n.4 May 2005
“German Groups Shun Russia,” was the headline in the “Financial Times” on 8 April. The article explained that doubts about Vladimir Putin’s real intentions for reform are causing stagnation in direct investments, while overall German investments, including the portfolio ones, are actually in decline. Therefore, east’s cover title is not just an attention grabber: both Europe and the United States share perplexities about the new Russia’s prospects, as was evident in the latest summit between Bush and Putin in Bratislava. That’s why we have dedicated this issue’s Dossier to Russia, asking authoritative experts in various disciplines (from Piero Sinatti to Fernando Orlandi, from Olga Annushkina to Anna Zafesova, from Sergio Romano to Mauro Martini and Ornella Calvarese) to provide analyses that are free of diplomatic tact. The picture they paint is worrying, but not alarming. On the plus side: the economy is slowly picking up; social tensions seem to be under control; the desire for autonomy in the southern republics is on the rise, but has not reached the explosive level of Chechnya; cinema, literature and arts in general are experiencing a new revival. On the downside: perplexities remain about the contradictory way in which the new ruling class is handling the transition, the persistent violation-undervaluing of human rights, and the nostalgia for the strength of the old USSR. One thing is clear, as Romano explains in his interview and as Zafesova confirms in his article about the Russian opposition, Putin must be judged over the long term and, at this time, there is no alternative to his leadership. European themes remain east’s main focus. The magazine addresses them on three levels: first, in an interview with the economist Alberto Alesina on the differences between American and European welfare models; next, by addressing the issues linked to the French referendum on the new Constitution (Enrico Letta); and, finally, by offering further analysis on the Enlargement (from Jean-Claude Trichet to Paolo Gnes, from Fabrizio Coricelli to Franco Botta, from Franco Mosconi to Michele Capriati). Giulia Maria Crespi, Goran Bregovic and Aldo Bonomi make contributions on culture, environment and values.
by Enrico Letta
Yet again, France is at the centre of European history, once more the arbiter of the fate of the integration process. In a few weeks, almost sixty million French will pronounce judgement on the ratification of the Constitution. The alternatives are clear: yes or no, in or out.
Berlin is perhaps the most famous case. But all of Central and Eastern Europe is becoming an open construction site. New urban life experiences are being created and the most innovative architectural projects are becoming almost routine. One of Italy’s leading architects explains that there is no lack of creativity, but there is also no overall plan. And now it’s the time for institutions and urban planners to begin thinking seriously.
The EU enlargement is creating development opportunities – due to the flow of migrants from the former communist countries. But a study by Caritas indicates that the situation will probably stabilize with the increase in wealth of the new European partners. The real problem will be how to manage the processes of ethnic, religious and cultural integration.