Concerns expressed by the government about the proposal of the European Commission for a bicommunal solar park in the buffer zone are perfectly justified. These were voiced after the EU Director General of Structural Reform Support, Mario Nava, said on Tuesday that the result of the initial study for the creation of the solar park had been discussed with members of the two communities.

On the surface, the photovoltaic park that would produce 36MW of power and include batteries with three-hour storage capacity seems like a very good idea as a confidence-building project. It would require both sides to be involved in its management and would benefit both communities by providing clean energy at relatively low cost.

The idea, however, ignores the zero-sum game mentality prevailing on both sides which have always found reasons for disagreeing on any matter put before them. There is a long tradition of mistrust, suspicion and hostility, which makes any attempt at cooperation and near impossible task. The Pyla fiasco of last year perfectly illustrated this state of affairs, with both sides doing their best to make the compromise brokered by the UN unworkable, be resort to petty machinations.

Things cannot be different when it comes to a solar park in the buffer zone; ironically, the plan was for this park to be set up in the Pyla buffer zone over which there is now a dispute that cannot be resolved. Interestingly, talking about the Commission’s idea, the deputy government spokesman, Yiannis Antoniou, said one of the many challenges was where it would be set up, indicating that Pyla was no longer an option.

There are countless more stumbling blocks. Who will be in charge of the park, how will the power be shared between the two sides, who will manage its finances and issue the bills, who will sign for the loans that would be required to fund the project? Would the Cyprus government agree to the Turkish Cypriot ‘government’ being a signatory, without considering this “an upgrade” of the regime? Would the north agree to a project which is part of an agreement between the Republic and the EU?

And this would arise before the park would have even been set up. There would be countless more reasons for disagreement. In which part of the buffer zone would the park be located if Pyla has been ruled out? How would such a project affect security concerns of each side? The truth is that the proposal for a solar park in the buffer zone has the potential of becoming a mini-Cyprus problem, giving rise to endless, inconclusive negotiations making a bad climate worse.

Now is not the time for such a project, especially as the priority of the UN is to persuade the two sides to return to the negotiating table, which must take precedence over where the solar park would be located.