5 Regions Fighting for Independence
January 30, 2018
This year, there are many regions throughout the world that are fighting to secede. This article will cover 5 of these regions where independence seems most relevant this year.
- South Ossetia
Current country: Georgia
South Ossetia is a region of the small post-Soviet state with the same name of our 4th state. Depending on who you ask, South Ossetia is already an independent country. Especially because it has one very important ally: Russia. A war was fought between the Russian Federation and Georgia over the fate of the small region in 2008, but it was brief and did not find an effective solution. The current leader of the nationalist movement is Leonid Tibilov, who has been seen multiple times with Vladimir Putin, the infamous president/dictator of Russia. As for now, their fate is undecided, but Georgia and South Ossetia are drifting farther and farther away from each other with no sign of stopping (Fuller).
Leonid Tibilov meeting with Vladimir Putin
Population: Flanders: 6.4 million Walloons: 8.2 million
Current country: Belgium
Belgium, as a unified country, is only a recent invention. The country declared independence in 1830 and was internationally recognized in 1831 after winning a war of independence against the Netherlands. However, their remains constant squabbling between the two regions that make up the country, Flanders and Walloons. The regions have their own cultures, histories, and even their own language (Flemish is a variation of Dutch.) Recently, Belgium was without a government for a shocking 541 days between 2010-2011. This was due to a split between the government. It was half Walloons, half Flemish. With this divide, it will be almost impossible to move forward together. This makes a perfect breeding ground for tensions, violence, and independence (Time).
A pro-Belgium protester
- East Turkestan
Population: 11 million
Current country: China
We are now going to look at a more dismal situation. That of East Turkestan and the People’s’ Republic of China. The two have been at odds for years, even though East Turkestan is part of China. The main rivalry stems from religion. Most of East Turkestan practices Islam, and most of the rest of China is either atheist or practices folk religions such as Taoism. Unlike Belgium, and more intense than in South Ossetia, East Turkestan has seen extreme terror and violence as a result of the East Turkestan Liberation Organization. A breakaway from China, although is unlikely because of China’s well-known history to crack down on anti-government movements. An independent East Turkestan would also be another addition to the list of radical Islamic nations, with a majority conservative muslim population and a heavy influence from other terrorist groups. An independant East Turkestan could result in an exact replica of Iran or Taliban Afghanistan. Needless to say, none of the major countries want to see East Turkestan as an independent republic anytime soon (Council on Foreign Relations).
Pro East Turkestan protesters.
Population: 12.4 million
Current country: Germany
The region of Bavaria, or Bayern in German, is the southernmost and largest region in the central European country. It had its own independent monarchy, the Kingdom of Bavaria, inside the German Empire. This ceased to exist however with the disastrous defeat of Germany at the hands of the Allied Powers in 1918. After the reunification of the country upon the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989-90, Bavaria began to push for more autonomy. As seen in East Turkestan and Belgium, Bavarians have a distinct culture set apart from the rest of area. The lederhosen, Oktoberfest, and sauerkraut, although they are associated with the rest of the republic, are Bavarian inventions. While most of Germany adheres to different forms of Protestantism, Bavaria is mostly Roman Catholic. In 2017, a German court ended any hopes of Bavarian independence, now called Bayxit after the British exit from the EU. The court declared it unconstitutional saying, “In the Federal Republic of Germany … states are not ‘masters of the constitution.” However, 1 in 3 Bavarians support breaking away from their historically associated country; roughly the same amount of Californians who want to secede from the US. This could lead to a stronger divide as Bavaria’s intentions stray further away from their own country (Taylor).
A sign in German that roughly reads “Choose the Republic of Bavaria this time!” with the crossed out words reading Federal Republic of Germany.
Population: 7.5 million
Current country: Spain
Just recently Catalonia’s independence movements made headlines as Spain cracked down on the unconstitutional referendum held in the region. The leader of the autonomous government, Carles Puigdemont, fled the country to Belgium. Although these recent events have made it famous, the Catalan independence movement has continued on and off for centuries. The small region, about the ⅕ the size of New York State, has its own language and culture, much like other regions on this list. Catalonia’s largest city is Barcelona, home of the famous futbol team and astounding architecture and natural beauty. After the illegal referendum of 2017, which stated that some 80% of voters wanted an independent state, mass protests and arrests by the Spanish police force made the international world cringe. With growing support for Catalan independence, Spain seems to be in a tight position. But for now, Catalonia will remain part of the country (BBC).
A Catalan protester holds up a sign of a popular English phrase.
These region’s dreams may seem far fetched, but history sometimes smiles on breakaway movements. Some may be quashed and some may succeed. We’ll just have to wait and see.
Brussels, Leo Cendrowicz /. “Belgian Waffling: Who Needs Government, Anyway?” Time, Time Inc., 21 Feb. 2011, content.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,2052843,00.html.
“Could Catalonia Make a Success of Independence?” BBC News, BBC, 22 Dec. 2017, www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-41474674.
“The East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM).” Council on Foreign Relations, Council on Foreign Relations, www.cfr.org/backgrounder/east-turkestan-islamic-movement-etim.
Fuller, Liz. “South Ossetia Offers New Model For ‘Union’ With Russia.” RadioFreeEurope/RadioLiberty, RadioFreeEurope/RadioLiberty, 6 Apr. 2016, www.rferl.org/a/caucasus-report-south-ossetia-russia-union-new-model/27658342.html.
Taylor, Adam. “German Court Shuts down Hopes for a Breakaway Bavaria.” The Washington Post, WP Company, 4 Jan. 2017, www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2017/01/04/a-german-court-has-shut-down-hopes-for-a-breakaway-bavaria/.