Catalonia will have its own representatives in UNESCO separate from the Spanish delegation in specific issues
The agreement was previously discussed with the Spanish Executive and it respects the Catalan Government’s external action power as described in Catalonia’s main law. The President of the Catalan Government, Artur Mas, signed the agreement with UNESCO’s General Director, Irina Bokova. The new framework allows Catalonia to have its “singularity” represented in the international organisation, although not permanently. Catalan representatives will be present in specific meetings and projects, separate from the Spanish delegation. “It is more than what we already have”, stated Mas. The Catalan President was one of the speakers at the Opening Plenary Session of UNESCO’s Global Conference, which is being held in Paris from the 3rd to the 5th of June.
Paris (ACN).- Catalonia will have its own representatives in UNESCO to discuss specific issues separate from the Spanish delegation, as has been agreed between the Catalan Government and the international organisation. The agreement was previously discussed with the Spanish Executive and it respects the Catalan Government\u2019s external action power as described in Catalonia\u2019s main law (the Catalan Statute of Autonomy). The President of the Catalan Government, Artur Mas, signed the agreement with UNESCO\u2019s General Director Irina Bokova on Monday morning in Paris. The new framework allows Catalonia to have its \u201Csingularity\u201D temporarily represented in the international organisation. However, it does not allow Catalonia to have its own permanent representation, as other nations without statehood such as Québec already have. Mas emphasised that UNESCO would allow this to happen and, if it is not a reality yet, it is because of Spain\u2019s ban. However, the Catalan President was satisfied with the agreement achieved. \u201CIt is not what we would dream of, because some day we will have to have a permanent representation, but it is more than what we already have\u201D, stated Mas.
The Catalan President was one of the speakers at the Opening Plenary Session of UNESCO\u2019s Global Conference, which is being held at the international organisations\u2019 headquarters \u2013 which are based in the French capital \u2013 from the 3rd to the 5th of June. The round table debate was about the transition towards a new economic model based on sustainable development. Mas, who is also an economist, explained how the Catalan Government is following the European Union\u2019s 2020 Agenda and combines a strong industrial power with the respect for the environment. On the same day, Mas was supposed to have dinner with the French Defence Minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian, since he is also the Chairman of the Conference of Peripheral Maritime Regions of Europe. However, Le Drian cancelled the meeting on the same day for agenda problems and it will be rescheduled. Mas emphasised that Le Drian, who had asked for the meeting, was meeting with him not as Defence Minister but as a member of the Conference of Peripheral Maritime Regions, grouping 160 territories including Catalonia.
\u201CCatalan representatives will be present at UNESCO\u2019s structures and they will not be part of the Spanish permanent delegation\u201D, affirmed Artur Mas after signing the agreement with Irina Bokova. Mas insisted that the agreement represents \u201Ca step forward\u201D. \u201CIt is obvious that we consider our current tools to be insufficient, but we will use them, in all fields. If [by doing this] we have the possibility to be better connected to UNESCO, our responsibility is to do so\u201D, he added. Mas explained that this is not Catalonia\u2019s \u201Cfinal desire\u201D but that the agreement allows the country \u201Cto strengthen its capacity\u201D to hold international relations. \u201CWe are entering into a time when we have the possibility to find our place internationally, in all fields\u201D he said. According to him, this desire is in line with Catalonia\u2019s tradition and \u201Cwill to open itself abroad\u201D.
The current legislation allows Catalonia to have its own external action
Catalonia will have its own representatives, separate from the Spanish delegation, to discuss specific issues, to prepare projects and to undergo some stages. This will enable the Catalan Government to temporarily have a bilateral relationship with the international organisation in some areas. The agreement was previously discussed with the Spanish Government. It is also absolutely respectful to the current legal framework, which allows the Catalan Government to develop its own external action and foresees the Executive\u2019s \u201Ccapacity to relate with international organisations\u201D, as Mas remarked.
Catalan candidates to become Humanity Heritage
Mas explained that Catalonia\u2019s new status should enable it to \u201Cfully develop\u201D ongoing projects. The President mentioned projects such as the transformation of Barcelona\u2019s Art Nouveau Sant Pau Hospital into a hub for international organisations, since the site will already play host to an Institute of the United Nations University and the UN Permanent Secretariat of the Global Water Operator\u2019s Partnerships Alliance (GWOPA), among other institutions. Mas also referred to the recognition as Humankind Heritage of the three Catalan towns related to the Surrealist painter Salvador Dalí (Figueres, Cadaqués and Púbol) and the Romanesque gate of Ripoll\u2019s monastery dating from the 12th century (a true masterpiece and a unique architectural jewel). He also mentioned Catalan candidatures to become Intangible Cultural Heritage such as the Priorat County\u2019s landscapes \u2013 which combine agriculture and world-famous wine-making with breath-taking views \u2013 and Catalan cuisine, which in the last decade has reached culinary heights with a constellation of Michelin stars and with two Catalan restaurants having been named Best Restaurant in the World. In fact, Ferran Adrià\u2019s elBulli was named the World\u2019s Best Restaurant on five occasions and the Roca brothers\u2019 El Celler de Can Roca was awarded this honour in 2013.
The Catalan President participated in UNESCO\u2019s 2013 Global Conference
Before signing the agreement with the UNESCO, Artur Mas participated in the Opening Plenary Session of UNESCO\u2019s 8th Global Conference, also known as The Planet\u2019s Workshops. Just after the Conference\u2019s Keynote Speech, the round table started with the title \u2018Has the transition been set in motion?\u2019 Speakers were debating whether the global economy has already started to move towards an alternative economic model based on sustainable development. Mas, who is also an economist, explained how the Catalan Government is following the European Union\u2019s 2020 Agenda and combines a strong industrial power with respect for the environment. He said that in a context of financial crisis and budget cuts, pushing the green agenda forward is a challenge. However he said that governments have to explain to citizens that protecting the environment might also be an important source of new jobs, and quite often better paid. He also explained that Catalonia aims to become an international leader within the sustainable economy, and he praised the country\u2019s strong power within the world\u2019s tourism industry and in biomedical research. Mas explained that Catalonia wants to base its economy on research and knowledge, as well as on welfare and business activities.
Besides the Catalan President, the participants at the round table were Néstor Osorio, President of the United Nations Economic and Social Council and Permanent Representative of Colombia at the UN; Christian Courtin-Clarins, Chairman of the Supervisory Board of the Clarins Group, Bernard Gainnier, Partner in charge of Development and President to-be of PricewaterhouseCoopers France, Maghreb and French-Speaking Africa; and, Jakob Von Uexkull, President and Founder of the World Future Council. It was moderated by Vincent Beaufils, Chief Editor of Challenges.