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Official: Greek Cypriots could also get Turkish electricity

Associated Press Associated Press 18/11/2016 By MENELAOS HADJICOSTIS, Associated Press

NICOSIA, Cyprus — An electricity cable that will link Turkey with the breakaway Turkish Cypriot north of divided Cyprus could also supply power to Greek Cypriots in the internationally recognized south, a Turkish Cypriot official said Friday.

Metin Ozerem, a senior official with the Turkish Cypriot energy ministry, said that Greek Cypriots could also receive Turkish electricity if the power grid's technical details can be ironed out.

Turkish Cypriots signed last month an agreement with the Turkish government to link the north with the cable that'll meet the north's growing energy needs. It's unclear when the project will be completed. Power generation in the north is less than reliable, requiring authorities in the south to offer power to the north on several occasions in recent years.

"The project will help us to generate electricity at a more stable electrical network," Ozeren told the Associated Press in an email.

The planned electricity link comes on the heels of last year's completion of a pipeline ferrying water from the Turkish mainland to the drought-prone north. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was on hand last October for the opening ceremony of the pipeline where he also offered water to Greek Cypriots.

The Cyprus government denounced both the water pipeline and the planned cable as further entrenching Turkish Cypriot dependence on Turkey and cementing Ankara's grip on the island.

A Turkish invasion in 1974 triggered by a coup aiming at union with Greece cleaved the island along ethnic lines. Only Turkey recognizes a Turkish Cypriot declaration of independence and maintains more than 35,000 troops there.

Cyprus government spokesman Nicos Christodoulides said the electricity cable deal isn't doing anything to help talks aimed at reunifying the island. Cyprus' President Nicos Anastasiades, a Greek Cypriot, and Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci are meeting in Mont Pelerin, Switzerland for two days next week to lock down how much territory either side will administer under an envisioned federation.

Ozerem rejected the argument that the deal only increases the north's dependence on Turkey.

"We don't see this project as a dependency on Turkey as the project will ensure security of supply at a very favorable price," Ozeren told the Associated Press in an email.

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