chapter  1
Theories of secession
Pages 12

There is a revival of secessionist movements. In Europe, for instance, they highlight the question of further European unification and may even enhance the formation of a genuine European Union. In Eastern Europe, hardly a border is immune to challenge on the grounds that it does an injustice to the ethnic or historical claims of a neighbouring state. The disintegration of Yugoslavia-with the horrors of ethnic cleansing in Bosnia-Herzegovina, culminating in the massacre at Srebrenica in July 1995-is but one example of how secessionist conflict can spill across international borders, and how an international response to the problem is needed. Within the borders of the present European Union, too, there are secessionist movements: Basques want to secede from Spain, there is secessionist sentiment in northern Italy, and there is a continuing struggle for a change of political borders in Northern Ireland. It would therefore be a mistake to think that the questions raised by secession are relevant only to a specific part of Europe and not to the future of a united Europe.