Scots are Better Off in a United Kingdom

by Zoran Vidić in Toronto

The referendum for the independence of Scotland from the U.K. is behind us, but the fallout has yet to settle. 

The pro-independence party has been getting thousands of new members since the vote and disappointed Scottish nationalists are crying foul over the easy-given and even-easier-forgotten promises by the leaders of the major British parties to cede more control to the Scots over their own affairs.

Just to the south of Britain, Catalan nationalists are marching in hundreds of thousands asking for the same right as Scotland – to vote for the independence of Catalonia from Spain.

And this is just the beginning. There are many independence movements all over Europe and the world, including our own in the heart of Canada: Quebec. 

Having been born and raised in a country that no longer exists thanks to the explosion of viral nationalism followed by bloody disintegration, I constantly fail to fully understand the desire to become a citizen of a smaller and less significant country than the one you currently live in.

Also, I am still flabbergasted by the irresponsible, cynical and vengeful support for the separation of Kosovo from Serbia by the Western powers. Following some very confused and highly inconsistent logic, their act has opened the proverbial Pandora’s Box and evil spirits are out, wreaking havoc over international laws and norms.

[quote align=”center” color=”#999999″]And this is just the beginning. There are many independence movements all over Europe and the world, including our own in the heart of Canada: Quebec.[/quote]

Yugoslavia as superpower

As a citizen of the late Yugoslavia, I was proud to live in a country that included different religions, cultures, languages and even histories. It was a country of roughly 25 million people, four religions, five major languages and dozens of minority ones. It stretched from the Alps and Adriatic Sea to the valleys and mountains of Macedonia. Slovenes, Croats, Serbs, Bosniaks, Albanians and many other “nations and nationalities” (as it was stated in the Constitution), living in a state of “brotherhood and unity” (Sic!).

Yugoslavia was a founding member of the UN, leader of the Non-alignment Movement and an important buffer between the East and the West. We all rooted for the Yugoslav national team consisting of players from Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Macedonia, and we revelled in their victories. Yugoslavia was a superpower in basketball, water polo, handball, volleyball, and we had a respectable soccer team and internationally-renowned coaches.

Insignificant statelets

Fast forward 25 years and all these federal republics are now independent states, including a few stillborn statelets such as BiH and Kosovo. None of them has even a fraction of significance, respect or power the mother country had. Slovenia was relatively fortunate to avoid bloodshed and managed to maintain a high standard of living, but hardly anyone has heard of Slovenia, and those who have, frequently confuse it with Slovakia (to add to confusion, they have very similar flags, too).

Despite the promises of “democracy” and instant membership to the EU offered by Croatian nationalists in the 1990’s, it took over 20 years for Croats to gain their EU passports. In these two decades, Croatia went through a civil war, extreme nationalism, economic decline and ethnic cleansing of nearly 240,000 of its citizens of Serbian origin.

In Bosnia and Herzegovina, it ended up much worse than that. After four years of a bloody civil war between the indigenous Serbs, Croats and Muslims, almost 100,000 dead and with the economy teleported back to 1950, it is a dysfunctional, corrupt and inefficient state, split in two-and-a-half entities and governed by inept leaders.

[quote align=”center” color=”#999999″]None of them has even a fraction of significance, respect or power the mother country had.[/quote]

Serbia as pariah

Serbia ended up as a pariah state and is generally blamed for everything that happened, although it was the only ex-Yugoslav republic that was against the disintegration of the unitary state. Unfortunately, the leaders at the time were Slobodan Milosevic and his clique, and their stupidity and inability to keep pace with changes in the world around them led them straight to The Hague and an early grave. Except for those who survived and are now “pro-western democratic leaders.”

Montenegro remained as insignificant as it has always been, and is more or less, private property of the cigarette smuggling ringleader Milo Djukanovic and his cronies.

Kosovo, the latest gem in the crown of American geopolitical engineering, is a failed statelet whose political leaders are indistinguishable from drug lords. Members of the government are being investigated for kidnapping and killing Serbs and selling their organs, and over 60 per cent of the population is unemployed, while the birth rate is among of highest in the world.

The only people who profited from nationalism are local chieftains, who aroused the masses with cheap slogans and makeshift history in order to seize power locally, because deep down they knew that was their limit. No great vision, just narrow-minded self-interest.

[quote align=”center” color=”#999999″]I constantly fail to fully understand the desire to become a citizen of a smaller and less significant country than the one you currently live in.[/quote]

A mini EU

Today, almost a quarter of century after the dissolution of Yugoslavia, one of the main promises the politicians make to their electorate is that “by 2025, we will have the standard of living we had in 1990.” Every sane person who remembers Yugoslavia agrees that it was a “mini-EU”, a peaceful, safe, beautiful and colourful country, admired by then less-fortunate Eastern Bloc countries for high living standards and unprecedented freedoms they could only dream of.

So, where were we? Aha, independence. Answer to all out problems? Not at all.

Scotland, Catalonia, Quebec, Texas … will not be better countries on their own. They will be small, insignificant corners of the world, vulnerable to the geopolitical changes and whims of history. It takes an effort to build and maintain. Demolishing is the easy part.

So, yay or nay?

Eh?

Zoran Vidić is a communications expert and journalist. He began his career in 1997 as a reporter for a major daily in Belgrade, Serbia, and moved to Canada in 2001.

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Zoran Vidić is a communications and public relations specialist, reporter, writer and editor with over 15 years of experience in Canada and Serbia. Zoran holds a BA in journalism and political science from the Belgrade University in Serbia, and a MA in journalism from Carleton University in Ottawa.Vidićhas been living in Belgrade, Serbia since January 2015.