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Title: Can the domestic politics of small island states lead to international in/stability? A case study of Malta
Authors: Cachia, Jean Claude
DeBattista, André P.
Keywords: Politics, Practical -- Malta
States, Small -- Case studies
International relations
States, Size of
Issue Date: 2019
Publisher: Political Studies Association
Citation: Cachia, J. C. & DeBattista, A. P. (2019). Can the domestic politics of small island states lead to international in/stability? A case study of Malta. The PSA 69th Annual International Conference (Un)Sustainable Politics in a Changing World, Nottingham.
Abstract: Small islands states have an ambiguous role in the international arena; their political role has evolved from their pre-statehood days as naval outposts and “unsinkable aircraft carriers” to their post-independence role as sovereign states in the international arena. Nominally, each state enjoys sovereign equality both in regional and international institutions. In practice, however, their role has been more contentious and less clear cut. Recent literature makes reference to the “negative strategic value” that such states possess, thus turning these apparently-innocuous polities into potential sources of stability or instability. This paper seeks to outline the role of small island states in international relations. It analyses whether such states can be a source of stability or instability in a regional and international context. Malta is taken as its case study. Malta is both a border-state and the smallest EU member state. Questions over measures adopted by the Government of Malta, such as the Individual Investment Programme (IIP) scheme, and antimoney laundering legislation have intensified during the 2014 – 2019 period. On the reverse side, as an EU member state with a positive economic record, it has sometimes been hailed as an example of stability and a reliable partner in a troubled region. In addition, it managed to host the Presidency of the Council of the European Union at a time when Europe was experiencing a large wave of migration from Syria and Libya while attempting to deal with the the aftermath of the Brexit referendum. This case study argues that the role of small island states, though marginal, can become more critical as a result of political developments. Such developments can contribute both to stability and instability.
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