Puigdemont: “Catalonia would like to follow Scotland’s path, but in Spain there is no one willing to negotiate”
Catalan President Carles Puigdemont met with former Scottish First Minister, Alex Salmond, during the President’s official trip to London. In a face-to-face interview on the radio programme ‘El Balcó’, from Cadena SER radio, Puigdemont praised “Scotland’s know-how in terms of organising referendums” and assured that Catalonia would like to conduct its pro-independence process “in the Scottish way” but lamented that Spain “is not the United Kingdom” and therefore “it is hard to negotiate if there is no one at the other end of the table”. For his part, Salmond insisted that “it is not for Scotland to instruct Catalonia on the specific techniques to follow” in order to achieve their purposes but emphasised that “ballot boxes and democracy will prevail” and “the opportunity shall arise”. This was Puigdemont’s first event in London, where he will be on an official trip until Friday.
London (CNA).- Catalan President, Carles Puigdemont, praised “Scotland’s know-how in terms of organising referendums” and assured that Catalonia would like to conduct its pro-independence process “in the Scottish way” but lamented that Spain “is not the United Kingdom” and therefore “it is hard to negotiate if there is no one at the other end of the table”. He made this statement during a face-to-face interview with former Scottish First Minister, Alex Salmond, on the radio programme ‘El Balcó’, from Cadena SER radio, broadcast from London. For his part, Salmond insisted that “it is not for Scotland to instruct Catalonia on the specific techniques to follow” in order to achieve their purposes but emphasised that “ballot boxes and democracy will prevail” and “the opportunity shall arise”. Puigdemont will be in London until this Friday and one of his visit’s highlights will be the conference ‘Mapping a Path Towards Catalan Independence’, to be held at Chatham House, one of the most important think tanks in the world.
During the face-to-face interview, both leaders were convinced that they will see an independent Catalonia and Scotland within their lifetime. “Does anybody think that only because the Spanish state is not willing to sit down and negotiate, the people of Catalonia, who have held great demonstrations in recent years, will simply go home and give up on their pro-independence claims?” asked Puigdemont rhetorically.
“We are not doing this unilaterally”, he stated “we constantly call for the Spanish state and the European Union to negotiate”. In this sense, he assured that “those who don’t want to sit at the negotiation table” are those who “should be asked about where they think their positions are heading to”. Puigdemont agreed with Salmond on the need to reach agreements and generate consensus in order to achieve independence.
“We have always said that we would like to follow Scotland’s path”, he admitted “we really praise Scotland’s know-how in terms of organising referendums, but for us to be like Scotland, Spain would have to act like the UK and this is not that likely to happen”, lamented Puigdemont.
Salmond: “The opportunity shall arise”
“I know how difficult it is to establish this process, it was very difficult for Scotland as well”, stated Salmond, but assured that “at some point democracy prevails, an agreement is reached and the opportunity presents itself”. “The art of politics is to be ready when this moment would arise and seize the opportunity” he stated, emphasising the idea that “consent is the correct way”.
Although he outlined that “it is not for Scotland to say how Catalonia should approach its business” nor “instruct them on which specific techniques should be followed to achieve the purposes”, he admitted to being “sympathetic” towards the Catalan process. However, “every nation should find its own route”, insisted the former Scottish First Minister.
The role of the international community
Both leaders referred to the fitting of a potential independent Catalonia and Scotland within the EU and both coincided in their position. “We are already in the EU”, stated Puigdemont, “there’s no point in threatening us with a potential expulsion”.
“The international community, such as the United Nations and other respectable institutions, should emphasise that ballot boxes prevail, that democracy, the right of self-determination, freedom of speech and to decide, they all have to be respected”, pointed out Salmond. “Those movements which behave in a democratic and peaceful way are entitled to respect, especially in the world of today which is troubled and full of violence and terror”, he stated. “When a movement deploys itself through the ballot boxes it is a good lesson to be deployed elsewhere.”
The former Scottish First Minister also referred to the campaign which was being promoted by the UK’s Prime Minister, David Cameron, before the Scottish referendum. “Cameron was begging for the President of the United States’ support, for the First Minister of Australia’s and even for the Spanish President’s in order to get as much support as possible”, he admitted. “However, these interventions don’t decide a referendum: a referendum is decided by the people’s feelings, the quality of the arguments and the aspirations and beliefs that people have”, he concluded.
Conference at Chatham House
One of the highlights of the President’s official trip will be the conference ‘Mapping a Path Towards Catalan Independence’, to be held at Chatham House, one of the most important think tanks in the world. Puigdemont will be greeted by Chatham House director Robin Niblett, along with the Secretary General of the Public Diplomacy Council of Catalonia (Diplocat), Albert Royo, who organised the event.
During the conference, presented by the Deputy Director of the European Institute of the University College of London (UCL), Uta Staiger, the Catalan President will explore the implications for Catalonia, for Spain and for the EU should the region secede and “outline his government’s timeline for increased autonomy and, ultimately, independence”, explained the think tank. Puigdemont “will discuss the social, political and economic drivers” of the pro-independence movement, as well as “how the process can advance in the face of the Spanish Constitutional Court rulings” which have repeatedly considered it “unlawful” and also in view of Madrid’s “refusal to engage in dialogue on the subject”.
Lastly, on Friday, the Prime Minister will visit the new facilities of Banc de Sabadell, in the financial heart of London. There, he will attend several meetings with business groups.
During his trip to London, Carles Puigdemont will be accompanied by the Catalan Minister for Foreign Affairs, Raül Romeva, and the Delegate of the Catalan Government to the United Kingdom and Ireland, Josep Suárez. Romeva was already in London on the 27th of April, when he met with representatives of most of the parties in Westminster.