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Catalan President hopes EU countries will convince Spanish PM to negotiate split, says Bloomberg

The President of the Catalan Government, Artur Mas, is on a visit to the United States to talk with think tanks, investors and media. Mas held a conference at Columbia University on Wednesday evening in which he stressed the democratic principle as the driving force of the independence movement. He praised the American Constitution's "We, the people" to emphasise that "we will vote in September", in elections transformed into a 'de facto' vote on independence. Besides this, Mas also held an interview with 'Bloomberg', saying he hoped that "the biggest" European Union countries will convince Spanish Prime Minister to negotiate a split if Catalans voted for independence. He has also penned an article in the 'Irish Times', stressing that no "decision taken by the Spanish political sphere will break the will of the Catalan people to freely and democratically decide their political future".

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09 April 2015 10:24 PM

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ACN

Barcelona (ACN).- The President of the Catalan Government, Artur Mas, is on a visit to the United States to talk with think tanks, academics, investors and media groups. Mas held a conference at the University of Columbia on Wednesday evening in which he highlighted the democratic principle as the main driving force guiding the Catalan independence movement. He praised the "We, the people" of the American Constitution to emphasise that "we will vote in September" in early elections that will be transformed into a 'de facto' referendum on independence. Besides this, Mas also held an interview with 'Bloomberg', in which he said he hoped that "the biggest" European Union countries will convince Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy to negotiate a split if Catalans vote for pro-independence parties. On top of this, he also penned an opinion article in the 'Irish Times', as he has been doing with other European newspapers in the last few months. Mas stressed that no "decision taken by the Spanish political sphere will break the will of the Catalan people to freely and democratically decide their political future".


The President of the Catalan Government has been arguing in New York and in interviews and articles in the international media that the early elections set for 27 September are the only option left to allow Catalan citizens to freely and democratically decide on their collective future, since the Spanish Government has unilaterally imposed a 'no-to-everything' attitude and has rejected any talk of discussing self-determination and the organisation of a mutually-agreed vote on the issue. In contrast to the Scotland case and the attitude of the United Kingdom Government, the Spanish Executive decided to ignore the democratic claim resulting from Catalonia's last elections (held in November 2012), in which 80% of the newly-elected Parliament supported a legal self-determination vote. These elections were called early, precisely to vote on the organisation of a self-determination vote, as a response to the first massive rally organised in Barcelona demanding independence from Spain.

Catalonia "wants to continue forming part of the EU and will be a loyal and reliable partner"

In the piece in 'The Irish Times', the Catalan President gives an overview of the latest developments and negative answers from the Spanish institutions regarding the organisation of a self-determination vote. Mas recalls how the Spanish Constitutional Court cancelled the Catalan Law on Consultation Votes, which "was approved with 106 MPs in favour and only 28 against, demonstrating the broad political and popular support for a law that created the possibility for the government to hold non-binding consultations to seek citizens’ opinions on any topic of general interest", stated Mas. After this setback, Catalan representatives "were forced to then find another means to consult our people, and we found it in the form of a 'participative process'", which took place on 9 November, in which "more than 2.3 million citizens freely expressed their views on Catalonia’s political future at the ballot box" recounted Mas.

However, Spanish institutions ruled and acted against such a process, an attitude that "lends credence to those who think that Spain’s democracy is low-quality, and one that is still a considerable distance from the other European democracies". Furthermore, the Catalan President also stated in his article that the "separation of powers [in Spain] is fragile"; "it has been a long time since the Spanish constitutional court lost its designated duty to act as an impartial referee and took on a role that is more political than judicial", he added, referring to the fact that this body's President is a former member of the Spanish Prime Minister's party.

No "decision taken by the Spanish political sphere will break the will of the Catalan people to freely and democratically decide their political future", wrote Mas in 'The Irish Times' opinion article. "On September 27th the Catalan people will vote to choose the next Parliament of Catalonia". However "for the first time since 1980 these elections will be different, because they will have the undeniable characteristic of plebiscitary elections", stated Mas. "Since the Spanish government and their courts block an agreed and pacted referendum, as was done in Canada and the United Kingdom, with absolute respect and normality, we Catalans have no other option than to use parliamentary elections as an instrument to see whether there is sufficient popular support to configure a Catalan state", highlighted the Catalan President.

"If the results are clearly favourable to the creation of an independent Catalan state, then the new government will have a democratic mandate to fulfil", Mas stressed. In this vein, "we hope to negotiate with the Spanish government and the European Union a calendar and the terms for creating a new European state, if this is the unequivocal will of the Catalan people". At this point, Mas put particular emphasis on highlighting that a "future Catalan state wants to continue forming part of the EU and will be a loyal and reliable partner for European governments and public institutions".

Lastly, Mas rejected the "ridiculous" idea that Catalans want to build new borders, insisting in the fact that "Catalans have long been enthusiastic defenders of the construction of the European Union". "On the contrary, Catalans want to belong to a stronger and more united Europe, but with the same respect and sovereignty other European States enjoy – some of which have similar-sized or even smaller populations or gross domestic products than Catalonia", he concluded.

Mas hopes EU countries will convince Rajoy to negotiate

As well as this, the Catalan President held an interview with 'Bloomberg'. As reported by the business news agency, Mas said that "some European countries will get involved in the affair" if the Spanish Government is not willing to sit and talk about a mutually-agreed independence process, if Catalans vote for such an option in the next elections. According to Mas, these countries would try "to convince the authorities in Madrid that it is always better to negotiate and to reach agreements because the economy is at stake", instead of facing a unilateral declaration of independence.

Mas also stated in his interview with 'Bloomberg' that despite the fact that no European government is publicly supporting Catalonia's independence, their "neutrality" about it is a positive message. However, the business news agency added a statement from Angela Merkel in which she "supported the view of the Spanish government" regarding Catalonia's independence.

Furthermore, the American media put forward a series of figures regarding Catalonia's economy (with an annual output of €198 billion), which is similar to that of Scotland, stated 'Bloomberg'. In addition, it highlighted that it is the richest Autonomous Community in Spain. It also emphasised its population (7.5 million inhabitants) and the last opinion poll on independence support, stating that "about 39% of citizens support independence" while in 2012 they accounted for 49% of the population.

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  • The President of the Catalan Government, Artur Mas, holding his conference at Columbia University in New York (by M. Belmez)

  • The President of the Catalan Government, Artur Mas, holding his conference at Columbia University in New York (by M. Belmez)
Catalan President held a conference in Columbia University about Catalonia's independence