Cancer of separatism: from Karabakh to Catalonia

Cancer of separatism: from Karabakh to Catalonia

This week Catalonia took last step towards the collapse of united Spain by adopting a declaration on the independence following an illegal referendum. This decision was not supported by any country of the world, just like a separatist entity in the Azerbaijani lands wasn't recognized as a state at one time. International community once again condemned an attempt to violate territorial integrity of one of the UN states. This attempt is considered to be a threat to stability and security of the entire world.

Vestnik Kavkaza asked Russian experts on international relations about the reasons international community is concerned with separatist sentiments, both in Catalonia and Karabakh, and about double standards used by the West when it comes to such similar issues.

President of the National Strategy Institute, Mikhail Remizov, drew attention to the fact that all separatists of the world are concerned about the fate of Catalonia right now and they ready to use its experience for their own benefit. "A significant part of separatist or semi-separatist movements in Europe and around the world are looking at Catalonia with hope and support it. Naturally, sovereign states either condemned or simply distanced themselves from this situation," he said.

There are two reasons for that: first of all, problems, threats and risks associated with separatist movements exist in many states; second of all, right to self-determination can be used only when collective rights associated with national identity, national history, language policy and so on are violated," he stressed.

Catalonia's rights, just like the rights of Armenian community of Nagorno-Karabakh at one time, were not violated. "They have some disagreements when it comes to language and education policy, taxes, but at the same time, Catalonia has a fairly wide economic, administrative, cultural and linguistic autonomy," the expert noted.

In other words, if separatist regime doesn't plan to maintain good-neighborly relations with the state from which it wants to secede - which is more characteristic for Armenian community of Nagorno-Karabakh than for Catalans - there are no objective reasons for international community to recognize it as a sovereign state. However, in case of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict we can see the practice of double standards, associated with various interests of international players in the region.

"The Nagorno-Karabakh conflict is one of the most difficult issues for historical reasons. One of the reasons is that there is a certain balance of international forces standing behind Armenia and Azerbaijan, and it is unlikely that this balance will radically shift in favor of one of the sides. Both Russia and the United States can't make a choice in the current situation and support only one side in all matters," he believes.

A senior research fellow at the European Research Centre of the International Relations Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Vladimir Olenchenko, said that ideas of independence, advocated by separatists, are overwhelmingly emotional and not practical: "If we try to look at this situation from a practical standpoint, the things minority in Catalonia demands will put majority in a very difficult situation. Of course, most leaders, especially Germany, France and the European Commission, see this distant perspective and say that they don't need such independence."

However, the West doesn't respond to all cases of separatism the same way. "There is a Euro-Atlantic lobby, which supports America's leadership in the unified Western world. For example, in case of Kosovo Euro-Atlantic lobby acted in the interests of the US and definitely against the interests of Europe. The more stable and integrated the European community is, the more competitive it is, the greater its presence in the world market. America presence gets smaller and weaker because of that. That's why the issue of support or condemnation of separatist movements is always associated with economic and political components," he stressed.