Declaring Independence

I originally expected the Catalan Government to declare independence this time last week, within 48 hours of the result being announced on Sunday evening; but I suppose that they reasonably argue that it would take a little longer for the postal votes from abroad to be counted, which is why the declaration is expected to come today.

I think we should expect a formal document, with appropriate lofty rhetoric similar to that of the American declaration of independence from the United Kingdom. But I also expect that, once made, the implementation of independence will be suspended to allow for negotiations.

From what I can gather, the "model" that the Catalans are likely to follow is that of Slovenia. This is from the Australian:

Ramon Tremosa, an MEP for the Catalan European Democratic Party [PDeCAT] which Mr Puigdemont leads, said the region should follow Slovenia’s example: it declared independence then suspended it while it conducted negotiations with what was then the Yugoslav federation. It finally became a fully independent state in 1991 as the rest of Yugoslavia plunged into civil war.

“Nobody can recognise internationally an independence that has not been achieved. We know from the experience of Slovenia and other countries that this experience may take weeks or months,” said Mr Tremosa.

The Australian - 10 October 2017

This prompted me to remind myself of exactly what did happen in Slovenia in 1991. I thought that this quote from the Wiki article on the Ten-Day War was particularly appropriate:

On the diplomatic front, neither the European Community nor the United States were willing to recognize the independence of Slovenia and strongly advocated the continuation of a unified Yugoslavia. The Slovenian government sought international assistance in negotiating a peaceful breakup of Yugoslavia but was rebuffed by Western countries that said they preferred to deal with a single federation rather than numerous small states. However, the Slovenes contended that they had no choice in pushing for independence, given a perceived lack of commitment to democratic values on the part of the Belgrade authorities.

Wikipedia, Ten-Day War

Within a matter of weeks, these same Western Countries had changed their minds. I think what was true in the case of the break up of Yugoslavia sixteen years ago will prove to be equally true in the case of the break up of Spain now.

At the moment, the governments of Western countries have been monolithic in their support for a united Spain. They are, quite understandably, afraid of uncertainty. The one thing that will make them change their minds is, as a more inclusive Harold Macmillan would now say, "Events, dear boys and girls. Events."

Hopefully, the Spanish State won't react to today's expected declaration of independence with more violence, so that there won't be any need for a new Brijuni Agreement to stop the fighting. But a three-month suspension of independence to allow a new Catalan constitution to be written and formal independence recognized by a majority of Western countries on, say, 1 January 2018, looks to me to be the most likely outcome.

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