Tuesday, March 11, 2014

'The New York Times’ List of Potential New Countries..'

The following are a few excerpts from an article entitled 'The New York Times’ List of Potential New Countries, and Others As Well'.

Submitted by Asya Pereltsvaig on September 24, 2013

About a year ago, two New York Times journalists, Frank Jacobs and Parag Khanna, wrote an opinion article listing eleven potential new countries that they expect to emerge in the near future. They write:

“we appear on the brink of yet another nation-state baby boom. This time, the new countries will not be the product of a single political change or conflict, as was the post-Soviet proliferation, nor will they be confined to a specific region. If anything, they are linked by a single, undeniable fact: history chews up borders with the same purposeless determination that geology does, as seaside villas slide off eroding coastal cliffs.”

Here is their list of potential geopolitical changes to look out for. The links below are to numerous GeoCurrents posts about these “potential countries”.


Additional suggestions for potential new countries have also been made elsewhere. ComingAnarchy.com lists the following newly independent states that could splinter off existing countries in Europe: Scotland (currently part of the UK), Normandy, Brittany, and Corsica (France), Basque Republic and Catalonia, the latter with or without the Balearic Islands (Spain), Baden-Württemberg and Bavaria (Germany), Padania and Sardinia (Italy).

An even more radical map of “Potential independent states in Europe” (whose original author I was not able to establish as it has been reposted on multiple websites without proper reference) lists, in addition to the already mentioned candidates: United Ireland, created by joining together the current Republic of Ireland and the Northern Ireland) and Wales in the British Isles; Galicia and Andalusia (Spain); Trentino South-Tyrol in northern Italy; Republica Srpska and Herzeg-Bosnia (which together currently form Bosnia and Herzegovina); Kosovo and Metohia in southern Serbia; Trasdnistria; North Ossetia, Chechnya, and Abkhazia in northern Caucasus region; Nagorno-Karabakh; and Northern Cyprus.

GeoCurrents has written extensively about these problematic regions and nationalist movements (follow links above), but Catalonia in particular is worth mentioning in view of the 250-mile human chain created in support of Catalan independence on 11 September 2013. Approximately 1.6 million people in Spain participated in this event, which became known as The Catalan Way towards Independence, or simply The Catalan Way. It was organized by the Assemblea Nacional Catalana (Catalan National Assembly), an organization that seeks the political independence of Catalonia from Spain through democratic means. Catalan nationalists have chosen public demonstrations and electoral politics over violence, in sharp contrast to hard-core Basque nationalists, who have long embraced militancy, attacking the Spanish state and its institutions with bombs and guns. It appears that the Catalan strategy has been much more successful than that of the Basques. Not just Spaniards at large, but the majority of Basques themselves have been so disgusted with the terrorism of the separatist ETA (Euskadi Ta Askatasuna) that the movement for Basque nationhood has lost its impetus. Catalan nationalism, by contrast, is gaining ground.

One of the reasons behind the Catalan independence movement is the desire to protect the local culture, which revolves around the Catalan language. Like Spanish, Catalan is a Romance language that evolved from Latin after the collapse of the Western Roman Empire in the 5th century CE. But despite being spoken in the Iberian Peninsula, Catalan is more closely related to French and Italian than to Spanish. For example, the Catalan word for ‘summer’ is estiu, derived from the same root as French été and Italian estate but not Spanish verano.  Similarly, the verb ‘to want’ in Catalan is voler, closely related to the French vouloir and Italian volere, whereas Spanish querer is clearly different. Both Catalan and Spanish incorporated words from Arabic, but not necessarily the same ones: Catalan borrowed alfàbia meaning ‘large earthware jar’ and rajola meaning ‘tile’, whereas Spanish adopted aceite and aceituna, meaning ‘oil’ and ‘olive’, respectively.

The Catalan language, however, is not limited to Catalonia. It is the national and only official language of the tiny country of Andorra, and a co-official language of the Balearic Islands and Valencia in Spain. It is also spoken, without official recognition, in parts of Aragon and Murcia in Spain, and in the French region of Roussillon. Because Catalan culture extends well beyond Catalonia, many sources explain the surging Catalan independence movement in economic rather than cultural terms. Catalonia is one of the wealthiest parts of Spain, and the taxes collected there subsidize the poorer parts of the country. With Spain’s current economic crisis, many of the region’s residents feel that they can no longer afford to support Extremadura and other poorer parts of the country. Such economic issues have the potential to bind indigenous Catalans with migrants from other parts of Spain who now live in the region.

The Spanish constitution bans outright votes on secession, and it is unclear whether most Catalans want full independence or merely enhanced autonomy. Even so, Catalonia appears to be well on the path “by which the citizens of Catalonia will be able to choose their political future as a people”, as stated in the recently adopted Catalan Sovereignty Declaration.

Finally, another territory that has not been mentioned in those lists of potential independent states is Vojvodina. In late 2009 Serbia granted its northern area of Vojvodina control over its own regional development, agriculture, tourism, transportation, health care, mining, and energy. Vojvodina, population two million, even gained representation in the European Union (although it will be allowed to sign only regional agreements, not international ones). Autonomy rather than independence, however, appears to be what the majority of local residents, 65% of whom are Serbian, want. Vojvodinans evidently favor autonomy largely for economic reasons. But claims for heightened self-rule can lead to further claims; already a local ethnic Hungarian group wants its own autonomous zone within the larger autonomous area of Vojvodina.


3-17-14 ADDITION: Regarding the deleted posting about available materials from the Italian Government Tourist Board. They no longer offer these types of wide-ranging regional material (free maps, posters, booklets, etc. via snail mail) as they once did. Some good things come to an end, and that posting was made in error. Travel stores would probably have a lot of those types of things.


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