Catalonia taking flight

Anna van Densky, OPINION. While the entire world watched events at Iberian peninsula, the president of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker  looked at stars, visiting Kourou space centre in French Guiana – spaceport of France, shared with European Space Agency (ESA) for launch of Ariane6  in 2020 project.  Contemplating stars and accepting fate at a moment of birth of a new state in Europe, most probably, is the best thing to do, when there is no power to reverse events: following Brexit, one of the richest EU regions of the Mediterranean – Catalonia, has floated away.

While Madrid is obsessed with the direct rule over breakaway region, Barcelona is celebrating freedom of  Catalan Republic, waiting for recognition to come.  Although president of European Parliament Antonio Tajani ensured “no EU member state will recognize the independence of Catalonia,” the reality indicates otherwise:  politicians, feeling huge sympathy of public towards Catalonia, started to express their support:

Next to Slovenia, Finnish parliament is going to debate on the issue the next week:

On the other side of the world, Argentina will debate whether or not Catalonia is recognized, while Venezuela has always been on the side of the Catalans. The first signs of recognition will inspire the following, allowing Catalan Republic to breath freely, brushing away the threats from Madrid.

Appointing his deputy as a governor of Catalonia, Prime minister Rajoy is clearly uninterested in Czech-style ‘velvet divorce’, but attempts keeping the rich region under control by means of repressions. Punishing Catalans might be also seductive for the EU political forces at power, presuming that Barcelona sets a bad example for the other multiethnic states in the EU, encouraging them to search for independence, scattering Europe in micro-states. From the other hand there might be those who like the idea, for example, the federalists, who don’t mind Europe of micro federal states, run from Brussels.

The fears of ‘cracks’ in Europe are not caused by Catalonia, the tectonic ‘seismic’ effect came from collapse of the USSR, changing map of Europe, and opening space for new independent states, each of unique pattern, dependent of geography, infrastructure, history and culture.

Some of the new European states are stuck by misfortune, trapped in absurd of political prejudice, like Macedonia, blocked from joining the EU by neighbouring Greece in a name dispute. There are also positive examples, like Czechs and Slovaks, who had improved relations and economic ties after splitting up. However Catalonia, with it highly developed infrastructure, and a long coastline, with Barcelona among top 20 EU ports, does not need to search for a pattern to follow among any of existing models of new European states, it has all necessary elements to develop it own unique way.

Regarding the negative attitude of #Rajoy government towards Catalan independence, it does not make much sense to try to re-enter EU, where Spain would do its best to prevent Catalans to join. Pulling down EU flags along with the Spanish ones confirmed Catalans have no illusions about their possible future in EU27 bloc.

Aware of the EU deadend, Catalans are looking another direction, as the leaked vice-President Oriol Junqueras report suggests, visualising joining  EFTA common market with Iceland, Switzerland Norway and Liechtenstein.

Within this perspective, next to Brexit, Catalan departure from the EU is second blow to the image, and even more so for the budget of the bloc.

When stars are fading away from the EU flag, thinking about travelling through space to stars with Ariane6 is truly comforting idea:  per aspera ad astra!

 

 

 

 

 

Catalonia in limbo

Anna van Densky, OPINION  The indecisiveness of the Catalan leadership, and seemingly endless diplomatic maneuvering of Carles Puigdemont opened a broad way to Mariano Rajoy government to launch an offensive. Rajoy has an advantage over Catalans – he is clear, but his opponent are not. If in the aftermath of the referendum the sympathies of the international community to freedom-aspiring Catalans were high, the following confusion about status declaration, and  a step back  in suspension took away large portion of this sentiment, drowning in doubt over region’s clarity of vision for its future. What do Catalans want?..

One can not spend month marching in the streets, waving flags, expressing will to become free, without considerable damages to economy, scaring business away with instability,  and in this regard Rajoy’s intention to go back to blacks restoring calm is understandable in essence, although unacceptable in form from a democratic perspective – restoring order by military means is at odds with so often proclaimed “EU values.”

However today Rajoy’s government is winning grounds, while Catalans losing, because of a protracted ‘limbo’  situation Catalan leaders have chosen for. Economic interests of majority of Europeans prevail over Catalan ideals of freedom, hovering high, but unable to materialize.

Carles Puigdemont received power from Catalans, but lost it in vain attempting to settle the argument with Madrid in ‘European” style of “velvet” revolutions – poor judgement of application of examples of other cultures within the Spanish context of post-Franco era. Too much time wasted on an illusion awaiting a ‘dialogue’, allowing Madrid diplomacy to advance…

Great Spanish protagonist Don Quixote tries to bring justice to the world, revive chivalry high ideals, but is doomed, when confronted with the realities of life. Classics are great due to their universal dimension – apparently there are also Don Quixotes in Catalonia nowadays. We sympathize with them, we feel compassionate towards them, but we don’t understand them: the moment we think we do, Catalan Don Quixotes surprise us, contradicting our premise.

 

 

#Catalonia: Madrid bankruptcy and EU27 insolvency

Anna van Densky, OPINION. The failure of Mariano Rajoy government to manage the political crisis in Catalonia, demonstrates the absence of real arguments to convince Catalans to stay in Kingdom of Spain, if  they had valuable reasons, we would have heard about them, and there would be no need to break fingers of voters to prevent them from dropping a ballot. It is time to admit: ‘The King is naked!’.

The UK government had a lot to offer to Scotland, so they were not afraid of a comprehensive discussion pointing at advantages for staying together. The Scottish referendum was a genuine democratic exercise of respect of right to self-determination. As a result the reason won over emotions, and seductive illusions.

On contrary, Madrid has no other arguments than to refer to the ‘law’, the Spanish politicians don’t want to change, and Constitution as if carved in stone. No one viable cultural or economic reason articulated, because they would be a pitfall of Spain: Catalonia has surpassed in all fields, and does not need to bow to Rajoy to ensure high living standards of their people, but it is Spain to lose the richest region of the Kingdom.

However those, who think about economy as a driving force of Catalan independence movement, are wrong, because it is strong national identity, that clashes with the Spanish dogma of superiority on grounds of historic ‘lineage’. It has been a long time, that Barcelona became a star among planet’s most prolific cities – one of the top 10 most visited tourist destinations in the world. The opulent cultural past and present converted Catalonia into a magnet for the artists, and Mecca of the art-pilgrims. But also students, attracted to Barcelona universities, and international schools, with UB as the leading education body of the country. In short, it is in realm of ideal that Catalans have taken the lead.

The  achievements of Catalans required a different kind of framework with Madrid, Spanish political class was reluctant to grant, responding with a riot police, leading to Rajoy’s  moral bankruptcy. The was hardly any newspaper’s front page in the world, without condemning decision to use force against peaceful Catalan plebiscite. The public opinion condemned Rajoy’s government choice of violence, but not the EU, referring to the issue as an internal matter of Spain. The failure of protection of Catalans as EU citizens, which is ‘legally’ central to the bloc, enshrined in all Treaties, means EU insolvency in issues of human rights. This betrayal of Catalan people by Brussels, opens the door to leave the EU without a regret.

By any means the in #EU27 Catalans will be donors, but not recipients, sharing their wealth with new member-states, the perspective which could be regarded in the framework of respect and recognition of Catalonia’s achievements, but not keeping them as subordinate second class citizens, risking to get their heads crushed if raising them. Ignoring the injustice, committed towards Catalans, the EU is a insolvent as a ‘Union of values’, applied selectively, and inconsistently. Praising  Kosovo ‘sui generis’, and Kiev’s Maidan revolution right to sculpture history, the EU suddenly switched to the ‘rule of law’ repertoire for Catalans when it suited its goals.

The hard work of Spanish police batons did it’s job, winning millions of friends of Catalonia all over the globe. There is no reason to fear unknown future, with Spanish banks leaving Barcelona in haste – there will be many of those eager to occupy the liberated spaces. Catalans won in people’s hearts, and there is no need to waste time  looking for fairness from the EU apparatchiks, because they are people who create history, not political chameleons in Brussels. #ViscaCatalunyaLliure!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Florence speech as Renaissance Fata Morgana

Anna van Densky, OPINION

Public speeches of politicians are not confessions,
even less can they be compared to an experience on
a couch of a psychoanalyst, and Britons can only hope
that the Florence speech of PM Theresa May
was a public relations moment, and not a roadmap
for #Brexit.
Even at first glance once can notice that the aims
of president of the EU executive body – European Commission –
Jean-Claude Juncker are opposite to May’s wish to achieve ‘Renaissance’
in a framework of a renewed partnership between
the UK and the reduced to 27 members bloc.

In his September state of the Union speech Juncker clearly
formulated the goals: a full-forward to the United States of Europe,
with mentioning Brexit in a sinister wow the UK would “regret” the
decision to leave the bloc soon. The intention to enshrine Brexit
as a negative example forever has been the only concept circulating
in Brussels corridors of power, where the EU diplomats
in ‘confidential’ talks would hint on only possible future
of London, and it was not a splendor of Florence,

but as declining Venice (or fall of Venice)Venice decline the inevitable poor fate of the rebellious  against Brussels bureaucracy Britons.

May’s calls for Renaissance are also utopia because of the United Kingdom
post-Brexit prosperity will set a precedent and give an example to many others, namely the old members of the EU to leave the block, reestablishing sovereignty – the ‘heresy’ leading to collapse of the United States of Europe project.

Certainly, the proposal to pay fee beyond Brexit May made is attractive
to the EU federal state architects, however it does not exclude
their profound concern with the post-Brexit success of the Leavers.
The best scenario for the EU would be to continue to accept the UK fee,
and diminish its political influence, meanwhile imposing ‘four freedoms’ dogma.
So Britons would obey Brussels, pay for the construction of the EU superstate, preserving de facto four freedoms, including the reception of migrants,
but without a political presentation in the EU intuitions.

A “wonderful woman” as president Trump rightfully characterised May for her many virtues,  has been already once lured into a trap by president Juncker, reportedly
convincing her to declare the snap elections she lost.
Calls for Renaissance in relentless search for compromise to satisfy the EU quenching thirst for power and finance, will certainly please Brussels,
happy to find in May a Remainer leading Brexit.
But do Britons need a head of government, bowing to Brussels in Brexit talks?

Henry VIII

Imagine Henry VIII proposing to Pope:
‘Look, we don’t believe you are an apostolic successor to Saint Peter, you holding the keys to Haven, etc, – so I will become the head of Church in my country, but
we continue to pay you for two more years according to previous obligations,
and then we create a new equal-footed
partnership for mutual benefit and prosperity.
Please, let’s go for Renaissance together!”

Would the pontiff accept it?
Ha-ha:)

Pope FB

French ‘Revolution 2017’

Marion et Marine

The major conclusion of the first round of the French presidential election is the marginalizing of the two major political parties: centre left and centre right – the Socialists and the Republicans – sharing power through the history of the V Republic. The period  of their reign came to the end, closing the whole chapter of the post WWII political development, which is a revolutionalry change as such.

The other crucial outcome of the elections is the evolution of the Front National from a marginal force into a main stream and, moreover, number one political party, because En Marche! of Emmanuel Macron is a rather broad movement, but not a classical political congregation one can regard as a party with an ideological core.

En Marche! is a young movement, which is captivating the protest moods of the French youth, disappointed in the major political forces, however there is no classical political congregation behind him. En Marche! is not represented in the Assemblée Nationale – the parliament, so even elected, Macron would find himself in a difficulty to deal with the other experienced political forces like Republicans, Socialists, and now, very likely, the Front National. This difficulty would be only aggravated by his lack of experience in dealing with the French political system.

On contrary to En Marche! Marine Le Pen leads a solid and well-defined political force, with a comprehensive plan for governing  the country.  One of her strongest points is a programme of defeating terrorism through curbing mass-migration, ending the system of double citizenship, revoking French citizenship from involved in terrorism, etc.

Till now Macron did not explain how he is going to addressed the security concerns of the French citizens, while keeping open door policy. This is one of the multiple inconsistencies in his programme. In case he will not be unable to guarantee the security, and the terroristic acts will continue to devastate public life, the position of Marine Le Pen will be solidified, and she will continue to raise in ranks.

The  failure of a big experiment called ‘Emmanuel Macron’, will not resurrect the Republicans or Socialists, who had a chance to govern the country already, and in case of the Republicans for a long period of time, but bring the electorate to a conclusion, that the only political force that had not had a chance to show its capabilities to ‘save France’ is Front National.

In the next presidential election the frustration in ‘Macron experiment’ might lead to the necessity to continue the experimental way.  If French are so disappointed in politics that they turned to unjustified belief in a miracle of Macron ‘The Savor’, what will prevent them to put their trust in Marion Marechal Le Pen as ‘The Maid of Orleans’?..

Anna van Densky

Tillerson’s visit as a glimpse of hope

Tillerson Moscow

The reception of State Secretary Rext Tillerson in Kremlin gives hope that the superpower leaders are prepared to assume their responsibilities towards global community, and stabilize the rapidly deteriorated US-Russia relations.

The high expectations of Russians did not come true – the change of the administration did not bring a major change in foreign policy. Whoever is the master of the White House, it is the  US military-industrial complex having the last say.  In this way Trump’s presidency will not become any different. Bowing to the Pentagon, Trump had to retreat into admitting that NATO is ‘not obsolete’. Acceding power, he had to follow the path of his predecessors,  meaning to stay in a rut of the US expansionist foreign policy.  We all have to come to the terms that none of his revolutionary anti-war proposals, captivating the moods of his electorate, can be transformed into reality,  and both Russian and American people have to live with that sinister truth.

In spite of the economic crisis the US launched without blinking a missile offensive on Syria – the firing a shot worth USD 88 mln  demonstrates that there will be no savings on military adventures. The offensive that also left in ashes the Kremlin hope of ‘peaceful coexistence’ of the nuclear superpowers.  Syria and Ukraine as the frontlines set ablaze.

Putin and Tillerson

However the pressure of the international terrorism still might push even those the most reluctant into a coalition with Russians. The rapidly spreading network of jihadists worldwide has no other solution, but a united effort.

Although the agenda of almost two-hour discussion between Putin and Tillerson was not revealed, it is certain that the anti-terrorist coalition proposal had its prominent place.

(Photo: illustration)

Rome Summit: Tusk as EU symbol of strife

SAM_1713

While EU Council president Donald Tusk (pictured) is preparing the anniversary  of the Treaty of Rome Summit (25.03.2017), focusing of the ‘unity’ message of EU27 in post-Brexit era, the argument over his own re-appointment ignoring Polish government’s  protest, remains open, poisoning the historic event.

Although the Summit is informal, the open confrontation with Poland over re-appointment of Tusk is a toxic issue, that would be impossible to play down or brush off. The EU diplomacy showed  poor judgment when suggested Prime minister Beata Szydlo (53) would have no choise but submit to the will the fellow EU members, openly imposing Tusk – an active political opponent of her incumbent government.   Szydlo, the miner’s daughter, showed a remarkable capacity to withstand punch, and audacity to retaliate, rejecting to sign the Council conclusions. If this pattern is chosen as a long-term strategy, it will mean, as long as Tusk chairs the EU meetings, Poland will continue to obstruct the outcome, not honoring a legal status to its decisions. This conflict over Tusk might not hinder the upcoming ‘informal’ Summit in Rome legally, but it will certainly harm its image politically.

While preparing the Declaration of the Summit in Rome, calling for ‘unity’ as a universal remedy from all kind of problems Europeans suffer, Tusk’s controversial chairmanship, weakens the message a priori.   “Taken individually, we would be sidelined by global dynamics. Standing together is our best chance to influence them, and to defend our common interests and values … Our Union is undivided and indivisible,” – Tusk’s draft declaration calls, making this words to haunt him like a bitter irony.

Being ‘an apple of discord’ between Poland and the rest of the EU, Tusk himself is a at most eloquent physical evidence of the profound crisis of the EU, and a symbol of strife and decline.

The draft, dated March 16 and prepared by the contraversial chairman of EU summits Donald Tusk, will pass by all the capitals  next week before being endorsed in Rome on the 25th of March.

Anna van Densky OPINION published in @EuropeDiplomatic