Tag Archive | "Catalonia"

Forget Catalonia, Flanders Is the Real Test Case of EU Separatism!

Catalonia’s separatist campaign has dominated European headlines for the past couple of weeks, but it’s really the northern Belgian region of Flanders which will serve as a barometer over whether large chunks of the EU will fall apart into a collection of identity-centric statelets prior to the bloc’s reconstitution into a “federation of regions”.

What’s going on in Catalonia is of paramount importance to the geopolitical future of Europe, since it could very well serve as the catalyst for fracturing the EU if copycat movements elsewhere are emboldened by the Spanish region’s possible separatist success. This was explained in detail in the author’s recent analysis about “The Catalan Chain Reaction”, which readers should familiarize themselves with if they’re not already acquainted with the thesis put forth in that work. To concisely summarize, there’s a very distinct possibility that the EU’s liberal-globalist elite have been planning to divide and rule the continent along identity-based lines in order to further their ultimate goal of creating a “federation of regions”.

Catalonia is the spark that could set off this entire process, but it could also just be a flash in the pan that might end up being contained no matter what its final result may be. Flanders, however, is much different because of the heightened symbolism that Belgium holds in terms of EU identity, and the dissolution of this somewhat artificially created state would be the clearest sign yet that the EU’s ruling elite intend to take the bloc down the direction of manufactured fragmentation. Bearing this in mind, the spread of the “Catalan Chain Reaction” to Belgium and the inspiration that this could give to Flanders to break off from the rest of the country should be seen as the true barometer over whether or not the EU’s “nation-states” will disintegrate into a constellation of “Balkanized” ones.

The Netherlands during the Dutch Revolt, 1580

“The First Bosnia”

In order to properly understand the state of affairs at play, it’s necessary to briefly review the history of what could in some sense be described as “The First Bosnia”, or in other words, Europe’s “first artificially created state”. Most of the territory of what is nowadays referred to as Belgium was unified with the modern-day Netherlands from 1482-1581 when the political entity was referred to as the Habsburg Netherlands. The southern part (Belgium) came under Spanish control from 1581-1714 when it was called the Spanish Netherlands. Afterwards, it passed under Austrian administration from 1714-1797 when it became the Austrian Netherlands prior to its brief incorporation into the First French Republic and later Empire from 1797-1815. It was during the Spanish and Austrian eras that Belgium began to consider Catholicism as an inseparable part of its national identity in opposition to the Netherland’s Protestantism. Finally, Belgium was part of the United Kingdom of the Netherlands from 1815-1839 until the Belgian Revolution made it an independent state for the first time in its history.

In essence, what ended up happening is that a majority-Catholic but ethno-linguistically divided population got caught up in the 19th century’s wave of nationalism and created a hybrid Franco-Dutch state that would eventually federalize in the late-20th century, in a structural sense serving as a precursor to the dysfunctional Balkan creation of Bosnia almost a century and a half later.

It’s important to mention that the territory of what would eventually become Belgium had regularly been a battleground between the competing European powers of the Netherlands, the pre-unification German states, France, the UK, and even Spain and Austria during their control of this region, and this new country’s creation was widely considered by some to be nothing more than a buffer state. The 1830 London Conference between the UK, France, Prussia, Austria, and Russia saw the Great Power of the time recognize the fledgling entity as an independent actor, with Paris even militarily intervening to protecting it during Amsterdam’s failed “Ten Day’s Campaign” to reclaim its lost southern province in summer 1831. For as artificial of a political construction as Belgium was, it fared comparatively well during the 19th century as it leveraged its copious coal supplies and geostrategic position to rapidly industrialize and eventually become a genocidal African colonizer in the Congo. Although it was devastated in both World Wars, Belgium was able to bounce back in a relatively short period of time, partly because it could rely on its Congolese prison state.

In The Belly Of The Beast

Flash forward to the present, and the only thing that modern-day Belgium has in common with its past self is its internal divisions. The post-colonial aftermath of “losing the Congo” and shortly beforehand agreeing to host the capital of the European Union opened up previously nationalistic Belgium to liberal-globalist influence, which contributed to what would eventually become its utter domestic dysfunction in recent years. It wasn’t by chance that Brussels was chosen as the EU’s headquarters either, since its inherent weakness was thought to make it an ideal “compromise country” for establishing the bloc’s headquarters, as it would never become as powerful as France, for example, in potentially monopolizing the international organization’s agenda. Again, Belgium’s history as a buffer state/region came into relevant play in positioning it “in the belly of the beast” that’s nowadays reviled by all sorts of individuals across the continent.

The administrative disconnect between its northern region of Flanders and the southern one of Wallonia, as well as what would eventually become its multi-tiered federal, regional, and community structure, was exploited by the EU’s ideologically extreme elite to make the country the centerpiece of their “multicultural experiment”. After decades of facilitating mass migration from civilizationally dissimilar societies of the “Global South”, 5.9% of the country is Muslim while at least an astonishing 20% of Brussels follows Islam. Almost all of the capital’s Muslims are immigrants, mostly from Morocco and Turkey, which isn’t surprising considering that 70% of Brussels’ inhabitants are foreign-born. Unfortunately for the native locals, the “multicultural experiment” has failed miserably, and Belgium is now Europe’s jihadist leader in terms of the per capita number of fighters who have travelled abroad to join Daesh. All things considered, the “utopia” that the Belgians were promised by joining the EU and hosting its headquarters has turned into a dystopia, and the country now finds itself in the belly of the liberal-globalist beast.

It’s little wonder than that some of Belgium’s population wants to escape from the organization which is responsible for their socio-cultural and security challenges, ergo the Flemish independence movement which aims to see the country’s northern region become an independent state because of the lopsided demographic-economic advantage that it has over Wallonia. Flanders contributes four times as much to Belgium’s national economy as Catalonia does to Spain’s, being responsible for a whopping 80% of the country’s GDP as estimated by the European Commission, and it also accounts for roughly two-thirds of Belgium’s total population unlike Catalonia’s one-sixth or so. This means that Flemish independence would be absolutely disastrous for the people living in the remaining 55% of the “Belgian” rump state, which would for all intents and purposes constitute a de-facto, though unwillingly, independent Wallonia. Therefore, it’s important to forecast what could happen if Belgium ultimately implodes with Flanders’ possible secession.


Breaking The Buffer State

This section should appropriately be prefaced by emphasizing that there’s no guarantee that Flanders will actually secede from Belgium, or that it would be successful in holding an unconstitutional referendum such as the one that Catalonia did in attempting to “legitimize” its anti-state ambitions. Furthermore, the Belgian state or its EU superstate overseer might resort to force just as Madrid did in trying to prevent this region’s secession, so the reader shouldn’t take it for granted that Flanders will inevitably become an independent state. Having gotten the “disclaimer” out of the way, however, there’s a very real chance that the “Catalan Chain Reaction” will spread to the “belly of the beast” in catalyzing a similar separatist process in Flanders, hence why the author argued in the introduction that the outcome of such a reenergized post-Catalan movement in this region will be the best barometer in gauging whether the EU’s liberal-globalist elite do indeed plan to “Balkanize” the bloc into an array of regionally “federalized” identity-centric statelets.

Given the domestic and historical particularities of the Belgian case study, it appears likely that Flanders’ successful secession (however it ends up coming about) would lead to a narrow range of geopolitical outcomes for the Western European country. The first one is that Wallonia would be unable to function as a stand-alone “rump”/”independent” state given its measly 20% of unified Belgium’s GDP, its one-third of the previous population, and presumed dependency on Flanders’ port of Antwerp for most economic contact with the “outside world’ aside from France and Germany. For these reasons, it’s conceivable that the French-speaking region could be taken over by France just like how the famous French diplomat Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord originally envisioned in his unfulfilled eponymous “Talleyrand partition plan” that was first unveiled during the 1830 London Conference. As for Flanders itself, it could either attempt to remain an “independent” state or possibly confederate with the Netherlands, if there was any desire from both parties for this latter option.

Where things get tricky, however, is when it comes to the German-speaking community in eastern Wallonia, which might not want to become part of France. Also, for reasons of sensitive political-historical optics, they probably wouldn’t be able to join Germany because it would carry uncomfortably strong shadows of Hitler’s annexation of the Sudetenland during the pre-World World II dissolution of Czechoslovakia. Therefore, it’s likely that this sub-region would remain within Wallonia, which itself would probably become part of France, albeit with possible autonomy guaranteed to the German speakers that Paris would be “inheriting”. That said, this isn’t the trickiest part of any Belgian breakup, as the status of Brussels would definitely occupy center stage in this scenario. The EU would be inclined to see to it that its capital becomes an “independent” city-state on par with similarly sized Liechtenstein, though with a much higher and more dangerous Salafist demographic to contend with, one which could make it the “rightful” capital of “Eurabia” if civilizational-geopolitical trends continue in that direction.

Concluding Thoughts

The future of Flanders will be more of a harbinger of the EU’s administrative-political future than Catalonia’s will be, though the latter is indeed the trigger for sparking what might become the former’s emboldened separatist push. If the host country of the EU’s headquarters falls victim to the secessionist trend that might be poised to sweep across the bloc due to the “Catalan Chain Reaction”, then it would confidently indicate that the EU’s ruling liberal-globalist elite are determined to initiate the “controlled Balkanization” of the continent into a constellation of identity-centric statelets so as to ultimately satisfy their long-held goal of implementing a “federation of regions. There is no place in Europe more symbolically significant than Belgium, and especially its jihadist dystopian capital of Brussels, so if the European power structures “allow” Flanders to separate from “the First Bosnia”, then it’s all but certain that the rest of the bloc will feel the geopolitical reverberations within their own borders sooner than later.

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EU Expects Trouble Coming From Catalonia


EU Expects Trouble Coming From Catalonia, But Real Danger Comes From The Balkans

Adelina Marini

The EU is watching with some concern the developments of the situation in Spain, created by the desire of Catalonia to declare independence, as it could shake the Union in two separate directions – economic and political. A possible secession of the rich Spanish province could cause serious quakes in the Spanish economy, which underwent tough reforms and managed to emerge from the crisis without having to implement a rescue program like Greece, Ireland or Portugal. Possible economic shocks in the fourth largest economy in the euro area could seriously damage the economic performance of the area itself, which is now almost fully recovered from the severe debt and financial crisis. Even Greece is about to come out of its bailout program, thus closing this troublesome chapter in the history of the common currency.

Such a scenario in Spain could also prove a serious obstacle to the euro area plans about starting a new wave of integration deepening for which the moment is ripe, everything is ready, and they are only waiting for the formation of a government in Germany. A separation of Catalonia may delay this process as it could trigger a political crisis in Madrid. Under such circumstances, Spain will not be able to agree on anything until it straightens out the situation at home.

Although the Spanish drama can have an impact on the EU and especially on the euro area, the biggest problem is the echo of Catalonia in Serbia. A problem that Brussels could easily underestimate, which would cost it dearly. As soon as the clashes between Spanish law enforcement and ordinary Catalans, who wanted to vote in the illegal referendum, began everyone closely following the situation in the Balkans started seeing analogies with the former Yugoslavia, especially with Kosovo. The European Commission hastened to point out that there is no room for comparison between the two cases, the least of the reasons being that Spain is part of the EU and Serbia is not. The context is also different.

Belgrade, however, is of a different opinion, and this is a big problem for the EU, because the normalisation of relations with Kosovo is part of Serbia’s EU membership negotiation process. An entire chapter is devoted to this normalisation, Chapter 35, which will be closed under the same principle as chapters 23 and 24, which cover the rule of law and democracy as a whole, meaning last, when it is certain that the process is irreversible. Reactions coming from the government in Serbia suggest, however, that EU Enlargement Negotiations Commissioner Johannes Hahn (Austria, EPP) and EU High Representative for Foreign Policy and Security Federica Mogherini (Italy, Socialists and Democrats), who mediates in the dialogue between Belgrade and Priština, are facing a great challenge.

To President Aleksandar Vučić – former minister in the Slobodan Milošević government during the wars that accompanied the collapse of former Yugoslavia – the „Catalonia” case is a good time to legitimise the replacement of history that has been going on in Serbia in recent years, ever since his party came to power in coalition with the Socialists of Ivica Dačić, a former spokesman for Slobodan Milošević. Moreover, Aleksandar Vučić will seek to get rid of Chapter 35, which is the biggest obstacle to Serbia’s accession to the EU because its closure would mean such a solution to Kosovo’s status which is as close as possible to recognising it. This will, however, fail to solve the problem either, as there are five countries in the EU that do not recognise the independence of Kosovo, and Spain is one of them.

Aleksandar Vučić has written a letter to Brussels institutions, Serbian media report, directly asking the question of how is it that the request for the independence of Catalonia is illegal, whereas at the same time the Kosovo case is legal. According to Vučić, the EU is showing double standards. The letter has not yet been sent to Brussels, and it is unlikely to happen on 10 October when Prime Minister Ana Brnabić will appear before the European Parliament for a hearing. With such a letter, however, Aleksandar Vučić is actually throwing a gauntlet at the EU, that will place the negotiation process with Serbia in the freezer, for the Serbian president seems to have forgotten why Kosovo declared independence and why it was recognised by the international community. This happened after Slobodan Milošević started an ethnic cleansing in Kosovo, which led to a NATO intervention.

After that, Kosovo’s independence has been a logical step, taken after many years of seeking an international solution. Catalonia is very far from such a scenario and, in the 21st century, it can hardly be assumed that it will come to that, especially when we are talking about an EU member state. There are two problems facing the Union – one is how to preserve the geopolitical balance in the Western Balkans for which Serbia is strategically important, and the other one is moral – keeping a blind eye to the current substitution of facts in Serbia’s newest history would be the greatest treason to the Union itself, which was built over the ruins of the Second World War after achieving clear awareness and recognition of the reasons that led to the bloodiest event of 20th-century Europe.

The Serbian government categorically refuses to recognise the crimes of the Milošević regime. Moreover, it does not even try to hide its sympathies for this regime anymore. This is a serious obstacle to reconciliation in the region, where relations between almost all countries have never been worse since the end of the war. Frequent provocations, verbal shoot-outs, tinkering with sensitive war issues, and changing facts happen every day, especially along the Belgrade-Zagreb axis. Serbia’s role as a conductor of Russian geopolitics should also not be ignored.

Belgrade’s refusal to align its foreign policy regarding Russia with that of the Union is more than indicative of the fact that Serbia is on the European path in words only. Government actions in recent months have shown that work is being done in the exact opposite direction. In the summer, Vučić announced the start of a national dialogue on Kosovo, which was completely misinterpreted in Europe as a clear European self-definition of Serbia. The way this dialogue is developing and the signals coming from the government show that it is actually a mobilisation of nationalism in Serbian society.

During a quadrilateral meeting in Bulgaria between the leaders of Greece, Romania, Serbia, and Bulgaria, Aleksandar Vučić said the „Catalonia” case is currently the biggest problem for Serbs – not poverty, unemployment, brain drain, corruption, lack of media freedom and the rule of law, but the fact that Brussels considers the Catalonia case to be illegal and the Kosovo one legal. The reaction (or the lack of one, rather) of Bulgaria’s Prime Minister Boyko Borisov, whose country will be taking over the rotating presidency of the Council on January 1 and has set the accelerated integration of the Western Balkan countries as its top priority, should have come as a surprise for Brussels. Borissov did not respond to Vučić’s speech at all, which means that he is not prepared for this extremely difficult and sensitive topic. The question, however, is whether the EU itself is.


Another major challenge for the region, as well as undoubtedly a provocation, is the forthcoming publication of the declaration on the survival of the Serbs by the presidents of Serbia and the Serbian entity in Bosnia and Herzegovina – Aleksandar Vučić and Milorad Dodik. So, it might be a good idea that Brussels watches out so it is not surprised from behind, while looking at Madrid and Barcelona. The great danger once again comes from the Balkans. Serbia expects to open at least five negotiating chapters by the end of the year. The EU should very carefully consider how to approach this, because each opening of a new chapter is a legitimisation of the policy of Vučić, named “the new Slobo” by local observers. The EU underestimated Putin, underestimated Erdoğan, underestimated Orbán and Borisov on the home stage, and is now about to do the same with Vučić.

Translated by Stanimir Stoev

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Catalonia: EPP’s Bad Boys

Adelina Marini

Photos from Catalonia where the Spanish authorities used excessive force against those willing to participate in an illegal referendum in the autonomous Spanish province caused justified reactions of indignation that such a thing is possible in the European Union. Even more revolting was the silence of the European political elite, with the notable exception of Slovenia Prime Minister Miro Cerar (ALDE), Belgium’s Charles Michel (ALDE), the ALDE group leader in the European Parliament Guy Verhofstadt (Belgium) and the leader of the Socialists and Democrats group Gianni Pittella (Italy). In this company was also Lithuania’s Foreign Minister Linas Linkevicius. All of them denounced the violence and urged for political dialogue and finding a peaceful solution to the situation. The group of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament demanded the issue to be included on the agenda of the plenary session, which started in Strasbourg on Monday, but by the time this article was finished it had not yet been included (later it was added and will take place on Wednesday afternoon).

The European Commission, whose President Jean-Claude Juncker (Luxembourg) was nominated by the European People’s party, reacted a day later with a special statement which, however, spokesman Margaritis Schinas read out only after he was asked a question by a journalist. The statement is bursting of balance along the seams. In it, it s firmly stated that the developments in Spain are an internal matter which has to be resolved in line with the constitutional order of the country. All participants are called upon to switch urgently to dialogue. “Violence can never be an instrument in politics“, the statement reads, but in the same time the Commission states it fully trusts the Spanish prime minister. “We trust the leadership of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy to manage this difficult process in full respect of the Spanish Constitution and of the fundamental rights of citizens enshrined therein“.

The European People’s Party itself, of which Mariano Rajoy’s Popular Party is a member, did not mention a single word on the occasion of the events on Sunday, when more than 800 people were injured. During the clashes against each other stood Spanish policemen and Catalan firefighters. The photos of covered with blood faces of elderly women and men circulated the social networks but even that failed to take the EPP out of their silence. This is another black spot on the image of the largest political family in Europe of a series accumulated by their own “naughty” members and their leaders.

Orban – the Illiberal and anti-European

Most famous among them is Hungary Prime Minister Viktor Orban, leader of the Fidesz party. His anti-migration policy, full of violence and disrespect for fundamental human rights, for years has been poisoning the atmosphere in the Union in addition to his decision to reject liberal democracy and start building an illiberal regime, including media repressions and the opening of numerous infringement procedures by the European Commission. All this was left unnoticed by the EPP leadership, despite the many debates in the European Parliament and beyond. Patience seemed to be over this year, but not sufficiently, when Orban went too far by sending a public questionnaire to Hungarian citizens asking them whether Brussels is overstepping its powers, titled “Let’s stop Brussels!”.

The EPP then gave its consent the European Commission to use its entire arsenal against Mr Orban in order to bring Hungary back into the democratic flock. However, EPP did not go as far as to call on the Commission to launch the rule of law procedure against Hungary following the example with Poland, which could end with the triggering of Article 7 of the Treaty of the EU which suspends voting rights in the Council. Undisturbed, in the mean time Orban continued with his scandalising actions. He recently launched another campaign, funded with taxpayers’ money, against the globally renown philanthropist of Hungarian origin George Soros. Currently ongoing is another questionnaire asking for or against the “Soros Plan”, which could be awarded the non-existent prize for best conspiracy theory.

The propaganda of the past years, financed with taxpayers’ money, is already delivering. Last week, in a little village in Hungary’s southwest, local citizens rebelled against the plans of a local businessman, supported by the mayor, to accommodate children of refugees in a summer house in the village. The plan was for a vacation of several days of mainly women and children. After learning about it the locals organised an urgent meeting, during which a severe conflict erupted, which led to the mayor resigning after having governed for 11 years.

The owner of the summer house said he was unable to take the floor in the storm of shouts, among which it could be clearly heard that the refugees are not people, that they are animals, terrorists who are coming to blow people up and rape children. Several days later, Prime Minister Viktor Orban supported the rebellious villagers saying that Hungarians have been lied to many timed before, so it is normal local citizens to be worried. In the same time, Hungarian journalists expressed concern that this might lead to a civil war.

The presidency of a captured state

For years, the European public domain has been dominated by the problems with Hungary and Poland, whereas Bulgaria was passing through quite successfully unnoticed, although the anti-democratic and anti-European track record of Prime Minister Boyko Borissov and his party GERB (an EPP member) is not smaller than that of Viktor Orban’s and is even worse. Borissov is a prime minister for a third time and during his governance not only the situation with the rule of law has not improved but the little progress, achieved before with a lot of pain, was erased too. The European Commission progress reports under the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism are eloquent enough and do not save criticism for the lack of adequate measures and political will.

The recent election of members of the Supreme Judicial Council is another vivid example of how many things are not right in the country which will on January 1st take over the Council’s rotating presidency at a time when the EU has finally matured for the conclusion that the rule of law is a

fundamental priority for the Union, as this year’s state of the Union address of President Juncker makes perfectly clear.

Not only there is no progress in the fight against corruption, organised crime and the installation of rule of law, but Boyko Borissov’s party is in bed with xenophobic and pro-Kremlin parties. In Bulgaria can be heard absolutely the same anti-migration propaganda which feeds aggressive moods against refugees, who in Bulgaria are quite a few. The media situation in Bulgaria is not any different than in Serbia, which is at the very beginning of its EU accession process. Regarding relations with Russia, Bulgaria also resembles very much Serbia. The lack of adequate opposition in the Bulgarian parliament and of independent bodies that exert control and demand accountability of the government is speaking volumes, but obviously not loud enough to reach the ears of the EPP. From an image point of view, the Bulgarian presidency will have a negative effect on EU.

EPP’s Bad Boys in the Western Balkans

The actions of Boyko Borissov and Viktor Orban are a childish game compared to the leaders of EPP sister parties in countries in the Western Balkans, Macedonia and Serbia in particular. In Macedonia, VMRO-DPMNE has in 10 years made of Macedonia – one of the most prepared candidates in 2005 – a captured state. Under the leadership of former prime minister Nikola Gruevski, media freedom and expression were suffocated, institutions were deprived of their independence which led to a severe political crisis that forced EU’s involvement. That EPP member’s thirst for power was so huge that it was ready to risk even an ethnic conflict. Nothing of this, however, persuaded the EPP to stop supporting Nikola Gruevski and his party VMRO-DPMNE, which is still an obstacle on Macedonia’s EU path.

Last year, the EPP welcomed among its members Serbia President Aleksandar Vucic’s party, despite his many sins both in Serbia and in the regional. During the five years rule of the former information minister in Slobodan Milosevic’s government and his party Serbian Progressive Party (SNS) media freedom was suppressed, tabloid wars were launched against his opponents and the little independence institutions had before was undermined. Aleksandar Vucic’s Serbia is tangibly farther from the rule of law and democracy than before. Very dangerous for the stability of the region though are his actions aimed at neighbouring countries and his close cooperation with Russia.

At the moment, Serbia has tense relations with all its neighbours and in the spring there was a serious escalation with Kosovo which scared a lot of people in the region and beyond. The situation is now calmer and there is even optimism that a page has been turned. This sounds too good to be true. In November, it is expected Aleksandar Vucic and his man in the Serbian entity of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Milorad Dodik, to publish a declaration on the survival of the Serbs. This, however, does not prevent the European Commission and its commissioner for enlargement negotiations Johannes Hahn (Austria, EPP) to open new negotiating chapters.

Catalonia is not Kosovo

Clashes in Catalonia very much reminded the attempts of former Yugoslav republics to leave Yugoslavia, some of which ended with the bloodiest wars in Europe after World War II. Most striking, however, are the similarities between Kosovo and Catalonia as both are territories enjoying solid autonomies, different culture and language (Kosovo has been independent state since 2008). In both provinces the desire for independence was boosted by inadequate policies by the central authority. In fact, precisely because of the analogy with Kosovo Spain is one of the five EU member states that have not yet recognised the independence of the former Serbian province. European Commission spokesman Margaritis Schinas said on Monday on this occasion that the difference between Spain and Serbia in this case is that Spain is an EU member.

Of course, putting Mariano Rajoy and his Popular party in the same club with the EPP’s bad boys is not deserved because the violence used on Sunday in Catalonia is incomparable to what Milosevic was doing in Kosovo, neither much common ground can be found between Mr Rajoy’s governance and that of Mr Orban or Mr Borissov. Nevertheless, the use of disproportionate force is absolutely unacceptable in the European Union which has proved itself through the years as the ultimate master of finding compromises and solutions to even the most intricate situations. In the Catalan case, the EPP is not the only party whose image is suffering. Catalonia President Carles Puigdemont is leader of the Catalan European Democratic Party, which is a member of ALDE and is defined as nationalistic and separatist.

But the Liberals are way ahead of the EPP for several reasons. First and foremost, as can be seen in the beginning of this text, the very few European reactions came mainly from Liberals. And if Slovenia did condemn the violence in Catalonia because of its memories of its short war to break up with Yugoslavia, the reaction of Belgium Prime Minister Charles Michel is indicative. Belgium is a country which, too, is known for strong separatist moods and the governing coalition is formed with the Flemish nationalists and separatists from the New Flemish Alliance. Guy Verhofstadt, leader of the ALDE group in the European Parliament, is a former premier of Belgium and is also very well acquainted with the separatist risks in his homeland.

In a special statement on the occasion of the violence in Catalonia, Guy Verhofstadt said that the only solution is negotiations. He condemned both sides – the separatists (meaning his own) for deciding the organise the referendum despite that it was banned by the Constitutional court, and the government for resorting to disproportionate force.

Macron’s challenge

It may seem that the end is near for the long domination of the European political parties unless they offer a change. The EPP leader in the European Parliament, Manfred Weber (Germany), was among the first to pronounce the end of destructive populism and Euroscepticism after the election in France, won by Emmanuel Macron and his young movement En Marche!, which was only a year old then. Although Mr Macron is quite close to the traditional parties in the EU, he is in fact an anti-systemic player. His movement is not a member of any of the European political families and has no intentions to be. In his powerful European speech last week, he threw the gauntlet to the big parties saying that he would not allow them to hold monopoly over the debate on Europe’s future.

As euinsidewrote, this could have a strong impact on the Spitzenkandidaten procedure, in which the European political parties nominate their own candidates for the presidency of the European Commission. It is thanks to this procedure that Jean-Claude Juncker became president after the EPP again ended up as the most powerful party in the 2014 European elections. In his statements so far, the French president made it abundantly clear that he is completely aware of the frustration of citizens with the political elites. The omnivorousness of the European political parties and their eye-closing for serious sins of sister parties could be nearing the end because Emmanuel Macron showed an ambition for the next elections the European democracy to be significantly enhanced through creating a trans-European list for a certain number of EP seats.

A factor of change could also be the Commission proposal of 13 September this year to amend the regulation on European political parties and foundations. The proposal is a result of the bitter experience with the Eurosceptic and populist parties. The idea is to close all loopholes for abuse with taxpayers’ money, suspending funding of parties which work against the EU. Undoubtedly, with their actions Viktor Orban and Boyko Borissov are in this category. Aleksandar Vucic and Nikola Gruevski too, but as their countries are not EU members the situation there is different when it comes to funding. By 2019, when the next elections for European Parliament will take place, there is less than two years time left, during which the European political families have to reconsider their role in defending the European project, founded on democracy, rule of law and respect for fundamental rights. If they do not do it, they will be wiped out by a Macronian tsunami.

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The World Must Stand With Catalonia

  • Esteladas (Catalan separatist flags) are waved as thousands of people gather for a rally on Catalonia
    Esteladas (Catalan separatist flags) are waved as thousands of people gather for a rally on Catalonia’s national day ‘La Diada’ in Barcelona, Spain. | Photo: Reuters.
In the face of Spanish authoritarianism, Catalonia deserves our solidarity and support.

Sunday’s Catalan independence referendum delivered a landslide victory to supporters of Catalonia’s self-determination, with some 90 percent voting in favor of secession from Spain. Having been denied a spurious legitimacy by the Spanish constitutional court, which declared the vote illegal, democracy in Catalonia has instead found validation through the enactment of history by its people.

RELATED: Serbia Accuses EU of Hypocrisy Over Catalan Independence

History, stretching back to the 1930s, also colored the authoritarian response of the right-wing and comically corrupt government of Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy. Rubber bullets and batons greeted peaceful civilians who sought to participate in a plebiscite which, Rajoy subsequently claimed, simply never happened.

Spain, a multinational state whose pantomime act as a unitary nation offends many and convinces few, has written its oblique suicide note in the blood of democrats. A government which considers itself the ultimate arbiter of constitutional verity has itself faced judgement from those it sought to disenfranchise. As it lurches from panicked self-preservation to hateful retaliation, the wider world cannot turn away.

In naïve quarters, much shock has been expressed that this is happening in a Western and ostensibly “liberal” democracy, where such ugliness is not meant to transpire. Those nations which have suffered from the historical legacies of European colonialism, from the enforced reality of globalised capitalism, and whose roots lie in the hard-fought achievement of self-determination, are not so sheltered.

Responding to the violence encountered by defiant Catalan democracy, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro did not equivocate: “Mariano Rajoy has chosen blood, sticks, blows, and repression against a noble people. Our hand goes out to the people of Catalonia. Resist, Catalonia! Latin America admires you.”

Given the controversies that have surrounded Venezuela’s efforts towards participatory democracy and constitutional reform, the contrast is striking. In Catalonia, we have seen an authoritarianism fuelled not by any attempted rewriting of the constitution, but in a fanatical adherence to its strictures, regardless of how unjust the consequences. The Spanish Government have sought national unity over moral dignity, and have lost both as a result.

Shamefully, others have been less forthright in their condemnations. Those who qualify reactions to oppression and violence with a disingenuous and unnuanced suspicion of nationalism are as useless as they are willfully deluded. Those features which socialists have historically feared from nationalist movements – irrationality and exceptionalism, conservatism and chauvinism, brutality and blood – were not embodied by those in Catalonia who marched, voted, and stood where others demanded they kneel.

Instead, the ghost of Franco found expression in the actions of a Spanish government that never fully exorcised him or the Falangist instincts he instilled. To watch unarmed civilians beaten by state-sanctioned paramilitary thugs and then argue that both sides share responsibility – that legality, however perverse, trumps justice – is to offer excuses for a fascism resurgent.

It has already become commonplace for hand-wringing commentators, wedded to the status quo and suspicious of change they cannot comprehend, to argue that Spain has reacted in its own worst interests; that instead of imposing a monstrous crackdown upon an as-yet-stateless nation, Spain’s defenders should have made a “positive” case for Catalonia to remain.

RELATED: Catalonia’s President Condemns Spain’s King For ‘Deliberately Ignoring Millions of Catalans’

Yet when the first choice of the Spanish government is a policy of inhumanity, redolent with memories of Catalonia’s historical suffering, who could make such a case in good faith? Who could claim it even exists?

Elsewhere, others have found their own struggles reflected in the Catalan experience, and in consequence possess more informed perspectives. From my home in Edinburgh, I have seen supporters of Scottish independence take up the cause of Catalonia with a passion that been matched by their Irish and Basque counterparts, much to the bafflement of their many enemies.

The opponents of left-wing nationalism, when they have the rare decency to acknowledge that it exists, have no answer for the long-standing solidarity that exists between insurgent nations reaching for liberation in the 21st Century. If nationalist struggles are petty and insular, if they can never provide a vehicle for emancipatory struggle – as their critics would have us believe – from where does this internationalist solidarity originate?

One could argue it begins with a recognition that national sovereignty without international solidarity is untenable; that statehood and self-determination are means towards further political and economic emancipations, their potential limits yet undefined; that goodwill and mutual support between comparable national struggles are the only means by which a counter-hegemonic opposition to globalized capitalism can be built.

Those who doubt the radical potential of a sovereigntist movement should consider that Catalonia is, at the time of writing, conducting a General Strike, the scope and efficacy of which is beyond all but the wildest aspirations of most Western leftists and trade unionists.

Meanwhile, the anti-indepentista milquetoasts of the wider Spanish left plead for a vague federalist solution and reform of a constitution that was, in the words of the Catalan Marxist Pau Llonch, “founded on three pillars: capitalism as a mode of production, the monarchy, and the denial of self–determination.” What guarantees does such a nebulous solution offer the Catalan people that independence does not?

RELATED: Barcelona Mayor: Police Sexually Abused Protesters in Catalan Referendum

The people of Catalonia have already been failed. The shame of that failure extends beyond Spanish borders. The British Government, never especially troubled by expressions of atrocity amongst its allies, stands by Spain, unwilling to disavow the state whose hair-trigger belligerence British unionists have too often employed to intimidate the U.K.’s own troublesome secessionists. The EU, once again retreating from any virtue embodied by the European ideal, have declared that they trust the leadership of Rajoy to negotiate the crisis. They did not elaborate on how, exactly, such trust had been earned.

Bereft of support from such quarters, there can be no underestimating the importance of solidarity to Catalonia, the future of which remains unknown and fraught with dangers. Yet solidarity is only effective if it exists in moments of both victory and darkness. Catalonia has experienced both. It demands an extraordinary response, and that is what must be provided.

On September 16, before a crowd of 32,000, the Catalan singer, composer and parliamentarian Lluis Llach’s famous anti-Francoist song was sung in Bilbao in the defence of the independence referendum. “If I pull hard this way and you pull hard that way,” the crowd sang, “it will surely fall, fall, fall – and we can liberate ourselves.”

Catalonia has pulled hard. It is up to the rest of the world to match their efforts.

Sean Bell is a Scots-Irish-Armenian journalist and a reporter for the Scottish grassroots news organisation CommonSpace. His journalism has appeared in the Herald, the Sunday Herald, the National and Jacobin magazine.


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