The Sad Future of Catalonia

In some conflicts, you don’t need to pick a side. Because sometimes, both sides are wrong. Between the Catalan and the Spanish governments, it’s impossible to keep tabs on who has committed more grave mistakes.

Even for supporters of self-determination, it’s hard to take the Catalan independence referendum seriously because its proponents didn’t have any plan for the day after. They blatantly mislead Catalans about the prospect of remaining in the EU, which shows complete ignorance about how the EU – or indeed any international body – works.

If a member state of the EU could split in two and then have two seats and votes in the Council of the European Union, then what’s to prevent Germany from splitting into two again? Or France into 100 regions in order to gain a super-majority in the EU?

That’s not how international law works. Countries as political entities are members of the EU, not a certain stretch of land. If you leave that country, you are out. If, on the other hand, a country grows, it doesn’t require a new application for membership, as seen after German reunification in 1990. [Hint for Romania and Moldova. ;-)]

Second, as anyone can look up in the EU Treaty, admission of a new member requires unanimous consent of all existing members. Unanimous! Yes, that includes Spain. Even before the central government unleashed Inquisition 2.0 in Catalonia, nobody could have expected Spain to consent. Any such hope is naive. Just ask Kosovo.

But things can get even more depressing from Catalonia’s viewpoint. Because there is a village in Greece which is also called Katalonia.

Katalonia greek

As the Republic of Macedonia can tell you, Greece won’t allow anyone into the EU as long as they have a name that resembles that of any Greek region, district, county, city, village or restaurant. (Greece even refuses academic ties with the University of Georgia because it’s in a town called Athens.)

So if – and that’s a big if – an independent Catalonia were ever to advance in EU membership talks, it couldn’t do so under the name of Catalonia. It would either need to resort to an ancient name like Aragon, but that sounds too much like Lord of the Rings, doesn’t it? Or like Macedonia, the new entity would be known under an abbreviation. FACOC for Former Autonomous Community of Catalonia is almost as catchy as FYROM.


About Andreas Moser

Travelling the world and writing about it. I have degrees in law and philosophy, but I'd much rather be a journalist, a spy or a hobo.
This entry was posted in Europe, Greece, Language, Macedonia, Politics, Spain and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

18 Responses to The Sad Future of Catalonia

  1. Ankur Mithal says:

    Real estate seems to be a perpetual flashpoint across the world. Catalonia, Scotland, Kashmir, and many other perhaps lesser known ones. While everyone should have a right to self-determination, it can be chaotic to keep making newer and newer nations. Will each individual be a separate nation eventually?

    • I think your last question leads to an important point. I, for once, don’t really care much about which country I live in or what citizenship I have, as long as I have personal freedoms. Now I live in Germany, but if tomorrow Bavaria were to become part of Austria or Italy or France, I wouldn’t really mind because they all grant the same level of personal and political freedom.

  2. Conrad says:

    Aragon wins me

    • It´s nice name, but Catalans don´t have a right to use it really. They used to be a part of the Kingdom of Aragon, but that´s about it;)

    • They just need to be the first ones to declare independence with it and they win. There is no more King of Aragon who could sue them. (As far as I know.)

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  5. People-Names. Place-Names. Identity. History. Heritage. Legacy. These things are important to Europeans. More important to the people-groups that created (originated) them in the first place.

    Pretenders contesting cultural endowments, be concerned.

  6. Now you are being (infantile) silly – Andreas is biblical name used by Germans, Greeks, Swedish, Norwegians, Danes, Dutch, Welsh and other’s.

    Though your silliness pales in comparison to the FYRoM example. Where South-Slavs there (unilaterally) named themselves after whole geographic region. Even though they constitute just 38% of geographic region of Macedonia. Without consultation. And without consent of the Greeks.

    I do admire your protectionist instincts afforded to FYRoM. And I do agree that newly established countries are entitled to name themselves the way they choose. But ‘Republic of Macedonia’ was wrong and bad choice of name. The world has right to judge them on that choice. Why? Because It sent out wrong message to neighbourhood. That FYRoM has desires on whole geographic region.

    I think Europe should stand shoulder to shoulder with Greece on this matter. The alternative is to legitimize [ex] Yugoslavs as Nation of Macedonians. Putting into disrepute the Western worlds cultural-historical narrative. In that narrative, Macedonians are scripted in as Greek-speaking Hellenic peoples. The forebears of today’s Northern-Greeks.

    • I don’t have the impression that the Republic of Macedonia has any irredentist claims, and in any case no country with such claims would be admitted to the EU.
      Giving something a name does not constitute a claim. Germans also refer to some parts of Poland as Ostpreussen, but that does not constitute any claim.
      Also, there are plenty of examples of one country attacking another without a prior name dispute, so I don’t see any connection between the two issues.
      Lastly, if Greece was really afraid of Macedonia attacking it, integrating Macedonia into EU and NATO would be in the best interest of Greece.

  7. Recognition of FYRoM as ‘Republic of Macedonia’ makes Macedonians out of South-Slavs. Because country name generates nationality. Because language name generates ethnicity.
    A nation of Macedonians outside Hellenic collective never existed in historical verity. To create one now is being mischievous. Causing problems for Greece. Imagine ‘Republic of Bavaria’ coming into existence peopled by non-Germans.

    Simply put – Making Macedonians out of [ex] Yugoslavs is anathema for Greeks. Why? Because Macedonians have always been Greek-speaking Hellenic peoples. The name belongs in Greek domain. The identity belongs to Greek heritage.

    • All of this is irrelevant in international law.
      There can be as many Bavarian Oktoberfests around the world as they want, it doesn’t take one square inch off Germany.

  8. If such laws exist, they are trumped by this example:

    United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (A/RES/61/295)

    Bavarians have UN recognized rights to keep as German as possible, the identity-characteristics of their ancient Germanic ancestors. Non Germans using ‘Republic of Bavaria’ name for country-name…sovereign state-name, nationality, language and ethnicity would be challenged at (i) political level, (ii) diplomatic level, (iii) academic level. Which is exactly exactly what the Greeks do with Macedonia.

    The Greek position is clear – FYRoM cannot take the name of whole geographic region of Macedonia to the levels of country-name…sovereign state-name, nationality, language and ethnicity, because FYRoM constitutes just 38% of the region. Greece constitutes 51%. Bulgaria holds smallest part 11%.

    FYRoM taking unilateral action to name itself ‘Republic of Macedonia’ would infringe on the rights of Macedonians wanting to keep as Greek possible, the identity-characteristics of their paleo-Hellenic ancestors.

  9. Andreas Moser – The Happy Hermit is happy to spread ‘Fake News’ regarding Greek attitudes towards Place-Names. People-Names. Identity. History. Heritage. Legacy.

    Example from his contribution above…

    “As the Republic of Macedonia can tell you, Greece won’t allow anyone into the EU as long as they have a name that resembles that of any Greek region, district, county, city, village or restaurant”. (Greece even refuses academic ties with the University of Georgia because it’s in a town called Athens.)

    The last sentence in brackets is just pure FAKE News. Also, aspirant countries wanting to join the EU must resolve all outstanding issues with their neighbour’s. It is prerequisite for entry into EU.

    Such angst against Greece! Where does it come from I wonder?

  10. Maybe you need to apply some balance and common sense in your articles regarding European people-groups and their sensitivities towards Place-Names, People-Names, Identity, History, Heritage, Legacy.

    This is last entry from me. I have challenged your silliness. Readers can decide on silliness of this blog.

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