Why Catalonia shouldn’t be compared with Donbas or CrimeaVolodymyr Horbach
It would be incorrect to compare the situation in Spain regarding Catalonia’s efforts to proclaim independence with the events in Ukraine’s Donbas and Crimea. Such a comparison is rather a media manipulation. Such wave was launched in Russia, but it was soon picked up by many in Ukraine - both the public and media. It’s a shame that local media outlets keep spreading such an idea instead of offering their own perspective. And then it turns out that we start denying reports and trying to prove that this is not the case. And this wrong and unbeneficial.
However, such parallels are being drawn because the method of analogy is the most evident one in the analysis and allows through certain stereotypes from other situations or past to better understand certain events. In this case, Ukrainians use Russian stereotypes when comparing Catalonia with Crimea, Abkhazia, or South Ossetia. It is simply wrong.
As to the essence of the matter, the situations in Spain and Ukraine are simply disproportionate and incomparable. By and large, the analogy between Ukraine as a whole and Catalonia would be correct. After all, at one time Ukraine fought for and gained independence from the Russian Empire, the Soviet Union. Similarly, Catalonia has struggled for centuries for its autonomy, for the creation of a federation within Spain, and is now struggling for its own independence. In my opinion, this would be a correct historical analogy, because the scale of Ukrainian and Catalan craving for autonomy and independence are comparable and do have historical parallels.
Therefore, there is nothing in common in these situations, except for the word "referendum", which a Crimea survey was branded
Instead, the situation with the Russian occupation of Crimea, Donbas, Abkhazia and North Ossetia is of a completely different nature. First and foremost, external interventions took place in these cases, and referenda were instigated, set up, and held under the leadership of the occupation forces and with their full assistance. That’s anything but what is being happening in Catalonia...
Therefore, there is nothing in common in these situations, except for the word "referendum", which a Crimea survey was branded.
In any case, Ukraine should be very careful in its reactions to the events in Catalonia. Spokesperson for Ukraine's Ministry of Foreign Affairs Mariana Betsa has already made a statement. In my opinion, a really correct position has been voiced. It remains restrained, and that's good. After all, the worst thing Ukraine could do was to intervene in Spain’s internal affairs. Ukraine must in no way allow this to happen.
In addition, the consistency of Ukraine’s foreign policy is important. Kyiv must adhere to a consistent line, remaining a predictable partner at the European and global level. On its part, the Kingdom of Spain has been and remains Ukraine’s long-standing and stable partner on the issue of recognizing or not recognizing all sorts of separatists across Europe.
For example, Spain is the only EU member state that did not recognize the independence of the Republic of Kosovo. Similarly, Kosovo’s independence was never recognized by Ukraine. And the moves are quite understandable. That’s because in both countries there is a problem of internal separatism. In Ukraine, this was an issue of Crimea as the Russians had never concealed the fact that they would in the future try to use the Kosovo precedent to annex the Black Sea peninsula. That's what they did, actually. That is, Ukraine’s fears weren’t groundless after all.
So the coordination of Ukraine’s foreign policy lines in this issue with Madrid is a correct step. Such line should be pursued further without any sharp fluctuations.
Volodymyr Horbach is a political analyst at the Institute for Euro-Atlantic Cooperation