Barry Strauss, an expert on global history, government and conflict and professor of History at Cornell University, notes that secession movements in Venice, Scotland, Quebec and in Spain’s Catalonia region starkly differ from the movement to split Crimea from Ukraine.
“When it comes to secession movements, one size does not fit all. The voting on independence in and around Venice is a non-binding protest vote, a way to vent longstanding local frustrations.
“The looming referendum in Scotland is a much more serious matter, that could, if successful, break up a United Kingdom that goes back centuries, or at least lead to a major renegotiation of the union’s terms.
“In Quebec, the prospect of a new majority government by the Parti Quebecois could lead to yet another referendum on Quebec independence, a movement that reappears regularly.
“In Spain’s Catalonia region there is also an independence movement.
“The situation in Crimea, however, is quite different. It represents independence enforced by guns and legitimated by a referendum that didn’t allow a free choice. While the movements from Italy to Quebec are internally inspired, Crimea’s breakaway from Ukraine came from outside action – by Russia. The first are a matter of democracy, the second the result of expansion by an ever-more assertive power.
“Ironically, the stronger Russia grows, the smaller the chance that other secession movements will succeed. Because in a world of threats and danger, people seek safety within strong nation-states, not outside them.”
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