December 14, 2012

Summary

This issue of Diplomaatia looks back at the year 2012 in Europe and the world, highlighting some of the globally relevant developments and trends of our time.

This issue of Diplomaatia looks back at the year 2012 in Europe and the world, highlighting some of the globally relevant developments and trends of our time.

Summary

This issue of Diplomaatia looks back at the year 2012 in Europe and the world, highlighting some of the globally relevant developments and trends of our time.
In the opening interview with the editor of Diplomaatia Iivi Anna Masso, President of Estonia Toomas Hendrik Ilves talks about global politics, Estonian foreign policy and the future of Estonia, Europe and the whole world. He is cautiously optimistic about the developments in Europe, stating that the prospects of Europe and the Eurozone look more hopeful today than they did a year ago. He also discusses the US-European relationship, the international success of Estonian ‘e-solutions’ and the connection between IT development and democratic values, underscoring the critical importance of protecting Internet freedom. President Ilves believes that even though it will still take time to come out of the ongoing economic crisis, it is possible to solve the crisis by sticking to wise policies. He reminds the reader that in spite of the crisis and the rise of other regions in the world, Europe still remains a relatively prosperous and stabile region defined by democracy and the rule of law.
Marko Mihkelson, Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Estonian Parliament, writes about the key foreign policy developments in 2012 from an Estonian perspective. He claims that the retention of Europe’s unity is crucial for Estonia, as is keeping a clear focus on our chosen foreign policy priorities. Mihkelson regards the debate over Europe’s future as a defining feature of the ending year, while he also recognises the significance of the rise of Asia and the failure of the ‘Arab Spring’ to result in any genuine democratisation process. He notes that Estonian-Russian relations have taken a step forward and predicts that we can start thinking of the 21st century as the ‘Asian Century’.
Veikko Kala, an Estonian diplomat, analyses the developments concerning Iran’s nuclear programme. He describes the whole process as a cat-and-mouse game between Iran and the IAEA, in which everything that Iran reveals to international experts seems to comply with the rules and regulations Iran is committed to, but at the same time the international observers cannot be quite positive that the Iranians have disclosed all relevant information. Kala insists that Iran’s activities still raise suspicions which it has not managed to dispel, despite the fact that there is not enough evidence to prove any violation of its obligations.
A policy analyst at the Hudson Institute, Richard Weitz, assesses the relationship between Russia and the United States and its prospects after the recent American elections. Weitz argues that the ‘reset’ policy did improve the relations for a while at least on a rhetorical level, but its positive effects have worn off and the tension is returning, as disputes mount over numerous topics. Apart from issues like arms control and missile defence, there are disagreements over human rights and values. Nonetheless, Weitz insists that the two countries need each other’s help in a number of areas and that dialogue beyond Cold War issues therefore remains a desired goal.
Marin Mõttus, Estonian Ambassador to Portugal and Morocco, focuses on a development that has not gained much attention in Estonia – the rise of the Portuguese-speaking world, simultaneously occurring with the rise of Asia. Looking separately at Brazil, Angola, Portugal and the CPLP – Comunidade dos Paí­ses de Lí­ngua Portuguesa Mõttus perceives this part of the world as a resource that Estonia would be wise to recognise.
In the book review section, Luukas Ilves reviews Robert Kagan’s The World America Made. For Ilves, Kagan’s book is a welcome exception to the long line of works on the decline of the West, as the author focuses more on America’s strengths than its shrinking power. The book states that America still is a military and political superpower, which is why the author tries to calm those who worry about its fate, reminding them of similar fears that have previously proven to be unfounded. However, Ilves argues that Kagan fails to offer the reader convincing arguments about the continued irrationality of these fears. At the same time, Ilves points out that it would be preferable for Estonia that Kagan be right in his faith in a strong America, as the potency of our superpower ally has this far clearly only benefited us.

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