A undoubted esprit de corps binds together Catalonia and Kosovo, who, despite the former’s break for freedom having isolated itself from the international community and the latter still polarizing opinion since its 2008 secession from Serbia, share a singleness of purpose predicated on unshackling themselves from parents with whom they seemingly have little in common.
Equally, a defiant solidarity unites Spain and Serbia, unlikely allies who have found themselves embroiled in internecine strife rooted in labyrinthine complexity. Mindful that the disintegration of Yugoslavia didn’t conclude until the cleaving of Montenegro and Kosovo from Serbia, Spain will be buoyed by a lack of international recognition of Catalonia’s declaration of independence that could also have fueled a new wave of Basque separatism.
Amidst waves of acrimony and international condemnation that again painted Belgrade as the sole aggressor Serbia has long since lost Kosovo, areas of which are sewn within the country’s fabric and identity. Although representing slim pickings it is nevertheless some consolation to Serbia that Suriname, Uganda, and Nigeria have either withdrawn recognition of Pristina’s declared position of independence or their notes of recognition were never actually received. Either way, the tripartite represent a snapshot of the countries who have so far failed to recognize Kosovo, who itself is apparently unaware of the actual number of nations that acknowledge its right to self-determination.
Although details of Kosovo’s recognition or denial of Catalonia’s bid for autonomy aren’t forthcoming, Spain’s refusal to recognize Kosovo’s independence is undoubtedly born from a fear of validating situations such as the one that has recently come to pass within its own sovereign borders.
Whilst the motivation of all secessionist states is predicated on a single ideal, each must be classed as sui generis – unique. Comparing Catalonia and Kosovo is ultimately futile, especially when an international community’s baseline criteria for recognizing Kosovo appeared to be based on the outcry to, and subsequent intervention against tales of alleged Serbian brutality redolent of the hideous Balkan wars of the early and mid-nineties. An absence of Spanish aggression against defiant Catalans with unilateral declarations of independence in mind has therefore engendered a wholly different, and almost entirely withering attitude to recent events in Spain from the international community. A concern within EU member states that recognition could encourage an avalanche of regions pushing for secession is not without some credence.
Kosovo have perhaps achieved what Catalonia will never, although an appetite for welcoming those intent on self-determination has undoubtedly waned since the brutal breakup of Yugoslavia, which made the Soviet Union’s chaotic disintegration seem methodical and neat. Far from sending in the troops that could sway international mood towards Catalonia’s independence, Madrid will undoubtedly have learned from Serbia’s more ‘hands on’ approach. If anything, a squeeze on the semi-autonomous powers previously ‘enjoyed’ by Catalonia could see its position weakened and further away still of achieving its ultimate dream.
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