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Intervista con il Prof. Aleksandar Savanovic, Associate Professor at the Faculty of Political Sciences of the University of Banja Luka (Bosnia and Herzegovina) e Advisor to the Speaker of the House of Peoples Parliamentary Assembly of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

You are conducting a research on Veneto’s independence movement with a particular focus of the research on 2014 plebiscit: why do you think it was so important for Veneto’s independence this referendum?

Plebiscit 2014 is important because it was clear answer about the attitude of the people of Veneto about independency. Plebiscit is, without doubt, necessery condition for any independency movement, because such kind of political request have to be supported by strong and clear »general will« (to use this classical Rousseau’s term). Of course, there are some suspections about on-line form of plebiscit, but, I think that the answer which we got from voters is clear, and cannot be denied in general. Except that, on-line form of referendum is more and more usual in contemporary political world for the sake of many reasons (costs, organisation etc). So, even if we can accept some objections about on-line referendum, we cannot reject its results in general.

These results are strong argument for Veneto independency movement, especially if we take in account main argument from Italian government against independency: unilateral secession is unconstitutional act eo ipso – illegal. But, there is open question (as my colleague from university often remarks): »we cannot adopt our life to the our legal system, but legal system to the life«. Obviously, for this argument we have to have some kind of clear picture about the people’s attitude. Referendum is the best way for that.

In this historical period independence requests are very common in many areas and regions: from Catalunya to Kurdistan, passing through Scotland, Veneto, Sardinia or South Tyrol and so on: why do you think in the last two decades we could see a growing number of secessionist movement across the world?

In the last decades we could see a growing number of secessionist movement across the world. Number of countries in the world is constantly growing. The modern waves of secession can be classified in three groups or historical periods. One of them was secession after the Second World War. These secessions were, in main line, answer to the question of decolonisation. Second is secession in the context of the Berlin Wall and collapse of communist empire. Finally, we have contemporary secession movements that are more complex, different from case to case, and cannot be classified so easy as previous two. In general, current secession movements are the reaction on the economical and cultural problems, they do not have strong ideological background. Majority of secession requests comes from economically strong regions – Veneto is typical example of that. Crises from 2009 was the focal point when many of these movements got in acceleration. Reason is simple: the anti-crisis policy, that has been adopted by most of countries, meant higher expenses for the rich parts of country.

What is the peculiarity of Veneto situation compared with other independence requests from other regions in Europe and in the world?

Currently I am working on my book about secession, and Veneto independency movement is the important case study for my basic position in the book. Namely, in current secession movements we can recognise three basic groups of arguments pro-independency.

Firstly, there is so-called »economical argumentation«: the claim that some region suffer (in economic sense – not human right sense) within wider political community or the state. Thus, there is a discriminatory redistribution by definition: „implementing taxation schemes or regulatory policies or economic programs that systematically work to the disadvantage of some groups, while benefiting others, in morally arbitrary ways“ as Allan Buchanan, one of the most prominent theorist of secession, pointed out. Usualy, there is some kind of redistribution from richest regions to poorer. For example, in Veneto case, the government of Italy has right to transfer money from richest provinces to poorer by the constitution of Italian Republic. In same time, the Constitution, by articles 75 and 117(e), does not provide possibility of referendum about so-called »budget issues« for regions. Obviously, this situation is the source of many hard and complicated moral, economic, philosophical and other questions.

Second argumentation is »cultural« – the claim that one region is different cultural, ethnic etc. entity, and has to be the separate political unit.This is so-called the normative principle of nationalism: political, cultural or ethnic boundaries must, as a matter of right, coincide. La Serenissima, as the »half millennium republic« and »the Queen of Adriatic« has strong cultural and historical depth for independency request. Also, there is the basis of language – according UNESCO, six million people are speaking Venetian language. Cultural and historical arguments are important because the fact that the important documents of the international law, uses “nation” as a unit for secession, self determination and independency. Secession is usually defined as: “right of nation to the self-determination”. Nation is not just biological fact – ethnicity, but a cultural category also. So, for Veneto’s independence movement is important an aspiration to its own cultural and historical specificity in relation to Italy. It was good and important fact that in the Article 2 of the Resolution 44 – an important document for independency movement, the “Venetian People (Popolo Veneto)” has been defined as an »ancient historical reality«. The efforts that has been undertaked in these directions by Raixe Venete, for example, is extremely important for movement in whole.

But, according current political praxis, I think – political and legal theories as well, third argumentation is most important: namely, consent of others – usually the government and parliament, for secession. Successful succession cases, for example Montenegro or Scotland, provide the evidence for that. In both cases there was consent for referendum about independency. Of course, meny technical detailes were different – for example in the Montenegro case was »55% clause«, but basic position is same: approvement of the central government and consent of others in the country.

Veneto case is important for this theory of secession because economic and cultural argumentation pro-secession are especially strong and credible. If we consider »cultural« argumentations, throught comparative analysis with other cases, there is no doubt that, if there is the place on the Earth, that has »cultural« basis for independency, it is Veneto. Economical arguments also look correct. But there is no consent of Rome. So, Veneto is par excellence example for, probably, crucial problem in the contemporary theory and practice of secession.

Of course, there is many other differences and specificity in Veneto case. I want to stress very inventive and clever strategy of using the modern communication technologies, especially internet. For example, in my research I undertake a comparative analises of Veneto, Catalonia and Scotland according their representation on the basic internet tools, like Wikipedia, for example. Veneto movement is the best and superior! There is a very detailed and serious sources about Veneto independency that we can find. Or, an idea of »Cyber state«, which will have on-line nationality, is brilliant. When I heard about that, first time during interview with mr. Gianluca Busato, I was fascinated. Hope so that I will can get one cyber-Veneto nationality, no matter that I am foreigner.

What is the path you can predict for Veneto’s independence movements in order to achieve their goal and what are your suggestions to Veneto independence leadership?

From previous, the road map for independency is clear. Veneto has to persistently insist on its right to secede: has to use economic especially, but cultural also, argumentations for independency. By power of these arguments, during the time, can be possible achieve consent of Rome for independency, and support from international community also. Especially important for Veneto independence movement is to avoid any kind of violence. Because violence and unilateral actions delegitimated even correct and just requests, as we can learn from the history of secessions. Veneto has to insist on the power of its arguments, on the power of its historical and cultural tradition, and economic suffer. Constantly working to spread the truth about its historical right and economic unjust position. This is slow and long way, but I believe that, if the people of Veneto continue to insist on them, independency is possible.

Of course, destiny of Veneto independency is, and will be, connected with destiny of other secession movements, especially in Europe. If we see more successful cases, it will be wind in Veneto’s sails. But, probably most important external influence will be the future shape of globalised world. If the process of building of supranational entities, like EU, still going on, secession movements will be in the harder position in general. But, if the process goes in direction of separation, Brexit for example, situation will be different. So, my advice for Veneto secession movement is: constantly working to promote arguments from class of economy and history/culture, and in same time stronger conecction with similiar movements in Europe.

For the end, I want to pointed out one more thing. Namely, difussion and lack of unity within Veneto’s independency movemement: there is a large number of differenet political parties, social movements and other subjects, that are promoting independency, like Veneto Sì, Veneto Stato, Łiga Vèneta, Liga Veneta Repubblica, Venetian Independence, North-East Project, Venetians Movement, Veneto Serenissimo Governo, Fronte Marco Polo. My opinion is that such disunity is not good for indempendency movement in whole. It will be better if these movements reach unity and create one political party. From the point of view that they have same final goal, it can be possible. Than, their request will be stronger, and it will be harder for government in Rome to avoid it.