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The Catalan President welcomes the Euro-Med Forum participants but protests against the Spanish Government’s veto

The Spanish Prime Minister, Mariano Rajoy, and the President of the Catalan Government, Artur Mas, shook hands at the entrance of the Economic Forum of the Western Mediterranean. Mas wanted to welcome all the event’s participants since the forum is held in a Catalan Government building and is co-organised by the European Institute of the Mediterranean (IEMed), which is mostly funded by the Catalan Executive. However, in protest against the Spanish Government’s veto to authorise him to deliver a short welcoming speech, Mas did not stay to listen to Rajoy’s opening speech. Later today, in the Catalan Parliament’s government control session, Mas stated that “there are no protocol problems, but protocol impositions that generate problems”.

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23 October 2013 08:38 PM

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ACN

Barcelona (ACN).- The Spanish Prime Minister, Mariano Rajoy, and the President of the Catalan Government, Artur Mas, shook hands at the entrance of the Economic Forum of the Western Mediterranean on Wednesday. This happened after a few days of controversies due to increasing tensions between both governments. The Spanish Executive’s veto to the Catalan President, not authorising him to deliver a short welcoming speech at this forum was at the beginning of this controversy. The Spanish Government authorised Mas to be present at the event, as part of the Spanish Government’s delegation, but refused to allow him to address participants, despite the forum taking place in a Catalan Government building and being co-organised by the European Institute of the Mediterranean (IEMed), which is mostly funded by the Catalan Executive. The Catalan President wanted to welcome all the event’s participants and decided to attend the forum. However, in protest against the Spanish Government’s veto, he did not stay to listen to Rajoy’s opening speech. Later today, in the Catalan Parliament’s government control session, Mas was asked about this controversy. The Catalan President stated that “there are no protocol problems, but protocol impositions that generate problems”.


The First Economic Forum of the Western Mediterranean took place in Barcelona on Wednesday, in the headquarters of the Union for the Mediterranean Secretariat (UFM), a building owned by the Catalan Government and where international organisation is based at no cost. The Forum brought together 10 Ministers of Foreign Affairs as well as representatives from business associations and think tanks. The event is part of the 5+5 Dialogue, which is formed by 5 EU Member States (France, Italy, Malta, Portugal and Spain) and 5 North African countries (Algeria, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco and Tunisia).

During such events, it is highly usual for the President of the Catalan Government to attend the meeting for a while and to welcome the participants with a short speech. In other parts of Spain, Rajoy has allowed such speeches in similar meetings. The Catalan Government asked to deliver a short welcoming speech. Sources from the Catalan Government explain that petition was made in July and, at that time, the Spanish Government didn’t object to Mas delivering the speech. However, in the last few days the Spanish Executive did not allow the speech, arguing the programme was “full”. Sources of the UfM and the IEMed, who have excellent relations with the Catalan Government and are co-organising the Forum with the Spanish Executive, stated the programme was mostly decided by the Spanish Foreign Affairs Ministry. Since last week, the Catalan Executive tried to negotiate with the Spanish Foreign Affairs Ministry to include Mas’ speech, but talks were unfruitful.

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  • The Catalan President (left) and the Spanish PM (right) at Barcelona's Euro-Mediterranean Business Forum (by J. R. Torné)

  • The Catalan President (left) and the Spanish PM (right) at Barcelona's Euro-Mediterranean Business Forum (by J. R. Torné)