CIAO DATE: 02/01

International Spectator

The International Spectator

Volume XXXV No. 2 (April-June 2000)


Editor’s Note

The International Spectator has always been a primary source of information and analysis on the key problems and factors of Italy’s foreign policy. This issue of the journal introduces a new regular column, entitled Italian Foreign Policy Survey, which is meant to consolidate this tradition. Our feeling is that the higher profile that Italy’s external action has been acquiring in recent times has increased international interest in understanding its main components and determinants.

The article by Ferruccio Pastore, which inaugurates the new column, offers a critical overview of the various aspects of Italy’s migration policy, placing the emphasis on its links with the country’s foreign policy choices. The author addresses three main subjects: the European dimension of Italy’s policy with particular regard to its positions in the EU context; the most significant initiatives that the Rome government has undertaken towards the countries of origin or transit of migration flows; and the problems associated with the ongoing effort to reform the legal and institutional instruments for conducting national migration policy. According to the author, the Italian case provides a telling example of the extent to which immigration problems are increasingly affecting not only the evolution of internal institutional structures but also national geopolitical perceptions and priority-setting in the foreign policy field.

The second novelty the reader will find is an expanded book review section. The traditional notes, which mostly illustrate publications received by the IAI’s library, will henceforth be complemented by longer and more argumentative reviews on one or more books written by specialists in the various study areas. In this issue, Tobias Vogel gives his critical account of two stimulating recent publications concerning the Kosovo war and its aftermath, extrapolating and discussing their main theses concerning the new forms that the use of force appears to be taking on in the light of the Kosovo experience.

The implications and possible developments of the Kosovo predicament are also subject of a specific section of the journal. In the first article of that section, Vladimir Gligorov moves from a review of the arguments concerning the economic viability of states, particularly small ones, to an analysis of how they apply to the case of Kosovo in view also of the options for its final status and the relevant regional variables. His conclusions are quite sceptical about the economic viability of an independent Kosovo, since – he argues – the basic prerequisites for it are unlikely to be met, while both the internal and external political factors remain highly unfavourable.

In the article following, Natalino Ronzitti analyses the legal aspects of the controversial question of Kosovo’s final status. He offers a conceptual and terminological discussion of the UN resolutions that address the Kosovo question, identifying the fundamental legal elements that have to be taken into account in assessing the options for the region’s final status. After reviewing those options and examining the role of both internal and external actors, he concludes by providing a list of criteria for a peaceful solution of the Kosovo question set solidly within the realm of international law.

In the next article, Vladimir Baranovsky expounds on how events in Kosovo and their far-reaching effects in the Balkan area have contributed to shaping Russia’s attitude towards Western countries and NATO, as well as towards its own role in Europe and the world. The author first examines the fundamental motivations behind the country’s strongly negative reaction to NATO’s air campaign and the major policy initiatives undertaken by the Kremlin during the conflict. He then looks into the ways in which the lessons that Moscow has drawn from the Kosovo experience are reflected in its newly emerging approach to the problems of military security and the use of force. He concludes with some considerations on the direction that Russia’s foreign policy is taking – after having absorbed the Kosovo shock – under the new presidency of Vladimir Putin.

In the first article of the Opinions section, Dominique Moisi discusses the current "legitimacy crisis" of the state and the widespread public dissatisfaction with politics and politicians, two closely related phenomena that have manifested themselves in a variety of forms, such as the wave of scandals that has involved prominent figures, including the former German Chancellor Helmut Kohl, the massive shift of talented young professionals from the public to the private sector, and the increasingly antagonistic stance that various sectors of civil society and the entrepreneurs tend to take towards the political class. According to the author, other episodes indicate, however, that there is a general expectation that the state should provide vital public services with greater efficiency and transparency. He concludes that the objective should be neither a dismissal of the nation state nor its mere consolidation, but rather its transformation into a more modest and accountable entity, capable not only of coming to terms with the growing role played by civil society but also of fostering and taking advantage of it.

The TEPSA-Europe Forum presents a contribution by Karen Smith on the significance and implications of the recent actions undertaken by the EU to add a defence dimension to its international status, currently typical of a "civilian power". After reviewing the literature on the defining characteristics of the civilian power model, she questions the assumptions that lie behind the thesis that the EU should acquire an enhanced military capability, including, in particular, more effective instruments of intervention. She argues that there is a tendency to underestimate the contribution that a civilian EU can make – and, to some extent, is in fact already making – to the maintenance of peace by addressing the long-term causes of insecurity. She adds that an armed EU could instead generate new security dilemmas, complicate the enlargement process and have adverse effects on relations with third countries.

The EU’s potential as an international actor and promoter of peace and stability is also addressed in the following article by Volker Perthes with regard to the Union’s role in the Middle-East peace process. In particular, the author examines to what extent and in what way the different interests and approaches of Europeans and Americans towards the region can be reconciled in a common strategy that benefits from the comparative advantages of their respective Middle East policies. He argues in favour of a pragmatic division of labour and responsibilities between the two sides of the Atlantic: the US continues to play a major leadership role while the Europeans make a special contribution by means of their proven capacity to pursue long-term strategies such as fostering multilateralism, developing special relations with some countries of the region, promoting institution-building and engaging in complementary two-track diplomacy and confidence-building measures.

Another section of the journal examines the future of negotiations on trade liberalisation and of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) in the post-Seattle environment and in light of the new globalisation trends. In the first article of the section, Mario Sarcinelli reviews the various historical stages of globalisation, emphasising that it is far from an irreversible process, witness the major halt in it during and between the two world wars. He then looks at the direction that this process is going to take, focusing on the problem of whether the events in Seattle and at subsequent international meetings in Davos and Washington can be interpreted as a new turnaround. In answering this question, he points to the poor political preparation of the Seattle meeting as the main cause of its failure, summarising the crucial mistakes in which the world leaders incurred on that occasion. In concluding, he stresses the need to prevent a new reversal of trade liberalisation by means of a pro-active policy and underlines the key importance that, contrary to what some economists have argued, trade negotiations within the WTO and other frameworks can play to achieve this goal. The next article by Isabella Falautano and Paolo Guerrieri provides an overview of the new trade issues that have recently been included in the expanding WTO negotiation agenda or that are being considered for inclusion amid major disputes and controversies. The authors distinguish between a first generation of those issues (services, intellectual property rights) and a second generation (competition, investment, environment and labour) – with e-commerce lying somewhere in between – and examine, in particular, their relevance for the interests of developing countries. They also offer a set of recommendations for further institutional strengthening of the WTO which would allow for broader involvement of the developing countries and representatives of civil society and thus contribute to overcoming the problems that emerged at the Seattle meeting.