MOSCOW, August 18 (RIA Novosti) - Calls for independence in the northern Italian province of South Tyrol are part of a disintegration trend that could be fatal for the EU, experts interviewed by RIA Novosti say.
Inspired by Scotland's upcoming referendum, residents of South Tyrol are making calls for independence as well, The Local reported Sunday. Most of the population in the region speaks German, while only a quarter speaks Italian and others speak the local language of Ladin. Formerly a part of Austria, South Tyrol was annexed by Italy after WWI.
Dmitry Danilov, head of the department for European security at the Institute of Europe RAS, believes that the process of European integration has an underlying force running counter to it. “It is just like with globalization, which is being followed by regionalization. National movements, desires for autonomy and secession fit into a disintegration trend,” Danilov said.
The expert stressed that regardless of whether there is an actual chance of achieving independence, these tendencies are undermining Europe’s existence as a socio-political system.
An associate professor at Moscow State University of International Relations, Kirill Koktysh, agrees, saying that South Tyrol’s independence plans could threaten not only Italy, but the existence of the European Union as well.
“This is a threat to Italy as a state. We shouldn’t forget that it was formed as a union of principalities. Genoa, Florence, Venice – three different Italies, three different identities,” Koktysh said.
DIFFICULT TO FIND A BALANCE
According to Koktysh, the possibility of South Tyrol declaring independence is very real. “It can happen for the simple reason that separatist movements grow as the overall quality of life drops,” the associate professor explained, saying that people hope the most economically advanced areas will keep a higher standard of living than the country average.
“This may be the case with Tyrol, considering Italy is amongst the countries that have suffered the most from the European crisis. It may not come to a declaration of independence, but the speculation will go on,” Koktysh said.
Danilov did not go so far as to call the South Tyrol movement separatism. “This is not separatism; it is the formation of new socio-cultural autonomies. This is a process that goes in different directions and even results in plans to create new territorial entities. However, from a legal point of view, the creation of new states is very difficult,” Danilov said.
“The inability to achieve certain political goals is often followed by the rise of new political forces, even extremism. It is very difficult to create a balance between the states and these socio-political autonomies. I think this process is a long-term trend. Local identity is a very serious matter. Destabilizing the situation can have great, far-reaching consequences, regardless of how this issue will be resolved,” Danilov said.