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  • 18

    The Rise of the Regions
    Activism; Posted on: 2007-08-13 17:34:27 [ Printer friendly / Instant flyer ]
    The Catalans, the Scottish and the Flemish are all striving for independence. Europe's separatist movements are gaining momentum. Is European integration promoting the disintegration of the nation states?

    by Christoph Mayerl

    Like Eastern Europe, where following the collapse of the Soviet Union old nation states split up and new ones emerged, Western Europe also has its separatist movements. However, few of them resort to terrorist measures like ETA, the Basque separatist organisation. Instead most prefer to fight a cultural battle for the recognition of their own language, culture and nationality, as the Catalans are doing.

    Often it's the wealthy regions that revolt, for instance the Scottish with their plentiful natural resources. They can afford to take the time to think about whether separation is really a good idea. The example of Belgium demonstrates that advancing decentralisation and regionalisation can be an almost unstoppable process that causes ever-deeper divisions within a society.

    This year for the first time the Frankfurt Book Fair, which takes place this autumn, will have a region - Catalonia - rather than a country as its "guest of honour". This has provoked a storm - as the organisers of the event realised when the Barcelone-based Ramon Llull Culture Institute, commissioned with the task of selecting the writers for Frankfurt, excluded all Catalans who write in Spanish. This means renowned authors like Edoardo Mendoza or Carlos Ruiz Zafón are out of the race even though they're Catalan.

    The independence of Catalonia has been under discussion for decades now, but in recent times the tone of the debate has grown sharper. "It is regrettable that at a moment when the global influence of Spanish is growing, some minority groups are attempting to eradicate it within Spain itself," the Spanish daily ABC noted a year ago on 13 July 2006, when Catalonia applied for its own stand at the book fair. "Languages are an instrument of social cohesion and must not become tools for discriminating against citizens, or serve the purposes of political revenge," the conservative newspaper pointed out.

    Full article
    News Source: eurotopics.net

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