Mercedes Herrero explains the motivations behind Russia‘s moderate stance towards Iran in its bid to harness nuclear energy. Despite US and EU criticism, Russia has acted with great reserve in condemning Iran, for various reasons. Economically, Iran‘s move towards nuclear weapons could be quite lucrative for Russia, and politically, Russia is using the crisis to gain international power as a world player. Yet, if the situation were to worsen, and Mahmud Ahmadineyad were to become even more radical, Moscow would be one of the principal nations in danger of the Iranian threat, and may be one of the firsts to suffer if Teheran obtained nuclear missiles.
Javier Ortiz draw attention to the ups and downs that the fight against terrorism has taken during the last few years in Spain, and analyzes how the policies implemented by Rodríguez Zapatero (before his presidency) could now become obstacles to the very peace process that he began. In 2000, Zapatero took a hardliner stance on terrorism in order to gain support against ex-President Aznar. Since then, he has entirely changed his position on terrorism, and yet the mechanisms that he set in motion continue to function, and risk jeopardizing the whole peace process. In Ortiz‘s opinion, an important lesson can be learned from the current President of Spain on the dangers of political opportunism of any kind.
Mercedes Herrero explains how Russia is taking advantage of the European Union‘s dependence on its natural gas in order to form privileged economic relationships, as well as quiet Europe‘s complaints about Russian internal affairs (such as the violation of human rights in Chechnya), and garner support for its own possible entry into the World Trade Organization. Herrero sheds light on the route of natural gas from Russia to the EU, on the reactions of Poland, Slovenia, and Ukraine to Russian pressure, and on why Brussels has decided to accept Russia‘s extortion in order to avoid instability in Europe‘s natural gas supply.
Sagrario Morán discusses the three phases that must be passed through in order for the terrorist organization ETA to come to an end. The first phase, which has already almost reached its completion, is the establishment of a permanent cease-fire. The second phase is the opening of a dialogue between the Spanish government and ETA. And once all violence has ended, the moment will have arrived in order to begin the third phase of the peace process: the formation of a mediation board between the political parties.
Fernando Delage analyses the state of the European Union’s impasse and explains how the organization is hindered from moving forward not from a crisis of values, but rather from a failing of leadership and disorientation in the face of societies disillusioned with their leaders and fearful for their futures. The impact of globalization and the loss of Europe‘s international influence are both factors, which have contributed to the decline of popular support for the Union; a support, Delage affirms, that is essential in order to secure the strong Union that democracy needs in Europe.
Piero Ignazi analyzes the recent Italian general elections, explaining the probable reasons of such controversial results. Thanks to the new electoral law, paradoxically passed by the former centre-right government, the winning coalition (in this occasion the centre-left) could avail of a very large majority of seats in the Chamber, he states. Furthermore, Ignazi highlights the fact that for the first time, thanks to a recent bill firmly promoted by the centre-right, Italians living abroad had the right to vote for electing deputies and senators, but their votes were not the expected. A U-turn of the centre-left regarding some fiscal matters finished it off. The end of the story is a very large majority of the centre-left in the Chamber and a tight one in the Senate. But, as he points out, this result was universally unpredicted.
Carlos Taibo explains why Belarus has resisted the charms of orange revolutions that, in the last thirty months, have been imposed upon Georgia, Ukraine and Kirguizistan, and today accepts an authoritarian president like Lukashenko. Taibo believes that Belarussians have welcome that which is better to have the already known bad than the good to be known, and that the economic results, the support of Moscow to Minsk and the orange revolution deception in the region appear to be some of the reasons to come to a better understanding of Belarus.
Piero Ignazi analyzes Italy’s foreign policy and says that –since the end of Second World War- Italy has been anchored by two forces: loyalty to its NATO membership and to the United States on one side, and an active and willing participation in the process of European integration on the other side. Ignazi states that the Italian political elite followed such a double path without advocating any preference or primacy for one over the other. Nevertheless, the present centre-right government, led by Mr. Silvio Berlusconi (since 2001), has been under scrutiny for its supposedly new direction in foreign policy. What is going to happen now after elections?