Catalan President says in Madrid that “Catalonia needs a state” since reforming Spain has not been possible
At a conference in Madrid, the President of the Catalan Government, Artur Mas, warned Spain about the “great mistake” of downplaying the massive demonstration for independence. No members of the Spanish Government or leaders of the Socialist Party (PSOE) attended the event, which is unusual. In front of a crowded audience with many foreign press, Catalan MPs and businesspeople, Mas explained that Catalonia “has been trying for decades to reform Spain to make it our state”. However, Catalans are now “tired” from “the lack of respect” and the “disloyalty”. “If Spain denies the fact of Catalonia being a nation”, “many issues will not be solved”. Then “it is logical for a people to solve their future “peacefully, democratically and in a strictly European way”.
Madrid (ACN).- Two days after the demonstration by 1.5 million people for Catalonia\u2019s independence from Spain, the President of the Catalan Government, Artur Mas, gave a conference in the Spanish capital city. Mas, who is also the leader of the Centre-Right Catalan Nationalist Coalition (CiU), sent two clear warnings to Spain. Firstly \u201Cdo not make the mistake of downplaying\u201D Tuesday\u2019s massive rally, as it would be \u201Ca great mistake\u201D since the march was not \u201Ca summer fever\u201D that arrived suddenly and will soon go away. In fact, the Spanish Prime Minister, Mariano Rajoy, has not commented on the demonstration yet, and hours before it took place he defined it as \u201Ca mess and dissonance\u201D. The Spanish Government is avoiding comment and none of its members attended Mas\u2019 conference in Madrid, which is unusual in similar cases. The leaders of the main opposition party, the Spanish Socialists (PSOE), did not attend the event either. However, the Head of the King\u2019s House, the Spanish Monarch\u2019s right hand man, was present, something not so usual. In front of a crowded audience made up of international press, Catalan MPs and businesspeople from Catalonia and Madrid \u2013 although with significant absentees \u2013 the Catalan President delivered his second main message: \u201CCatalonia needs a state, it needs state tools\u201D to solve its problems.
\u201COur project has been trying for decades to reform Spain to make our own state\u201D Mas said. However, Catalonia has failed to transform Spain, as the Spanish State has never found a comfortable place for Catalonia, with \u201Ca permanent invasion of jurisdiction\u201D, a \u201Cchronic\u201D fiscal deficit, a lack of investment, funds \u201Calways below the population\u201D, and \u201Cscorn by the Spanish institutions\u201D of Catalonia\u2019s self-government, needs, language, and culture. Now Catalonia is \u201Ctired\u201D from \u201Cthe lack of respect\u201D and the \u201Cdisloyalty\u201D. In fact, Mas stated that the \u201Cfatigue\u201D is \u201Cmutual\u201D, as \u201CSpain is also tired of Catalonia asking and complaining\u201D. Therefore, Mas proposed that Spain recognise Catalonia as a nation, as the large majority of Catalonia feel they form a nation, as in Scotland, Wales or Quebec. He dared Spain to call for a referendum to resolve the issue democratically. However, \u201Cif Spain denies the fact of Catalonia being a nation\u201D, \u201Cmany issues will not be solved\u201D. For the Catalan President, in this situation it is logical and legitimate for a people to solve their future \u201Cpeacefully, democratically and in a strictly European way\u201D.
The Catalan President delivered a speech at the core of the Spanish capital reproducing what he had said the day before in Barcelona, the morning after 1.5 million Catalans were demonstrating for independence from Spain. Mas asked Spain, and in particular the Spanish political class, \u201Cto note down\u201D what is going on in Catalonia and not to make \u201Cthe greatest mistake\u201D of downplaying it. Out of a Catalan population of 7.5 million, 1.5 million citizens went on the streets last Tuesday to directly ask for independence. Mas said that the equivalent proportion would be 9 million Spaniards. \u201CThis is not a summer fever\u201D, said Mas. The Catalan President said that, after this demonstration, he not only has the mandate of the Catalan Parliament to negotiate a new fiscal agreement with Spain, but also a mandate from the streets \u201Cto understand, listen and fit\u201D their claim, offering an answer.
Meeting with Rajoy to discuss a new fiscal agreement
Mas noted that on September 20th he has a meeting with the Spanish Prime Minister, Mariano Rajoy, in which he will propose a new fiscal agreement for Catalonia. Currently Catalonia is obliged to transfer around 8.5% of its GDP annually to pay for investments and services in the rest of Spain. This represents an annual amount of \u20AC17 billion, while the Catalan Government had a \u20AC7 billion deficit in 2011. This accumulated fiscal deficit has resulted in Catalonia having the largest debt in Spain (\u20AC42 billion), while it is also the main contributor in absolute terms to subsidise poorer parts of Spain. Furthermore, the Catalan Government is obliged to meet the strict deficit targets and is implementing significant budget cuts that directly affect public services, administration and infrastructure, therefore having an impact on citizens\u2019 lives. In addition, after Spain\u2019s fiscal redistribution scheme, Catalonia ranks lower in terms of wealth, even ending below the Spanish average while poorer Autonomous Communities rank above Catalonia and the Spanish average.
Mas explained the reasons for the current situation
According to Mas, there is a \u201Cmutual fatigue\u201D between Catalonia and Spain, similar to the process between northern and southern Europe. \u201CNorthern Europe has got tired of southern Europe, and southern Europe has got tired of northern Europe for its way of doing things. And between Catalonia and Spain a feeling of fatigue is appearing, and I believe it is a mutual fatigue\u201D. According to Mas, \u201CCatalonia has got tired of not being able to progress within the Spanish State\u201D and \u201CSpain is tired of Catalonia\u2019s way of doing things, always asking and complaining\u201D. Mas emphasised that Catalonia is tired after \u201C35 years of effort trying to modernise the Spanish State\u201D and contributing to its stability without getting any recognition or respect. Mas noted that the Catalan support, and CiU\u2019s in particular, was essential in some key events of the recent Spanish history, such as the approval of the Constitution and the Moncloa Agreements, dismantling the military coup d\u2019état in 1981, accessing the EU, joining the Euro, fighting ETA terrorism and approving many austerity measures. Spain\u2019s answer to Catalonia\u2019s loyalty has been \u201Ca permanent invasion of competences\u201D, a \u201Cchronic fiscal deficit\u201D, funds \u201Calways below the population\u201D, and \u201Ca scorn by the Spanish State institutions\u201D. Catalan is therefore tired of a lack of investment and a fiscal deficit of \u20AC17 billion a year, added to an uneven and \u201Cdisloyal\u201D split of austerity obligations, and a lack of sensitivity towards Catalonia, its specific needs, language and culture. Since it is always the same old story, \u201Cat the end Catalans said enough, it cannot continue like this\u201D.