Europe on the Crossroads

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The forthcoming Spanish general elections scheduled for 20th December 2015, will not only consolidate certain political outcomes for the outgoing year, they will also, without exaggeration, determine the key vectors for Europe in 2016. Even now it can be certified that one of these vectors will be the activation of separatist aspirations within the terrain of the Europe Union.

Europe on the Crossroads

Originally appeared at Fsksrb, translated by Viktor Milinkovic exclusively for SouthFront

The rise of separatism is traditionally accompanied by internal, as well as external factors. In contemporary Europe however, these factors are so inextricably intertwined that it is often impossible to delineate the borders between them. Instability in the Middle East, alongside the countries of Northern Africa, has been perpetuated by US foreign policy, in tandem with the leadership of the EU. It has resulted in a progressive loss of control by the Western hemisphere’s architects of the ‘new world order’ of those international terrorist organisations and movements. It has also resulted in a wave of refugees in the heart of Europe, with a consequential growth in nationalistic and isolationist sentiment within some EU member states, concluding with a firm rejection in Washington as well as Brussels to cooperate with Russia on those contemporary problems of international importance. This, all in combination, is tearing apart the European political system to such a degree that it is currently impossible to give a reliable prognosis of what kind of situation the EU will find itself in by 2017.

This past year has also been accompanied by announcements and efforts of campaigners propagating the secession of Catalonia from Spain. The Catalonian parliament voted a resolution on 9th November 2015 announcing the instigation of secession from Spain and the establishment of an independent republic, amounting to the ignition of a fuse in one more European barrel of gun powder. Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy swiftly activated the Constitutional Court of Spain in order to block this resolution, it is doubtful however, whether such legal measures can reverse the situation. “The number of those calling for Catalonia to become an independent country is rising” declared the Catalonian Party Junts pel Si (Together for ‘Yes’), which achieved a positive result on local elections in late September 2015: “the elections of 27th September were exceptional irrespective of how one views the results, for they demonstrated the express will of the Catalonian people. We do not exclude anyone, this is the beginning of the establishment of a modern and just state.” [http://www.vestifinance.ru/articles/64173]

The position of the central government in Spain can be evaluated principally by economic indicators. Local economists forecast – in the event that Catalonia secedes from Spain – a decline in gross domestic product by 20%, whilst the relative debt with respect to gross national income will immediately increase to 25% [http://www.vestifinance.ru/articles/64751]. It is also possible that there will be a political price for the governing National Party, which risks finding itself ‘in between two fires’ in forthcoming elections – those who sympathise with Catalonians and their struggle for self-determination, as opposed to those who advocate harsher measures by the central government.

Most importantly however – is that the development of the situation in Catalonia unavoidably impacts upon other, analogous contests in other European regions with identical problems – from Scotland to Belgium, from Ukraine to the Balkans. The ultimate prospect and possibility – and a decisive one – would be an escalation of problems in preserving a unified Bosnia and Herzegovina. It is not coincidental that supporters and opponents of the secession of Catalonia actively reflect upon the experience of the Balkans, and specifically Kosovo. Whilst advocates of Catalonian separatism invoke the Kosovo precedent, their opponents emphasise the problems that Europe currently faces due to advantages gained by Albanian separatists in Kosovo.

From this perspective, a characteristic argument is elaborated within the text of the leading Spanish journal El Pais. Such an approach does not frequently appear within the leading headlines of European information agencies – which makes this fact all the more characteristic. “Kosovo presents a huge failure, and that threefold”, suggests this authoritative publication and continues, “a failure of the international community, which, before a consensus was achieved regarding the key issue – which was the future of the inhabitants of Kosovo – engaged predominantly in geopolitical games and toyed with sovereignty. A failure of the Serbs, who in forgetting a past that was submerged in civil war and inter-ethnic conflict, gave faith to adventurists and criminals who promised a Greater Serbia and instead left them a country on the margins of Europe, with a loss of a segment of territory. A failure of the leadership of the Kosovo Albanians, who used independence to establish a governance system based on clans, corruption, and organised crime and wasted billions of aid money provided by the international community.”

In these assessments, the one sided depiction of the former leadership of the Serbs as “adventurists and criminals” is questionable, which is totally in accordance with the spirit of the western European and American mainstream. The remainder of assessments by the Spanish press however, is predominantly reliable. The focus of El Pais however, failed to mention the social-economic issues of contemporary Kosovo – in which 40% of inhabitants aspire to permanently leave the region. More serious considerations are reserved for the attention of the international community: “If the Kosovo experience carries any lessons, then that is that unilateral secessionist activity does not end well. In the absence of a solid grounding in international law and lacking explicit support of the international community, there will be many who will have an interest in its failure. This is precisely what occurred with Kosovo, which has not gained recognition from a diverse range of countries including Spain, China, Russia, Slovakia and Greece. They all regard Kosovo as an issue that has particular significance for them. In 2008, ten years after the war began in Yugoslavia, Kosovo declared independence. At this point, irrespective of the fact that it has been recognised by 111 countries, Kosovo is not a member of the UN, and did not even manage to gain membership of UNESCO, which represents a major centre of influence throughout the world. It would be advisable for this to be explained to the Kosovo authorities.”….. [http://elpais.com/elpais/2015/11/10/opinion/1447169107_444785.html]

The dramatic situation which has developed in Europe in the midst of its internal contradictions, demand of all countries of the continent a balanced and farsighted approach to decision making. In  that respect, this also includes Serbia and other countries of the Balkan region, that have grown accustomed to balancing their interests between east and west, Brussels and Moscow, the ‘right’ and the ‘left’. There is no doubt that Europe’s configuration will soon experience serious changes. Are the authorities of Serbia – who have in recent years attempted to conform to the Brussels trajectory, including with respect to the matter of Kosovo – prepared for this?

The translator’s comment [Viktor Milinkovic]:

The EU integration project consists of three principal objectives, 1. Political and economic centralisation, 2. Federalisation, 3. Regionalisation, in no particular order of priority. The end goal is the establishment of a ‘European Superstate’ which will secure the Western European component of NATO-bloc economic supremacy, plus political and military hegemony in the world, and as such, this agenda is – for Germany in particular – national interest priority no. 1. Consequentially, every political, economic, security , social, and cultural crisis to hit the EU over the past decade has been met with an attempt to advance one of these three objectives, whether it was ratification of an EU constitution, introducing a fiscal union, the formation of an EU military, or the non too subtle encouragement of regional separatism as in the Catalonian and Scottish case. The instability that this causes does not serve as a deterrent for further endeavours, any more than the instability instigated by Turkey in the Middle East deters it from its ultimate goal of a renewed Ottoman Empire in the form of a ‘Greater Turkestan.’ The ‘European Superstate’ agenda will likewise inevitably destabilise the European continent rather than unify it, but that will not deter its protagonists (for more detail, see Diana Johnstone’s book: Fools Crusade: Yugoslavia, NATO and Western Delusions, 2002, Pluto Press, 176-182, 193-197).

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