The Elcano Royal Institute is an independent, private foundation established in Madrid in 2001 to study international developments from a Spanish perspective. The Institute aims to become a leading forum for research and informed discussion of international affairs which will be of interest to policy-makers, academics, business leaders, the media and society at large.
We open the last Newsletter of 2008 with our usual Inside Spain section, by William Chislett. Within Foreign Policy, the incident between King Juan Carlos and Hugo Chávez at the 17th Ibero-American Summit soured Spain’s relations with Venezuela. While Spanish officials sought to play down the incident, Chávez escalated the row after the summit was over, even threatening to nationalise the banks acquired by Grupo Santander and BBVA. And some disappointing news: General Félix Sanz Roldán, Chief of Spain’s Defence Staff, failed to get the top European military job as head of Nato’s Military Committee, a post that went to Admiral Gianpaolo di Paola. Still on the military front, a majority of Spaniards (54%) would like to see coalition troops withdrawn from Iraq immediately, according to an International Herald Tribune/France 24/Harris Interactive survey. And some cultural data from the Modern Language Association: Spanish accounted for more than half the total foreign language course enrolments in 2006 in US institutions of higher education, and the share of Spanish in total language course enrolments for the 14 most commonly taught languages rose from 32.4% in 1968 to 52.2% in 2006. On the Domestic Scene, ETA murdered a paramilitary civil guard and critically injured another in the first killing since the bomb blast at Madrid’s airport almost a year ago. Both men were in their 20s and were part of a joint anti-terrorism surveillance operation in south-western France. And, according to a report on the effect of climate change by 2050 drawn up by 17 experts for the government, Spain will become increasingly hot, the south of the country will gradually become a desert, water will become scarce and the sea level will rise by 15cm; Bill Clinton met with Prime Minister Rodríguez Zapatero and agreed to advise the government on environmental matters. Some figures: Spain was ranked 13th out of 177 countries in the latest UN Human Development Index (HDI), up from 19th in the 2006 index. But Spain dropped from 26th to 31st position in the OECD’s latest three-year PISA test of the abilities of a sample of 15-year old secondary-school students. In the Economy, further evidence of Spain’s economic slowdown –particularly evident in the construction sector– came with the release of the third quarter year-on-year GDP growth figure (3.8% compared with 4% in the second quarter); inflation was 4.1% year-on-year in November, according to the first estimate, up from 2.7% in September. And Pedro Solbes, the Economy Minister and Second Deputy Prime Minister, said he would remain in the government if the Socialists win the March general elections.
Our first highlight this month, within both our Europe and Security & Defence areas, is an analysis by Pavel Felgenhauer reviewing the evolution of Russia’s stance on Kosovo since the disintegration of the former Republic of Yugoslavia to the NATO’s bombing of Serbia and the implications of a Kosovar independent State according to the Ahtisaari Plan. The second highlight is the first of a series of papers by our Senior Analyst for Latin America Carlos Malamud on Outside Players in Latin America, who time focuses on China. And within Spain’s International Image & Public Opinion our Senior Analyst Javier Noya analyses Spaniards’ opinions and attitudes towards Islam through data gathered for the Elcano Royal Institute’s Barometer survey.
Back in Latin America, the second paper on Outside Players in Latin America, by Carlos Malamud and Carlota García Encina, examines Iran’s motives for intensifying its presence in Latin America in the past two years under the guidance of the Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez. The latter’s Armed Forces, and their re-definition in the constitutional reform proposal, are the subject of an ARI by Luis Esteban González Manrique. Meanwhile, Carlos Sabino analyses the results of the presidential elections in Guatemala, won by Álvaro Colom, who will face a complex agenda, including public order and security issues, as well as the need to maintain economic growth.
Also in both our Europe and Security & Defence areas, Hugo Brady presents an interesting analysis under the title "Europol and the European Criminal Intelligence Model: A Non-state Response to Organised Crime". And, finally, the Institute’s Senior Analyst for International Economy & Trade Paul Isbell revisits the multifaceted issue of energy security and analyses its various permutations, degrees of risk and political and economic implications in the short, medium and long terms.
If readers do not wish to continue receiving both our English-language Newsletter and our Spanish-language Boletín they should inform us at http://www.realinstitutoelcano.org/boletinsubs_eng_new.asp of their preference for one or the other version.
The Tactics and Strategic Goals of Russia’s Stand on the Independence of Kosovo (ARI)
This ARI reviews the evolution of Russia’s stance on Kosovo since the disintegration of the former Republic of Yugoslavia to the NATO’s bombing of Serbia and the implications of a Kosovar independent State according to the Ahtisaari Plan.
Europol and the European Criminal Intelligence Model: A Non-state Response to Organised Crime (ARI)
European governments are making a serious, long-term investment in cross-border law enforcement co-operation against organised crime.
Document of Interest
The Council of the European Union - Troika on Kosovo. The Baden Conference
The EU - U.S - Russia negotiating Troika brought together the delegations from Belgrade and Pristina to discuss Kosovo’s status in Baden (Austria). The three day conference marks the end of Troika-sponsored face to face negotiations.
Document of Interest
European Commission - Communication from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament on the role of Eurojust and the European Judicial Network in the fight against organised crime and terrorism in the European Union
This paper is seen as a first step in a lengthy legislative process to give more powers to Eurojust, the EU’s judicial body in the fight against cross-border organised crime. A concrete legislative proposal will be put forward in 2008.
Outside Players in Latin America (II): Iran
Carlos Malamud and Carlota García Encina
This paper examines Iran’s motives for intensifying its presence in Latin America in the past two years under the guidance of Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez.
Outside Players in Latin America (I): China (WP)
In recent years China’s prolonged and sustained economic growth has fuelled a considerable rise in Latin American exports of raw materials (hydrocarbons, minerals, food, etc) to the Chinese market and, at the same time, an increased growth in region’s economies.
The Armed Forces as a Political Party: Chávez’s New ‘Geometry of Power’ (ARI)
Luis Esteban González Manrique
The President of Venezuela, Hugo Chávez, was convinced of the success of his constitutional reform proposal, prepared under the ley habilitante, or enabling law, which gave the Executive full powers to legislate in key areas. The new constitution, which was to establish unlimited presidential re-election, would have come into effect in 2008 if it had been approved by the 2 December referendum. One of the main reforms was to redefine the role of the Venezuelan Armed Forces (Fuerzas Armadas Nacionales, FAN).
The Presidential Elections in Guatemala (ARI)
The presidential elections in Guatemala were won by Álvaro Colom, the representative of Unión Nacional de la Esperanza (National Union of Hope, UNE). His presidency, which will begin in January, will face a complex agenda, including public order and security issues, as well as the need to maintain economic growth.
Document of Interest
ECLAC - Social Panorama for Latin America 2007
The 2007 edition highlights the importance of advancing toward a social pact to overcome poverty and promote social cohesion as priority issues for public expenditure. It also provides the latest poverty estimates available for the region: 36.5% of Latin America’s population (195 million people) were poor and 13.4% (71 million) were extremely poor.
Revisiting Energy Security (ARI)
This article revisits the multifaceted issue of energy security and analyses its various permutations, degrees of risk and political and economic implications in the short, medium and long run.
Document of Interest
World Energy Council - Deciding the Future: Energy Policy Scenarios to 2050
This WEC study analyses the possible energy policy futures, focusing on policies to ensure energy sustainability. Experts from five regions and all energy domains worked together to produce four different scenarios to predict how differing levels of cooperation and government involvement would affect the energy future of the World.
Spaniards and Islam (ARI)
This study analyses Spaniards’ opinions and attitudes towards Islam through data gathered for the Elcano Royal Institute’s Barometer survey.
Document of Interest
Barometer of the RIE (BRIE)
The BRIE -Elcano Royal Institute’s Barometer- is a periodic survey, carried out three times a year, in November, February and June, of a sample of 1,200 people considered a fair cross section of the Spanish population. It is focused exclusively on opinions, values and attitudes regarding international relations and Spanish foreign policy in all its aspects.
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The Elcano Royal Institute does not necessarily share the views expressed by the authors of its Working Papers and other texts which may appear on its Website or in any other of its publications.The Institute’s primary goal is to act as a leading forum for research and analysis and to stimulate informed discussion of international affairs, particularly with regard to those issues which are most relevant from a Spanish perspective, and which will be of interest to policy-makers, business leaders, the media, and society at large.