In de kijker

Grondvest

Colloquium ICEC
11-4-2019

For the fourth consecutive year, the International Commission of European Citizens (ICEC) organized a conference in the European Parliament under the watchful eye of MEP Mark Demesmaeker (N-VA). On the same day that Theresa May almost begged the European Parliament to postpone the Brexit, ICEC shed its light on the possible consequences for Ireland and Scotland if the United Kingdom were to leave the European Union. Furthermore, there were also shocking testimonies about state violence in several European member states which are to this day still covered up by the European authorities with the cloak of charity. 


Brussels, 21st March 2019 - That the Brexit in itself can be regarded as an expression of the right to self-determination is indisputable. In the articles of Association of ICEC is described as follows: "The Association aims to promote democratic values and human rights, including the democratic right to self-determination. This right must be applied to all international fora and more specifically by the institutions of the European Union. The right to self-determination means that nations themselves can always determine how far their sovereignty reaches out and how much political power is transferred to international organizations." But in the case of the Brexit, there is a big catch. When we talk about national self-determination we cannot fully on the United Kingdom apply because, as EP-member Martina Anderson (Sinn Féin) fell to the point: "the UK is not a nation." She pointed out delicately on that for this reason the representatives of her party from the North of Ireland operate traditionally a consistent empty chair policy in the Parliament of Westminster.

 

Indeed, the majority of the English has chosen for the Brexit but this is not true for the Scots and the Irish. Anderson denounced the fact that without a custom arrangement for Ireland, the Brexit is a mockery for the Good Friday agreement of more than 20 years ago that brought an end to the violence on the island, and which provided for a common administration for the Republic of Ireland and the Government of Belfast (Stormont) on 'cross-border network issues '. The ' Good Friday agreement is an international treaty that cannot simply be ignored. But the British Government today is based precisely on the only party in Ireland that this Treaty has never accepted, the ultra-British Irish of the DUP, founded by the late Reverend Ian Paisley, the rabid unionist. The DUP has at the imposed power-sharing always claimed its share of power but never contributed to the constructive cooperation in the Government of Northern Ireland. This has also led to a blocking of the institutions in recent years. Anderson considers London as being responsible for this because the British government is doing everything but impartially, even if it contradicts the Good Friday agreements. Anderson called on all international treaty parties to respect the spirit of the Treaty. In the circumstances, in her view, only a referendum on a United Ireland – while maintaining a number of Northern Irish institutions – can break the deadlock. 

 

In Scotland, it seems that they are waiting to see how things work out. At first, it was a battle that a new independence referendum had to come before the Brexit was a reality, and then one wanted to lobby for a ' soft Brexit', for example with the preservation of the Customs Union (but this option wasn’t supported by the 35 SNP MP's during the indicative votes in Westminster on 28 March NSDC). It seems that the Scottish nationalists only want to come back to the plan once the Brexit is a reality.

 

Robin Mac Alpine is the foreman of the think tank Common Weal, which over the years has built up a solid reputation in the field of study work to substantiate an independent Scotland, which has succeeded in a party-untied Scottish movement to awaken and keep the campaign for a new referendum going. Today, however, Mac Alpine believes that the call for a new referendum may be obsolete. Scottish independence is becoming a necessity, and more than ever this necessity must be stressed.

 

But Mac Alpine was particularly focussed on the problem of ' Europe ' itself. "The Brexit is a symptom. The European Union is only for companies, not for the nations, nor for the citizens. The EU stands for more technocratic and less democracy. One wants uniform rules for a continent that is not uniform (...) Nevertheless, we Scots, voted in a majority (62%) to remain on board the EU. That also applies to me. But we are extremely critical of the EU that can only survive if the decision-making power is placed as close to the citizens as possible." This means decentralized governance, increased civic participation, decision-making powers as far as possible at lower echelons.

 

Professor Emeritus Jan Degadt talked about the consequences of the Brexit for Flanders, together with the Netherlands (and Ireland) the most important trading partners of the United Kingdom. He first recalled that the European Union was more than a mere economic cooperation project from the very beginning in the years 1950. "Only states can become members, which is frustrating for constituent regions such as Scotland, Flanders, and Catalonia. But there is a wondrous variation of relationships for a number of special areas. In 1978, Greenland left the European Union while still belonging to the Kingdom of Denmark.” The Spanish cities of Ceuta and Melilla on the Moroccan coast also belong to Spain but not to the EU or to the Customs Union, but are exempt from import levies.

 

(caption photo) ICEC-panel about the Brexit F.L.T.R.: Prof. Jan Degadt, Robin Mac Alpin, host Mark Demesmaeker, Martina Anderson (Sinn Féin) and Bernard Daelemans.

 

But with regard to the consequences for Flanders: while the average EU export to the UK is 5.8%, this is for the Netherlands 8.22%, for Flanders 8.26% and for Ireland 11.28%. In absolute terms, Flemish exports to the UK amount to 27.85 billion euros, while the import accounts for 15.28 billion euro on an annual basis (2017). There will be a number of pressing problems, for example for Flemish fisheries on fishing rights.

 

The second topic of the seminar was initiated by the Catalan ICEC spokesperson Anna Arqué. It seemed very gloomy to her to chair a panel entitled ' State Violence ', as this means that in the 21st century, cruel and inhuman practices still persist in Europe. "It is nevertheless very ironic to see how much the European institutions are shaking on their foundations, and how much Junker, Tusk, May, Merkel, etc. Being occupied by attending meetings to show their greatest concern when it comes to the free movement of goods, while the light is immediately going out and the stage is abandoned when it relates to violations of freedoms in human rights and political expression. "

 

State violence is called 'legitimate', but that is very problematic, especially if we know how, for example, the Constitution, on which we are therefore recalling members of Parliament and members of the government, has been historically established in specific Circumstances with the explicit aim of whitewashing the former Francoist power makers and to suppress potential future revolts in Catalonia and the Basque Country militarily.

 

A distressing case is Altsasu, about which Isabel Pozueta came to testify. In the Navarrese village of Altsasu, a banal café quarreled in the early hours of 15 October 2016 in a scuffle with many involved, including two members of the Guardia Civil, who were hoisting in civilians. One of them ended up with a broken ankle. A miserable occurrence of which thousands occur annually in Spain (approx. 9300 in 2017) and which usually result in a conviction for damages and other slight penalties.

 

Not so, however, in Altsasu, a village with a strong Basque community, where associations and victims of ETA suddenly went into the case of a typical case of 'social terror ', a story that was made by the Spanish press and was swallowed as sweet cake. Instead of the case being settled by the local Court of Pamplona, the lawyers of the Guardia Civil were Able to qualify the case as ' terrorist crime ' so that the Special Terrorism Tribunal Audiencia Nacional of Madrid jurisdiction, which disproportionate sentences of 9 to 13 years, without the possibility of early release and where the seven young people involved, like ETA convicts in prisons, were locked away from home. Admittedly, the Audiencia Nacional had to recognize that there were no terrorist crimes but nevertheless, the punishment of the Order of a terrorist crime remained

 

That the court of Pamplona had protested at the Audiencia Nacional on this breach of jurisdiction was not to be allowed: the Spanish Supreme Court deemed the Audiencia Nacional competent.

 

During the last summer, young people could be transferred to a prison in the Basque Country. An appeal procedure is pending before the Spanish Supreme Court, after which it can also be drawn to Strasbourg. Meanwhile, these young still remain in the cell for years, essentially just because they are Basque.

 

While the Spanish State violence is abundantly clear, the Corsican François Alfonsi, mayor of Osani, came to testify about the Corsican justice. Despite the recent overwhelming electoral victory of the Corsican nationalists, the Corsicans only fall into contempt. "It can be said that in Spain the right to political self-determination is violated and the right to act for an independent Catalonia. But Our Corsicans are even denied the right to existence. We do not have the right to exist, not as people, not as a culture, not even as a language community.” Alfonsi referred to the blunt refusal of President Macron to grant even one of the Corsican aspirations and described in detail the humiliating visit to the French president a year ago, where even no Corsican flag could hang on the Places where it came to speak.

 

Unfortunately, due to a delayed timing, Karl Drabbe (Doorbraak) could not take the floor during the conference. Nevertheless, We called him for a response. Delgado has noted that in the most important English dictionaries (Oxford, Cambridge, London, Collins) There is no lemma like ' State Violence ' and the notion does not occur neither as part of another lemma. Peculiar loophole. He also noted that the two Western European examples cited at the conference were not by chance France and Spain. This last country is without shame an example of ' hard power ' to suppress the rebel regions, while France employs more subtle ' soft power '. France, for example, succeeds in drowning the fish with its recent administrative reform, by letting historic regions go up in larger wholes.

 

Both countries are also young states with centralist tendencies. He refers to the standard work of Eugen Weber ' Turning Peasants into Frenchmen ' which describes the creation of the French nation state, which takes between 1789 and 1918 "with the heel of the boot and the bayonet on the rifle" and in which the First World war has been a crucial phase.

 

 

Today, state centralism seems to be victorious, and the right to self-determination is under pressure, Mark Demesmaeker concluded the Study Day. "The right of self-determination is supposedly a universal human right until it collides with the ruling order. It may exist as long as it is neat, obedient and submissive. More ambition is mercilessly punished, up to the court. "

 

Bernard Daelemans

                                                          

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