'Parent' Nations and Peace

The restless searchlight of public attention roves on from Asian money turmoil to Iraq. But lesser troubles also deserve problem-solving attention.

Two long-festering struggles are important to Europe: Cyprus and Northern Ireland. The former snaps into focus once more because, after Greek Cypriot elections, the bitterly divided island nation will press for European Union membership.

It's hard to see how such membership can go forward without settling the cold war between the island's ethnic Greek majority and Turkish minority. Even skeptics should be pleased at Turkey's new overture to Greece for talks between the two "parents" of the Cyprus squabblers. Easing parental frictions could help to push the Cypriot offspring back to serious bargaining over some kind of decentralized island government.

Such "parental" guidance for combative ethnic communities is, of course, no guarantee of filial obedience. But it helps.

Prime Ministers Tony Blair in London and Bertie Ahearn in Dublin think alike on step-by-step plans to get the Protestant and Catholic communities of Northern Ireland to live peaceably together. Such parental coordination has lately been the thin strand preventing total breakdown of Ulster peace talks. The process has moved too far to let murders by extremists on either side derail it. After Sinn Fein spends some time in the penalty box over recent violence, the major parties should expect to go back to work on draft ideas the parents put forward last month. Majorities on both sides want peace. Sound ideas are on the table. Build on them.

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