Letter: Peace in the East depends on the West

Share
Related Topics
Sir: Alone among the British papers, you rightly highlighted in your leading article (16 September) the importance of the newly concluded Hungarian- Romanian treaty: the potential settlement of one of Europe's most thorny security issues, affecting large numbers of ethnic Hungarians, is a matter which deserves careful attention.

You are also correct in pointing out that respect for the provisions of this treaty is more important than the symbolic act of its signature. Nevertheless, your assessment of the current situation remains unnecessarily gloomy.

Minority problems do not have a "solution" as such; handling them with care while limiting the potential for violence is usually the only choice, as the British, Spanish and French - to name but a few Europeans - have discovered.

One of the biggest problems which all former Communist countries face is that neither the majorities nor the affected ethnic minorities know the limits of their actions: governments are loath to accept even minor compromises, fearing that these may lead to more demands, while ethnic groups advance fantastic claims, in the hope that they may at least achieve something.

There is little doubt that elements within the current Romanian government had a vested interest in baiting their Hungarian minority in the past. But it is equally plain that some ethnic Hungarians did the same by demanding various autonomy schemes that often amounted to barely disguised secessionist claims.

The current Hungarian-Romanian treaty contains many ill-defined clauses. But, at least for the moment, this is fairly irrelevant, for the treaty's greatest achievement is in breaking the cycle of claims and counter-claims, thereby laying the foundations of future co-operation.The fact that Romanian and Hungarian extreme nationalists have denounced the treaty in almost identical terms is probably the most encouraging sign currently discernible.

Yet these extreme nationalists will only be permanently silenced if Western institutions - and particularly Nato - seize upon this opportunity. The idea that Hungary can join the Western alliance soon while Romania is still kept in the cold is, to my mind, the surest recipe for disaster: safe under Nato's umbrella, Hungary would be able to advance whatever claims it wants, while Romania will have no incentive to comply as long as it is sidelined.

Western pressure played an important role in the conclusion of the current Hungarian-Romanian deal. Only a continued and equal Western attention to both countries can now ensure the treaty's application.

Dr JONATHAN EYAL

Royal United Services Institute for Defence Studies

London SW1

Over the hill

Sir: You quote Billy Bragg, a singer, as complaining that new Labour is failing to "excite" young people ("Parties vie for the support of young voters", 13 September). Mr Bragg is 38. How would he know?

AIDAN FOSTER-CARTER

Shipley,

West Yorkshire

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Account Manager

£20000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This full service social media ...

Recruitment Genius: Data Analyst - Online Marketing

£24000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We are 'Changemakers in retail'...

Austen Lloyd: Senior Residential Conveyancer

Very Competitive: Austen Lloyd: Senior Conveyancer - South West We are see...

Austen Lloyd: Residential / Commercial Property Solicitor

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: DORSET MARKET TOWN - SENIOR PROPERTY SOLICITOR...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Tony Abbott: A man most Australian women would like to pat on the back...iron in hand

Caroline Garnar
Australian rapper Iggy Azalea performs in California  

Hip hop is both racial and political, and for Iggy Azalea to suggest otherwise is insulting

Yomi Adegoke
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there