US envoy: Cyprus peace may ease Europe gas fears

Published on NewsOK Modified: March 20, 2014 at 9:06 am •  Published: March 20, 2014
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NICOSIA, Cyprus (AP) — An agreement to reunify ethnically divided Cyprus could ease the supply of newly-found offshore gas to Europe by allowing it to go through Turkey, the U.S. ambassador to the east Mediterranean island nation said Thursday.

John Koenig said easier access to eastern Mediterranean gas deposits after a peace accord would help diversify Europe's energy sources and feed the needs of energy-hungry Turkey. New reunification talks got underway last month after numerous rounds of negotiations over the last four decades.

In an interview with The Associated Press, Koenig said a peace deal could also boost bailed-out Cyprus' ailing economy, years before the Mediterranean island nation starts reaping its potential gas rewards.

"A Cyprus solution would bring a great boost to this economy," Koenig said. "We know that without a Cyprus solution, otherwise interesting ideas for moving natural gas to Europe through Turkey or to the Turkish market would be at least much more difficult, perhaps impossible."

Turkey severed all diplomatic relations with Cyprus after invading in 1974 in the wake of a coup by supporters of union with Greece. The invasion split the island into an internationally recognized Greek Cypriot south and a Turkish Cypriot north whose declaration of independence in 1983 is recognized only by Turkey.