Catalonia: rise or fall?..

Anna van Densky, OPINION On contrary to what many in Madrid and Brussel hope, the aspiration of independence of Catalans, and problem it poses to Kingdom of Spain, and a number of European countries concerned with separatists movements, this dream of independence will not fade away. There were around 70 states after the WWII, and now at the UN there are more than 200, and their number is continuing to grow, so independence is clearly a world trend to stay.

The trend which insures that Mariano Rajoy and all successive governments will be facing a constant pressure from the Catalans, both citizens and political class, aspiring freedom. The only viable solution is in following Czechoslovakia model of separation, known as ‘velvet divorce’ diminishing related damages of all kinds, and removing combustible of a potential conflict in future.

In case of unconditional recognition of Catalan independence by Spain, the breakaway region can stay in the EU, NATO and continue to cultivate close economic ties with Madrid. It would be a mutually beneficial relationship between two countries, and also for the larger EU community.

However it is highly unlikely that Rajoy government will accept this ‘velvet’ way of dealing with the issue, as the entire world have seen his choice of repression as a method of resolving the political crisis. Usually gurus avoid to speculate on the future, pointing at the absence of a crystal ball, but in some cases the forecast is easier to model, because the situation is typical, occurring many times before.

In Catalan case there are three possible scenarios, and among them one is highly hypothetic, mentioned above ‘velvet divorce’.

The two other are rather standard: or Carles Puigdemont without delay declares independence based on the results of the plebiscite, and moves on with the state construction agenda outside the EU, with support of some of the European countries, and some of EU member-states, recognising free Catalan Republic, or he loses momentum.

In case Catalans lose the momentum,  Rajoy would go into offensive with multiple Court cases, accusing Catalan politicians of coup-d’état – the blame already articulated by Spanish diplomats in mass-media. In this case, Puigdemont will face 14 Stations of the Cross literally, not allegorically, because Spanish courts will charge him with treason.

The most active members of political elite would face the similar fate, and the independence movement would be ‘beheaded’, which is a rather standard scenario repeated many times through history.

The other practical step would be taken into direction of undermining the economic base for independence, with the removal of key financial and industrial players from Catalonia. (The process has already started with the relocation of offices of Spanish banks). Is is already clear that Madrid would prefer to sacrifice economy and living standards of the population, punishing Catalonia,  for the sake of the unity of the Kingdom.

Logically, facing the betrayal of the EU, rejecting to protect human rights of Catalans, denying them the right of self-determination, and referring to the situation as to an home affair of Spain, Puigdemont has no much space for maneuvering  horizontally, but only between raise and fall vertically. The clock is ticking, so are the risks of postponing the independence declaration for tomorrow, that might never come…

 

 

 

#SOTEU2017: Apogee of dogmatism

#SOTEU2017. Startling by its neglect of the realities of life, the State of Union speech has been hovering high above like a banner dragged by a colorful hot air-balloon in blue sky to admire it for a few moments, before going back to blacks.
One could hardly associate numerous full of optimism slogans of president Jean-Claude Juncker with the grim realities of millions of Europeans struggling to make the ends meet. The magic formula ‘More Europe!’ – the ‘philosopher’s stone’ of the European bureaucrats, supposedly to turn everything into gold became a source of disquietude to extend, some block’s most prolific member prefered to end the engagement, concerned with the sovereignty.

The idea of moving towards the ‘United States of Europe’ – the ultimate dream of the forefathers of the project, resurrecting continent from the ashes of the WWII seem less appealing nowadays, in a totally different political context. The times have changed, but the eurocrats, unlike the rest of us have not changed with times:( remaining guardians of more than half-a-century old doctrines, that are clashing with for modern dynamic and flexible word.
The inseparable four freedoms of the EU became more of a problem, instead of a solution: open borders, and free movement cause insecurity, and is generally perceived as the major reasons of the UK break away from the block, but not but the eurocrats.

Simply brushing aside the problems related to the EU profound #Brexit crisis, Juncker ordered ‘fast forward’ to the bright future of the EU27, without any clarification how the intensified integration will be funded in absence of the UK, the second net contributor to the EU purse.

Juncker’s vow #Brtions will regret soon their decision to vote leave, sounded sinister, sensed as a threat, while the policy of making ‘negative example’ from the UK till now has been the only reaction from the EU institutions, eager to ‘receive’ a mega ‘allowance’ as if in divorce case. Making a scarecrow from the EU supposedly should stop anyone else from turning to a seditious idea of leaving the block regardless its results delivery.

With Geert Wilders (PvV) growing numbers of supporters in the Netherlands; narrowly defeated Norbert Hofer (FPO) in Austria; Marine Le Pen (FN) reaching the second round of presidential elections in France; with AfD flexing muscle, anticipating entering Bundestag in Germany, – within this political context the old EU doctrines look outdated. So does the EU leader, reminiscent of the late members of Politburo of the Soviet Union, loyal to the ideals of their youth, and unable to adapt to the changing world.

Fragilized by age, but refusing to assume the responsibility for Brexit as the major EU failure, still insisting on the marvels of the membership of the bloc, Jean-Claude Juncker looks like a relic of another era. In epilogue of the debating the State of the Union speech with the MEPs, publicly complaining about his health, he evoked an idea of necessity for an urgent renewal of the EU leadership. The need of change of generations obvious even for the most devoted Eurocentrics to avoid the imminent decline, and collapse like the late USSR.

Failed Mogherini’s bit of trolling May

It looks the EU top diplomat Federcia Mohgerini’s attempt to troll the UK Prime Minister May failed – there will be no ‘hung’ Parliament in the UK, and #Brexit talks will start in 10 days as foreseen due to the alliance between the Conservatives and the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), joining with 10 MPs. Apparently the heavy-weight in politics May is not an easy target even for mega-trolls:)

However it would be better for the EU executives to restrain from the trolling PM May in the future, because on contrary to Brussels, leaving without the Article 50 deal has a lot of political benefits for the Conservatives, delivering  the desirable STOP of paying Brussels all at once. The departure of the  UK being a second net contributor with full membership fee of £17.8 billion (the deduction of the Thacher’s rebate reduces it to £12.9 billion),  or £35 million a day, – this departure leaves the EU without an answer how to mend the giant hole in the pocket.

The chances of Conservatives oping for #hardBrexit in alliance with DUP loom large, envisaging the scenario of the UK leaving Brussels ‘elite’ insolvent, and immobilized to move forward their ultimate target of ‘more Europe.’

Tusk: ‘good will’ for Brexit

“…We confirmed our strong commitment to the transatlantic relationship, and to further strengthening security cooperation, including between NATO and the EU” – said President Donald Tusk after his meeting with Prime Minister of Norway Erna Solberg.

“… Let me make a general remark about Brexit. These negotiations are difficult enough as they are. If we start arguing before they even begin, they will become impossible. The stakes are too high to let our emotions get out of hand. Because at stake are the daily lives and interests of millions of people on both sides of the Channel. We must keep in mind that in order to succeed, today we need discretion, moderation, mutual respect and a maximum of good will.” – said President Donald Tusk after his meeting with Prime Minister of Norway Erna Solberg.

France voting for the future

Marine Le Pen votes

France goes to the polls on Sunday for the first round of a dramatically polarized presidential election, crucial to the future of the European Union, and the destiny of the continent.

Nearly 47 million voters will choose between a pro-EU centrist newcomer breaking away from the incumbent Socialist government, a scandal-ridden veteran conservative eager to slash public spending, while accused in indulging himself in public funds spending for private gains, a far-left eurosceptic, exercising a classic repertoire to blame all the misery of the world to the rich, or France’s first woman president, promising a U-turn from globalism to nation-state.

The  latest polls indicated the two major contestants: Emmanuel Macron et Marine Le Pen, with a real battle promised at the second round of elections, while struggling to attract the electorate of the other candidates, fallen out of the race.

The rivary for the crown of the French ‘elected king/queen’ will be for the senior electorate, increasingly numerous in aging France. Remarkably seniors vote more than average,  and subsequently are over-represented among voters. The attraction of the older generation of the voters, who are characterized by specific political choices, will become a real challenge for both Le Pen and Macron. However it would not be easy for the latter, as the senior citizens have an inclination to vote a conservative political programme, and are closer to traditional values.

So far Marine Le Pen showed more understanding for the needs of the senior citizens; on the strong side of Macron  is contact with the youth, and diasporats/ immigration, especially from Muslim countries, who see in him a solid ally.

However any chosen candidate will face the  need to conquer the parliament –  Assemblée National, and the mega-challenge of dealing with French syndicates – powerful trade-unions, who keep under control economic development in the country, and the endeavours of  presidents, irrespective their political convictions.

Syria: Trump starring Machiavelli

Trump US Syria

The President Trump’ missile strikes on Syria amid #RussianConnections investigation give a déjà vue feeling reminiscent of Bill Clinton’ bombing of Iraq amid #MonicaGate. The initiative of a crusade for alleged chemical weapons used by president Assad reminded many,  including UN diplomat is, the bulb with white powder, demonstrated by gen.Powell before US invasion in Iraq.  Trump’s missile strike evoked so many memories…

It is hard to belive the US President was so touched by the dead babies in Syria, as some suggest,  to order a strike in an emotional move. Just couple of weeks ago (17.03.2017) he let pass unnoticed the assassination of 300  civilians in residential area of Mosul. There were certainly babies among the Iraqi victims too, but it was qualified as an ‘an unintentional accident of war’ without any consequences for the perpetrators.

Nobody was indignant about these casualties, the slain were not honored by Ambassador Haley demonstrative grief and indignation at UN emergency meeting, and there was no urgent meeting as such. The information in the beginning came to public attention  through non-American media sources, while  the US representatives were trying to find excuses for the  massive loss of human live, ‘further investigating’ and ‘learning lesson’.

In case of late US missile strike on Syria is became clear that is was planned sometime before the alleged chemical incident reported by  human rights NGOs used by the administration in bona fide, and merely as a pretext to intervene. Why ?

The first explanation is on the surface: it allows to distract attention from ongoing #RussianConnections investigation fuelled by the Democrats. Startled to discover the President is acting towards Assad in the same lines as Hillary Clinton suggested, the opponents have to put their criticism of Trump’s foreign policy on a halt, finding themselves in confusion over the U-turn strategy of the Commander-in-Chief.

Even more so the Democrates were puzzled with stakes in prism of policy towards Russia – just a week before Rex Tillerson visit to Moscow, – the missile attack on Syria, a Russian ally, transforms the US Foreign Secretary in a powerful foe, entering Moscow in the context close to the dark times of Cold War. Although there is some feeling that the Americans were sure, that president Putin would not clash with them over a remote airbase in Syria.

Awkwardly the ‘imperialistic’ ambition of Trump’s administration would help a great deal to President’s Putin re-election (endorsement) for the fourth term, uniting the nation in face of ‘American threat’, convincing a regular Russian in need of a ‘strong man’ at a steering wheel in turbulent times.

Altogether with one strike President Trump hit many goals: distracting attention of his opponents at home, pleasing his electorate with an image of a powerful and fearless world leader, protecting world order and going back to blacks of international politics making some of the European leaders delighted by clashes with Kremlin, and later paradoxically not so discontent, how it might look at first glance, benefiting from US unlawful military action in domestic political discourse. The revival of the US ‘imperialistic ambitions’ will help Putin in re-elections (endorsement) of his fourth term by regular Russians, convincing them he is a ‘strong man’ they need to withstand the predator’s instinct of ‘American imperialism.’

Machiavelli style of President Trump, making it an almost perfect a ‘knights move,’ is certainly impressive in many ways, if not contributing to Daesh survival, but never mind. Most probably DAESH was not ment to vanish, creating a protracted conflict in the Middle East. However it is a different issue. Today the mega-winner of the strikes is the Commander-in-Chief himself. Vivat!

Pence visits EU

mike-pence-flags

Anna van Densky, OPINION   Taking into consideration the anti-Trump rethoric of president Donald Tusk naming the new US administration an ‘existential threat’ to the  EU one can not expect much from vice-president Mike Pence visit to Brussels.

The myopia of the EU leaders, from the moment of taking sides in the US elections, fiercely defending #Hillary, thus the US Democrats, and later going to ‘crescendo’ about the ‘threat’ President Trump represents for the EU, closed the window of opportunity for the current EU institutions officials to develop fruitful relations with the new US administration, subsequently the leading democracy and economy in the world.
The visit of Mr.Pence will be short, and the absence of press conference, replaced by brief appearances presenting statements clearly indicates there is no much common ground and hope after what the leaders of the EU institutions have done to offend the newly elected President of the United States of America, disrespectful to the democratic choice of American people. One can not co-operate with a ‘existential threat’, can he?..
Hopefully the US administration knows that there many citizens in the EU, who do no approve the anti-Trump position of the EU institutions unelected leaders, considering the President Trump ‘threat’ narrative fictitious, and they will go to ballot boxes soon. In view of the upcoming elections in The Netherlands, France, Germany and Italy, there is very little sense for the new US administration to build on sand with the current EU, rapidly losing grounds with public opinion in Europe, mainly as a result of mass-migration policies imposed on the citizens without their consent.
In case of accession to power French presidential candidate Marine Le Pen promised to organize the EU membership referendum within six month, meaning from next year the political landscape in the EU will go through fundamental change,  very favorable for the relations between the US administration and ensemble of the European nations.
Hopefully in the future Mr.Pence will have an opportunity to meet many European politicians respectful and sympathetic to the new US administration, making his contacts with Europeans as much optimistic and friendly as meeting US compatriots living in Europe 🙂