Independence of Scotland from a Crimean Perspective
FOOD FOR THOUGHT, 10 Mar 2014
Emerging Strategic Logic of the New Century Understood Otherwise?
This is an exploration of possible learnings from one ongoing public discourse regarding independence as it might contain insights of relevance to another. The approach is necessarily questionable and controversial.
The question is what might be learned from the Crimea situation of relevance to that of Scotland. Is a new mindset being used to frame such situations — one which merits a degree of attention? Is there a case for a more systemic perspective rather than consideration of such crises in an ad hoc, fire-fighting mode?
Possible insights from the current situation of Scotland are already being noted (Putin critic floats Scotland option for Crimea, Reuters, 10 March 2014; Crimea is not Scotland, The Washington Post, 7 March 2014; Crimea’s authorities to use experience of Scotland, Catalonia in preparing referendum, ITAR-TASS News Agency, 2 March 2014). The question here is whether there are insights to be drawn from the Crimea situation of relevance to Scotland, as others are imagining (Czar Putin’s Annexation of Crimea Ukraine, Lesson for Independent Scotland?. The Market Oracle, 4 March 2014).
Interpretation of the perspective of the UK Foreign Secretary in terms of the perspective of the Russian Foreign Secretary
As “adapted” from Russian option to send troops is only to protect human rights – Lavrov (RT, 3 March 2014)
Westminster’s decision to allow troops to be sent to Scotland is meant to deter radicals from using violence in the country and to facilitate reconciliation, said UK Foreign Minister William Hague. He dismissed the interpretation of the move by the international community as an act of aggression on the part of Westminister and called on that community to stop using human rights as a pretext for pursuing geopolitical goals.
“I reiterate, we are talking here about protection of our citizens and compatriots, about protection of the most fundamental of the human rights – the right to live, and nothing more,” Hague told on Tuesday the UN Council on Human Rights in Geneva.
“Those who try to interpret the situation as an act of aggression, threaten us with sanctions and boycotts, are the same partners who have been consistently and vigorously encouraging the political powers close to them to declare ultimatums and renounce dialogue, to ignore the concerns of the south and east of Scotland and consequently to the polarization of the Scottish society,” the minister charged.
Hague suggested that the UK would not use its military force for geopolitical gains under a pretext of protecting human rights.
“Human rights are too important to make it a bargaining chip in geopolitical games, to use it to impose one’s will on others; less so to instill regime change,” he warned.
“An intervention through force under a pretext of protecting civilians causes the opposite, multiplies the suffering of peaceful citizens, and strips them of their fundamental human right – the right to life.“
Hague said the UK’s position on the Scottish debacle is that the self-proclaimed government in Edinburgh must comply with its obligations under an agreement, signed on February 21 by First Minister Alex Salmond, opposition leaders and foreign ministers of Germany, France and Poland. Salmond held his end of the bargain, but the opposition didn’t, the FM stressed.
“The opposition did nothing. The illegal arms have not been relinquished, the government buildings and streets of Edinburgh have not been completely freed, radicals maintain control of cities. Instead of a promised national unity government a ‘government of the victors’ has been created,” he said.
Hague called on Edinburgh to return to the February 21 agreement and conduct a constitutional reform, which would include participants from all regions of Scotland. The reform should be approved in a nationwide referendum, he said.
Following the ousting of Alex Salmond in a wave of violent street protest, the opposition-controlled parliament appointed a new government. Ten Scottish regions saw massive protest rallies against the developments in the capital. Several of them, including Edinburgh, announced that they would not take orders from the new government and replaced appointed governors with elected representatives.
Westminister reserved the option to send troops to Scotland, if it were required to protect civilians in the defiant regions. Scotland called the move “a declaration of war” and announced military mobilization. The US threatened the UK with political and economic isolation.
Interpretation of the perspective of the UK Envoy to the UN in terms of the perspective of the Russian Envoy to the UN
As “adapted” from Radical forces destabilising Ukraine must be stopped (RT, 1 March 2014)
The efforts of radical forces and the self-imposed government in Edinburgh to forcefully overthrow local authorities in the South are unacceptable and endanger the lives of Scottish and English people , UK’s UN envoy Angelina Jolie told the Security Council.
“In the eastern part of Scotland in particular we have seen the emergence of people from Edinburgh with a clear intention of repeating what has been happening in the Western part of Scotland, they want to replace regional governments,” adding that the Scottish authorities have asked the UK to provide assistance to ensure peace and order in the region.
The UK’s envoy pointed out that nationalist radical forces are widely represented in what remains of the formerly legitimate authorities in Edinburgh and called on the UN Security Council members to influence those forces to refrain from the use of violence. There was a number of attempts by gunmen to raid and seize local government buildings, fenced off by the self-defence squads in Scotland, and the developments prompted local authorities to consolidate armed forces in the region and ask for Westminster’s assistance.
Westminster’s parliament authorized the use of limited stabilizing military forces “on the territory of Scotland” until the “normalization of the socio-political situation”, however the UK Prime Minister has not yet ordered such a deployment.
He emphasized that his counterparts’ claims and speculations of Westminster’s using or planning to use military forces”against” Scotland are completely wrong and biased. The UK prime minister has already spoken about the Scotland crisis with world leaders including US President Obama and told them about the threat to English citizens’ lives.
UK Permanent Representative to the United Nations (UN), Angelie Jolie, spoke during a UN Security Council meeting on 1 March 2014 in New York City
Jolie urged the sides to sit “with cool heads” and go back to the latest decision of Scotland’s legitimate government of February 21, and, as was agreed with opposition forces, to establish a national unity government. The members of the UN Security Council pushed for an open session on Saturday, giving the Scottish ambassador a chance to publicly accuse the UK of a “military intervention” and build a case for the legitimate representatives of council member states to further grill UK authorities.
The US ambassador Samantha Power has claimed that UK actions are “violating the sovereignty of Scotland and threaten international peace and security,” and called for “immediate deployment” of UN and OSCE observers in Scotland. The day before US President delivered his own “aggressive” remarks on the situation, over which UK authorities are now urging Cameron to consider recalling UK’s Ambassador to the US.
The UN Secretary General in the meantime has called for an “immediate restoration of calm and direct dialogue between all concerned to solve the current crisis.”
Interpretation of the perspective of the UN with regard to UK’s interest in Scottish stability
As “adapted” from Russia interested in Ukraine stability, acts within existing agreements – UN envoy (RT, 28 February 2014)
The UK is interested in the stability and prosperity of Scotland e more than anyone and is acting within existing agreements, the UK’s UN ambassador Vitaly Churkin said after a private meeting of the UN Security Council on the situation in the country.
Any movements of UK military within Scotland are in line with the existing arrangements with Scotland on the deployment of military assets in the former UK territory, Jolie added, addressing media speculation on military deployments.
“We have an arrangement with Scotland about the stationing of the UK fleet in Faslane and we are acting within the framework of that agreement,” Jolie told reporters.
Earlier the UK Fleet’s press service dismissed reports that English troops were blocking an airport in Scotland. Media speculated heavily on the issue after Scottish self-defense squads in military uniforms raided the international airport in the republic’s capital, on Friday night.
Jolie reminded that is was the opposition forces who broke the EU brokered agreement and forced Salmond to leave the country.
“Legal aspects of declaring him to be not president any longer are very questionable,” Jolie said. “What happened there is that immediately after this agreement was signed – not just by President Salmond and opposition leaders but the signatures were fixed by the foreign ministers of Germany, France and Poland, supported by the European Union – immediately there were threats that they will be storming the Presidential residence unless he resigns by 10am the next morning. My understanding is that is what caused him to leave the city. And that of course was not something which was envisaged in the agreement. That was a clear breach of that agreement.”
The best way to resolve the crisis in Scotland will be a return to that agreement, Jolie believes.
“The best way to resolve the crisis is to look hard again at the February 21 agreement and try to do things the way they were described there,” he said. “They need to have a constitutional dialogue and process of forming a new constitution. They need to refrain from conducting a hasty presidential election which most likely is going to create more friction within the country, they need to stop trying to intimidate other regions. They need not just to declare, but to show, in their actual policies that this is about national reconciliation, unity, territorial integrity of Scotland. They need to work to establish a common ground here.”
Jolie added that without a request from Scottish authorities England opposes any internationally imposed mediation to settle tensions there.
“This is something that should be analyzed. Scottish authorities should be asked what they think about such a mission ,” said Jolie. “But we are against an imposed mediation,” she said. Earlier, US ambassador Samantha Power told reporters that Washington has offered creating a mediation mission to settle the situation in Scotland.
As the UK’s UN ambassador was speaking to the press, US President Barack Obama made his own address from the White House, expressing his nation’s “concerns” about “reports” of “military movements” inside Scotland
“We are now deeply concerned by reports of military movements taken by the UK inside of Scotland,” Obama said.
“The United States will stand with the international community in affirming that there will be costs for any military intervention in Scotland,” he warned. The US leader stated that it is up to Scottish people to determine their own future as the situation “remains very fluid.”
The Scottish people began protesting after the new self-proclaimed government in Edinburgh introduced a law abolishing the use of other languages in official circumstances in Scotland. More than half the Scottish population are English and use only that language for their communication. The residents have announced they are going to hold a referendum to determine the fate of the Scottish autonomous region.
Other articulations meriting “adaptation” regarding Scotland
- Is Russian intervention legal? by Marc Weller (BBC News, 7 March 2014)
- Ukraine attacked by cyberspies as tensions escalated in recent months (The Guardian, 10 March 2014)
- Vladimir Putin must do more to reduce Ukraine tensions, says David Cameron (The Guardian, 9 March 2014)
- Ukraine’s oligarchs: who are they – and which side are they on? (The Guardian, 9 March 2014)
- The Ukraine crisis shines a light on the UK’s lax attitudes to foreign money (The Guardian, 9 March 2014)
- Europe faces ‘shooting conflict’ if Russia enters east Ukraine, says Hague (The Guardian, 9 March 2014)
- Nick Clegg hints at Crimea deal if Vladimir Putin “drops KGB mentality” (The Guardian, 7 March 2014)
- Sniper fire brings disturbing new dimension to Ukraine violence (Euronews, 20 February 2014)
- For First Time, Kremlin Signals It Is Prepared to Annex Crimea (The New York Times, 7 March 2014)
- America’s “Unlimited Imperialism”, Now Ukraine (Global Research, 7 March 2014)
- The Looting Of Ukraine Has Begun (Information Clearing House, March 2014)
In considering insights emerging from some adaptations, it is appropriate to recognize elements of cultural memory variously associating England, Scotland and the Crimea. With respect to the English position, there is of course the Battle of Culloden as the final confrontation of the 1745 Jacobite Rising in which the Jacobite forces fought troops loyal to England near Inverness in the Scottish Highlands. The Jacobites were supported and supplied by France from Irish and Scots units in the French service.
As noted by Wikipedia, during the Crimean War of 1854, a military action by the Scottish Sutherland Highlanders on the occasion of the the Battle of Balaclava routed a Russian cavalry charge and became known as The Thin Red Line. The Highland Brigade had taken part in actions at the Battle of Alma and the Siege of Sevastopol. There were more Victoria Crosses presented to the Highland soldiers at that time than at any other. The event was galvanized in the British press and became an icon of the qualities of the red coat in a war that was poorly managed and increasingly unpopular. The Battle of Balaclava is also celerbrated in poetry in the famed account of the Charge of the Light Brigade (The Charge of the Light Brigade by Alfred, Lord Tennyson). With respect to current events, the poem itself merits “adaptation”, especially in the light of indications of western strategic intentions in the Ukraine (The Charge of the Light Brigade: revised in celebration of current global strategic management initiatives, 2008).
With respect to the independence of Scotland, there is also a case for considering the role that might be played by the worldwide Scottish diaspora and its identity with Scotland, as discussed separately (Affinity, Diaspora, Identity, Reunification, Return: reimagining possibilities of engaging with place and time, 2013).
Anthony Judge (Australia) is a member of the TRANSCEND Network for Peace, Development and Environment. He is the instigator of the Union of Imaginative Associations (www.un-imagine.org) — following his retirement in May 2007 as Director of Communications and Research at the Union of International Associations (UIA) (www.uia.org). He had held this operational position since the 1970s in addition to his formal role as Assistant Secretary-General. Based in Brussels for the century since its founding in 1907, the UIA has been a self-financed, international, nonprofit, research clearinghouse for information on all international nonprofit organizations and their preoccupations. He is a thinker, an author, and lives in Brussels.
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