International Spectator

The International Spectator

Volume XXXIV No. 3 (July-September 1999)


Editor’s Note


This issue of The International Spectator contains two main cores. A first group of articles examines the lessons and implications of the Kosovo conflict from various perspectives. In the Opinions section, Stefano Silvestri looks into the limitations and long-term problems of both the Atlantic Alliance and European defence that emerged during the air campaign against the Yugoslav Federation. He concentrates, on the one hand, on the difficulty in harmonising political objectives and military exigencies, a problem which was exacerbated by the requirements of the decision-making and consensus-gathering system; on the other hand, on the evident limitations of the defence and power-projection capabilities of European countries. He concludes with an examination of the various options currently on the table for the development of the European pillar of the alliance. In the more analytical section of the journal, Natalino Ronzitti discusses the various official and academic arguments put forward regarding the legality of NATO’s military action, undertaken without authorisation from the UN Security Council, and the problems associated with the effort to establish a convincing doctrine of humanitarian intervention. He examines how the search for a new legitimacy of international actions against countries that violate fundamental human rights can be satisfied without undermining the essential role of the UN system. In the concluding part of the article, Ronzitti argues in favour of the Security Council giving a general authorisation – as opposed to a case-by-case one – to regional organisations to undertake enforcement actions, while maintaining the ultimate power to stop them. Sophia Clément provides an overview of the effects of the Kosovo conflict on the various parts of the Yugoslav Federation – Serbia, Montenegro and Kosovo itself – as well as on the two neighbouring countries that have been most strongly affected by it – Macedonia and Albania. She focuses on the recent evolution of some key factors that are bound to influence heavily the future not only of the mentioned countries, but also of the wider Balkan region: the rapidly changing political landscape and power equilibria in Serbia, the rising secessionist drives in Montenegro, the volatile interethnic relations in Macedonia and the persistent inability of the Albanian government to ensure law and order in the country. In the next article, a group of Italian scholars – Rosa Balfour, Roberto Menotti and Ghita Micieli de Biase – illustrates Italy’s attitude and policy during the Kosovo conflict. After examining the main interests and concerns that were at stake for Italy, the three authors describe Italy’s efforts to reconcile its substantial military commitment with the push for a diplomatic solution and the related tensions that emerged both within the government and with the allies. They emphasise the importance of Italy’s performance in the Kosovo crisis as a test of the center-left government’s Atlantic policy and its actual capability to play a relevant role in Southeastern Europe.

The second core of the journal deals with the recent developments and prospects of Mercosur. After offering a brief historical background of Mercosur, Paulo Wrobel gives an account of its main successes – mainly in the trade and investment sectors – and analyses the crucial challenges that will shape its future, such as internal commercial disputes, enlargement to other countries and relations with other regional groupings. While an immediate problem is Mercosur’s capability to absorb the effects of the recent financial crisis in Brazil, Wrobel also stresses the many and demanding longer-term problems that the member countries must solve to go beyond the current customs union and create a common market. In the following article, Sheila Page examines the complex and multi-dimensional relations between Mercosur and the European Union against the background of the latter’s ongoing effort to promote regional integration also outside Europe. After illustrating the main trends in the trade and investment flows between the EU and the Mercosur area, she concentrates on the state and prospects of the negotiations between the two groupings concerning trade arrangements and how they are being affected by the financial troubles of Latin America, on the one hand, and by the EU’s enlargement process and reform process, on the other.

The Opinions section also hosts two other contributions. Lahouari Addi discusses the complicated political dilemmas that the new Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika is facing in his peace-making efforts. Performing a sustainable balancing act between the interests of the army, still the most powerful force in the country, and the requests of the Islamists appears to be a formidable task and Addi argues that much will depend on the new president’s ability to gradually reinforce his power over the armed forces, while maintaining a reform course that can allow him to gain popularity in the country. In the next article, Gianni Bonvicini addresses the problems of the construction of a European defence as they emerged from the most recent debate within the European Union and the experience of the Kosovo conflict. He emphasises the need for the Union to make substantial progress not only in the institutional realm – starting with the no longer postponable absorption of the Western European Union – but also in the military realm, by effectively integrating military capabilities through the adoption of macro-defence criteria of convergence in some ways analogous to the procedures set down in Maastricht for economic and monetary integration. In the concluding part of the article, he proposes a series of measures that could help the EU member countries achieve these goals.

Finally the prospects of European Monetary Union are specifically examined by Pier Carlo Padoan who, on the basis of the available theories concerning currency areas, explores whether and to what extent monetary integration is transforming – or is likely to transform – the integrating economies, and the policy implications of the process. In particular, he focuses on the impact of monetary integration on the macro-economic equilibrium and the convergence of national economic cycles, on the one hand, and on the evolution of labour markets, on the other. He concludes that, for EMU to become a truly self-fulfilling mechanism, greater convergence towards a more flexible product and labour market should be promoted, which in turn requires that Europe increase its investment capacity by taking advantage of the macro-economic stability achieved.