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Nicosia (AFP) April 08, 2014
The mayors of north and south Nicosia opened a new sewage plant for Europe's last divided capital on Tuesday, renewing a rare joint infrastructure project between the Greek and Turkish Cypriot communities.
The high-tech plant, which can handle up to 30,000 cubic metres (1.1 million cubic feet) of waste water a day and serve 270,000 people -- around a quarter of the island's population -- has been a decade in the planning and under construction for five years.
It has cost 29 million euros ($40 million), one third of which was provided by the European Union, of which Cyprus has been a member since 2004.
The island has been divided since 1974, when Turkey seized its northern third in response to a Greek-engineered coup in Nicosia seeking to unite it with Greece.
Greek Cypriot voters rejected a UN reunification plan for the island shortly before EU accession.
UN-backed talks on ending the island's division resumed in February after a two-year hiatus.
EU Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Fule said the plant's opening showed "local leaders have put the needs of their community first".
Olivier Adam of the United Nations Development Programme, said the plant was a "symbol that there is a desire to work together".
The Greek Cypriot representative on the committee overseeing the project, Charalambos Palantzis, said he was "proud of this unique cooperation".
His Turkish Cypriot counterpart, Faiz Ozkaynak, said "it should be used as an example in other fields".
Nicosia has had a waste water treatment plant serving both sides of the city since the 1980s, a rare instance of joint infrastructure on an island where telephone, electricity and road networks are strictly separated between north and south.
The new plant was built in Turkish Cypriot north Nicosia on the same site as the old plant, which had become obsolete.
Both sides of the Mediterranean island suffer from chronic water shortages.
The Turkish Cypriots have turned to Turkey, which is building an undersea pipeline to supply water.
The Greek Cypriots have built five desalination plants to meet the demand from agriculture and tourism as well as domestic consumers.
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