Articles and analysis

The Catalan Referendum, regional pressures, the EU, and the “Ghosts” of Eastern Europe

By Joseph E. Fallon

What is happening in Catalonia is being repeated elsewhere in the EU in less bloody manner. Bavaria and Venice are examples of two of the larger regions/nations in Western Europe seeking greater autonomy from their State on the road to independence. While the EU is negotiating the secession of one of its members under Article 50, other pressure are building which may amount to an existential threat to the EU itself. How should it react to potential unilateral declarations of independence which, if unaccepted, may amount to unsettled borders for existing members and for new applicants – breaking a fundamental condition of EU membership? There has been little exploration of this topic, especially in the context of previous international commitments.

 

This is an edited version of a presentation made by John Everard, UK Ambassador to North Korea (DPRK) 2006-2008, to a EURODEFENSE conference in London.

1. Conventional capabilities include supplies of gas such as Sarin (used to assassinate Kim Jong Nam in Singapore). The often-quoted artillery facing Seoul may be degraded, and troops are reportedly under-trained and under-armed as nuclear and missile programmes have drained cash from other areas of armed forces. Defectors report low morale in what is mostly a conscript army.

With the end of the Cold War and the collapse of the Soviet Union, the U.S became the world's only "hyper power". A state defined as possessing such overwhelming economic, technological, political, and military powers and resources, it has no rivals. No individual state, nor any alliance of states are capable of challenging its global primacy. Washington can project its power anywhere across the globe at any time. Power so intimidating, it should fulfill the maxim of Sun Tzu, China's great military strategist: "The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting." Power that has, however, experienced unanticipated limitations, writes Joseph E Fallon.

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