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An Independent Catalonia Is Actually Finding Support In Some Corners Of Europe

The list includes politicians in Slovenia, a member of parliament in Lapland, Flemish and Corsican nationalists, and the breakaway region of South Ossetia. And possibly Nigel Farage.

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Albert Gea / Reuters

The European Union and the vast majority of its member states have been quick out of the blocks to say they will not be recognising Catalonia’s unilateral declaration of independence.

Shortly after the Catalan parliament voted to declare independence on Friday, the president of the European Council, Donald Tusk, tweeted: “For [the] EU nothing changes.”

In response to Catalonia’s declaration, Spain’s prime minister Mariano Rajoy has imposed direct rule over the region: As part of a series of emergency measures he fired the Catalan government, dissolved the regional parliament, and called elections for 21 December.

Germany, France, Italy, the UK, Portugal, the Republic of Ireland, and Poland were among the many EU states to immediately make clear they were standing behind the Spanish prime minister. Europe’s leaders and EU institutions were joined by NATO, Turkey, Mexico, the US, Canada, and others in voicing their backing for Spain’s constitutional order.

Ukraine supports the state sovereignty and territorial integrity of Spain within its internationally recognized borders.

But the latest twist in the Catalan saga has garnered support from a small number of varied quarters in Europe, with some statements ranging from ambiguous encouragement to full-throated recognition of Friday’s unilateral declaration of independence.

The Scottish government, which shelved plans for a second independence referendum earlier this year, said in a statement: "We understand and respect the position of the Catalan government. While Spain has the right to oppose independence, the people of Catalonia must have the ability to determine their own future. Today’s Declaration of Independence came about only after repeated calls for dialogue were refused.”

But one Scottish National Party MP was less ambivalent.

If you support self-determination. Given Catalonia has self-determined. Then you recognise Catalan independence. 👍 #Catalunya

Much of the support for Catalonia's independence has come from political parties that hold only a handful of seats in their countries' respective parliaments.

In Slovenia, an EU member state that declared its independence in 1991 as the former Yugoslavia was descending into civil war, centre-left politicians from the Social Democratic party (SD) congratulated the people of Catalonia on the establishment of their republic.

Together with secretary general of @strankaSD, @DejanLevanic, I congratulate the brave people of Catalonia on the e…

The party's only member of the European Parliament took a similar line.

I stand today with the people across #Catalonia. You are not alone. I wish you all the best. @strankaSD #catalunya

The Slovenian government backs the right to self-determination in principle but says it must be expressed and implemented in accordance with Spanish law.

Elsewhere, Mikko Kärnä, a member of parliament in Lapland, Finland’s northernmost constituency, also congratulated Catalonia and promised to table a parliamentary motion to recognise the country.

Congratulations to the independent Republic of #Catalonia. Next week I will submit a motion to the Finnish Parliament for your recognition.

However, the Finnish government is supporting Spain.

FM Timo #Soini: Spanish government has our full support in restoring unity, democracy and rule of law.

Among those most excited about Catalonia’s move was the president of the Assembly of Corsica. Jean-Guy Talamoni, a member of the French island’s secessionist movement that was part of a coalition of Corsican nationalists that won regional elections in 2015, tweeted: “We salute the birth of the Republic of Catalonia. #solidarity”

Salutemu a nascita di a Republica di Catalogna! #Sulidarità

Flemish nationalists Vlaams Belang also welcomed the independence declaration, and urged the Belgian government to immediately recognise Catalonia.

Meanwhile, Belgium's prime minister called for dialogue and a peaceful solution to the crisis.

A political crisis can only be solved through dialogue. We call for a peaceful solution with respect for national and international order

Italy’s once separatist Northern League party shied away from taking a firm view. The far-right party’s leader, Matteo Salvini, who in 2013 declared “we are all Catalans… the wind of freedom will not stop”, has recently distanced himself from the path taken by Catalonia.

Still, others in his party, including the governor of the Lombardy region, have come out in support of the independence process. Following the 1 October referendum in Catalonia that paved the way to this week's standoff, Roberto Maroni tweeted: “‘Long live democracy, long live freedom’ #Sovereignpeople”.

VIVA LA #DEMOCRAZIA VIVA LA #LIBERTÀ #PopoloSovrano #referendum #Catalogna

Unsurprisingly, support for Catalan independence has also come from the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic and from South Ossetia. The two breakaway territories, in Ukraine and Georgia respectively, are not recognised as independent states by the near entirety of the international community.

Russian-occupied & “self-proclaimed” South Ossetia rushes first to Catalonia to open an "embassy". You connect the…

On Friday, the spokesperson for Russia’s foreign ministry told reporters its stance on Catalonia was consistent and had not changed. Earlier this month, Moscow said: “Guided by the fundamental principles of international law, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation views the developments in Catalonia as the internal affair of Spain. We express hope that the situation in Catalonia will be settled through dialogue, in strict compliance with Spanish law, in the interests of a united and prosperous Kingdom of Spain and with due respect for the rights and freedoms of all Spanish citizens.”

Meanwhile, one to never let a crisis go to waste is Nigel Farage. The former UKIP leader has taken a keen interest in Catalonia in recent weeks, and said on Friday that the Spanish government had "pushed the Catalan people too far".

The situation in Catalonia today is Juncker’s worst nightmare.

Alberto Nardelli is Europe editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.

Contact Alberto Nardelli at

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