LJP Youth: Trend of Secessionist Movements in Europe

Léa-Claire Tersou is part of a new initiative called LJP Youth. The LJP team has partnered with the Bilingual School of Marcq-en-Baroeul, a high school in Lille, France, to create a space for young, aspiring journalists to comment on the world around them. We hope you enjoy what they have to say. 

Winston Churchill once said, “we are asking the nations in Europe between whom rivers of blood have flowed to forget the feuds of a thousand years.” Is this idea still valid in Europe today, after it has been united by diplomacy and commerce in the European Union? Unfortunately, the answer is yes, although the feuds reach further than the separations and conflicts between countries to the deeply rooted separations within countries.

Anyone who has studied European history will agree that the idea of separation greatly defines the European mentality. The dismantling of Yugoslavia, Czechoslovakia, and Eastern and Western Germany, are only the most obvious examples of separatist movements that have occurred in the past century alone.

The issue of secessionism has arisen yet again with the recent conflict between Russia and Ukraine over Crimea. How can we expect to function as a union when the member nations all have significant internal divisions?

Perhaps it is my European upbringing that has made me accustomed to the idea of separation amongst and within countries. Now, reflecting on Europe from an international point of view, I realize that my continent is built on on shaky foundations, with all countries possessing regions of separatist dominance.

According to Business Insider, countries throughout Europe such as the Serbia, Belgium, Spain, and even France, suffer from internal divisions. The United Kingdom is probably the most popular example that comes to mind. The nation itself is divided into 7 seven different states, and most of them consider themselves to be completely different countries.

My Spanish upbringing – I was raised in France by Spanish parents – has given me the insight that the sense of belonging (in Spain at least) does not come from the country itself, but directly from the province in which you were born. These divisions in Spain have led to multiple separatist movements: Galicia, El Pais Vasco, and Cataluña are the most notable examples.

Politically, the Spanish parliament is chaotic, with dozens of small parties advocating for different provinces with completely different goals. The heads of the provinces themselves regard their personal interests above those of Spain. Even Franco saw Spain as “a nation of nations.” Taking the internal divisions in Spain as an example, it is easy to understand why there is an obvious lack of cooperation surrounding the idea of a united Europe.

Governing a divided country is difficult, especially with the apparition of terrorist groups advocating the secession of their state. In Spain, Euskadi Ta Askatasuna (ETA) occupies itself with the secession of the Pais Vasco, while IRA does the same for Northern Ireland. Not only that, but some political groups are also formed with the specific goal of nationalistic secession, such as the Partie Nationaliste Basque (PNV) in France, Corsica Libera in Corsica, The Partya Aştî û Demokrasiyê –The Peace and Democracy Party—in Turkey who offer Kurdistan or the Scottish National Party.

Centuries of conflict and competition, combined with a sense of growing nationalism and self determination, have created the crumbled Europe that today preaches unity. Yet, the same union that is labelled “European” is not formed by all European nations.

CPY Grey, a YouTube user who creates educational videos, in this video about the complicated workings of the European Union, raises questions about how united the EU really is. Economic factors both link and separate the nations of the EU, and nationalism prevents smooth relations inside the union. The European Union has brought certain countries closer together (France and Germany), while it isolated others (Switzerland and the UK, who refused to accept the currency).

Thus, as Europe attempts recover from a crippling economic crisis, the EU nations need to deal with strained diplomatic relations with each other and within themselves. As a young European, it is a mentality that I both condemn and understand. The ability to cooperate is essential, but culturally, the separations between the EU nations are what makes Europe unique.

Trackbacks

  1. […] Trend of secessionist movements in Europe. Anyone who has studied European history will agree that the idea of separation defines the modern European mentality. The dismantling of Yugoslavia, Czechoslovakia, and Eastern and Western Germany are only the most obvious examples of separatist movements that have occurred in the past century alone. The issue of secessionism has arisen yet again with the recent conflict between Russia and Ukraine over Crimea. How can we expect to function as a union when the member nations all have significant internal divisions? […]

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