Foreign minister to reopen Catalonia’s main offices abroad
Ernest Maragall says offices in large world cities could be operational again in “two or three weeks”
The new foreign minister of the Catalan government intends to “immediately” reopen the offices in large cities abroad that were closed down by the Spanish government after it suspended Catalonia’s self-rule.
During an official visit to Brussels on Thursday, Ernest Maragall spoke about the urgent need to restore Catalonia’s representation abroad in cities such as London, Rome, Berlin, New York, Washington, as well as the one in Switzerland.
In fact, the foreign minister said the first moves towards reopening the offices could come as soon as next week, with the offices becoming operational within “two or three weeks.”
Maragall also said that he aimed to ensure continuity in the running of the offices, meaning that in “most” cases, the officials who managed the offices but who were sacked by the Spanish government could recover their posts.
While in Brussels, Maragall met the staff of the Catalan foreign office to the European Union, which was the only one to be kept open under direct rule, who welcomed him with applause.
During a press conference, the foreign affairs minister explained that re-opening the delegations is set to take place in three phases, the last of which is foreseen for 6 months from now.
The first step, stated Maragall, is one that is “urgent:” to recover the five delegations in the United Kingdom, Italy, Germany, Switzerland and the United States. The second phase is one of “consolidation” that foresees “new visibility” on the International horizon, with new delegations or “special envoys” in Paris, Portugal, the Balkans or Nordic countries – even, Maragall said, to areas on other continents.
The third and final part of the plan is of “expansion,” opening nine new centers with “new figures of presence” in places like the Mediterranean, the Middle East, North Africa, Asia or Latin America. This, it was revealed, would take place before the end of the year.
As well as reopening Catalonia’s foreign offices, the government has said it will appoint a new representative to the EU after Amadeu Altafaj was dismissed by the Spanish government in October.
The government has also pledged to restore the Diplocat agency, the Public Diplomacy Council of Catalonia, which was closed down under direct rule.