Modern politics has a very painful question, which has not been unequivocally answered over the years.
Where is the line between the fight for independence and separatism?
After all, almost always, when some are fighting for independence of their nationality or their territory, there are others who consider it as separatism and fight against them.
The ambiguity of this situation is that almost always, when it is profitable for some countries to recognize someone’s aspiration for independence as their holy right, there is a moment when such aspiration is expressed by the constituent party of this country, and this country has to give up its principles and take the opposite position.
For example, Britain, as a modern enlightened country, stands for the freedom of nations for self-determination. Like that, in 2008 it supported the independence of Kosovo. But as soon as it is reminded of the long fight of Northern Ireland for split from Britain, its tolerance disappears, and it begins to talk about the inadmissibility of separatism.
Or, for example, Spain. As part of the European Union, it naturally supports the young independent states, freed from colonial dependence. But as soon as it comes to the Basques and Catalans, its position drastically changes to the opposite.
Similarly, Russia, which supported the separation of Transnistria from Moldova, South Ossetia from Georgia, Donetsk and Lugansk regions from Ukraine, at the same time once did not give independence to Chechnya and severely suppresses any feeble attempts of the autonomous republics of Tatarstan, Bashkiria and others.
The ambiguity of the position of all these countries is obvious, which gives cause to accuse them of double standards and inconsistency.
We must admit that for several centuries of modern history, mankind has not developed a clear idea of solving this issue.
Meanwhile, in my opinion, it exists.
My idea is that every nationality or territorial unit of any country should essentially have the right of self-determination. But … under the two conditions. First, in a referendum the residents of the separated territory should vote by a majority vote for split. Second: in a referendum the inhabitants of the metropolis must give their consent by a majority vote to a section of their country be separated. Hereafter. If the separated territory wants to join another country, then it is also necessary to hold two referendums: those who want to join and those who they want to join.
Perhaps such mechanism would seem utopian to someone. It seems ridiculous to wait for the consent of the citizens of the metropolis to separate part of their territory. For example, it now seems unrealistic that the rest of Spain, apart from Catalonia itself, would consent to its separation. But … in the modern enlightened world, when the language of power and war is condemned (at least officially), the only way to get what you want is to convince. Yes, convincing. Including your enemies. If the Catalans want freedom without bloodshed, they must convince the Spaniards to let them go. As in any propaganda campaign, they must visit every yard of Spain, knock on every door and persuade the Spaniards long and hard to give freedom to Catalonia. So later, when the referendum in Spain takes place, at least half of the Spaniards said “yes”. Arguments can be different. For example, the appeal to humanity. Or maybe a trivial bribery. Catalonia can promise to pay Spain some sort of compensation (virtually – indemnities). The Spaniards also need to understand that their intractability can lead to a long open or hidden war, similar to the Basque war.
Yes, this approach is long and laborious. This is much more difficult than simply holding a referendum in Catalonia and declaring independence. However, what is the value of unilateral decisions if they are not recognized by a stronger opponent? This is the direct path to war.
The proposed option, although it’s difficult, but at least gives hope and the light at the end of the tunnel. It directs the energy of the fighters for independence to a peaceful, civilized field of propaganda and agitation instead of pushing them onto the only remaining path – the path of war and terrorism.