The first mobile phone call across the divide after interoperability of phones across the island was achieved was made on Thursday just after noon between the two leaders.
The measure was achieved three years after President Nicos Anastasiades and Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci agreed on mobile phone interoperability between the divide as part of confidence building measures (CBMs) between the two communities.
The announcement of the connection came from Unficyp, which said in a written statement that the two leaders 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.
According to the announcement, the first call took place between the two leaders at 12:45pm, facilitated by the Special Representative to the Secretary-General on Cyprus Elizabeth Spehar, confirming that the arrangement is now live and working.
“The achievement of this confidence-building measure (CBM) underlines the importance of dialogue, trust and co-operation between both sides,” the announcement said.
Anastasiades tweeted that he and Akinci made the first call. “In the same way we broke the barrier in communication, my wish is to abolish the line that divides our country in two,” he added.
Spehar congratulated the two leaders on the achievement.
“A welcome, practical step forward that I hope will facilitate better communication across the island and help bring Cypriots closer,” Spehar said.
She also urged the public to join with her and connect with each other “to mark this important day” and gave some hashtags for social media users to use to mark the day: #CyprusConnects #TimeToTalk #CyprusCalls
Mobile phone operators CyTA and epic have already included roaming charges for calls and messages to the north on their websites.
Epic users will be paying €0.29 per minute for outgoing calls within Cyprus, €1.07 per minute for calls to the EU and the rest of the world, €0.20 for receiving a call and €0.03 per SMS and €0.25 per MB when using GPRS.
Users need to activate the roaming service before entering the areas of the Republic of Cyprus not under the effective control of the government. The company advises its customers to deactivate the service upon returning to the government-controlled areas to avoid unnecessary charges. More information on how to activate/deactivate the service and roaming charges for epic subscribers may be found here.
CyTA subscribers need to send an SMS to 8000 saying ON ROA to activate the service and OFF ROA to the same number to deactivate it.
Outgoing calls within Cyprus while in north cost €0.29 per minute, €0.85 per minute for international calls, €0.25 for incoming calls, €0.035 per SMS and €0.20 per MB for internet use.
The Unficyp announcement also said that Akinci and Anastasiades discussed the possibility of meeting the soonest possible.
The aim of the meeting, it said, is to evaluate the situation as regards to 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.