Europe

Interview: Turkish Cypriot leader: gas may fund peace deal

  • Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci smiles is seen at his office during an interview for the Associated Press in the Turkish breakaway north part of the divided capital Nicosia in this ethnically Mediterranean island of Cyprus, Monday, April 4, 2016.  The leader of the breakaway Turkish Cypriots says the ethnically divided island’s potential wealth from newly found offshore gas deposits could partly pay for a costly reunification deal. (AP Photo/Petros Karadjias)

    Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci smiles is seen at his office during an interview for the Associated Press in the Turkish breakaway north part of the divided capital Nicosia in this ethnically Mediterranean island of Cyprus, Monday, April 4, 2016. The leader of the breakaway Turkish Cypriots says the ethnically divided island’s potential wealth from newly found offshore gas deposits could partly pay for a costly reunification deal. (AP Photo/Petros Karadjias)  (The Associated Press)

  • Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci is seen at his office during an interview for the Associated Press in the Turkish breakaway north part of the divided capital Nicosia in this ethnically Mediterranean island of Cyprus, Monday, April 4, 2016. The leader of the breakaway Turkish Cypriots says the ethnically divided island’s potential wealth from newly found offshore gas deposits could partly pay for a costly reunification deal. (AP Photo/Petros Karadjias)

    Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci is seen at his office during an interview for the Associated Press in the Turkish breakaway north part of the divided capital Nicosia in this ethnically Mediterranean island of Cyprus, Monday, April 4, 2016. The leader of the breakaway Turkish Cypriots says the ethnically divided island’s potential wealth from newly found offshore gas deposits could partly pay for a costly reunification deal. (AP Photo/Petros Karadjias)  (The Associated Press)

  • Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci is seen at his office in front of the portrait of the Turkish Republic founder Kemal Ataturk, during an interview for the Associated Press in the Turkish breakaway north part of the divided capital Nicosia in this ethnically Mediterranean island of Cyprus, Monday, April 4, 2016. The leader of the breakaway Turkish Cypriots says the ethnically divided island’s potential wealth from newly found offshore gas deposits could partly pay for a costly reunification deal. (AP Photo/Petros Karadjias)

    Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci is seen at his office in front of the portrait of the Turkish Republic founder Kemal Ataturk, during an interview for the Associated Press in the Turkish breakaway north part of the divided capital Nicosia in this ethnically Mediterranean island of Cyprus, Monday, April 4, 2016. The leader of the breakaway Turkish Cypriots says the ethnically divided island’s potential wealth from newly found offshore gas deposits could partly pay for a costly reunification deal. (AP Photo/Petros Karadjias)  (The Associated Press)

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.