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An Independent Scotland
16 September, 2014
On 18 September Scotland will vote on whether to become an independent country. Currently the polls on the yes and no votes are even so the outcome is not clear. There are some important lessons and
consequences regarding this vote for Georgia. The first thing to understand is that independence is not wrong or dangerous. Things happen and people want to become independent from time to time. Big cities, big corporations and big confederations like the EU are gradually becoming
more important and so regular old nation states are becoming less important.

If Scotland leaves the UK, it will immediately work on becoming as close as possible to the EU and Catalunya in Spain may try to do the same. These two small countries will likely join the EU quickly and
that will be a step forward for the EU. Who knows which others will follow and that process could become an important process within the EU bringing it closer to becoming the United States of Europe. The UK is powerful and has tended to negotiate greater distance for itself from the EU than other European countries. England without Scotland will be weaker and may be forced into greater cooperation with the EU.

But why do so many Scotts want to be independent? Many feel that when Scottish industry and coal mining died in the 70s and 80s, it was replaced by banking in London but with not much for Scotland. Also for many years now, the Scotts voted overwhelmingly for the Labour party but when a Conservative UK government was in place they felt ruled by the Conservatives despite their votes. And many simply feel culturally different. But there are questions around that. What about the many immigrants who have come to the UK in recent decades? They don't feel English, they feel British. Will "British" mean anything if there is no Scotland in the UK? How long will Northern Ireland be in the UK? Will Wales stay with England all on its own?

If the independence vote passes, the negotiations will be difficult. Who will pay pensions, rights for hydrocarbon revenue, border control, and particularly defense, because Scotland has a long coast line. All these things will need to be negotiated. There could end up being great resentment even to the point of security concerns if the negotiations become bitter. It has happened before. The two new
countries could become enemies. There are many from Czechoslovakia that felt their split happened too quickly and they would have been better off staying together. When Eritrea split from Ethiopia they had a currency and banking dispute that lead to war six years after independence.

Certainly this whole process is an important illustration of how power needs to be balanced between the center and the regions. Georgia still has not been able to balance that. Now that there are elected mayors, there may be a chance. Let's see how independent they will be and how much authority they are given to improve the lives of their constituents, make independent decisions and publicly disagree with the central government without being punished.

The whole Scottish process is an impressive illustration of European and British democracy and stability. And at the same time shows the hypocrisy of the Kremlin and the violent separatists it has supported most recently in Ukraine. The Scottish process has been very slow, it has taken decades, and for very good reason. Compare that with the sham of Crimea. The Kremlin clearly has a method of supporting separatists among its neighbors. The question is what should be done about it? That is a difficult question to answer but certainly Europe will be looking to see what happens in Scotland during and after the vote to get some hints.
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