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Catalan President “demands” a self-determination vote in ‘New Europe’

Artur Mas, President of the Catalan Government, signed an article published in New Europe’s special edition ‘Our world in 2014’, explaining why Catalans want to hold a self-determination vote on the 9th of November, 2014. The European section of the publication includes articles from the French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault, the Italian PM Enrico Letta, the UK Finance Minister George Osborne and two EU Commissioners, Neelie Kroes and Androulla Vassilliou, among others. In his article, Mas asked the Spanish Government to “abide by its professed democratic principles and to allow the referendum”. The Catalan President explained why a majority of Catalans are supporting independence from Spain due to historical, political, economic, cultural and identity-related reasons. “In twenty-first century Europe, we solve these disputes peacefully and democratically, with ballot boxes and votes” he stated.

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13 January 2014 02:06 PM

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ACN

Barcelona (ACN).- Artur Mas, President of the Catalan Government, signed an article published in New Europe’s special edition ‘Our world in 2014’, issued on Monday, in which he explained why Catalans want to hold a self-determination vote on the 9th of November, 2014. The European section of the publication includes articles from the French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault, the Italian PM Enrico Letta, the UK Finance Minister George Osborne and two EU Commissioners, Neelie Kroes and Androulla Vassilliou. Mas asked the Spanish Government to “abide by its professed democratic principles and to allow the referendum”. The Catalan President explained why a majority of Catalans are supporting independence from Spain due to historical, political, economic, cultural and identity-related reasons. “In twenty-first century Europe, we solve these disputes peacefully and democratically, with ballot boxes and votes” he stated. Last December, six political groups ranging from the Christian-Democrats to the alternative Left, passing through the Liberals, Social-Democrats and Greens and representing 64.5% of the Catalan Parliament agreed on a specific date and a question wording to hold a self-determination in Catalonia.


‘New Europe’ is an information platform on European political affairs, targeting decision makers, which issues a weekly printed newspaper as well as a digital edition. ‘Our world in 2014’ is divided into 7 sections, including sections on European and Global Affairs, as well as others on specific themes such as Energy, Human Rights and Technology. Mas’ article was published in the ‘European perspective’ section, right after the article signed by the UK Finance Minister George Osborne. The ‘Global perspective’ section includes articles from Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, the President of Mexico Enrique Peña Nieto, the President of Iran Hassan Rouhani, the FMI Managing Director Christine Lagarde and the Economics Nobel Prize Joseph E. Stiglitz, amongst others.

A two-part question to hold a self-determination vote on the 9th of November 2014

As an introduction, Mas mentioned once again the “two-part question” that “Catalonia’s Government and opposition parties, as mandated by [the] voters, have together decided [to hold] a popular vote on self-determination on 9 November 2014”. ‘Do you want Catalonia to be a state? If so, do you want Catalonia to be an independent state?’ is the aforementioned question. Then, the Catalan President briefly explained the reasons for “taking such a step at this time”.

Catalonia, “a meeting place for different peoples”

Mas highlighted that “Catalonia is an ancient European nation”. He explained that it has its “origins [...] in the Carolingian Empire a thousand years ago and, ever since, the small country of Catalonia has been at the junction of two great regional powers”. The Catalan President underlined that the country has been “a meeting place for different peoples, a bridge between Europe and the Mediterranean”.

Catalan identity rooted “in culture and international openness”

Furthermore, Mas pointed out that “Catalan stretches beyond the administrative borders of Catalonia and is spoken by 9 million Europeans”. He continued by highlighting that “Catalans have always rooted [their] identity in culture and international openness”. A proof of this is Catalonia’s capital city, Barcelona “a vibrant Mediterranean metropolis, a major destination for foreign direct investment, a cradle of Gothic and Modernist architecture and a magnet for many of Europe’s artistic movements of the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries”.

Catalonia “kept its identity alive despite dictatorships and large-scale cultural repression”

The Catalan President explained how “our small nation lost its freedom in 1714 but has kept its identity alive despite dictatorships and large-scale cultural repression”. Mas immediately recognised that “Spain’s return to democracy in 1978 allowed recovering some of our autonomy”. However, the Constitution of 1978 did not develop into a true federal system and a pluri-national Spain. On the contrary, “the Spanish state and governments of all parties constantly try to centralise and to build a homogenous, Hispanic country”, he emphasised. According to him, “this has convinced many Catalans that only the right to self-determination can guarantee their political, economic and cultural survival”.

The conflict since 2010

In the last few years, the situation has become more serious. Mas explained how “in 2010 the Spanish Constitutional Court suppressed several fundamental aspects of the Statute of Autonomy of Catalonia, the basic law which guarantees our self-government”. This law had been previously approved “in 2006 after an agreement between the Parliament of Catalonia and the Parliament of Spain” as well as through a binding referendum voted by the Catalan people.

“It is in our interest to Hispanicise Catalan children” stated the Spanish Education Minister

In addition to those legal reasons, there are economic, social and cultural recent reasons to be added. On economic issues, “the Government of Catalonia has been the most efficient in implementing severe austerity policies that have helped reduce the Spanish budget deficit more than any other region”, stressed Mas. “In spite of the severe economic crisis across Europe, Catalonia has continued to innovate in technology, and attract new foreign investment”. This is to be added to the historical fiscal deficit that the Spanish Government refuses to lower down and limit. Furthermore, “culturally speaking, a recent quote from the Spanish Minister of Culture and Education clearly illustrates the agenda of the central state: ‘it is in our interest to Hispanicise Catalan children’”, recalled Mas.

A self-determination process “led by our vibrant civil society with massive grassroots support”

The Catalan President explained how a “vibrant civil society with massive grassroots support across Catalonia” is leading the “self-determination”, as it was firstly “evidenced by the 1.5 million citizens who marched through Barcelona on 11 September 2012”, Catalonia’s National Day. Another massive demonstration was repeated a year after, “on 11 September 2013, following the example of the Baltic Way of 1989, which opened the door to recovering the independence of the three Baltic Republics”. That day “a 400 km-long human chain was organised on 11 September - the Catalan national day - across Catalonia from the French border in the north to our southern limits”, he said, with the participation of over 1.6 million people. In that demonstration, “inspired by the civic example of the Baltic peoples, the Catalans called for their right to freely decide the future of their people, showing Madrid – and the world - that Catalonia will not settle for anything short of  a self-determination referendum, just like the one negotiated by the UK and Scottish governments”, Mas pointed out.

“Let us vote, we say. Let us vote, we ask. Let us vote, we demand”

Taking all the previous reasons into account and the popular and electoral mandate, “Catalonia’s political leaders, have decided to move to the next stage – for our people to freely choose their own future in November”, stated Mas. “In twenty-first century Europe, we solve these disputes peacefully and democratically, with ballot boxes and votes” claimed the Catalan President. This is why “Madrid should abide by its professed democratic principles and allow the referendum our people desire”, he stated. Finally, Mas concluded his article with a clear request addressed to the Spanish authorities but also, indirectly, to the international community: “Let us vote, we say. Let us vote, we ask. Let us vote, we demand”.

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  • Artur Mas, on Sunday in Lleida (by S. Miret)

  • Artur Mas, on Sunday in Lleida (by S. Miret)