Photo of the bulletin from the All-Crimean referendum on the restoration of autonomy, which took place in the Crimean region of the Ukrainian SSR on January 20, 1991. Ukraine recognized its results. 93.26% of referendum participants supported the idea of restoring autonomy. Photo: old.qha.com.ua
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AUTONOMY: concept, classification, positive and negative consequences of formation based on the experience of foreign countries and the situation in Ukraine (part I)

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In the article “About the rights of indigenous peoples and their implementation in the legislation of Ukraine”, published on the website of the information agency “Voice of Crimea”, the issue of self-determination of indigenous peoples was investigated, namely: whether they are subjects of the right to self-determination, the forms of such self-determination (creating a body self-government or autonomy) and its possible consequences, consolidation of the rights of indigenous peoples in the legislation of Ukraine.

In the same article, a monitoring analysis of issues related to the creation and functioning of autonomies, as one of the possible forms of realization of the right to self-determination, their classification, positive and negative consequences of their formation, based on the experience of foreign countries, will be conducted.

First, the issue of defining the concept of “autonomy” should be considered. In the legal aspect, autonomy should be classified as a constitutional right as a general concept that reflects the special status of a territory or organization in the state, which involves a relatively independent solution of internal problems outside the rights and powers of the state or organization, which includes a given self-governing unit [ 1].

Doctor of Law Sciences, Associate Professor, Professor of the Department of Constitutional Law of Ivan Franko Lviv National University Boryslavska O.M. in the scientific article “Territorial autonomy, regionalization and problems of political secession in Europe” pointed out that considering the history of the emergence of modern autonomies, four prerequisites for their formation are distinguished.

First, when the state itself underwent a general transformation, as it happened in Spain after the end of the Franco regime in 1975, in Moldova and Ukraine after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, in Italy and Portugal, when dictatorial and autocratic regimes in 1948 and 1974 were replaced by democratic ones.

Secondly, the granting of autonomy in the process of decolonization, when for one reason or another the former colonies did not form a sovereign state (Greenland, the Netherlands Antilles until 2010, New Caledonia and French Polynesia).

Thirdly, autonomy was granted as a result of an understanding between the state and the respective region in combination with pressure from another state (South Tyrol, Åland Islands, Autonomous Republic of Crimea).

Fourth, as a result of fierce disputes and conflicts that sometimes turned violent: the Basque Country (900 victims during 1969–2003), Northern Ireland (about 3 thousand victims from 1972 to 2005), Corsica, where since the 1970s violence continues for years. [2]

As the professor of the Department of Constitutional Law of the Faculty of Law of Taras Shevchenko Kyiv National University, doctor of legal sciences, associate professor H. A. Myalovitska notes, among the many theoretical problems of modern state formation that require in-depth research and generalization, an important place is occupied by the complex problem of the legal status of autonomous entities. The basis for such a conclusion is a comparative analysis of almost 100 states of the world that have autonomous entities in their composition. Its results testify to at least two characteristic features: firstly, to the extraordinary diversity of forms of autonomy, which especially increased at the end of the 20th century; secondly, about their fluidity and changeability in the process of state formation. [3]

There are three forms of autonomy (depending on whether national minorities live compactly or separately):

1.Personal autonomy. It is formed, mainly, when certain national minorities, which do not live compactly in a given state, but are dispersed in its various regions, unite in public unions to implement their cultural and everyday requests. In some cases, they are given the right to participate in political life through representation in some central state bodies (examples are Austria, Hungary, Estonia, Sweden, Finland and some other states). [3]
2.Corporate autonomy. It is mainly connected with the existence of ethnic groups that live intermingled with other ethnic groups, but in general their specific weight among the population of the region is quite high. In this case, a certain number of places in the state apparatus are often reserved for them, and their native language is recognized as official. In this language, the educational process can be carried out in schools, judicial proceedings, etc. can be conducted. Civil servants working in the region, who are from other ethnic groups, must know the language and lifestyle of the indigenous ethnic group and take them into account in their practical activities (for example, some small states in India, the Maroon people in Jamaica). [3]
3.Territorial autonomy. It is used when, due to certain circumstances, one or more parts of the state are given wider (compared to the rest of the territory) powers to independently resolve issues of internal self-government. Forms of such autonomy: national-territorial and cultural-national. [3]

National-territorial is formed only in the case of compact settlement of the national minority that forms this autonomy. But there are also such territorial autonomies, the basis for the formation of which is not ethnic characteristics, but taking into account the peculiarities of historical traditions, customs, culture, lifestyle, and religious beliefs of the population living in the territory of the autonomy. Such autonomous entities include, for example, Corsica in France, Iraqi Kurdistan, the Azores in Portugal, etc. [3].

According to the scope of powers, territorial (ethno-territorial) autonomy is divided into: political and administrative.

With political autonomy, its bodies have the right to issue local laws on issues that are within the competence of autonomy, which is quite broad. The powers of autonomy are determined by the state constitution or a special law. They do not have their own courts, the courts located on their territory are part of the unified judicial system of the entire state. Political autonomy exists in Corsica in France, the Aland Islands (Portugal), Northern Ireland and Scotland in Great Britain, and Greenland in Denmark.

Political autonomies in some post-socialist countries, such as the Republic of Nakhichevan in Azerbaijan and the Republic of Karakalpakstan in Uzbekistan, have fairly broad powers. According to the Constitution of Azerbaijan, the Republic of Nakhchivan is an autonomous state within Azerbaijan with its own constitution and the right to adopt laws that do not conflict with the constitution and laws of the Republic of Azerbaijan [3].

Autonomies rarely have their own constitution (the Autonomous Republic of Crimea) and citizenship (the Åland Islands in Finland).

Compared to some of the listed autonomous entities, the powers of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea as part of Ukraine appear more limited. Although it is a state entity – a republic and has its own constitution, it does not have the right to exercise legislative functions. The presence in the republic of the Permanent Representation of the President of Ukraine, which monitors and controls compliance with Ukrainian legislation, also limits the rights of autonomy [3].

With administrative autonomy, its bodies are not given the right to issue laws. Normative acts adopted derived from state laws. Compared to ordinary administrative-territorial units, the rights of administrative autonomies are slightly wider, taking into account the ethnic and household characteristics of the local population [3]. For example, they have administrative autonomy in India (the state of Assam), in the Republic of Serbia (Vojevodina), in the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago (Tobago Island), and more than a hundred in the People’s Republic of China.

Some scientists also highlight interstate “nomadic autonomy”. For example, in certain African countries, the boundaries of seasonal migrations covering different states are defined for the Tuareg.

An interesting fact is that there is a ban on autonomy in Bulgaria (constitution 1991), it is believed that local self-government is sufficient to solve local issues.

Considering that Ukraine is following the European path of state development, it is worth investigating the formation of the autonomy of Europe, since its example demonstrates the flexible variety of models of the autonomous system, as well as the legal principles that ensure their existence.

Ukrainian writer, journalist, translator Valery Verkhovskyi, in the introduction to the 2018 series of articles of the Ukrainian newspaper “Krymska svetlytsia” regarding the study of autonomies, notes that the experience of resolving internal contradictions and various conflicts that Europe has should be understood and embodied in our legal field, but it should come not from external coercion, but from the internal needs of the nation, the state as a whole and each individual citizen.

Let’s dwell in more detail on the autonomies of several European countries, which are described in the author’s 2018 series of articles and published in the newspaper “Krymska svіtlytsia”, as well as in other sources of information.

United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland:
Gibraltar (No. 19 dated 11.05.2018).
Gibraltar (a peninsula that is a constituent part of the United Kingdom) is a member of the European Union, its citizens are simultaneously citizens of Great Britain and the EU, participate in elections to the British and European parliaments.

Since 1969, Gibraltar has officially lost the status of a colony. Gibraltar has had its own constitution since 1950. The current, the fourth basic law, was adopted by a referendum vote in 2006. The local parliament forms the government headed by the Chief Minister. The Governor, who is appointed by the Queen, is responsible for defence, foreign policy and security. According to the census, 83% of residents identified themselves as Gibraltarians. Britons (English, Scottish, Welsh together) make up only 10%. However, only English is the official language, while Yanito (a local Spanish-English dialect) remains the de facto spoken language of the majority; [4]

 

Isle of Man (No. 23 dated 08.06.2018).
The Isle of Man, located in the Irish Sea, has the status of a Crown Possession (belongs to Britain, but is not legally part of the United Kingdom, and is in direct possession of the Queen (or King). Since 979, the island has had a Parliament, it consists of two chambers and has the name Tynwald The island has been self-governing since 1866, when the status of the island changed from a Crown Colony to a Crown Possession. The Queen appoints a Lieutenant-Governor of the island for a term of 5 years. He has executive power and the approval of laws passed by Tynwald.

Of the 80,000 inhabitants of the island, almost 50,000 are Mentzians – descendants of the Celts, related to the Scots and Irish; their native Manx language, which belongs to the Celtic languages, completely died out in the 20th century, but is actively being revived. Both English and Minsk are declared official languages. [4]

It is worth taking into account the experience of restoring the languages of indigenous peoples, since the languages, in particular, of Karaites and Krymchaks in Ukraine, which are recognized as indigenous peoples by the Law of Ukraine “On Indigenous Peoples of Ukraine”, are also on the verge of extinction. At the same time, we definitely need feedback from the indigenous peoples themselves, which will be manifested in their active participation, which is provided for in particular in the Procedure for conducting consultations between executive authorities and representative bodies, approved by the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine resolution of August 19, 2022 No. 1018. The initiative regarding the formation of their cultural, linguistic, religious and other needs should come from them, because who else knows their needs better [5]. Based on the analysis of normative legal acts of Ukraine and the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, such restoration of languages and cultures can and should take place even without the status of autonomy;

 

Channel Islands (No. 23 dated 08.06.2018).
The Channel Islands belong to the possessions of the Crown and have their own parliaments (States). The state system is similar to the Isle of Man. The royal authority is represented by governors appointed by the queen, and the administration is headed by bailiffs elected by parliaments.

The English in the Channel Islands are slightly more than half of the 62,000 residents of Guernsey and 100,000 Jerseyans. The official languages of the islands, in addition to English, are French (after all, about 40% of the population of the islands are French), as well as the corresponding local dialects of the Norman language: Jersey – in Jersey, Guernsey – in Guernsey; [4]

 

Scotland (No. 20 dated 18.05.2018).
In 1707, the Kingdom of Scotland voluntarily joined the union with another part of the island of Britain – the Kingdom of England. Since then, the official name of the state is Great Britain.

Almost 90% of Scotland’s population of five million are Scottish. There are three languages on the territory of Scotland, two of which are autochthonous: Scottish Gaelic (this is the language of the Scottish Highlanders, who number only 60 thousand, that is, a little more than 1%) and Anglo-Scottish, whose speakers are one and a half million or 30% of 5 million residents of this region, and the third language is English, spoken by the majority.

The British Parliament has the right to veto any Act of the Scottish Parliament; Scotland cannot veto a decision of the British Parliament. 129 Scottish deputies legislate on the territory of Scotland health care, education, environmental protection, local self-government, as well as taxation rates, forestry, fish farming, land management and housing construction, the sphere of tourism, transport, with certain reservations, the sphere of justice.

A referendum on leaving Britain was held in Scotland in 2014, but supporters of independence did not even get 45%. It would be possible to put an end to this, if two years later the referendum on the withdrawal of Great Britain from the European Union did not turn everything upside down – after all, in Scotland 54% voted for membership in the united Europe. A paradoxical situation arose when supporters of independence in Scotland turned from conditional separatists into Euro-optimists; [4]

 

Northern Ireland (No. 21 dated 25.05.2018).
In 1919, after recognizing the independence of the Irish Republic, the British authorities separated six provinces, where approximately 55% of the population was Protestant, the rest – Irish Catholic, the former voted in a referendum in 1922 to remain part of the United Kingdom.

However, referendums do not always solve problems, sometimes they only deepen them. The tension in the relationship between “loyalists” and “Catholics” did not disappear, and in the 1960s and 1980s it turned into fierce bloodshed. The settlement process started only at the end of the 20th century. In 1998, an agreement was reached called the Belfast Agreement, a 65-page peace settlement agreement in Northern Ireland.

The referendum on approval of this document was held simultaneously in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. 81% of Northern Irish people and 56% of residents of an independent Ireland expressed their support for the Belfast Agreement.

Irish and Ulster-Scottish languages are recognized as the official languages of the region. In the British Parliament, Northern Ireland is represented by 12 delegates. The legislative body is the Northern Ireland Assembly, the executive body is the Northern Ireland Executive Committee.

If there was no chance of victory in the plebiscite in the referendum on the withdrawal from the power of the British crown and reunification with the Irish Republic, then the “Brexit” process confused all the cards, because the majority in Northern Ireland did not support leaving the European Union; [4]

 

Wales (No. 22 dated 01.06.2018).
Two-thirds of the country’s population speak English, and only a third speak (more or less) Welsh, that is, about a million, which, by the way, is ten times more than the number of Gaelic speakers in neighboring Scotland and Ireland.

After Northern Ireland and Scotland achieved the right to broad self-government, Wales began to demand autonomous status.

In 1997, the Welsh Parliament – the National Assembly of Wales – met for the first time in history. The Assembly submits the nomination of the Prime Minister to the Queen (or King) for approval, who in turn forms the regional government.

However, the expansion of autonomy rights caused dissatisfaction in England itself, the largest country of the United Kingdom: its residents began to see discrimination against the majority, deputies from Scotland, Northern Ireland, and Wales are elected to Westminster (the British Parliament), but laws passed with their participation and decisions determine the lives of English people, including those acts that do not apply to Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland. So it is not excluded that England will also want an autonomous status. [4]

 

Finland:
Åland Islands (No. 12 dated 23.03.2018).
The Åland Islands, inhabited by ethnic Swedes, historically belonged to Sweden, as did all of Finland. Together with the Finnish lands, this archipelago became part of the Russian Empire more than two hundred years ago, and when Finland declared independence in 1917, the inhabitants of the islands decided that they did not like the newly created state. At the same time, the League of Nations advocated the preservation of the islands as part of a unitary Finland, but with the rights of the widest autonomy.

Article 120 of the Constitution of Finland enshrines the special status of the Åland Islands. The population of the region consists of 91% ethnic Swedes and 5% Finns, the only official language is Swedish, and Finnish was not even taught in schools here until 1970. The autonomy issues its own postage stamps, has a local parliament and its representative in the Finnish Diet; [4]

It is worth noting that the Åland Islands are one of the precedents when the ethnic population (Swedes) having their own state (Sweden) received autonomy in another country (Finland).

 

Homeland of the Sami (No. 12 dated 23.03.2018).
The Sami people are the indigenous inhabitants of the Scandinavian Peninsula. The Saami also live in Norway, Sweden and the Russian Federation, but they received autonomy only in the Republic of Finland.

The final paragraph of Article 121 of the Constitution of Finland (“Communal and other territorial self-government”) reads as follows: “The Sami population has, in accordance with the law, linguistic and cultural autonomy in the territory of its residence.”

The autonomy of the Sami is linguistic and cultural, not national-territorial, the rights of the indigenous people are considered, first of all, such as the preservation of the native language and traditional culture. In state bodies on the territory of the Sami autonomy, the Sami enjoy the right to communicate in their native language. Twenty-one members of the Sami Parliament address the following issues: language rights of the indigenous population, education and culture; social and health care; ensuring Sami rights and conducting elections. [4]

It is an interesting fact that during the all-Ukrainian census of 2001, 10,000 Transcarpathians wrote “Rusyn” in the “nationality” column (they also live in Slovakia, Serbia, the USA, Hungary, Croatia, the Czech Republic, and Poland and do not have their own state).

The article “Transcarpathian Regional Council legalizes Ruthenians” states that in some states neighboring Ukraine, Ruthenians are recognized as national minorities. In addition, in the pre-Soviet period, Eastern Slavs in Transcarpathia called themselves Ruthenians. Archpriest Dimitriy Sydor, the head of the association “Soym of Subcarpathian Ruthenians”, believes that the Ruthenians should be recognized also due to the recommendations of various international organizations:
“Since there is a UN decision with recommendations for Ukraine to recognize the Ruthenian nationality, we remind you that the Ruthenians in Transcarpathia are a living people. There is a grammar of the Ruthenian language, I, by the way, am its author, and we have every reason to be recognized, because I claim: without recognition of the Ruthenians, Ukraine may not be accepted into Europe.” The head of the Transcarpathian Regional Council, Mykhailo Kichkovsky, agreed that non-recognition of the Ruthenians is a violation of the Constitution of Ukraine, and the Transcarpathian Regional Council recognized the Ruthenians at the regional level. Also, Ruthenians, seeking official status, appealed to various state bodies, the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, but so far they have not received a positive response. [6]

 

Denmark United Kingdom:
Faroe Islands (No. 15 dated 04/13/2018).
On April 1, 1948, the Faroes abandoned the idea of full independence, and Denmark granted the islands maximum independence. Foreign policy and defense remained in the full custody of Copenhagen, the Danish naval base is present on the islands. In the Danish Parliament, the Faroe Islands are represented by two delegates, and the name “Self-Governing Community within the State of Denmark” is legally enshrined in the archipelago itself. The islands elect their own parliament.

The Faroese language, native to the 50,000-strong Faroese population, is the official language of the archipelago, along with Danish; [4]

 

Greenland (No. 15 dated 04/13/2018).
The indigenous Inuit people make up 90% of the island’s population, their Greenlandic language is the mother tongue of 85% of the inhabitants, it is the only official language of Greenland, Danish was deprived of this status after 2008.

Since 1979, Denmark has granted Greenland fairly wide autonomy, but in 2008 a referendum was held regarding the expansion of Greenlandic self-government rights. 75% of voters voted for it. In particular, the local administration takes over the powers of the police and the judiciary, all rights to the shelf and subsoil, rich in gold, diamonds, gas and oil, are fully owned by the autonomy. Denmark is responsible for defense, foreign policy and the monetary system.

It is interesting that Denmark continues to give subsidies to Greenland – billions of kroner annually. At the same time, if the inhabitants of the island want to build their own statehood and separate, the Danish government has already recognized that Denmark will not hold Greenland by force. [4]

 

France.
Corsica (No. 13 dated 30.03.2018).
France, unlike Ukraine, refused to ratify the European Charter of Regional and Minority Languages, signed by it, and refused to sign the European Convention on the Protection of National Minorities – on the grounds of inconsistency with the French constitution.

At the same time, six languages have been recognized by the constitution as “indigenous ethnic” since 1982: Basque, Occitan (Provençal, Limousin), Breton, Alsatian, Catalan and Corsican. For 86% of French people (residents of France), French is their mother tongue, six languages of indigenous ethnic groups are spoken by 5% of the population.

The Constitution of the French Republic declares: “The status of Corsica is governed by a specially adopted law. The Corsican language was declared the second official language on the island, and its study was introduced in schools.”

However, on the island, which was annexed to France in 1768, the movement for its independence is still active, periodically reminding of its existence with terrorist acts. Although the separatist organization “National Liberation Front of Corsica” has been active for at least a hundred years, supporters of an independent Corsica have not achieved significant success. By means of reasonable compromises without giving in to external pressure, the French central government keeps the situation under control, not going to recognize the Corsicans as a separate nationality, which could lead to raising the issue of the island’s self-determination. [4]

 

Greece.
Autonomous Monastic State of Holy Mountain (No. 14 dated 04/06/2018).
In the system of administrative division of Greece, it has the special status of an autonomous self-governing territory (fixed by the Constitution of Greece 1975)

According to the Statutory Charter (the basic law adopted by Athos in 1924), the highest legislative and judicial body of the monastery government is the “Extraordinary Assembly of Twenty”, consisting of residents of all 20 monasteries located on the peninsula, and convened twice a year. The Kinot, the executive body, also consists of 20 delegates from each monastery, and the interests of the central government of the Hellenic Republic are represented by the Governor, who is an employee of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The Greek police in this area are under his command. [4]

 

Italy:
Friuli-Venezia Giulia (No. 16 dated 20.04.2018).
This territory was inhabited by Slavs at the beginning of the Middle Ages, and later, over the course of a millennium, it was part of the empire, which changed its name from the Holy Roman to the Austrian, and then to the Austro-Hungarian. Since 1919, the entire region has been part of Italy, but after the defeat in the Second World War, Italy was forced to hand its southern part – Venice-Giulia – under international control. In 1954, the territory was divided between Yugoslavia, which received almost the entire peninsula of Istria, and Italy, which regained the city of Trieste. Now in this Italian region there are almost 100 thousand Slovenes and Croats, and in some areas of the region their languages are official, along with Italian; [4]

 

Trentino-Alto Adige (No. 16 of April 20, 2018).
The interest of the experience of this area is that there are autonomies within the autonomies. Actually, the entire region consists of two provinces: Trento and Bolzano-Bozen – South Tyrol. If the population in the province of Trento was Italian-speaking, the opposite was the case with South Tyrol.

These lands have long been inhabited by Germans, but since 1919, when, as a result of the First World War, Italy received two pieces of Austro-Hungarian territory, South Tyrol became one of them. Only a third of the region’s population speaks Italian (mainly residents of Bolzano, the largest city in the province), and the rest speak German. A second official German language has been introduced in the region. [4]

 

Romania. Sekai Autonomous Region (No. 17 dated 04/27/2018).
Hungarian autonomy existed in Romanian Transylvania from 1952 to 1968. It was called Mures-Hungarian Autonomous Region. However, it was canceled during the reform of the administrative system of Romania.

There is no question of separating from Romania or joining Hungary – the territory where Hungarians live compactly is located in the very geographical center of Romania.

In 2009, representatives of the local authorities of three Transylvanian counties (counties), in which the ethnic Szekei Hungarians make up the absolute majority – Covasna, Harghita and Mures – declared autonomy under the name “Szekei Region”. The central authorities of Romania do not recognize this decision as legal.

Since May 2011, there has also been a “government” of the non-existent autonomy – the administrative council of the Sekai Autonomous Region, which consists of those representatives of the local authorities of the three mentioned counties who support the idea of autonomy.

On January 10, 2018, in the city of Tirgu-Mureş, a rally demanding the declaration of Szekej Autonomy gathered three thousand citizens – ethnic Hungarians. However, these protests are ignored in Bucharest. [4]

In 2020, the Romanian Parliament tried to consider the charter of the project of possible Hungarian autonomy of the Szekej region, which was initiated by the Democratic Union of Hungarians in Romania. At the same time, the Government of Romania categorically opposed possible Hungarian autonomy as part of the state. And the Senate of the country rejected the submitted draft law by a majority of votes.

Similar narratives regarding the need to create Hungarian national and cultural autonomy are promoted by the Hungarian authorities on the territory of Ukraine, namely in the Zakarpattia region.

I recommend reading an analytical article on the models of Hungary’s promotion of the idea of creating Hungarian autonomy on the territory of the Zakarpattia region (From Prytisyansk district to autonomy: how and why Hungary promotes its ideas in Transcarpathia. Part I and Part II).

 

Moldova:
Transnistrian Moldavian Republic (No. 30 dated 07/27/2018).
The official languages of the PMR are Moldovan (with the Cyrillic alphabet), Russian and Ukrainian. Ukrainians make up a third of the PMR population. This defacto microstate is one of the unrecognized independent countries. But from the point of view of Moldovan legislation, this is only autonomy, although it is endowed with wide powers: “The settlements on the left bank of the Dniester can be given special forms and conditions in accordance with the special status established by the organic law”, – declares the constitution of the Republic of Moldova.

However, the intention of secession from the right-bank Moldova was not hidden in Tiraspol from the very beginning, but the isolation from Russia, which incites separatism in the post-Soviet space, and the fundamentally opposite Ukrainian position made the situation a stalemate; [4]

 

Gagauzia (No. 30 from 07/27/2018).
Autonomous Territorial Association of Gagauzia (according to the constitution of the Republic of Moldova). The Gagauz are a Turkic people who have long lived in the territory of southern Bessarabia, professing Christianity. The official languages of the Gagauz Autonomous Region are Gagauz, Moldavian and Russian, but in fact – for 95% of children, education in schools here is conducted in Russian, and Russian is also the language of administration. 82% of Gagauz people are in the autonomy.

Heads the autonomy of the Bashkan (president). The parliament is called Halk Toplush and it is empowered to pass laws in the fields of: science, culture, education, housing and communal services, improvement, health care, physical culture and sports, local budget and financial and tax activities, economy and ecology, labor relations and social security.

Autonomy was formed from settlements in which at least half of the inhabitants were ethnic Gagauz, where there were less than half Gagauz, a local referendum was held, and if the majority agreed that their village or town should enter Gagauzia, this settlement joined autonomy According to the constitution of the autonomy, the latter have the right to withdraw from Gagauzia after holding a referendum.

An interesting example is also the fact that the territory of the autonomous entity is not monolithic: apart from the main “piece”, where 80% of the residents live and the administrative center is the city of Komrat.

This is a completely normal practice, if only the autonomy was created for the purpose of preserving ethnic identity, and not for the implementation of separatist plans. [4]

 

Serbia:
Autonomous Region of Voivodeship (No. 18 dated 04.05.2018).
In 1918, when the Austro-Hungarian Empire was disintegrating, the People’s Assembly (Skupshchyna) announced the decision to join the Serbian state. Two-thirds of Serbs in Vojvodina, Hungarians – 14%, Ruthenians here are about 16,000. The Ruthenian language (Bachvano-Rusyn dialect) is recognized as one of the six official languages of the autonomy, along with Serbian, Hungarian, Slovak, Romanian and Croatian; [4]

 

Autonomous Region of Kosovo and Metohija (No. 18 dated 04.05.2018).
In 1948, the Yugoslav communist authorities created the Autonomous Region of Kosovo and Metohija. This autonomy is still enshrined in the Constitution of the Republic of Serbia, but in 2008 Kosovo declared independence and the central government in Belgrade cannot do anything about it.

Long ago, not only Serbs lived in Kosovo, but also the Albanian minority, which considered itself the indigenous pre-Slavic population of the Balkans. As a result of high natural population growth and at the expense of migrants from Albania, Kosovo became 90% Albanian.

In 1989, the powers of autonomy were significantly limited, and by the end of the 1990s, a real war was already raging in the region between separatist Albanians and government troops. In 1999, the aggravation of the situation reached the point of deportation of Albanians from Kosovo and air

NATO struck back. The introduction of UN peacekeeping forces stopped the violence, while the process of secession from Serbia became irreversible. [4]

 

Spain. Catalonia, Basque Country.
As noted by Doctor of Law Borislavska O.M. in the scientific article “Territorial autonomy, regionalization and the problems of political secession in Europe”, the centuries-long perception of Spanish power by Catalans as foreign, which did not have time to change during the years 1931-1939 (after the formation of the Spanish Republic in 1931, Catalonia received the autonomy it maintained until the establishment of the dictatorship General Franco), did not change after 1975, when Spain was transformed into a constitutional monarchy, and the Constitution of 1978 again provided for a fairly wide autonomy. Rapid economic development, the revival of the Catalan language, and the strengthening of the position of the Catalan region in the European Union created the prerequisites for raising the issue of wider autonomy, which the leader of the Socialist Party, José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, proposed to solve by adopting the Statute of Autonomy.

In 2006, the Catalan legislature adopted the Statute of Autonomy, which was approved by the Spanish Parliament and subsequently approved in a referendum by Catalan voters. Not immediately, the Statute was appealed to the Constitutional Court by representatives of the People’s Party (the socialists had a majority in the parliament at the time of its adoption). After four years of consideration of the case, the Constitutional Court indicated that the references in the preamble of the Statute to Catalonia “as a nation” and to the “national reality” of Catalonia have no legal force. The Constitutional Court recognized some provisions of the law as unconstitutional (in particular, regarding the priority position of the Catalan language over Spanish, the granting of powers to the Catalan Parliament in the field of judicial power and justice, etc.), while leaving the document in force.

The Court’s decision was negatively received by the population of Catalonia, which led to mass protests, which were periodically repeated with demands to revise the boundaries of autonomy or to recognize Catalonia’s state sovereignty.

In 2014, a referendum was held in which two questions were submitted: “1) Do you want Catalonia to become a state?; 2) If so, do you want Catalonia to become an independent state?”. About 40% of the 80% of Catalans who took part in the vote voted affirmatively on the mentioned issues. The decision of the Constitutional Court of Spain recognized the aforementioned referendum as consultative, but it demonstrated the further maturation of the conflict against the background of an unresolved problem.

On October 1, 2017, a referendum was held in Catalonia, in which 43% of voters participated, 92% of whom voted for the formation of a sovereign state with a republican form of government. Spain did not recognize this referendum and decided to “suspend autonomy” for Catalonia.

The experience of the Catalan referendum and attempts to declare state sovereignty proved that regionalization is capable of postponing disintegration processes, but it is not able to fully solve the problems of coexistence of several ethnic communities, one of which has exercised its right to self-determination and the formation of a sovereign state, while the other is trying to exercise it. In such a case, the nation’s right to self-determination comes into confrontation with the principle of territorial integrity of the sovereign state on whose territory such an ethnic community actually lives, which is a serious doctrinal problem. [2]

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Eney TESLYA, 

analyst information agency “Voice of Crimea” by order of the editors of the newspaper “Krymska Svіtlytsia”

The Ukrainian version of the article is here

Continue reading here

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The following sources were used in writing the article:

1.Large encyclopedic legal dictionary / [ed. Acad. Yu. S. Shemshuchenko of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine]. — K.: “Legal Opinion” LLC, 2007. — 992 p.
2.Territorial autonomy, regionalization and problems of political secession in Europe / Olena Markivna Boryslavska // Scientific article – 2017;
3.Theoretical problems of the legal status of autonomous entities in the modern states of the world / N. A. Myalovitska // Scientific notes of the NaUKMA. – 2003;
4.Nationwide Ukrainian newspaper “Krymska svіtlytsia” issues of 2018 No. 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 30;
5.Article “Ukrainian Crimea after Liberation”;
6.Article “Transcarpathian Regional Council legitimizes Ruthenians”;
7.Declaration on the Principles of International Law. Resolution No. 2625, adopted by the UN General Assembly on October 24, 1970;
8.Korotky T.R., Merezhko O.O., Pleshko E.A. Proclamations of the “DPR” and “LPR” and the right of peoples to self-determination: illusory sovereignty or sovereignty of illusions. Ukrainian Revolution of Dignity, aggression of the Russian Federation and international law. Kyiv, 2014. P. 673-705;
9.United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Resolution No. 61/295, adopted by the UN General Assembly on September 13, 2007;
10.Decision of the Constitutional Court of Ukraine No. 3-рп/2014 of March 20, 2014;
11.Brief summary of decisions, consultative conclusions and rulings of the International Court of Justice, 1948–1991 / UN, Mezhdunar. court. New York: UN, 1993. VIII. 286 p.;
12.Reference re Secession of Quebec: Judgment of the Supreme Court of Canada of 08.1998 in case No. 25506;
13.Safonov V.E., Myryasheva E.V. Regulation of state unity in foreign judicial practice. Scientific and practical journal “Science and education: economy and economy; entrepreneurship; law and management”. 2011. No. 10 (16). P. 34-38;
14.Shinkaretskaya H. G. Position of actually existing regimes (unrecognized states). New Challenges and International Law, 2010. P. 158-175;
15.Babin B. V. Constitutional and legal status of indigenous peoples of Ukraine: dissertation. Ph.D. law Sciences: 12.00.02 “Constitutional law” / Babin Boris Volodymyrovych. – Donetsk, 2004. – p. 140-160 sheets.
16.The article “Liquidation of the autonomy of Crimea: provocation or a conversation that is timely?”;
17.Resolutions of the European Parliament regarding the implementation of the EU Association Agreement with Ukraine (2019/2202(INI)) dated February 11, 2021;
18.Keating M. Rethinking the region: culture, institutions and economic development in Catalonia and Galicia / M. Keating // European Urban and Regional Studies. – 2001. – No. 8. – R. 217–234;
19.Article “On the rights of indigenous peoples and their implementation in the legislation of Ukraine”;
20.Law of Ukraine dated July 1, 2021 No. 1616-IX “On Indigenous Peoples of Ukraine“.
21.The procedure for holding consultations between executive authorities and representative bodies, approved by Resolution No. 1018 of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine dated August 19, 2022.

 

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