Diplocat gets a new secretary general

The Public Diplomacy Council of Catalonia held its second session since being reopened after Spain’s direct rule shut it down

Laura Foraster (left), Quim Torra, and Alfred Bosch at the Diplocat plenary on December 17 2018 (photo courtesy of the Catalan government)
Laura Foraster (left), Quim Torra, and Alfred Bosch at the Diplocat plenary on December 17 2018 (photo courtesy of the Catalan government) / ACN

ACN | Barcelona

December 17, 2018 01:24 PM

The Public Diplomacy Council of Catalonia (Diplocat) now has a new secretary general: Laura Foraster. This motion was approved during Diplocat’s second plenary session since its reopening after the period of direct rule imposed by Spain, in a session on Monday attended by the Catalan president Quim Torra and the foreign affairs minister Alfred Bosch.

Laura Foraster is no stranger to Diplocat, as from 2012 to 2018 she acted as its executive director. She’s also held positions in local ministries and in Brussels, working with various European institutions. She has a background in administration, business, humanities and European studies, with degrees from various Catalan universities.  

Article 155 and its impact on Diplocat

The Diplocat was closed down by the former Spanish government as part of the application of Article 155, which suspended Catalonia's autonomy. The Catalan government decided in June to stop its liquidation, arguing that it was illegal. President Quim Torra and the then foreign affairs minister Ernest Maragall formally announced the reopening of the Diplocat in July after a meeting with the board of the organization.

The former secretary general of the Diplocat, Albert Royo, had already announced he would step down earlier this year and was temporarily replaced by the Secretary General of Foreign Affairs of the government, Natàlia Mas.

Polemic surrounding Diplocat

The public diplomacy council of Catalonia was considered by unionist groups as one of the main reasons behind the internationalization of the independence case. However, Diplocat employees always denied they held a bias towards independence.

Employees pointed out that "all delegations" visiting Catalonia through them "had the chance to meet with all parties with parliamentary representation as well as with diverse and plural entities from civil society." They said that all parties, including those supporting direct rule, had participated in the organization's initiatives.

They also insisted that, from Diplocat, they "invited people who are clearly opposed" to independence to all their events and sessions, with debates often having "most of the participants clearly opposed to secession." Diplocat workers said that their actions had always fallen within the scope of public diplomacy, which is different from regular diplomacy. "The actions of Diplocat were not aimed at setting up relations with foreign governments, but rather at broadcasting the Catalan reality to individuals and entities abroad," they added.