Director of historic Latvian museum: Catalans “should have the right to determine their future”
The Director of the Museum of the Occupation of Latvia, Gundega Michele, has stated that it is “marvellous” that the ‘Baltic Way’ “can help” Catalonia achieve independence. In an interview with the CNA, Michele also predicted that the Catalan human chain, which takes place this Wednesday afternoon, may be “more successful” than its Baltic equivalent thanks to new technologies than facilitate its organisation. The ‘Baltic Way’ took place in 1989 to claim independence from USSR for Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. Michele continued by stating that Catalans “should have the right to determine their future” and added that if a referendum cannot be held, a unilateral declaration of independence would be a “reasonable” solution.
Riga (ACN).- The Director of the Museum of the Occupation of Latvia, Gundega Michele, stated that it is “marvellous” that the 1989 Baltic Way’ “can help” Catalonia achieve independence. In an interview with the CNA, the museum Director predicted that the ‘Catalan Way’, which takes place this Wednesday afternoon, could be more successful than its Baltic equivalent due to help from new technologies that facilitate its organisation. Michele continued by stating that Catalans “should have the right to determine their future”. She also suggested that in the event of a hypothetical independence for Catalonia the Baltic States would recognise the new state because Baltic citizens “have a better understanding” and have “more sympathy” for these kind of processes. Michele recalls that in the 1989 human chain that linked Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania there were “young, old, rich and poor” united together. “There were no classes or groups that did not get involved”, she continued. The ‘Baltic Way’ was an inspiration for the organisers of the ‘Catalan Way’, which will link Catalonia from north to south through 400 kilometres with hundreds of thousands of independence supporters linking hands.
A unilateral declaration would be “reasonable”
Gundega Michele argues that it is “extremely important” that people have the choice to decide their own future, in reference to Moscow’s initial opposition to Baltic independence and the attitude of Madrid. “No neighbours have the right to impose their will” she stated. Latvia made a declaration of independence through its regional parliament when it was still part of the USSR and Michele admits that it would be “reasonable” for Catalonia to do the same if it were denied the opportunity to carry out a referendum. “The parliament is elected representatively, and members of parliament represent the views of the people, so it [unilateral declaration of independence] would certainly be a reasonable way to do it”, she highlights.
Baltic states should recognise a new Catalan state if it were to exist
When asked if Latvia and the two other Baltic states should not recognise a new Catalan state to avoid a conflict with Spain, Michele is straight to the point “I sincerely hope not”. While “I’m not willing to guarantee it, if you were to ask me I would say that we would recognise [Catalonia] because it is our duty”, she remarked. For Michele the independence cause has a significant influence because there are people who have “kept a desire for independence and freedom for many generations”.
New technologies are an advantage for Catalonia
Gundega Michele noted the strong “organisational capacity” of the ‘Baltic Way’ which was instrumental to the restoration of impendence for Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia. “There were no mobile phones, and it was much more difficult to organise something than it is today”, she stated in reference to Catalonia. Indeed, the existence of mobile phones and mobile internet may make Wednesday’s human chain “more successful” than the Baltic chain. The museum Director noted that in the ‘Baltic Way’ “there were many more participants than was initially predicted” and in some towns people were “shoulder to shoulder” and could not extend their hands. “This usually happens, and I hope that in the Catalan case it does”, she revealed.
The “legacy” of the Baltic human chain
The Museum of the Occupation of Latvia, located in Riga, has in recent months seen an increased interest among Catalans about the ‘Baltic Way’ and its Catalan equivalent is of great interest to the developers of the museum who look on with curiosity to see the “legacy” of the work that its citizens did almost 25 years ago.