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Experts say Catalan question must be faced to “avoid another front of instability” in Europe

Three organizations of journalists, lawyers and economists from Catalonia publish a statement in favor of an independence referendum

07 June 2017 06:00 PM

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CNA

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Barcelona. “Sooner or later all European countries as well as their common institutions will be called to take a stand on this issue,” say experts and journalists in a joint statement, published on Tuesday in Catalonia in favor of holding a referendum on independence. To face the Catalan question would help to “solve an old-age problem”, which otherwise may become “another front of instability” in the EU, the text reads. The experts also remind the European institutions that the Catalan case “is a question of principle”: Catalans, who are “determinedly pro-European,” and whose society was firmly grounded “on democratic principles, relying on strictly peaceful methods”, should be held up as an “example” to resolve “controversies between nations and within states”. Finally, the experts say a “satisfactory resolution” of the Catalan issue could also be a “chance for Spain” to break free from the “flaws of a political system” still conditioned “by the regime of 1978”.

Col·lectiu Emma, a group of international journalists and translators, the Wilson Initiative, comprised of internationally renowned economics and political science experts such as Xavier Sala i Martin or Carles Boix, and Col·lectiu Praga, a broad group of legal experts, signed the joint statement, published on Tuesday in Barcelona and in several languages. 

In the statement, the organizations call on the European countries to “take a stance” on the Catalan question. They point out that it would be “good” for the European Union if a referendum was held, because it would recognize Catalonia’s “inherent collective rights as a people” and “their peaceful struggle” would be rewarded, which was from the experts’ point of view “a matter of justice”. Besides, according to the experts, letting the Catalan people vote is necessary in order to keep this deeply rooted problem from leading to more instability within the European Union. 

  • The deadlock between Spain and Catalonia was created by Spain’s refusal to honestly listen to Catalonia’s proposal

The text recalls the cases of Quebec and Scotland as examples, where the course of action chosen by their respective governments was that of a referendum. In turn, the experts explain in the text that the Spanish government has “vowed to prevent” the referendum and is working to “undermine its preparation” by acting against Catalan representatives on the basis of alleged acts of disobedience. “State institutions” seem to be “reverting to some of the ways of the dictatorial past”, and threaten “the pillars of democratic government” the experts warn.

The text also gives a brief account of the main reason for the independence push in Catalonia. As the signing groups point out, the “deadlock” between Spain and Catalonia was created by Spain’s refusal to “honestly listen to Catalonia’s proposals” as in the case of the Catalan proposal for a new charter for Catalonia (the last one was dated from 1979), the so-called ‘Statute of Autonomy’. According to the statement, the Statute was “approved by the Catalan Parliament”, and “endorsed by the Spanish Congress, but not before several key provisions had been pared down or simply removed”. Finally, the Statute was ratified “resignedly” by the Catalan people in a referendum. According to the experts, the fact that the Constitutional Court, after four years of debate, decided to amend or nullify important articles of this new autonomy framework clearly showed that the current system of territorial administration, established in 1978, was being “used” to “perpetuate the Catalans' status as a permanent minority in Spain”.

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