Catalan Government strongly criticises Spanish Minister for linking jihadism with immigration and independence
The Spanish Home Affairs Minister, Jorge Fernández Díaz, linked Islamic terrorism with immigration and organisations working for Catalonia's independence. Fernández Díaz made this controversial statement last week, after the Catalan Government's Police Force arrested 11 alleged jihadists in Greater Barcelona. His words were reacted to by Catalan politicians and opinion makers. However, Fernández Díaz and other members of the Spanish Government have insisted on linking jihadist terrorism with the peaceful movement for Catalonia's independence as well as with immigration in general. On Tuesday, the Catalan Minister for the Presidency, Francesc Homs, accused Fernández Díaz of acting in "a total reckless" way, an attitude that puts "the entire Spain in danger". The Spanish Minister replied to this, saying that he rejected any "lessons about security" from those who want to split from Spain.
Barcelona (ACN).- On Tuesday, the Catalan Government's Spokesperson and Minister for the Presidency, Francesc Homs, accused the Spanish Home Affairs Minister, Jorge Fernández Díaz, of behaving with "absolute irresponsibility" and "putting the entire Spain in danger" with his statements. Homs was referring to a series of statements made by Fernández Díaz in which he linked Islamic terrorism with immigration and organisations working for Catalonia's independence from Spain. The Spanish Minister in turn rejected Homs' words and highlighted that he does not accept "security lessons" from pro-independence supporters. In his original statement from last week, Fernández Díaz mentioned one organisation – the Nous Catalans Foundation, which works for the integration of immigrants into Catalan society and is connected to the governing Centre-Right pro-Catalan State coalition (CiU). On top of this, in the days following his initial comment, Fernández Díaz has reiterated what he said and has extended the terrorist suspicions to immigration in general. Nobody from the Spanish Government has corrected him so far. On the contrary, other members such as the Foreign Affairs Minister, José Manuel García-Margallo, explicitly backed his colleague's initial statements.
Fernández Díaz made the controversial statement last week, after the Catalan Government's Police Force – called Mossos d'Esquadra – arrested in Greater Barcelona and near Tarragona 11 alleged jihadists having ties with Islamic State. The Spanish Minister's initial words were almost immediately reacted to by a wide representation of Catalan politicians and opinion makers, including the President of the Catalan Government, Artur Mas.
However, over the past few days, Fernández Díaz and other members of the Spanish Government have been insisting on linking jihadist terrorism with the peaceful and democratic movement for Catalonia's independence and independence in general. On Sunday, Fernández Díaz, who awarded the Spanish Police Force's highest medal to the Virgin Mary in 2014, stated that it is "imprudent" recruiting immigrants to support Catalonia's independence movement because there is the risk of integrating people "who are here for other things", referring to terrorist activities.
Catalan Minister complains about the Spanish Minister's "absolute irresponsibility"
On Tuesday, the day after an important Euro-Mediterranean meeting was held in Barcelona (which hosts the Union for the Mediterranean's Permanent Secretariat), the Catalan Government's Spokesperson and Minister for the Presidency, Francesc Homs, responded to Fernández Díaz. Homs accused Fernández Días of acting in "a total reckless" way, an attitude that puts "the entire Spain in danger".
"We think it is totally reckless, an absolute irresponsibility – for not directly calling it a lie – [the statements] that have been spread these last few days related to, for example, the Nous Catalans Foundation", said Homs. "On top of this, they are putting Spain in danger by spreading sensitive information related to security aspects, despite being those in charge [of such security]", he added.
The Catalan Minister concluded that Catalonia's Government "will not contribute to this nonsense and inappropriate accusations based on strictly partisan interests, particularly of the People's Party (PP) and some Spanish Government Ministers, which could put in danger the preservation of security, which is in everybody's interest".
Fernández Díaz does not accept "security lessons" from the Catalan Government
A few hours after Homs' accusations, the Spanish Minister responded once again and rejected "lessons about security" from those who want to split from Spain, he said. "One cannot foster a pro-independence process and at the same time say be worried about Spain's security", stressed Fernández Díaz. In addition, the Spanish Minister accused the Catalan Government of not showing "institutional loyalty". He added that he has greater information about security and terrorist activities than the Catalan Government and "if there was such institutional loyalty, we could talk about this issue in a serious way, but there is not".
The Spanish Minister accused the Catalan Government of "not being serious" enough to talk about security. According to him, they "do not have their feet on the ground" because they want to build an independent state and therefore they are disqualified from talking about "such a serious thing as Spain's security".
It should be noted that the Catalan Government manages most of the police work done in Catalonia and is in charge of overall citizen security. Daily police work and security policies, including prison management and judicial investigations, were transferred to the Catalan Police Force in the late 1990s. Despite this fact, the Spanish Police never fully withdraw from Catalonia. On the contrary, in the last 2 years it has significantly increased its presence.
Catalonia asks for a greater role in Euro-Mediterranean policies
Besides this controversy the day after the Euromed ministerial meeting held in Barcelona, the Catalan Government has asked the European Union to play "a greater role" in Euro-Mediterranean neighbourhood policies, taking into account its experience in the area and Catalonia's strong pro-European tradition and commitment. In this vein, it has asked the European Commission to allow it to contribute to the debate on the revision of the EU Neighbourhood Policy in order to better adapt it to the current context.