Until the summer of 1996, Mediterranean Politics was an annual political survey of all the countries bordering the Mediterranean and their impact on the world. Its objectives remain unchanged, but it now appears more frequently, as justified by the region's rising importance, demonstrated by the European Union's endorsement of the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership at the Barcelona conference in November 1995. The EMP's launch also stems from EU efforts to shore up its southern borders and avoid a repetition of its diplomatic debacle in the former Yugoslavia.
Whether the EMP contains a recipe for stability is unclear. So far it has brought few meaningful changes, and its discourse on "partnership in social, cultural and human affairs" is singularly at odds with Europe's long history of chauvinism and imperialism in the southern Mediterranean. These attitudes are encouraged by stringent EU immigration law that, as pointed out by George Joffe, one of the journal's editors, denies visas to many Arab businessmen. It is likely that the EMP's projected coupling of political stability with an EU-dominated, regional free-trade bloc will prove similarly elusive.
Whatever the outcome, mapping the "Barcelona process" is a priority for Mediterranean Politics. Each edition is composed of four or five scholarly, refereed articles written by academics and, occasionally, by professionals from policy institutes. The articles are generally lively and challenging and genuinely international. Space has been scrupulously allocated to the many countries within the journal's purview; the scope of articles, including studies of Bosnia-Hercegovina, Kurdish nationalism and Israeli-Palestinian relations, is remarkable.
There have been two special editions dealing with specific topics. These research-based articles are often augmented by shorter unfootnoted essays examining new problems. The profile section, which analyses recent political developments, is similarly stimulating. Mediterranean Politics concludes with a wide-ranging reviews section that includes publications in European languages other than English. Uniquely, the journal has an extensive annual calendar of events that, from Bilbao to Beirut, documents political violence, top-level political events, elections and key parliamentary, diplomatic and judicial processes.
Mediterranean Politics is a well-conceived journal that renders navigable a territory that for many decades was an academic backwater. It is guaranteed an appreciative audience among all those concerned with the future political evolution of the region.
Chris Ealham is a lecturer in contemporary Spanish history and politics, University of Wales Cardiff.
Editor - Richard Gillespie and George Joffe
ISBN - ISSN 1362 9395
Publisher - Frank Cass
Price - £35.00