By George Psyllides
Linking the power grids and having mobile phone interoperability on this divided island is not too difficult, but it is not easy either, it emerged on Friday, 24 hours after the leaders of the two communities agreed to pursue the matter as part of a series confidence building measures.
“Where there is will, ways can be found,” said Leonidas Paschalides, a senior director at the commerce and industry chamber (KEVE).
Paschalides, who participates in the technical committee on economic and commercial matters — set up as part of reunification talks – said it would be relatively easy to link the power grids, which had been connected in the past.
It was after the naval base explosion in July 2011, which incapacitated the Republic’s biggest power station.
In the aftermath the government sought assistance from Turkish Cypriots as it struggled to deal with rolling power cuts.
They were later disconnected as there was no protection from overloads.
“I think that today, enough measures were put in place to protect our network at least,” Paschalides said.
Linking the two grids would help in emergencies, like in 2011. No power will be channelled one way or the other under normal circumstances.
While power connection is fairly straightforward, mobile telephony interoperability appears to be more complicated as the two sides had to overcome political and technical obstacles.
Currently, Greek Cypriot phones do not work in the north – and vice versa – while a call had to go through Turkey.
Paschalides said the goal was for phones to work on both sides without having to pay international rates.
He said various ideas were being examined but he did not say what was being discussed and what the sticking points were.
“We must arrive someplace where solutions will not cause problems to either side,” he said.
Fikri Toros, the chairman of the Turkish Cypriot chamber of commerce, said the connection concerned two operators in the north and three in the south.
Once the project was finalised all of its procedures and details would be announced, Toros was quoted as saying by KP Daily News.