This study concentrates on a particular issue connected to the political instability in the Balkans following the end of the Cold War. The particular point being called the “Illyrian issue”. This term refers to the fact that the areas inhabited by ethnic Albanian in the Balkans are not all within the frontiers of the Albanian State. Regarding this fact, particular attention has been given to the conflict in Kosovo and the recent collapse of Albania but reference has also been made to the Albanian minorities in Macedonia and Montenegro. The aim of the work is to single out strategies that could bring about a solution to the present conflict and could give effective guide lines to Italian foreign policy in the geopolitical area in question. The methodology for the analysis has been based on the most modern approaches developed in the ambit of political science which can give more reliable results than those obtained by traditional methods. These latter are usually based on experience, intuition and synthesis on the part of the analyst. Consequently they are often doomed to failure as foreign policy should be planned with elaborate precision and clear lines of action. The complexity of the international political system today needs precise scientific credible answers which can be put to the test by those who wish to use these studies and therefore it is not possible to ignore recent theoretical developments in international relations. This progress finally allows the experts to make a systematic structure of their potential knowledge which would otherwise be lost in the jungle of information and impressions that must be taken into consideration. The need to give this study a strong pragmatic and operative connotation has led the authors to be as transparent as possible regarding the methods used, the way they have been applied and the results obtained. In the first chapter, after a brief reference to Italian foreign policy and the decisional process connected to it, the key concepts to be used are defined: strategy, strategic actor, crisis, conflict. In the following chapters two theoretical non deterministic previsional models are illustrated (“Analytic Hierarchy Process”, or AHP and “Catastophe Theory”) which will then be applied to the case in question in the following chapters. The third chapter is dedicated to the war in Bosnia. The analysis of this case has been used in order to make it easier to understand the various conflicts which make up the “Illyrian issue”. This issue has infact many aspects and actors in common with the Bosnian case. In particular owing to the use of the AHP model, the extra regional actors which have played a strategically important role in the crisis have been singled out. This has been done on the basis of the presumption that the same actors will play an important role in the future developments of the “Illyrian issue”. On the other hand the fourth and fifth chapters are entirely dedicated to the study of the ethnic conflict in Kosovo. By making a careful historical, political analysis of this particular region of the Balkans and by using AHP, the authors build up a previsional model based on the behaviour of the principle political actors and strategies involved in the conflict. The aim of this model is to define hypothetically alternative scenarios that can show the tendency of the development of the Illyrian system. The sixth chapter is directed at testing how the preceding analysis will stand up when faced with a sudden (catastrophic) event such as the recent crisis of the Albanian State, by using the “Catastrophe Theory”. As a conclusion, following what has been developed in the pre-ceding chapters, the best strategies for Italy - strategic actor of refer-ence - are singled out. These could be used in order to make the best use of its potentials for intervention on the conflict in which it is directly involved.
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