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Financial Times’ international editor criticises Spain’s stands on Catalonia’s separatism “in democratic Europe”

In an article published on Tuesday in the prestigious ‘Financial Times’, the newspaper’s chief foreign affairs commentator, Gideon Rachman, deplored Madrid’s attitude towards Catalan independence claims, opposing it to the “peaceful” and “consensual” Scottish referendum process enabled by the British Government. The journalist underlined that “there are remarkably few examples of nations breaking up in a civilised way”, mentioning China’s relations with Taiwan, or Turkey’s attitude towards Kurdistan. “Even in democratic Europe, Spain is refusing to contemplate the idea of an independence referendum for Catalonia”, he added. London’s attitude regarding the Scottish case, on the other hand, should be viewed as “a model” for other separatist cases, recognising the UK as a union of nations and stressing the people’s right to decide.

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18 February 2014 08:14 PM

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ACN

London (ACN).- In an article published on Tuesday in the prestigious ‘Financial Times’, the newspaper’s chief foreign affairs commentator, Gideon Rachman, deplored Madrid’s attitude towards Catalan independence claims, opposing it to the “peaceful” and “consensual” Scottish referendum process enabled by the British Government. The journalist underlined that “there are remarkably few examples of nations breaking up in a civilised way”, mentioning China’s relations with Taiwan, or Turkey’s attitude towards Kurdistan. “Even in democratic Europe, Spain is refusing to contemplate the idea of an independence referendum for Catalonia”, he added. London’s attitude regarding the Scottish case, on the other hand, should be viewed as “a model” for other separatist cases, recognising the UK as a union of “separate nations with historically distinctive identities” and acknowledging the people’s right to decide.


The Financial Times’ chief foreign affairs commentator praised the United Kingdom’s way of handling Scotland’s independence claims. Furthermore, he underlined that the fact the British Government had allowed the referendum is “a boost” for the UK’s international “reputation”. “The British brand is built around tolerance, the rule of law and democracy. There is no better demonstration of those values than the Scottish referendum”, Rachman added. In fact, he concluded that with this referendum the UK “would also offer a global lesson in the civilised way to handle separatism”.

Rachman highlighted that “there are remarkably few examples of nations breaking up in a civilised way”. He mentioned Norway’s peaceful separation from Sweden in 1905 or “the ‘velvet divorce’ between the Czechs and the Slovaks in 1993”. The journalist opposed these cases to other conflicts throughout the world that are not being solved in a democratic way. He mentioned the current relations between Spain and Catalonia, as well as China’s attitude towards Taiwan, Turkey’s towards Kurdistan or Russia’s towards Chechnya as examples of non-democratic and non-peaceful ways of handling separatist claims. “Even in democratic Europe, Spain is refusing to contemplate the idea of an independence referendum for Catalonia”, he stated.

The fate of each nation “is ultimately up to the people who live there”

 “I think the UK government’s willingness to allow the centuries-old union to be dissolved peacefully is a boost to the country’s reputation”, explained Gideon Rachman, describing the referendum process as “consensual” and “peaceful”. “The government in Westminster recognises that the UK is a union of separate nations with historically distinct identities: morally and practically it can only be kept together on the basis of consent”, explained the journalist. He also added that almost one century after Ireland became independent in a violent conflict, the UK was now aware that the fate each of these nations “is ultimately up to the people who live there”.

Rachman is convinced that in the end, even “if there is no guarantee that the divorce would be amicable”, as there are issues regarding the pound, EU membership, or public debt, “ultimately both Scotland and England would find a way to make a peaceful divorce work”. “That would be best for ‘the children’ of the UK” he highlighted, while adding, “but it would also offer a global lesson in the civilised way to handle separatism”.

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  • A caption from the Financial Times' website with Gideon Rachman's article (by The Financial Times)

  • A caption from the Financial Times' website with Gideon Rachman's article (by The Financial Times)