Catalan Independence: A view from the demos

October 30, 2017 - by Pablo Ouziel, University of Victoria

On October 27th of 2017, the Parliament of Catalonia unilaterally declared independence from Spain. Following from this, the Spanish Senate activated Article 155 of theSpanish Constitution. Since then Catalan parliament has been dissolved, andearly elections in Catalonia have been scheduled for December 21st of 2017.

At present the citizens of Catalonia are living in a socio-political and legal context in which two different parties are telling them which nation-state they belong to. On the one hand, the Spanish state which has applied Article 155 reducing the rights of citizens in the autonomous region. On the other, a Catalan Republic that has been declared by the Catalan parliament and automatically been rejected by the international community.

 Democracy has been the catchword used by both the Catalan and the Spanish governments over the past few months, while the population as a whole has seen its rights being crumpled.

This is the first unilateral declaration of independence by a region within a European Union member state. It is important to make sense of the process in order to understand the vicious cycle we seem to have entered. Better understanding can help democratize our democracies and present virtuous responses to the threats we face as citizens.  


For more

Listen to the last  radio interviews of Pablo Ouziel: / This interview starts at the beginning of the show. / This interview runs until minute 9:45, and then it should be forwarded to minute 19:35 for the second part (it was rendered wrong and at minute 9:45 it repeats what has already been heard so one needs to just jump past it to minute 19:35

Putin's plan for the WEST

Oct 15th, 2017 - by Derek Fraser, Centre for Global Studies at the University of Victoria,  former ambassador to Ukraine

According to press reports, U.S. President Donald Trump, in his desire for reconciliation with Russia, was initially considering removing sanctions on Russia and recognizing a Russian zone of influence in Eastern Europe. In fact, Trump might not have achieved reconciliation through such measures. What Russia seeks is more than a zone of influence: It wants to be recognized as a great power with a veto on all questions affecting Russian security, including the activities of NATO and the EU.

To understand Russian goals, we have to look at the roots of Russian policy towards the west. European Russia, like France, Germany and Poland, lies on the North European Plain. Like these states, it therefore lacks geographical defences against attack, and has historically regarded its principal neighbours as its enemies.

The west European states, as a result of their experience during the Second World War, resolved after the war to follow a new course. By creating common European and Atlantic institutions, the west Europeans came to regard their neighbours as their friends, and to recognize that international relations did not have to be a zero-sum game.

For the Russians, however, the Second World War had reinforced their traditional view that their neighbours were their enemies unless they were under Russian control, and that the defence of Russia required pushing its boundaries as far west as possible.

According to this view, therefore, the end of the Cold War and the break-up of the Soviet Union were disasters not mitigated by any understanding with the west on future relations. The west promoted democracy and was open to the integration of East European states into Euro-Atlantic Institutions. Russia sought instead to recover its position as a great power, including a zone of influence.

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