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Irredentism (from Italian irredento, "unredeemed") is any position of a state advocating annexation of territories administered by another state on the grounds of common ethnicity or prior historical possession, actual or alleged. It is often advocated by pan-nationalist movements and has been a feature of identity politics, cultural and political geography.
An area that may be subjected to a potential claim is sometimes called an irredenta. Not all irredentas are necessarily involved in irredentism.
- 1 Origins
- 2 Constitutional irredentism
- 3 Other irredentism
- 3.1 Europe
- 3.2 Middle East
- 3.3 East Asia
- 3.4 South Asia
- 3.5 Africa
- 3.6 North America
- 4 See also
- 5 References
- 6 Further reading
- 7 External links
The word was coined in Italy from the phrase Italia irredenta ("unredeemed Italy"). This originally referred to Austro-Hungarian rule over territories mostly or partly inhabited by ethnic Italians, such as Trentino, Trieste, Istria and Dalmatia during the 19th and early 20th centuries.
A common way to express a claim to adjacent territories on the grounds of historical or ethnic association is by using the epithet "Greater" before the country name. This conveys the image of national territory at its maximum conceivable extent with the country "proper" at its core. The use of "Greater" does not always convey an irredentistic meaning.
During the unification of Germany, the term Großdeutschland (or greater Germany) referred to a possible German nation consisting of the states that later comprised the Second German Empire and Austria. The term lesser Germany, or small Germany, or Kleindeutschland, referred to a possible German state without Austria. The term was also used by Germans referring to Greater Germany, a state consisting of pre-World War I Germany, Austria and the Sudetenland.
Some states formalize their irredentist claims by including them in their constitutional documents.
The Afghan border with Pakistan, known as the Durand Line, was agreed to by Afghanistan and British India in 1893. The Pashtun tribes inhabiting the border areas were divided between what have become two nations; the tribes have never accepted the still-porous border, and clashes broke out in the 1950s and 1960s between Afghanistan and Pakistan over the issue. All Afghan governments of the past century have declared, with varying intensity, a long-term goal of re-uniting all Pashtun-dominated areas under Afghan rule.
The Argentine government has maintained a claim over the Falkland Islands since 1833, and renewed it as recently as January 2013. It considers the archipelago part of the Tierra del Fuego Province, along with South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands.
The Argentine Nation ratifies its legitimate and non-prescribing sovereignty over the Malvinas, Georgias del Sur and Sandwich del Sur Islands and over the corresponding maritime and insular zones, as they are an integral part of the National territory.
The recovery of these territories and the full exercise of sovereignty, respecting the way of life for its inhabitants and according to the principles of international law, constitute a permanent and unwavering goal of the Argentine people.
The 2009 constitution of Bolivia states that the country has an unrenounceable right over the territory that gives it access to the Pacific Ocean and its maritime space. This is understood as territory that Bolivia and Peru ceded to Chile after the War of the Pacific, which left Bolivia as a landlocked country.
The preamble to the Constitution of the People's Republic of China states, "Taiwan is part of the sacred territory of the People's Republic of China. It is the lofty duty of the entire Chinese people, including our compatriots in Taiwan, to accomplish the great task of reunifying the motherland." The PRC claim to sovereignty over Taiwan is generally based on the successor state theory, with the PRC claiming that it is the successor state to the Republic of China.
The Taiwanese government is the Government of the Republic of China which used to administer both China ('Mainland China') and Taiwan; the government has been administering Taiwan only since its defeat in the Chinese Civil War by the armed forces of the Communist Party of China. While the official name of Taiwan remains 'Republic of China', the country is commonly called 'Taiwan', since the country is based in Taiwan.
Article 4 of the Constitution of the Republic of China originally stated that "[t]he territory of the Republic of China within its existing national boundaries shall not be altered except by a resolution of the National Assembly". Throughout the 1950s and 1960s, the Government of the Republic of China in Taiwan maintained itself to be the legitimate ruler of Mainland China as well. As part of its current policy of 'status quo', Taiwan has not renounced claims over the territories currently controlled by China, Mongolia, Russia, Burma and some Central Asian states. However, Taiwan does not actively pursue these claims in practice; the remaining claims that Taiwan is actively seeking are the Senkaku Islands, whose sovereignty is also asserted by Japan and China; and the Spratly Islands in South China Sea, with multiple claimants.
Article 1 of the Constitution of the Union of the Comoros begins: "The Union of the Comoros is a republic, composed of the autonomous islands of Mohéli, Mayotte, Anjouan, and Grande Comore." Mayotte, geographically a part of the Comoro Islands, was the only island of the four to vote against independence from France (independence losing 37%–63%) in the referendum held December 22, 1974. The total vote was 94%–5% in favor of independence. Mayotte is currently a department of the French Republic.
Akhand Bharat, literally Undivided India, is an irredentist call to reunite Pakistan and Bangladesh with India to form an Undivided India as it existed before partition in 1947 (and before that, during other periods of political unity in South Asia, such as during the Mauryan Empire, the Gupta Empire or the Mughal Empire). The call for Akhand Bharat has often been raised by mainstream Indian nationalistic cultural and political organizations such as the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Other major Indian political parties such as the Indian National Congress, while maintaining positions against the partition of India on religious grounds, do not necessarily subscribe to a call to reunite South Asia in the form of Akhand Bharat.
The region of Kashmir in northwestern India has been the issue of a territorial dispute between India and Pakistan since 1947. Multiple wars have been fought over the issue, the first one immediately upon independence and partition in 1947 itself. To stave off a Pakistani and tribal invasion, Maharaja Hari Singh of the princely state of Jammu and Kashmir signed the instrument of accession with India. Kashmir remains divided in three parts, administered by India, Pakistan and the People's Republic of China respectively, since then. However, on the basis of the instrument of accession, India continues to claim the entire Kashmir region as its integral part. All modern Indian political parties support the call for the return of the entirety of Kashmir to India, and all official maps of India show the entire Jammu and Kashmir state (including parts under Pakistani or Chinese administration after 1947) as an integral part of India.
Indonesia claimed all territories of the former Dutch East Indies, and previously viewed British plans to group the Straits Settlements, the Federated Malay States, the Unfederated Malay States, Sarawak and British North Borneo into a new independent federation of Malaysia as a threat to its objective to create a united state called Greater Indonesia. The Indonesian opposition of Malaysian formation has led to Indonesia-Malaysia confrontation in early 1960s. It had also held Portuguese Timor from 1975 to 2002, based on irredentist claims.
The idea of uniting former British and Dutch colonial possessions in Southeast Asia actually has its roots in the early 20th century, as the concept of Greater Malay (Melayu Raya) was coined in British Malaya espoused by students and graduates of Sultan Idris Training College for Malay Teachers in the late 1920s. Some of political figures in Indonesia including Muhammad Yamin and Sukarno revived the idea in the 1950s and named the political union concept as Greater Indonesia.
The nation state of Israel was created by the United Nations in 1948. As a result of the Holocaust, there was a post-war feeling that the world's Jewish population needed a safe haven from chronic and violent discrimination in addition to the uninterrupted Jewish presence and historical ties to the ancient homeland of the Jewish people. Britain acquiesced to international pressure after finding itself in the middle of a guerilla war for control of the territory. Eventually it was achieved through the liquidation of the (former League of Nations mandate, and its successor UN-administered territory) British Palestine, and a war between the Jews in Mandatory Palestine and 5 Arab state armies. The Jewish claim for Palestine as the "Jewish homeland" can be seen as an example of irredentism, as the claim was based on ancient ancestral inhabitance, as well as theologically rooted in a Mosaic cosmogony. Proponents of the formation, expansion, or defense of Israel, who subscribe to these historical or theological justifications, are sometimes called "Zionists", often in the pejorative by their Palestinian and pro-Palestinian opponents. The resulting Palestinian demands for a return of "their lands" and the use of protest, guerilla tactics, and terrorism, meant to bring about that end, are also examples of irredentism.
The West Bank (known in Israel as Judea and Samaria) and Gaza areas, previously annexed by Jordan and occupied by Egypt respectively, were controlled by Israel from the 1967 war until August 2005, when Israel withdrew from Gaza. Israel never explicitly claimed any of the West Bank for its own state except the city of Jerusalem, which it unilaterally annexed in 1980. However, hundreds of thousands of Israeli citizens have settled in various Israeli controlled settlements in the West Bank, which has been highly controversial and also a violation of international law. Gaza, prior to its occupation by Israel from 1967 to 2005, was considered as an occupying power by the United Nations Security Council, the United Nations General Assembly, and some countries and international organizations. (See Israeli-Occupied Territories.)
Article 3 of the Basic Law of the Palestinian Authority, which was ratified in 2002 by the Palestinian National Authority and serves as an interim constitution, states that "Jerusalem is the capital of Palestine." The Israeli annexing instrument, the Jerusalem Law—one of the Basic Laws of Israel that "serve in the place of a constitution"—declares Jerusalem, "complete and united", to be the capital of Israel, creating a conflict with Palestinian claims. De facto, the Palestinian government administers the parts of the West Bank that Israel has granted it authority over from Ramallah, while the Gaza Strip is administered by the Hamas movement from Gaza.
The United States does not recognize Israeli sovereignty over East Jerusalem and maintains its embassy in Tel Aviv. In Jerusalem, the United States maintains two Consulates General as a diplomatic representation to the city of Jerusalem alone, separate from the US's representation to the state of Israel. One of the Consulates General was established before the 1967 war, and one building, on what was the Israeli side, was just recently built.
A minority of Israelis and Jews regard the East Bank of the Jordan river (today, Kingdom of Jordan) as the eastern parts of the Land of Israel (following the revisionist idea) because of the historical settlement of the Israelite tribes of Menasseh, Gad and Reuben on the east bank of the Jordan and because of that area being designated for a Jewish national home by the League of Nations in the Mandate for Palestine.
Since their founding, both Korean states have disputed the legitimacy of the other. South Korea's constitution claims jurisdiction over the entire Korean peninsula. It acknowledges the division of Korea only indirectly by requiring the president to work for reunification. North Korea's constitution also stresses the importance of reunification, but makes no similar claim to the entire peninsula.
Some of the most violent irredentist conflicts of recent times in Europe flared up as a consequence of the break-up of the former Yugoslavia in the early 1990s.[dubious ][clarification needed] The conflict erupted further south with the ethnic Albanian majority in Kosovo seeking to switch allegiance to the adjoining state of Albania.
Greater Albania or Ethnic Albania as called by the Albanian nationalists themselves, is an irredentist concept of lands outside the borders of the Republic of Albania which are considered part of a greater national homeland by most Albanians, based on claims on the present-day or historical presence of Albanian populations in those areas. The term incorporates claims to Kosovo, as well as territories in the neighbouring countries Montenegro, Greece and the Republic of Macedonia. Albanians themselves mostly use the term ethnic Albania instead. According to the Gallup Balkan Monitor 2010 report, the idea of a Greater Albania is supported by the majority of Albanians in Albania (63%), Kosovo (81%) and the Republic of Macedonia (53%). In 2012, as part of the celebrations for Albania's 100th anniversary of independence, Prime Minister Sali Berisha spoke of "Albanian lands" stretching from Preveza in Greece to Presevo in Serbia, and from the Macedonian capital of Skopje to the Montenegrin capital of Podgorica, angering Albania's neighbors. The comments were also inscribed on a parchment that will be displayed at a museum in the city of Vlore, where the country's independence from the Ottoman Empire was declared in 1912.
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Irredentism is acute in the Caucasus region, too. The Nagorno-Karabakh movement's original slogan of miatsum ('union') was explicitly oriented towards unification with Armenia, feeding an Azerbaijani understanding of the conflict as a bilateral one between itself and an irredentist Armenia. According to Prof. Thomas Ambrosio, "Armenia's successful irredentist project in the Nagorno-Karabakh region of Azerbaijan" and "From 1992 to the cease-fire in 1994, Armenia encountered a highly permissive or tolerant international environment that allowed its annexation of some 15 percent of Azerbaijani territory". In the view of Nadia Milanova, Nagorno-Karabakh represents a combination of separatism and irredentism.
The Republic of Macedonia promotes the irredentist concept of a United Macedonia (Macedonian: Обединета Македонија, Obedineta Makedonija) among ethnic Slav Macedonian nationalists which involves territorial claims on the northern province of Macedonia in Greece, but also in Pirin Macedonia in Bulgaria, Albania, and Serbia. The United Macedonia concept aims to unify the transnational region of Macedonia in the Balkans (which they claim as their homeland and which they assert was wrongfully divided under the Treaty of Bucharest in 1913), into a single state under Slavic domination, with the Greek city of Thessaloniki (Solun in the Slavic languages) as its capital.
Gibraltar is a British Overseas Territory, near the southernmost tip of the Iberian Peninsula, which is claimed by Spain. Gibraltar was captured in 1704, during the War of the Spanish Succession (1701–1714). The Kingdom of Castile formally ceded the territory in perpetuity to the British Crown in 1713, under Article X of the Treaty of Utrecht. The territorial claim was formally reasserted by the Spanish dictator Francisco Franco in the 1960s and has been continued by successive Spanish governments. In 2002 an agreement in principle on joint sovereignty over Gibraltar between the governments of the United Kingdom and Spain was decisively rejected in a referendum. The British Government now refuses to discuss sovereignty without the consent of the Gibraltarians.
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From 1937 until 1998, Articles 2 and 3 of the Constitution of Ireland provided that "[t]he national territory consists of the whole island of Ireland". However, "[p]ending the re-integration of the national territory", the powers of the state were restricted to legislate only for the area that had ceded from the United Kingdom. Arising from the Northern Ireland peace process, the matter was mutually resolved in 1998. The Republic of Ireland's constitution was altered by referendum and its territorial claim to Northern Ireland was dropped. The amended constitution asserts that while it is the entitlement of "every person born in the island of Ireland ... to be part of the Irish Nation" and to hold Irish citizenship, "a united Ireland shall be brought about only by peaceful means with the consent of a majority of the people, democratically expressed, in both jurisdictions in the island." Certain joint policy and executive bodies were created between Northern Ireland, the part of the island that remained in the United Kingdom, and the Republic of Ireland, and these were given executive authority. The advisory and consultative role of the government of Ireland in the government of Northern Ireland granted by the United Kingdom, that had begun with the 1985 Anglo-Irish Agreement, was maintained, although that Agreement itself was ended. The two states also settled the long-running dispute concerning their respective names: Ireland and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, with both governments agreeing to use those names.
Portugal does not recognize Spanish sovereignty over the territory of Olivenza, ceded under coercion to Spain during the Napoleonic Wars. Since the Rexurdimento of the mid-nineteenth century, there has been an intellectual movement pleading for the reintegration between Portugal and the region of Galicia, under Spanish sovereignty. Although this movement has become increasingly popular on both sides of the border, there is no consensus in regard to the nature of such reintegration: whether political, socio-cultural or merely linguistic.
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Spain claims the British overseas territory of Gibraltar, ceded to Britain in perpetuity in 1713 under the Treaty of Utrecht, and argues its case at the United Nations claiming its territorial integrity is affected. During World War II, the Spanish Falangist media agitated for irredentism claiming for Spain the French Navarre, French Basque Country and Roussillon (French Catalonia) as well. Morocco makes similar claims against Spain over the North African enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla.
A unique situation exists with that of Berwick. Part of the citizenry of the town support the transfer of Berwick to Scotland, although others would prefer it to remain as part of the English county of Northumberland. However, due to the nature of the political union between Scotland and England forming the UK the reunification of Berwick goes largely unpursued. Various debates have arisen surrounding the constitutional future of Berwick, or Berwick-upon-Tweed as it is known in England, but have been largely academic.
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The Syrian Social Nationalist Party, which operates in Lebanon and Syria, works for the unification of most modern states of the Levant and beyond in a single state referred to as Greater Syria. The proposed Syrian country includes Israel, Jordan, Iraq, Kuwait; and southern Turkey, northern Egypt, and southwestern Iran.
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Irredentism is one of the reasons why China insisted on assuming sovereignty over Hong Kong and Macau, as the physical land on which Hong Kong and Macau stand used to be part of China before the founding of the two territories by the British and the Portuguese, respectively.
The 1909 Gando Convention addressed a territory dispute between China and Joseon Korea in China's favor. Both Korean states now accept the convention border as an administrative boundary. However, because the convention was made by the occupying Empire of Japan, South Korea has disputed its legality and some Koreans claim that Korea extends into de facto PRC territory, i.e. Dandong and Liaoning. The most ambitious claims include all parts of Manchuria that the Goguryeo kingdom controlled. South Korea administers the Liancourt Rocks, which Japan has claimed since end of the Second World War.
South Asia too is another region in which armed irredentist movements have been active for almost a century, due to the Balkanization of North-East India, Burma and Bangladesh under British colonialism.[dubious ][clarification needed] Most prominent amongst them are the Naga fight for Greater Nagaland, the Chin struggle for a unified Chinland and other self-determinist movements by the ethnic indigenous peoples of the erstwhile Assam both under the British and post-British Assam under India.
Greater Bangladesh is an assumption of several Indian intellectuals that the neighboring country of Bangladesh has an aspiration to unite all Bengali dominated regions under their flag. These include the states of West Bengal, Tripura and Assam as well as the Andaman Islands which are currently part of India and the Burmese Arakan Province. The theory is principally based on a widespread belief amongst Indian masses that a large number of illegal Bangladeshi immigrants reside in Indian territory. It is alleged that illegal immigration is actively encouraged by some political groups in Bangladesh as well as the state of Bangladesh to convert large parts of India's northeastern states and West Bengal into Muslim-majority areas that would subsequently seek to separate from India and join Muslim-majority Bangladesh. Scholars have reflected that under the guise of anti-Bangladeshi immigrant movement it is actually an anti-Muslim agenda pointed towards Bangladeshi Muslims by false propaganda and widely exaggerated claims on immigrant population. In a 1998, Lieutenant General S.K. Sinha, then the Governor of Assam claimed that massive illegal immigration from Bangladesh was directly linked with "the long-cherished design of Greater Bangladesh.
Irredentism is commonplace in Africa due to the political boundaries of former European colonial nation-states passing through tribal boundaries, and recent declarations of independence after civil war. For example, some Ethiopian nationalist circles still claim the former Ethiopian province of Eritrea (internationally recognized as the independent State of Eritrea in 1993 after a 30-year civil war). Ogaden in eastern Ethiopia has seen minor edita movement seeking to make it part of Somalia.
Irredentism is also expressed by some Mexican-American activists in the Reconquista movement. They call for the return of formerly Mexican-dominated lands in the Southwestern United States to Mexico. These lands were annexed by the US in the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo and became the present-day states of California, Nevada and Utah; and parts of Colorado, Arizona, and New Mexico.
There are Russian groups who want Russia to take back Alaska (which was formerly Russian America). A Russian Orthodox organization, the Pchyolki, called for the return of Alaska in 2013, arguing first of all that the original sale was not legally valid (since the United States reportedly agreed to pay Russia in gold, but instead sent a check), and second of all that the legalization of gay marriage in the United States meant that the U. S. was not honoring its pledge to allow Alaskans to practice their religion. Since the passage of Alaska Ballot Measure 2 in 1998, however, same-sex marriage has been illegal in Alaska.
- List of irredentist claims or disputes
- Ethnic nationalism
- Manifest Destiny
- Països Catalans
- Status quo ante bellum
- Territorial dispute
||This article uses bare URLs for citations, which may be threatened by link rot. (April 2014)|
- "Irredenta", Free Dictionary
- Dr. G. Rauf Roashan, "The Unholy Durand Line, Buffering the Buffer", Institute for Afghan Studies, August 11, 2001.
- Selig S. Harrison, "Pakistan's Ethnic Fault Line", The Washington Post, 11 May 2009
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- See Naomi Chazan 1991, Irredentism and international politics
- http://www.da.mod.uk/colleges/csrc/document-listings/balkan/07%2811%29MD.pdf,"as Albanians continue mobilizing their ethnic presence in a cultural, geographic and economic sense, they further the process of creating a Greater Albania. "
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- Greek Macedonia "not a problem", The Times (London), August 5, 1957
- A large assembly of people during the inauguration of the Statue of Alexander the Great in Skopje on YouTube, the players of the national basketball team of the Republic of Macedonia during the European Basketball Championship in Lithuania on YouTube, and a little girl on YouTube, singing a nationalistic tune called Izlezi Momče (Излези момче, "Get out boy"). Translation from Macedonian:
"Get out, boy, straight on the terrace
And salute Goce's race
Raise your hands up high
Ours will be Thessaloniki's area."
- The Committee Office, House of Commons. "Answer to Q257 at the FAC hearing". Publications.parliament.uk. Retrieved 2013-08-05.
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