Interview: Turkish Cypriot leader: gas may fund peace deal

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

NICOSIA, Cyprus (AP) — The leader of Cyprus' breakaway Turkish Cypriot community says the ethnically divided island's potential wealth from newly found offshore gas reserves could be used to partly fund a costly reunification deal.

Mustafa Akinci told The Associated Press in an interview Monday that a peace accord may cost more than initial estimates. He said gas could boost energy cooperation and foster peace in a tumultuous region, but warned unilateral drilling by Greek Cypriots could re-ignite tensions.

Akinci said "we are closer than ever before" to a peace deal, but the pace of negotiations has slowed down because of parliamentary elections in the internationally recognized Greek Cypriot south next month.

He said Turkish Cypriots should remain a majority in the area that they will administer within an envisioned two-zone federation.