The International Spectator, Vol. 44, No. 3, September 2009

Sezione speciale su The Caucasus at the Crossroads

Is the EU up to the Requirements of Peace in the Middle East? Free
Recent Publications Free

Numero: 
44/3
Data pubblicazione: 
30/09/2009
Opinions
Where is Israel Heading?
Mark A. Heller
Neither the military operation in Gaza nor the elections that brought a right-wing government to power has fundamentally changed Israel's foreign policy agenda. What has changed is the apparent determination of the new US administration under Barack Obama to improve America's standing in the Muslim and Arab worlds. Given the centrality of good relations with the United States to Israeli security, Israel's most salient problem now is to avoid a serious clash with the United States as both countries, in their own - and different - ways, deal with the Palestinian and Iranian issues. Israel will have to walk a narrow tightrope until the end of 2009, doing things on the Palestinian front that it would prefer not to do and refraining from doing things with respect to Iran that it would rather do. However, its margin of maneuver is likely to broaden after that if Obama concludes that neither the Israeli-Palestinian peace process nor engagement with Iran is providing much return on his investment of time, effort and political capital.
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Fatah-Hamas Rivalries after Gaza: Is Unity Impossible?
Benoit Challand
Even if Israeli Operation Cast Lead seemed at first to have driven a decisive wedge in the prospect of resumed unity between Fatah and Hamas because of President Abbas' mild condemnation of the Israeli operation in December 2008, both main Palestinian political factions decided to launch a process of reconciliation under the aegis of the Egyptian government last February . Five months after the two sides' commitment to unity talks, a final deal still has to be signed. The two main stumbling blocks on the road of unity remain a formal agreement in terms of institutional power sharing and the question of resources linked to security management in the Territories.
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Is the EU up to the Requirements of Peace in the Middle East?
Muriel Asseburg and Volker Perthes
The outlook for conflict settlement in the Middle East is gloomy, and the chances for a new round of peace talks being initiated by the parties in the region are next to zero. US President Barack Obama has announced that he wants to engage "aggressively" in favour of Middle East peace making and has taken first encouraging steps in that direction. It would, however, be wrong to assume that the US President can achieve conflict settlement largely on his own. Europeans should therefore rethink their policy approaches - above all, how to deal with Hamas, the Gaza Strip and how to push the peace process forward - and seek a more effective division of labour and coordination with the Obama administration.
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Essays

The Caucasus at the Crossroads
After the 2008 Russia-Georgia War: Implications for the Wider Caucasus
Nona Mikhelidze
The Georgian-Russian war in August 2008 and Russia's ensuing recognition of South Ossetia's and Abkhazia's independence have generated a new context in relations between the EU, the US and Russia. The crisis created new sources of instability in the entire post-Soviet space, highlighting a new form of Russian revisionism and revealing the limitations of Western policies in what the Kremlin views as its sphere of influence. Caucasian-Central Asian states now wonder whether it is worth complicating their relations with Moscow for the sake of limited or uncertain support from the West. Even if the long-term repercussions of the Russian-Georgian crisis remains unpredictable, one thing is clear: the EU and the US should engage with the region more intensively. In the long run, only economic development in the region, genuine democratisation and real prospects of becoming anchored in Euro-Atlantic structures, alongside effective confidence-building measures between the parties, will be able to induce the secessionist regions to rethink their future.
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EU Policies and Sub-Regional Multilateralism in the Caspian Region
Leila Alieva
The EU's agenda in promoting multilateralism faces a few challenges in the eastward direction. The Caspian Sea basin, which has been acquiring increasing importance for the EU in the context of energy, above all gas, supplies from the Caucasus and Central Asia, represents a complex mix of states with different histories, identities, regimes, centeres of gravity and regional ambitions. Unlike the Black Sea basin, where the EU has developed the Black Sea Synergy policy, none of the Caspian littoral states is an EU member and this has led to a lack of EU interest in and commitment to the promotion of multilateralism in the area. Thus, in spite of significant energy security interests, the EU lacks the will, the capacity or the consistency to address regional security issues or promote reform. Indeed, economic interests are inevitably likely to clash with the reform promotion objective.
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The Myth of a Sino-Russian Challenge to the West
Hiski Haukkala and Linda Jakobson
In recent years, there has been a lively debate on "the end of the West" with the rise of authoritarian capitalist powers and the challenge they pose to the values and institutions of the West. The debate has to be qualified in two important respects. First, China and Russia have - albeit for different reasons - major stakes in the preservation of the current world order, thus making it unlikely that they will be able or willing to launch a sustained assault on it. Second, and perhaps more importantly, despite certain current similarities in their international outlook, China and Russia are in fact far from natural and permanent partners in the creation of a new anti-liberal world order. Therefore the future challenge for the West is to find ways to deal constructively with these countries so as to reinforce the liberal and multilateral elements of the present world order rather than undo it. Instead of galvanising a strong resistance against the rise of China, and to a lesser extent Russia, the West should seek to tie the new powers more closely into the existing world order. This will necessarily require a moderate and constructive stance from China and Russia, one that can plausibly be expected in the natural course of events, provided they are given a chance to voice their legitimate concerns.
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Can Further Nationalisation Facilitate a Common EU Approach to Migration?
Steffen Angenendt and Roderick Parkes
The European Council's 2008 'Immigration Pact' has been touted by its main protagonist, the French government, as a turning point in EU migration policymaking. In one respect at least, the French are not exaggerating. The Pact represents a challenge to a key assumption underpinning European integration, namely that communitarised policymaking procedures are the best means of achieving truly common policies: Paris presented the intergovernmental Pact as a means of succeeding where communitarised decision-making has failed - in achieving the goal of a coherent common migration policy. However, analysis shows the French claims to be largely unfounded: although the European Council might theoretically have played a useful role here, in practice its efforts will add little to the achievement of a truly common policy.
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Italy in World Affairs
Italy in the European Union, between Prodi and Berlusconi
Maurizio Carbone
Since it came back into power in May 2008, the Berlusconi government has undertaken a number of important initiatives in foreign policy, especially in relation to the European Union. Three cases concern the ratification of the Lisbon Treaty, the war in Georgia and the climate change/energy package. Rather than following a pro- or anti-Europe line, it is argued that the link between all these initiatives is the development of a pragmatic foreign policy, in which the ultimate aim is to promote Italy's economic interests. This means that in some cases the Berlusconi government is supportive of the European integration process, especially when no specific Italian interest is at stake, whereas it does not hesitate to undermine it should it clash with Italy's economic interests.
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Book Reviews
More Black Holes and White Walls
Rocco Bellanova
Review of: Playing the identity card : surveillance, security and identification in global perspective, edited by Colin J. Bennett and David Lyon, Routledge, 2008
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Climate Change as Seen Through a Political Theory Lens
Ganna Onysko
Review of: Political theory and global climate change, edited by Steve Vanderheiden, MIT Press, c2008
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Playing by Paying: International Aid to Palestine
Nathalie Tocci
Review of: International assistance to the Palestinians after Oslo : political guilt, wasted money, Anne Le More, Routledge, 2008
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The Dynamics of Democratic Consolidation: Explaining Turkey's Failures through Italy and Spain's Progress
Donatella Cugliandro
Review of: Constructing democracy in Southern Europe : a comparative analysis of Italy, Spain and Turkey, Lauren M. McLaren, Routledge, 2008
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