Independence of Scotland would be a step towards transformation of the British Commonwealth, while independence of Catalonia would be real disintegration of Spain, because they are absolutely different nations with different traditions.
Scottish nationalists have not given up hopes for parting with Great Britain, despite the outcomes of the referendum of September 2014. In an interview with
Alexei Fenenko, Assistant Professor of the Chair of International Security, Faculty of World Politics, Lomonosov Moscow State University, speaks out on the subject of secession and other issues related to this problem.
What does the victory of the Conservatives at the general parliamentary elections of May 2015 mean for Scotland? Can the country, as an part of Great Britain, actually gain more powers as promised by David Cameron?
I believe that the Conservatives will stick to the middle-line course. Certain concessions for Scotland will doubtlessly be made. Cameron's goal is to split the Scottish protest, banking on the moderates ready for a compromise with London, and to try to modernize the radicals, those who endorse secession from the United Kingdom.
In my opinion, Scotland will enlarge the powers to a certain extent, especially in the context of local government and in budget allocation issues. At the same time, the Conservatives will try to silence any talks about Scotland's secession from Great Britain.
The intrigue is most likely elsewhere: if Scotland's authority is extended, the same will be asked by Wales and Northern Ireland, and that would be a serious uprising indeed, then the Conservatives will have to comply with them too. I am confident that Cameron's government will put all efforts to avoid such a situation.
What is behind the desire of many Scots to see their country independent - nationalism, patriotism or, perhaps, mere economic reasons? Or, probably, something else is behind it? What is becoming the main driving force of independence?
In my opinion, this desire is based on two central ideas. One of them, which is traditional and quite commonplace, consists in the fact that Scotland does want independence for national motives. Starting from the 17th century, after the debacle of Scotland's House of Stuart, Scots have always felt like an annexed territory, somewhat conquered by the English. That is how the time of historical revenge is gradually approaching.
The other idea, which seems more reasonable to me, is that London is seeking for a means of overhauling its British Commonwealth. Imagine Scotland separating from England in September the previous year, what would be the outcome? The outcome would be Elizabeth II still remaining the Queen of Scotland. Great Britain would have changed just one letter in its name: the United Kingdom would have been transformed into the United Kingdoms, consisting of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Let us take a look at another moment: two former colonies of Britain – Australia and Gibraltar – held referendums on retention of the British Crown's power in 1999 and 2005. I do not rule out that the Scottish government can be instigated to realize the project. The government of the Conservatives is elaborating an interesting project of Britain's withdrawal from the European Union and recreation of some integration group based on the British Commonwealth.
How actively, to your mind, does the Scottish society advocate independence?
There is support, but it is, as the referendum results have demonstrated, not dominant. We need to understand what we envision as independence, because there are different versions of it.
No one in Scotland wants total independence. However, independence where Elizabeth II stays at power as the Queen and, thusly, where confederate ties with London stay intact, is widely supported, though not dominantly.
What country can be called a role model for Scotland?
Such country is simply inexistent. As we discussed earlier, it would be recreation of the British Commonwealth on some new wave of historical development. Speaking of historical parallels, we can recall a country named Austria-Hungary. Something similar may appear in Britain, in other words, a union of several monarchies under the power of the British Crown. There are chances for emergence of such an extraordinary confederate union.
If one day Scotland gains independence, would not that be a precedent and an impetus for other nations without statehood, for example, Catalonia, Basque Country or Wales, to follow its example?
The situation in Scotland is different. Independence of Scotland would be a step towards transformation of the British Commonwealth, while independence of Catalonia would be real disintegration of Spain, because they are absolutely different nations with different traditions.