Saturday, February 25, 2017

European Union: The next Borders, Areas with Strong Nationalist Tendencies, Northern Epirus

Northern Epirus, between Independent Republic and Union with Greece.

 The most striking images are often those that take something we think we know well and turn it on its head. This map is one of those images. The borders of Europe have changed over time, but since national self-determination became the most important organizing principle for European states in the 19th century, there have been some relatively constant entities: France, the United Kingdom, Germany, Italy and Spain.

We tend to think of these as coherent nation-states. But even these countries contain groups that don’t identify with their national identity as French, British, German, Italian or Spanish.

We have said many times before, and will say many times again, that nationalism is rising throughout the world. And nowhere is that more apparent than in Europe. It is important to remember that this nationalism is not something caused by the British vote to leave the European Union last week. The rise of nationalism was already underway, and many of the political developments emerging from Europe in the past few weeks are direct manifestations of its resurgence.

This map identifies active nationalist movements in Europe advocating either independence or regional autonomy for national groups that do not have states of their own. It does not include all nationalist movements, nor is it a forecast for what a map of Europe will look like in 50 years. We included places with articulated national identities and political parties pushing for independence or autonomy. The likelihood that most of these groups will secede from their current political arrangements is extremely low.

However, the likelihood that the map of Europe we are used to seeing will remain unchanged in the next 50 years is also extremely low. Nationalism is part of Europe’s fragmentation, and it is part of the European Union’s crisis. This map is a thought experiment: it follows the logic of nationalism to its furthest end. Those interested in the future of Europe should study it.

Ambassador At Large

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