Wednesday, February 27

Kosovo could end Scotland’s European dream

More on the disastrous British and American decision to push for Kosovo independence. I quote:

Kosovo’s independence must have cheered Scotland’s nationalists. The birth of another, smaller state in Europe is, on the face of it, a distant but useful precedent for them.
However, the
diplomatic fallout over recognition of the newcomer has ominous implications for the separatists in minority government in Edinburgh. Half a dozen European Union states fear the example that is being set for ethnic minorities within their borders. If Scotland ever votes for independence these states could easily make an example of it by blocking Scottish membership of the EU. The opponents are vehement. Cyprus, determined to avoid any example that might confer legitimacy on the self-proclaimed Turkish Republic of North Cyprus, denounced Kosovo’s declaration of independence as “a violation of the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Serbia”, which, Erato Kozakou-Marcoullis, the foreign minister, said “would set a dangerous precedent”.

Scotland’s nationalists have always affected breezy insouciance about Europe, asserting that an independent Scotland would automatically remain an EU member state. Not necessarily. Legal analysis by University College London’s Constitution Unit suggests that Scotland would not automatically inherit membership. Nationalist lawyers rely on the Vienna Convention, designed to clarify post-colonial states’ adherence to treaties that their former masters had signed. But the convention is weak; only 21 countries have signed it, none of them major states, and only five from the EU. Furthermore, the convention does not apply if it would radically alter the Treaty of Rome – which admitting Scotland to the EU must do, not least to give it voting rights in the Council of Ministers and European Parliament.
The Scottish nationalists’ fallback is to argue that other EU states would never lock Scotland out. Most EU members, including probably the residual UK, would probably reason like that . Yet this seriously underestimates the fear that runs through those countries that oppose Kosovo’s independence. Their motivation is nationalist and, like the Scottish National party, they put their nation first. Nationalism in the Balkans is a raw, visceral force that the milder political culture of western Europe easily underrates.
If these countries think Scottish independence will encourage their separatists – and Basque leaders and Turkish Cypriots have openly hailed Kosovo as a precedent – blocking Scottish EU membership would be their only means of hindering it. If a single EU member, let alone several, announces it will veto changes to the Treaty of Rome to accommodate a secessionist state, Scottish nationalism is powerless.
This uncertainty could be cripplingly harmful to Scottish separatists. Half of Scotland’s trade is with the EU and “Scotland in Europe” is a centrepiece of separatist strategy. As the debate on independence picks up, voters will seek reassurance that they will not be locked out on the doorstep. With the legal omens unhelpful, and a cluster of EU states looking hostile, Scotland’s famously canny voters may shy away from a game of Balkan roulette.

All this to be taken with a grain of piquant salt!!!

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