Cyprus unity

IT had already been a long, hard road for Cyprus as it sought to regain a measure of unity after the turbulence of the past 20 years. The breakdown of talks after last week's four-day meeting at the UN shows the road ahead remains similarly difficult, as Greek and Turkish Cypriots seek to put behind them ingrained suspicions of each other. Specific steps do exist which should be taken to get the peace talks back on track. After a cooling-off period of a few weeks, UN Secretary-General J'avier Perez de Cu'ellar should seek renewed talks, which ought to build on the progress patiently made over the past year. The United States and other NATO members should more strongly pressure both Greece and Turkey, the island's parent nations, to bring about a willingness to compromise.

In addition, both sides should begin the next round of talks with an expectation of discussing major unresolved issues: What nations or international body would guarantee an agreement, when and how Turkish troops would be withdrawn, and which parcels of land Turkish Cypriots would return to Greek Cypriots. There should be no expectation on either side of signing an agreement before such vital points are adjudicated.

In any future negotiations it is essential that both sides exhibit reasonableness, a commodity too often absent in last week's talks.

Although last week's Cyprus talks did collapse, there are some positive elements. The mere fact that they were held at all is a positive sign. Then, too, the Cyprus case shows that the UN, despite frequent criticism, can play a role in some instances of international dispute. For 21 years UN forces have been patrolling a 113-mile-long buffer zone that divides Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots, in an effort to prevent fighting between the two.

This may be an era in which it is the UN Secretary-General, now P'erez de Cu'ellar, rather than the General Assembly or the Security Council, that plays the key role in peace efforts. In some cases both sides in a dispute are willing now to permit the Secretary-General to try to obtain a settlement but are unwilling to allow the full UN to become involved.

In recent months Mr. P'erez de Cu'ellar held several separate preliminary talks with Greek and Turkish Cypriot leaders, aimed at working out a peaceful settlement along the lines of a federated republic, with one federal government and two ethnic states. Most essential to the proposal was a trade-off of interests, with each side to make concessions to gain something it considered more important.

Under the plan, which still appears a sound framework for ultimate agreement, the Turkish Cypriots, the island's minority, would trade some of their land for security, in the form of participation in a new and federated government, and security guarantees from other nations.

In return, Greek Cypriots would cede some of the political control they are supposed to have in the island's government: The proposal calls for two separate states, Greek and Turkish, within the framework of an overall federal government, which would have a president and two houses of parliament.

The essentials of the plan are not new: During the Nixon presidency the United States proposed a similar plan for Cyprus, and the idea has been much discussed in the interim.

It is in the West's interests to see that a settlement is reached in the dispute, which has been going on since 1963 when Greek and Turkish Cypriots began fighting each other. The situation was exacerbated 11 years later, when Greek officers staged a coup and sought to unite the island with Greece; five days later, Turkey invaded and occupied nearly half the island.

Since that time relations between Greece and Turkey have been at a virtual sword's point, which is particularly difficult inasmuch as they are supposed to form together the eastern bulwark of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. Western diplomats have considered the Cyprus issue one of the world's long-running disputes, as feelings ran high on both sides and there appeared little evidence of flexibility.

But peacekeeping tries have been made anyway. We trust the events of recent months, coupled with those of the future, will prove the wisdom of continuing to make an effort. ----30--{et

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