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Euro zone crisis fuels separatism

Tuesday, October 16, 2012 - 02:33

Oct.16 - Separatists are gaining ground as Europe's economic crisis deepens, but will movements in Spain, Scotland and Belgium mean more national flags on the map? Ciara Sutton reports

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It's a long way from Scotland but there was delight on the streets of Catalonia in Spain over an agreement reached in Britain. The UK governmant has agreed to a referendum on Scottish independence in 2014. (SOUNDBITE) (Catalan) BARCELONA RESIDENT MONTSE VALLS, SAYING: "Scotland and Catalonia have a lot in common on this issue. Although only 30 percent of population would support a 'yes' vote it's enough for them to be taken into account. So I think it's very positive." Catalan's leader is calling for a similar referendum as more than half his region's residents want a separate state. Regional elections take place in November and the government - and investors - are nervous. With Barcelona as its capital it's a relatively wealthy region. But it also has overstretched public finances and is seeking a bailout from Madrid. Market Strategist at National Australia Bank, Nick Parsons says independence is an inevitable backlash when times are hard. (SOUNDBITE) (English) HEAD OF MARKETS STRATEGY, NATIONAL AUSTRALIA BANK, NICK PARSONS, SAYING: "It's no surprise that we've got all this movement towards independence, it's just I think a reaction to austerity and to unemployment and a feeling generally that anything must be better as an alternative to that which we currently have. If we just give a bit more time and see a return to growth then I think some of these tensions will naturally abait." Regional grievances that have simmered for centuries are taking on a new intensity as austerity bites across Europe. Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron opposes a break-up of the UK. But separatists are increasingly working together and sharing tactics. Roger Albinyana from Catalan's Convergencia Party welcomes Britain's approach. (SOUNDBITE) (English) CATALAN CONVERGENCIA PARTY INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS CO-ORDINATOR ROGER ALBINYANA, SAYING: "Unfortunately, in Spain, where the Spanish government neglects any right for the Catalan people to basically have the same or follow the same process." While Scotitish separatists celebrated so did Flemish nationalists in Belgium. The leader of a separatist party was voted mayor of Antwerp, Europe's second biggest port city. He's vowed to seek wider autonomy for the Dutch-speaking region of Flanders. Europe's political leaders are fighitng back. They're warning that independence could also mean an exit from the EU. It's an odd paradox - while Europe's leaders discuss ways to bring nations together many of their voters at home are uniting over calls to tear them apart. Ciara Sutton, Reuters.

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Euro zone crisis fuels separatism

Tuesday, October 16, 2012 - 02:33