June 25, 2009

English summary

The June issue of Diplomaatia is devoted to Africa. In the opening article, the Estonian member of parliament Mart Nutt gives an overview of Africa’s peoples and states, as well as of the continent’s history. “One would not predict peace and prosperity for contemporary Africa any time soon,” he states. Problems such as desertification and poverty are if anything becoming deeper. Still, Africa has a huge potential, both to draw in the outside world in a destabilising manner, and to attract outsiders interested in its vast economic resources.

The June issue of Diplomaatia is devoted to Africa. In the opening article, the Estonian member of parliament Mart Nutt gives an overview of Africa’s peoples and states, as well as of the continent’s history. “One would not predict peace and prosperity for contemporary Africa any time soon,” he states. Problems such as desertification and poverty are if anything becoming deeper. Still, Africa has a huge potential, both to draw in the outside world in a destabilising manner, and to attract outsiders interested in its vast economic resources.

English summary

The June issue of Diplomaatia is devoted to Africa. In the opening article, the Estonian member of parliament Mart Nutt gives an overview of Africa’s peoples and states, as well as of the continent’s history. “One would not predict peace and prosperity for contemporary Africa any time soon,” he states. Problems such as desertification and poverty are if anything becoming deeper. Still, Africa has a huge potential, both to draw in the outside world in a destabilising manner, and to attract outsiders interested in its vast economic resources.
The Tallinn University demographer Allan Puur writes about the changes in the traditional pattern of reproduction, in which high birth rates were balanced by high death rates, but is now being replaced by a more contemporary pattern, characterised by lower birth rates and greater longevity. Africa is the last part of the world to go through this transition, known as “modernisation” in demographic terminology.
But as death rates decline before birth rates fall, this involves a sharp though temporary decline in the average age of the population and a rise in its size. Africa is getting younger and more populous, Puur says. Sadly such transitions involve risks. A young population is more prone to conflict and less capable of maintaining political stability.
Hannes Hanso, a diplomat in the European Commission’s delegation in China, writes about that country’s economic relations with African states. China, he writes, is interested first and foremost in Africa’s raw materials; for their part the African states are convenient partners as, unlike Western countries, they do not criticise China. Corrupt African elites have found a counterpart in China that has significantly increased their room for manoeuvre.
The same has largely been true of France’s relations with Africa, writes Tuuli Linnus, a civil servant with the Estonian Ministry of Defence. However, President Nicolas Sarkozy intends to change the pattern of the relationship, giving it a more institutional base, often linking it to cooperation between Africa and the European Union. He intends to make it more transparent and less dependent on the clan and personal ties prevailing in the respective African countries.
A researcher at the International Centre for Defence Studies, Kaarel Kaas, writes about Islamist extremism in Somalia. He shows the links between this and Estonia’s security.
Martin Plaser, a security consultant, discusses the piracy problem in Somalia.
Diplomaatia also publishes an article about South Africa’s new president Jacob Zuma by Douglas Foster, translated from the June issue of the The Atlantic Monthly. Mr Zuma has been called a “black Jesus”, a “crass rube”, “the new Mandela” and “the new Mugabe”.
On a different topic, Krõõt Tupay, a lawyer, discusses the legal battles raging in Germany around the Lisbon Treaty. She reveals the little-known fact that Ireland is not the only country that poses a threat to the ratification of the Lisbon Treaty. A case before Germany’s Constitutional Court challenges the signing of the treaty by that country’s president.

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