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The kindred spirit in politics and management

Last week President Guido de Marco delivered the keynote address at the graduation ceremony of the Maastricht School of Management, during which he highlighted the special relationship between politics and management and shares some personal experience

Dictionaries have a habit of being analytical. To manage has been defined as to conduct, to direct, to carry on, to conduct the affairs of, and management has been described as the skilful employment of means. The word politic has been defined as prudent, sagacious, expedient, and on a more negative tone, crafty, scheming and artful. Politics has been explained as the art or science of civil government, activities concerned in the acquisition or apportionment of power within an organisation.

The link between politics and management is found whether it is in the governance of a State, a ministry, an international organisation or an enterprise, whether it be, public or private.

The need to conduct, to direct, to control, and the skilful employment of means, is at the essence of political management.

The phrases management by objectives, crisis management, management skills, corporate management, are common both to politics and enterprise management.

May I contribute to this ongoing debate by linking my experience in politics to your experience in management.

I read with interest your brief on the Maastricht School of Management. The MSM is a knowledge creating, knowledge disseminating and interactive learning organisation. All executive education is accordingly structured on four basic themes: theory, experience, analysis and feedback, application. The main objectives of your programmes are to develop the ability to identify problems, reach conclusions and implement decisions. Your brief continues stating that, "to be an effective manager one must be able to:

• Analyse clearly what are frequently very complex situations;

• Assess in the light of organisational objectives the relative importance of different factors;

• Make appropriate decisions and be confident in implementing the ensuing policies and solutions;

• Understand the impact of globalisation and ICT on current management thinking."

In applying these principles and objectives to my experience, I have first to refer to the politics and history of an Island State.

Malta is a small country, strategically situated in the middle of the Mediterranean. The Maltese are a people, who through the centuries have lived history and in certain events have made history. The Maltese archipelago can be defined as the cradle of Euro-Mediterranean architecture. One thousand years before the pyramids, the stone temples of Malta were the first manifestation of the building skills in history. Professor Trump in his learned dissertation writes, "From 3500 to 2500 BC the islands of Malta and Gozo made the most extraordinary advances with their art and architecture, a truly unique achievement which we have come nowhere near explaining […] At the time they were being built, beginning around 3500 BC, no-one else was raising free-standing buildings in stone anywhere else in the world. The pyramids of Egypt were long claimed to be the world's first stone architecture, but they date to very nearly a millennium later". Malta received Christianity only twenty-seven years after the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ. The Shipwreck of Saint Paul in Malta forms part of the Acts of the Apostles.

Malta has seen the presence of Carthage, sided with Rome in the Punic wars, formed part of the Roman Commonwealth since the days of Cicero and the Republic and was an integral part of Rome's Mare Nostrum. It was under Arab domination from the year 880 A.D. to 1090 A.D. when Roger the Norman supplanted Arab rule both in Sicily and in Malta. In 1530 Charles V provided Malta as the home to the Knights of St. John, later to bear the name, Knights of Malta. The Great Siege of Malta of 1565 was the beginning of the end of the Ottoman supremacy in the Mediterranean. Napoleon Bonaparte, in 1798 took Malta from the Order realising that whoever controls Malta can determine the destiny of the Mediterranean. In 1800 the British came on behalf of the King of

Naples to help the Maltese who had rebelled against French rule. Their contribution was the blockade of the harbours of Malta with Royal Navy vessels.

Nelson assessing the strategic value of Malta saw that Britain remains in Malta. They remained in Malta up to 1964, when Malta became independent. In the Second World War, Malta's heroic resistance, suffering aerial bombardment with more raids than London did, denied the Axis their victory in the Mediterranean.

In December 1989, Bush and Gorbachev met in Malta. A meeting which in the words of Eduard Schevardnadze, "in the tempestuous waters of Malta, we buried the Cold War."

As Minister for Foreign Affairs of Malta, on 16 July 1990, working on the mandate received from the people, I presented Malta's application to join the then, European Communities.

This brief history of my country will provide you with the background to the necessary analysis required for Malta's foreign policy. I had to analyse clearly the complex situations existing. Malta, European in culture and identity, is perhaps the most Mediterranean of countries. Malta's application to join the European Union could not, and should not, be seen or be, an abdication of Malta's role in the Mediterranean. In 1975, in Helsinki I, the Maltese government had against great odds persuaded participants of the need of a Mediterranean basket; based on the premise that, there can be no security in Europe unless there is security in the Mediterranean and there can be no security in the Mediterranean unless there is security in Europe. In my government's view, Malta as a member of the European Union, can provide that added focus on Mediterranean affairs so essential in a Euro-Mediterranean context.

In assessing existing factors and wanting to ensure relevance to Malta's foreign policy, we gave our strong participation to the realisation of the Barcelona Conference in 1995. It was at this conference, in delivering the keynote address, that I proposed a charter for Stability for the Mediterranean. The Euro-Med conference, although not realising its full impact, is an essential platform for Euro-Mediterranean co-ordination and it is hoped that the Charter for Stability and Security will eventually be the cornerstone of the political and security pillar of the Barcelona Declaration.

Amongst the different factors, possibly the most important factor, which had to be assessed in the light of Euro-Mediterranean relations, is the Middle East situation. When in September 1990 I was elected to the Presidency of the General Assembly of the United Nations, the occupation of Kuwait was the paramount issue for the first post cold war United Nations. I realised however, that for the credibility of the United Nations, the burning Palestinian issue could not be set-aside. It was with this in mind that, in the first week of January 1991, I was the first (and to my knowledge the last) President of the United Nations General Assembly to visit the refugee camps in the West Bank and in Gaza trying to explain to the Palestinian leadership that the war for the liberation of Kuwait was also in the interest of the Palestinian people to ensure a State of their own, free from Israeli occupation; my contacts with both Israeli and Palestinian leaderships have continued ever since providing thereby several occasions contributing to actions intended to implement policies and solutions in the interest of a Pax Mediterranea. Peace in the Middle East requires not only American interest and intervention, but equally the strong participation of the European Union and Russia within the parameters of the United Nations, in full observance and implementation of resolutions 242 and 338, amongst others. So far, one regrets to note that the resolutions mentioned, have been applied more in their breach than in their observance. There is lacking in this regard a UN policy backed by the major powers to achieve through management by objectives, the end of the occupation of Palestine, the right of the Palestinian people to a State of their own and the right of Israel to exist within sure and guaranteed frontiers.

As President of the United Nations General Assembly, I had a vantage point at seeing this Organisation at work. I realised that for the United Nations to perform, and to deliver, as an instrument for peace and freedom in the 21st century, a second generation United Nations has to be brought about.

For the United Nations, which saw the change from a bi-polar world to a mono-polar world, struggling to move towards a multi-polar system, to have the right impact in world affairs, important reforms have to take place. These reforms have to be not cosmetic, but have the political will to make of the United Nations the instrument that guarantees international peace and security. We may be otherwise assisting to the marginalisation of the UN, substituting thereto, the action of one or more States acting in concert in what 'they' consider to be the maintenance of peace and security.

The United Nations Organisation requires not only organisational management skills but the political commitment necessary to ensure the fulfilling of the obligations of the Charter of the United Nations.

It is here, perhaps, that one can notice a parting of ways between management in politics and management in enterprise. The skilful employment of means without a defined sense of political commitment can never create that political credibility fundamental to the body politic. Indeed, management skills applied whether to the governance of an international organisation such as the United Nations, or the European Union, or to the governance of a State, without the driving force of an ideal, can make of an organisation hollow and shallow.

Good governance is good management.

Politics and management are people orientated.

Politics and management have to make the most of human resources, have to involve citizens more.

The enlargement of the European Union must be made more relevant to the citizens of the countries involved. The Convention is a good example in making citizens aware of the changing European process.

In underlining however, 'the kindred spirit in politics and management', one different aspect has to be singled out: No management skills can substitute the need of principles and ideals required in politics to secure, whether nationally or internationally, the commitment for the advancement of peoples in peace, prosperity and security. Management skills are relevant in politics, when applied within the parameters of a politics of service, an accepted ideal, a commitment to people.


Copyright © Network Publications Malta.
Editor: Saviour Balzan
The Business Times, Network House, Vjal ir-Rihan San Gwann SGN 07, Malta
Tel: (356) 21382741-3, 21382745-6 | Fax: (356) 21385075 | e-mail: editorial@networkpublications.com.mt