Divided Cyprus now split by time


NICOSIA: When Cypriots wake up on Sunday they will find that their Mediterranean island is divided not only by a UN-patrolled ceasefire line but also by a time difference.

When the clocks go back in the Greek Cypriot south, the time will not change in the Turkish Cypriot north of the island, creating two different time zones on the ethnically split island.

In September Turkey agreed to end the practice of Daylight Saving Time (DST) permanently.

The Turkish-held north of the island decided to follow suit as it is linked to Turkey through the banking sector, aviation, business and commerce.

But the Cyprus Republic, in line with its fellow EU members, will implement daylight saving time by putting the clocks back one hour pre-dawn Sunday.

This lack of unison on time will ensure Cypriots being out of sync with each other.

According to the Cyprus employers federation, the time difference will cause inconvenience mainly to the 5,000 Turkish Cypriots doing business in the south while only a few dozen Greek Cypriots engage in commercial or other activities in the north.

It will also have an impact on the hundreds of Turkish Cypriots who cross the divide to attend schools in the south.

The development comes at a time when Cypriot leaders are engaged in crucial UN-backed peace talks to reunify the island under a federal system. Rival Cypriot leaders have pledged to reach a solution this year.

“The UN remains focused on facilitating the sides with their efforts to reach a comprehensive settlement as soon as possible. The two sides will decide when and how to address the time zone difference,” Aleem Siddique, a UN spokesman in Cyprus, told AFP.

A campaign to draw awareness to the one-hour time difference — effective from October 30 until April — has been launched on social media.

People are being asked to take a selfie on Sunday with the Cyprus sunset as a background and upload on to social media with the hashtag #UnitedByHope and the slogan “divided by time united by hope”.

Cyprus will also be one of the few places in the world where you can celebrate New Year’s twice, in some cases just by walking down the street.