|George Robertson (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
Foolishly eschewing the option to draw a discrete veil over his Balkanisation blethers in the hope that it might be soon forgotten, Robertson later sought to clarify what he meant in a letter to The Scotsman in which he wrote,
“I cannot see why Scotland’s separatists recoil at the entirely appropriate use of the word separatism, and why the word ‘Balkanisation’ is also too potent for them. The dictionary definition of Balkanise is ‘divide (a region or a body) into smaller mutually hostile states or groups’. That seems to say it all. If the break-up of Britain was to become the model for tomorrow’s Europe, then our future will be bleak indeed.”
My dictionary provides the same definition of “Balkanisation” as Lord Robertson’s but Lord Robertson makes the unwarranted assumption that Scottish independence (or indeed independence for Catalonia, Flanders or anywhere else in Europe) will automatically result in the mutual hostility that is part of the definition of Balkanisation. I would suggest that the way in which the UK government has recognized the right of the Scottish people to choose their future and the way in which to date the process has been agreed means that others are looking with interest to Scotland as an example of just how Balkanisation can best be avoided.
In a united Europe I would suggest that Balkanisation is far more likely to result from others seeking to copy the British approach to participation in the European Union than from Scotland, and others perhaps, seeking to join that Union on equal terms with the other member states.