NOTE! This site uses cookies

By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies. For more detalis, see Read more

Accept

What are you looking for?

Obama avoids commenting on whether Catalonia’s independence would be a risk for Europe’s growth

Next to the Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy (who went to the White House), the President of the United States, Barack Obama, did not talk about Catalonia despite being asked about it directly by a journalist. Obama did not repeat the formula expressed by other international leaders – it is Spain’s internal matter – but instead preferred to avoid the issue. He did not explicitly back the Spanish PM, despite the fact that Rajoy had stated, only a few minutes earlier, that “Catalonia’s independence will not happen”. Rajoy’s meeting with Obama and the following press conference at the White House were also controversial because the Spanish Government banned several media that were covering the trip and only allowed one Catalan newspaper to attend it.

SHARE

14 January 2014 01:47 PM

by

ACN

Barcelona (ACN).- Next to the Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy (who went to the White House), the President of the United States, Barack Obama, did not talk about Catalonia despite being asked about it directly by a journalist. Obama did not repeat the formula expressed by other international leaders – it is Spain’s internal matter – But instead preferred to avoid the issue. He did not explicitly back the Spanish PM, despite the fact that Rajoy had stated, only a few minutes earlier, that “Catalonia’s independence will not happen”. The US President said that “the most important” thing is “to reduce unemployment” levels, when he was asked about the risks for Europe’s economic growth. Rajoy’s meeting with Obama and the following press conference at the White House were also controversial because the Spanish Government banned several media that were covering the trip and only allowed one Catalan newspaper to attend it.


The President of the United States avoided commenting directly on Catalonia’s potential independence from Spain or openly backing the Spanish Government on this issue. In a joint press conference with Rajoy, offered at the White House’s Oval Office, Obama did not offer a straight answer to a journalist’s question. The reporter asked him whether “secessionist movements, such as Catalonia’s and Scotland’s”, might be “a risk for the European Union’s economic recovery”. Obama offered Rajoy the opportunity to answer first.

Rajoy: “Catalonia’s independence will not happen”

The Spanish PM stated that “Catalonia’s independence will not happen”. Ironically, before the meeting with Obama, Rajoy’s team had insisted that the Catalan self-determination process would be totally off the meeting’s agenda and that neither leader would discuss the issue. However, Rajoy was obliged to talk about the issue in front of the world’s most powerful person, and to make a convincing effort to reject this possibility strongly. In addition, the Spanish PM warned about the dangers of “creating divisions”. On top of this, Rajoy said that “secessionism is bad, particularly for the smaller part” and that “the larger” a country is, “the better”.

Obama avoids offering open support to the Spanish Government

After Rajoy’s statement, Obama avoided backing the Spanish Government explicitly on this issue, as other international leaders, such as the European Council’s President or the French President, had done previously by saying it was “an internal matter”. The news about Catalonia’s peaceful and democratic independence movement have been particularly prominent in the US media, considering Catalonia’s small size. For instance, the Wall Street Journal chose a picture of the 400-kilometre-long human chain for independence, formed by more than 1.6 million Catalans, as its ‘picture of the year’.

Obama states in front of Rajoy that the top priority is reducing unemployment levels

Instead of answering directly about Catalonia’s potential independence, Obama limited himself to commenting on the general economic situation and set the reduction of unemployment levels as the top priority. “At this moment, the most important” thing is “growth” and “reducing unemployment, which is too high throughout the world and has strongly impacted on countries such as Spain”, stated Obama. For the American leader, the efforts have to focus on “stabilizing the economy”. In addition, the US President emphasised that he was “much more optimistic” about Europe’s and Spain’s economic perspectives. Finally, Obama praised Rajoy’s “leadership” in reforming the Spanish economy to recover from the financial crisis.

The Spanish Government bans a few media from the press conference

The Spanish Government prevented several media that were covering the trip from attending the press conference with Obama. The official reason was the limited space available but Rajoy’s team did not announce it before the journalists’ trip and the criteria to attend the press conference were not clear. Only one Catalan media was allowed in, La Vanguardia newspaper.

SHARE

  • Mariano Rajoy and Barack Obama at the White House on Monday evening (by Moncloa)

  • Mariano Rajoy and Barack Obama at the White House on Monday evening (by Moncloa)