Tibor Varadi thinks the stance that Kosovo and Catalonia are not comparable because Spain is an EU member does not have a foothold in international law.
“The fact that the EU is averse to Catalonia’s secession is obvious – but that there is some international legal scheme, different when it comes to Kosovo, Crimea, or Scotland, that I really do not see,” Varadi, an international law professor, told Tanjug.
“There is no clear position in international law as to how a unit could be separated from a state through self-determination, but I do not see the basis for differentiating between Kosovo and Catalonia, all the more so since there was actually no referendum in Kosovo,” he added.
According to him, history has mostly shown, since the First World War, that gaining independence was possible “in a specific international situation and under a very specific balance of power.”
“It’s really difficult for me to cite some legal principles, because in the case of Kosovo, the International Court of Justice, when giving its advisory opinion on Kosovo, actually avoided the question of whether Kosovo gaining independence was in line with international law, and answered instead the question of whether the declaration of independence was accordance with international law,” Varadi said.
Thus, at the highest level, the answer to this very complex question – the issue of the right to self-determination – is being avoided, he continued.
At the same time, Varadi thinks that Catalonia cannot expect any significant international support in such circumstances:
“I could not explain it with the principles of international law, but this is logical, consequent to political practices.”
Asked whether “any EU official should explain the position expressed by an EC spokesman (that Kosovo and Catalonia are different because Spain is an EU member) – which is very offensive to countries outside the EU, in this case, primarily to Serbia, which propagates European values and expects to join the European community, but then gets the message that these values include double standards” – Varadi replied:
“It would not be the first time that EU officials or officials from other states change their statements. I think that this position should certainly be explained, although I do not see how it could be explained – other than to reformulate, or simply change it.”