A review of György Matolcsy, Ãƒâ€°llovasbí³l sereghajtí³: Elveszett évek krí³nikí¡ja [From the Vanguard to Bringing Up the Rear: A Chronicle of Lost Years], Budapest: Ãƒâ€°ghajlat könyvkiadí³, 2008, 359 pp.
He looked and sounded as if he had just stepped out of bed. When being interviewed by Välisilm, Dutch Foreign Minister Maxime Verhagen, who even forgot to put on a tie, left the impression of not really being interested in the meeting with his Estonian, Latvian, Lithuanian, Belgian, and Luxembourgish counterparts, which took place at the picturesque Sagadi Manor on 2 October. Verhagen did not show up for the press conference and had instead returned home for the political business as usual in his fatherland.
Over the last few weeks Iceland’s banking system has collapsed on a spectacular scale. The Icelandic government was forced to nationalise three main banks in rapid succession and concerns about uncertainty over their foreign liabilities has severely strained Iceland’s relations with close and traditional allies to the extent that profound questions about the country’s geopolitical status have been raised.
Times in Spain are as of late no less turbulent than in many other parts of Europe. To the well known troubles faced by virtually all European economies (the stock markets’ serial crashes, the credit crunch, the recession settling into the ‘real’ economy), Spain adds some well established imbalances of its economy – the propensity to high unemployment rates, low productivity rates, a worrying trade deficit – and some new troubles, such as the burst of one of Europe’s most spectacular real state bubbles or the exposure of Spain’s largest firms to economic and political risks in distant markets such as Argentina. Spain can count on some valuable assets, most notably the fact that it is part of the Eurozone, which staved off the dangers of monetary speculation that so hardly hit numerous other economies, and the relative soundness of its banking institutions, largely the result of more stringent Bank of Spain regulations and more conservative (and, as it turns out, sounder) business strategies than in the rest of Europe. Nonetheless, analysts predict difficult times ahead as unemployment rises well into the double digits and returns Spain back to its former position as one of the European Union worst performers in job creation.
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.