January 9, 2010

Summary

The December issue of Diplomaatia looks back at foreign policy developments in 2009.

The December issue of Diplomaatia looks back at foreign policy developments in 2009.

Summary

The December issue of Diplomaatia looks back at foreign policy developments in 2009.
For Barack Obama, who had been elected U.S. President last year, 2009 was the first full working year. Jonatan Vseviov, an official at the Estonian Ministry of Defence, analyses the results of his endeavours. “With less than a year, the number of Obama’s supporters has fallen below the magical 50 per cent,” states Vseviov, attributing the reasons for this decline in popularity to the apparent conflict between Obama’s words and deeds and the scarcity of any tangible achievements.
However, this should not cause any real pessimism because the president has actually made a very good start, although the rewards of his work will be reaped at a later time. According to Vseviov, Obama’s biggest mistake so far has been his intermediate loss of initiative in the health reform debate. Yet the Obama administration managed to rectify this problem, changing its approach and effectively securing the passage of its bill at the Senate. “If the health reform is successful, this single result of Obama’s domestic policy efforts will represent the greatest achievement for Democrats since President Johnson’s social policy reforms in the 1960s,” claims Vseviov. “On the other hand, if the health reform falls through, this will turn the first half of his four-year presidential term into a failure which, in its turn, could lead to a loss for Democrats at the 2010 congressional elections.”
Indrek Sirp, a Master’s student at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva, analyses Russian President Dmitry Medvedev’s proposal for a new European security architecture. “It is unlikely that Russia’s proposal for a pan-European security pact will be endorsed,” claims Sirp. “However, Moscow could push through the launching of some reforms in the OSCE, which are beneficial to Russia, and solicit more generous offers for partnership from NATO and the EU.”
Andres Vosman, an official at the Estonian Ministry of Defence, discusses the issue of nuclear weaponry, focussing on the utility of NATO’s nuclear arsenal. “For the Alliance, nuclear weapons fulfil a ‘political’ function,” asserts Vosman. “The main reason for their existence lies in the belief that their very existence and applicability constitute a guarantee that they will never actually be used. Nuclear weapons make the risk of mounting an attack against NATO an uncertain and unacceptable venture, which cannot be said about conventional weapons. Considering the role they play, the stocks of nuclear weapons remain minimal. The nuclear weapons, which NATO is allowed to keep in Europe, forge an essential political and military connection between the Allies on both sides of the ocean.”
Journalist Indrek Treufeldt writes about the new EU leaders who were appointed to their posts in connection with the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty. “The appointment of two high officials – the President of the European Council and the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs – was a strange sight,” claims Treufeldt. “The application of the principle of journalistic simplicity meant that Europe was waiting for one single person to unite it, a person whom everybody expected to be a superstar. In the end, however, common sense prevailed in the European institutions. A man who does not like to stand out and has spent most of his life as a party functionary was appointed president and a woman who has no more hope for climbing higher in British domestic politics was assigned to lead EU’s foreign affairs.”
Einari Kisel, Deputy Secretary General of the Estonian Ministry of Economic Affairs, describes energy policy developments in 2009. He claims that the gas conflict between Russian and Ukraine at the beginning of 2009 was a sharp wake-up call for many inert people who suddenly sprung into action.
Journalist Igor Taro analyses relationship between Turkey and Armenia: since the Russian-Georgian August War, the two previously antagonistic neighbours have started to normalise their relations, using ‘football diplomacy’ and other initiatives. Still, there are many obstacles and contradictions on their way. “Much stronger efforts than today’s spiced-up diplomacy are necessary to bring about a total warming in their relations,” claims Taro.
Silver Meikar, Member of the Estonian Parliament, examines Israeli-Palestinian relations. He reaches the conclusion that it is time for the European Union to support the two-state solution by taking concrete steps and by recognising the independence of Palestine.

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