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Observers of international development, seem to agree, that 1988 represents a remarkable leap forward, in the search for durable peace, in different parts of the world. To buttress such an optimistic overview, the general relaxation of international tension, within the scope of “New Thinking”, is often cited. Indeed, the outgoing year has been very rich, in terms of the elevation of human values, to great heights, in the pursuit of solutions to problems of the world.

One typical example of this, was the world-wide response to the earthquake disaster in Soviet Armenia, which left thousands dead, and a lot of destruction, in its wake. Governments, organisations and individuals, from all continents, sent relief to the Soviet Union. Coming soon after the démarche at the United Nations, by Mikhail Gorbachev, in which he outlined new Soviet initiatives for arms reduction, the outpouring of emotions and support, certainly shows that the “Evil Empire” image of the Soviet Union, painted for a long time in the West, is beginning to lose its appeal.

It is important to stress, that the outgoing year, saw the award of the Nobel Peace Prize to the United Nations Organisation, for its peace-keeping efforts since it was founded, on the ruins of the Second World War. Under UN auspices, decolonisation in South West Africa, the Gulf War, the problems in Indochina, the Afghan war, seem to be edging towards a solution. In the nuclear age, humanity lives under serious threats, fashioned by man himself. The roots of the threat to human survival, is in the political divides in the world, the actions of the transnational corporations, among others. A partial realisation of this reality, is behind the success so far achieved. This is coupled with the yearning of the peoples.

However, there is no objectivity in becoming totally lost in celebrations over the achievements of 1988. For the people of the Third World, the outgoing year, saw a worsening in our living conditions. The problems in our region of the world are very complex and tragic indeed. The foreign debt now totals $1.3 trillion dollars. These immoral debts are serviced, at the expense of education, health care and social services, for the peoples.

Africa, which is the most backward continent in the world, is now a major exporter of capital, while there is stagnation and decay of productive forces, increasing levels of poverty, unemployment and alienation. According to figures of the UN, by the year 2000, if African countries continue to implement Structural Adjustment Policies, there will be more illiterates on the continent, than there were in 1960. While the situation of our children, would resemble having the Armenian earthquake tragedy, every two days, by the same period.

Clearly, 1988 has not lessened the ravages of imperialism, or the rapaciousness pf transnational capital, as far as the developing countries are concerned. If anything, it shows, that these countries must intensify the fight for a New International Economic Order. What would we specifically call for? A new order that will eliminate instability in basic commodity prices, protectionism, subsidies and financial imbalances. In other words, we must stop the trend towards the recolonisation of our countries.

In this task, the various governments of the Third World, must enlist the support of the peoples: workers, farmers, youth, women and intellectuals. Of course, this presupposes the respect of democracy and the basic human rights of these same people. 1988 is rolling into history, but we must face the greater challenges of the new year, 1989, as we inch slowly to the edge of the new millennium.

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