William Hague, Great Britain’s Foreign Secretary, dismissed the referenda held in Ukraine as “having zero credibility…” A major British official says to all those who participated in these referenda that their actions count for nothing. They might just as well have had a few beers as voted. He tells them that only he and others can set up “legal” votes. His message is that people cannot do this on their own. Only officials can run a referendum, he claims. The right to assemble, to express an opinion collectively, to vote, to answer a question, to express a choice on an internet poll or vote — none of these mean anything to Hague. They all have zero credibility by his legal philosophy. Legality comes from his hands (the state’s), not those of ordinary people.
Hague has bigger fish to fry than political rights and the expression of popular opinions by people concerned about political matters. He must pooh-pooh the referenda so that he can play up another vote, the one on May 25. The front-runner for president, who is Petro Poroshenko, if elected will have to take into account the sentiments of his countrymen in all regions. He will not have the luxury of Hague’s bluster and pontificating.
Establishment politicians all over the world want to maintain the broad legitimacy of the states they run. They are going increasingly to have to face problems of separation, secession, autonomy, breakaway movements, federalizing movements, and cities, provinces and regions declaring independence. Hague’s position is no answer to the very real political undercurrents that are stirring and surfacing.
These comments of Hague show that fundamental questions are actually being raised concerning rights of political association and their legality. The old answers, that these are determined by what states say, no longer suffice. States are being challenged.
The old days when the British Empire amalgamated disparate peoples into one state and drew arbitrary lines on maps and borders on land are over.8:14 am on May 12, 2014 Email Michael S. Rozeff