International Spectator

The International Spectator

Volume XXXIV No. 2 (April-June 1999)


Editor’s Note


This issue of The International Spectator features a special core on the future of NATO which includes contributions by the Italian Prime Minister Massimo D’Alema, NATO’s Secretary General Javier Solana, two high-ranking officials of the Alliance and three leading security analysts. All articles in this section are based on presentations made to the conference "The Fiftieth Anniversary of the Atlantic Alliance: A New Nato for a New Europe", organised by the IAI and CeSPI at the Italian Chamber of Deputies on 25 January 1999 and funded by the NATO Office of Information and Press.

D’Alema illustrates Italy’s views on the major issues of the NATO agenda, emphasising the need for a more balanced sharing of burdens and responsibilities between the two sides of the Atlantic, a goal recently made more attainable, according to the Italian Prime Minister, by the change in the British stance towards European defence and the related prospect for integration of the Western European Union into the European Union. Solana concentrates on the new major elements of the NATO programme as it has been developing in view of the Washington Summit, including the revision of the Strategic Concept, a new initiative on weapons of mass destruction, the future development of the Partnership for Peace programme and the relationship with Russia and Ukraine. In the following two articles, Guido Venturoni and James Ellis discuss the problems associated with the growing role of NATO as a promoter of European security. Drawing on the lessons of the recent peace support operations, Venturoni provides a catalogue of the fundamental prerequisites for successful NATO involvement in crisis management. Ellis focuses on the comparative advantages that NATO offers as a context for concrete and effective development of the European Security and Defence Identity.

These contributions are followed by three more analytical articles. John Roper examines the crucial policy dilemmas currently confronting NATO in its effort to develop an increasing capacity to deal with crisis situations in Europe. He concentrates, in particular, on the problems associated with the political direction of crisis management action, the interaction between NATO and other institutional actors, and the international legitimation of the Alliance’s military undertakings. In the following article, François Heisbourg offers a comprehensive assessment of the opportunities for and obstacles to a revision of the current division of labour between European countries and the US within the Alliance. He stresses that only a stronger European defence identity can ensure a vital role for the Alliance not based only on the current precarious "performance legitimacy". In the last article of the core, Stephen Larrabee discusses the various scenarios of NATO’s enlargement after the first round, assessing the pros and cons of each in view of the Alliance’s strategic rationales. He deals, in particular, with the implications of the different options of NATO’s enlargement for the security perceptions and realities of the Balkan and Baltic regions and for the Alliance’s relationship with Russia and Ukraine.

In the opening article of the Opinions section, the Italian Ambassador to the United Nations, Paolo Fulci, explains the main goals of Italy’s long-lasting diplomatic efforts for a reform of the UN Security Council to make it more democratic and prevent any demotion in Italy’s international status. Fulci focuses, in particular, on the political significance of Italy’s recent success in obtaining confirmation of the rule that any change in the composition of the Security Council must be approved by at least two-thirds of UN member states. He also examines the future prospects for the reform of the Security Council with some final considerations on the question of a common European seat. In the following article, the Director General of the World Trade Organization, Renato Ruggiero, describes the agenda of the upcoming trade liberalisation talks, arguing that they can provide a valuable response to the recent financial crisis in Asia, Russia and Brazil, as well as to the growing challenges of globalisation. He emphasises that a further substantial reduction in trade barriers is needed, while a strategy aimed only at resisting the new protectionist pressures would be short-sighted and eventually unsuccessful. The need is also felt, according to Ruggiero, for closer interconnection among the major international financial and economic institutions based on their respective comparative advantages. In the final article of the section, Hans Stark analyses the most recent evolution of the relationship between France and Germany with an eye to its implications for the future of the EU integration process. He observes that, following the electoral victory of the Social Democrats in Germany, the two countries seem now to share a basic understanding on the medium- and long-term goals of the European construction, but substantial disagreements still persist on shorter term policies that could seriously undermine the effectiveness of a partnership of key strategic importance for the future of Europe.

The last two articles are revised versions of papers prepared for an IAI study on "Prospects for conflict prevention and preventive diplomacy within the framework of the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership" directed by Roberto Aliboni and funded by the United States Institute of Peace. They continue the series of essays recently published in The International Spectator on the problems of multilateral cooperation in the Mediterranean area (see, in particular, no. 4, 1998). Two Egyptian scholars, Gamal Abdel Gawad Soltan and Abdel Monem Said Aly, discuss how and to what extent the basic concepts and procedures of conflict prevention that have been developing in recent times can be applied to the Middle East context. Their conclusion, based on an overview of the record of conflict prevention efforts in the region, is that, while priority should continue to be given to soft and long-term preventive action, specific measures should be adopted for the development of a culture of and institutions for conflict prevention. The article also emphasises the importance of active involvement of third parties in Middle East conflicts, even intra-state ones. In the following article, Abdelwahab Biad, after discussing some crucial policy dilemmas of conflict prevention, analyses the steps that can be taken to provide the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership (EMP) with a substantial norm-setting and confidence-building capacity. He points out that, due to the different perceptions and political culture of the Arab countries, it would be unrealistic to think of simply duplicating the OSCE model in the Mediterranean. He argues, however, that a number of valuable conflict prevention initiatives can be undertaken in the EMP context, such as a code of conduct for naval activities, the establishment of a regional early warning system and the gradual development of the human dimension.