For some reason, near the end of last year, the Catalan Independence movement started getting compared to that of the Kosovar movement with titles such as “Spain’s Kosovo Problem” and “Catalonia goes Kosovo” among others. I can only assume that this is some rhetoric put out by Madrid given that it is ignorant, over simplified, and something that a president who gives “press conferences” through a TV screen would likely try to circulate. To counter over simplification with over simplification, this comparison is utterly wrong. In all honestly, the better comparison for Catalan Independence would be what’s happening now in the UK with Scotland, but let’s forget that better examples exist for a moment and focus only on former Yugoslavia because well, why not.
The big issue in this comparison lies in what is actually Kosovo. This was an autonomous region created in the Serbia state in Yugoslavia during the 20th century. This was done by former benevolent dictator Tito in order to balance out the voting in the government and not allow Serbia too large a vote as they had historically had the largest population in Yugoslavia. While there was a small kingdom in this region before the Common Era, it has either been part of the Roman Empire, Serbia, the Ottoman Empire, the Serbia, then Yugoslavia, and then Serbia again for the last few thousand years.
Then let’s take Slovenia. They too were part of the Roman Empire in days long past (I mean, who wasn’t in Europe?) and have had various assortments of kingdoms during the Common Era, as well as their own language when finally becoming part of the Hapsburg Empire via a marital bond that would last for several centuries only to be broken up by WWI to then become part of what would be Yugoslavia. As the wealthiest state of former Yugoslavia, having a minority language, and feeling the encroachment of rampant Serbian nationalism, they said screw this in 1990 and voted for independence from Yugoslavia.
So what about Catalonia? Historically, Catalonia had been its own dukedom to then be joined with neighboring Aragon via marriage several hundred years ago although, Catalonia being immensely wealthy, maintained large independence over their affairs. They maintained this until 1714 when Phillip V won out on the War of Succession and stripped Catalonia of all manner of independence it had once had. This led up in to the present day where Catalonia is still the wealthiest region of Spain, still overtaxed, and is having its minority language in the country constantly oppressed.
Look at these two examples and you can see why Madrid is shitting bulls about letting Catalans have an independence referendum as Catalonia has a legitimate claim to being an independent state much like Slovenia did 25 years ago. Of course, those in Spain who want to deny the referendum, when faced with the fact that Catalonia is not Kosovo then fall on their backup argument which seems to be along the lines of, “Well, it’s like the 21st century. If you’re not you’re own country now, tough shit.” An ironic line of thinking from a country that has blundered so badly financially in the 21st century that it is essentially owned by Germany and the IMF at this point.