December 1, 2008

English summary

The key topic of the November issue of Diplomaatia is the impact of the global financial crisis on the stability of states. Another topic under discussion is the autonomy and national issue, which represents one of the major challenges to statehood.

The key topic of the November issue of Diplomaatia is the impact of the global financial crisis on the stability of states. Another topic under discussion is the autonomy and national issue, which represents one of the major challenges to statehood.

English summary

The key topic of the November issue of Diplomaatia is the impact of the global financial crisis on the stability of states. Another topic under discussion is the autonomy and national issue, which represents one of the major challenges to statehood.
In the opening article, Örn Arnarson, an Icelandic journalist and political analyst, traces the origins of the financial crisis that
hit the island and describes its impact on Iceland. Arnarson claims that the business model of the Icelandic banks was neither sustainable nor viable. He is convinced that the three main banks were in the end far too large in comparison with the real economy and it should have been obvious from the start of their international expansion that Iceland’s central bank could never realistically undertake its role as a lender of last resort. If the Icelandic authorities were forced to fulfil the latter role, it would in effect bankrupt the whole country and make it a debt prison for its inhabitants for decades to come. It should be of no surprise that Icelandic political leaders have compared this possible outcome to the war reparations imposed by the Treaty of Versailles following the First World War, which crushed the economy of the Weimar Republic with devastating consequences.
Silver Meikar, a member of the Estonian Parliament, analyses the situation in Belarus. Meikar claims that the popularity of Alexander Lukashenko’s regime is based on Belarus’s ‘economic miracle’, which is built on sand. However, closer economic ties with the West could give a boost to the regime, which is why Lukashenko needs the support of the West more than ever. The West, on the other hand, should offer its help only after seeing some real progress. “It is obvious that having gained a firmer footing, Lukashenko will right away forget all his promises and obligations. After all, he will never turn into a Western-oriented president,” claims Meikar.
Estonian diplomat Andres Vosman describes the current state of affairs in Pakistan. The combination of different factors that are affecting it – the threat of terrorism, domestic corruption and instability and the global financial crisis – is becoming increasingly dangerous for the state of Pakistan itself. Violence has spread all over the country, inflation rose to 25 per cent in October, the Pakistani rupee is falling dramatically and state reserves have dropped to a critical level.
Jordi Vaquer i Fanes, a Spanish political analyst, throws some light on the rumours on Spain’s possible disintegration. “Analysts with any knowledge of everyday Spanish politics understand perfectly that the somewhat colourful language used in these debates never implied that there was an imminent risk to Spain’s integrity,” claims Fanes. But the strength of democracy – in his opinion – is precisely to transform pressures and tensions into the mechanisms that trigger progress and change, and eventually strengthen the very democratic tissue of the whole country.
In an interview to Diplomaatia, Mark Leonard, Executive Director of the European Council on Foreign Relations, deliberates over the role of Europe in the world. Leonard says that Europe should be more united, play a more active role and take more responsibilities. However, it should not act as a traditional great power, but rather as an entity that spreads European good practice.
Jeroen Bult, a Dutch historian and political scientist residing in Estonia, compares the Baltic states, the Benelux and the Visegrad Group. According to Bult, the three groups have one thing in common: they do not exist in real politics; they are invented, artificial constructions.
George Schopflin, a member of the European Parliament from Hungary, analyses the financial crisis in Hungary in his review of György Matolcsy’s recent book, Ellovasbí³l Sereghajtí³: elveszett evek krí³nikaja [From the Vanguard to Bringing up the Rear: A Chronicle of Lost Years]. Schopflin believes that „in many ways, Hungary has been a victim of its own government’s gross mismanagement of the economy, but these kinds of mistakes were bound to happen, because the international environment was willing to look the other way and being attuned to short-term profit, it was quite prepared to put up with – and even support – a dysfunctional government.”
Generally speaking, Schopflin claims that „the 2008 collapse of the global market should be seen as a pivotal event similar to the end of communism. In essence, marketisation became an ideology like communism; the left and the right could no longer be differentiated on the basis of their sympathy or antipathy to market forces. Today, there is a need to rethink the role of states and market forces and to create institutions that guard against the stagnation and sclerosis produced by states and the excessive inequality generated by market forces.”

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