TT may sound inconsequential, but one of the 'main reasons for the breakdown of the Cyprus talks is to be looked for a few hundred miles to the West, in Malta. The dispute is now over economic, rather than military or nationalist, issues. The Cypriots, acutely conscious of the hole which the withdrawal of occupying forces made in their pocket, are anxious to make sure that they get a sizable income out of what forces remain. And this is one of the' reasons for the dispute over the size.of the bases. The Cypriots, reconciled though they are to the bases' existence, are anxious that the British forces should not be able to isolate themselves within the perimeter. Whether or not a country club, say, or a road- house is outside the perimeter may make a sub- stantial difference to the eConomy of the district. And, as Archbishop Makarios is well aware, the size of the area which the British are claiming, if conceded, would allow them to live very com- fortably, with the minimum of Cypriot assistance —and the minimum of spending on Cypriot goods and services.
But this is not a sound reason for resisting Cypriot demands. Somehow or other it has got to be made clear to the Tory back-benchers, who appear to be dictating this last stand, that the bases are useless unless they are held with Cypriot consent and co-operation. Otherwise they will have no more value than Gibraltar : they will be staging posts, that is all. It is open to doubt, of course, whether they will have any value anyway. Certainly it is absurd to think of them as little Englands in perpetuity; they should be transfer to NATO as soon as the necessary arrangeirea0 can be made—and, of course, as soon as the Tor! back-benchers have been conditioned for ano1K retreat. But the only result of bolding out for extra acreage now will be to damage the lulu° prospects of peace and stability in the island