International Spectator

The International Spectator

Volume XXXIII No. 4 (October-December 1998)


Editor’s Note


This issue of The International Spectator also opens with two comments on issues that have recently aroused heated debate among the scholars of international politics but that have also gained increasing relevance for policy makers. Mario Sarcinelli, one of Italy’s leading bankers, discusses the role of the two major international financial institutions—the World Bank and the IMF—by comparing their achievements with their declared institutional objectives. His conclusion is that, contrary to what such radical critics as Milton Friedman and Geffrey Sachs have recently argued following the outbreak of the financial crisis in Asia, the Bretton Woods institutions are far from being having exhausted their role as stabilizers of the world economy, although they do need to be adapted to the new challenges of globalization. Roberto Aliboni, the IAI’s Director of Studies, offers a critical view concerning the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership, known also as the Barcelona Process, focusing on the structural causes that have prevented the implementation of its security cooperation goals so far. Aliboni also puts forward a series of policy suggestions for re-setting the EMP short- and medium-term agenda with an eye to establishing a real conflict prevention capacity, creating a less EU-centric institutional setting and making possible a sub-regional approach.

The section of the journal devoted to more analytical articles is composed of two cores. The first analyzes the most recent developments in Kosovo and their implications for both the highly volatile security situation in the Balkans and Western policy towards the region. James Gow illustrates the difficulties that the implementation of the Holbrooke-Milosevic agreement is encountering and what that may imply for the future evolution of the conflict between the Serbs and the Kosovar Albanians. In the following article, Craig Nation provides a critical assessment of the development of US policy towards the Kosovo crisis, underlining the difficult dilemmas that it is facing, as well as some of the basic deficiencies that have emerged, especially in recent times. In the third article concerning the crisis in Kosovo, Alice Ackermann examines the impact the Kosovo crisis is having on the unstable situation in Macedonia, where inter-ethnic relations remain tense, and which, as the author underlines, calls for not only a continuation but also a reinforcement of international crisis prevention efforts.

In his article on the transition of Central and Eastern European countries towards a market economy, Claudio De Vincenti, after illustrating the factors of inertia inherited from the old centralised planning system, analyzes the development of reform policies in Poland, where they have been quite effective, and compares it with the unsuccessful Russian case. His general conclusion is that “building functioning and efficient markets requires a maximum, not a minimum, of capacity of governance”.

The second core deals with the role the European Union can play as facilitator of the Arab-Israel peace process and promoter of multilateral regional cooperation in the Middle East and the Mediterranean region. In the first article of the section, Joel Peters analyzes the interaction between the Barcelona Process and Arab-Isreali multilateral talks, underlining their complementarity, but also the need for greater coordination and transparency between the two undertakings on the basis, in particular, of closer cooperation between Europe and the United States. In the following article, Joseph Alpher examines Israel’s general attitude towards the EU and its reservations about a more prominent political EU role in the region, concluding with a set of policy suggestions for a more active and effective EU involvement in the peace process:

Finally, in the last article of this issue, Pascal Boniface analyzes how football, the most “globalized” sport, has become, because of the enormous following it enjoys, not only the reflection of some aspects of contemporary international politics but also an opportunity or instrument for advancing national interests, promoting reconciliation or undermining the international status of a rival state.