse of talks at an UN-backed Swiss summit in July 2017. There have been no official Cyprus negotiations between the two sides since then.

The United Nations has made clear it will not fully engage in a new peace process unless Cypriot leaders are committed into entering negotiations in a spirit of compromise.

Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkish troops invaded and occupied its northern third in response to a coup sponsored by the military junta then ruling Greece.

Tensions in the region heightened after Turkey sent two drillships to explore for oil and gas in an area claimed by Cyprus as its maritime zone.

The EU has condemned Turkey’s actions in the eastern Mediterranean in trying exploration in Cyprus’ maritime zone.

Brussels is currently considering measures against Turkey for ignoring its warnings over Cyprus energy drills.

Source: The Financial Mirror