Government to contest Spain's court challenge to reopening offices abroad
Foreign minister in London to oversee return to operation of office representing Catalonia in the UK and Ireland
The Catalan government says it intends to fight the legal challenge presented by the Spanish authorities in the high court in Catalonia against the reopening of its offices abroad.
That is according to foreign minister Ernest Maragall who was in London on Friday to oversee the reopening of the office representing the government in the British capital.
The London office handling relations with the UK and Ireland was closed down during the period of direct rule from Madrid that followed Parliament's declaration of independence.
Saying that the court challenge neither "surprises" nor "impresses" him, Maragall added that the government will "have to study what the challenge says, and, depending on that, we will go to court with our homework done."
Yet, the minister did not rule out discussing the issue with the authorities in Madrid: "If in the process of reopening the next offices there is the smallest chance of an agreement we would be delighted," he said.
Offices in Switzerland and Italy next
Whatever happens, Maragall said it would not affect the schedule his department has set out for reopening offices, with those in Switzerland and Italy due to reopen in October, and those in the US and France due in November.
Maragall made his comments from 17 Fleet Street, where the government's office in Britain is located. The office for the UK and Ireland is the second to be reopened after the minister oversaw the reopening of the office in the German capital of Berlin last week.
According to the Maragall, the foreign offices have a triple objective: to represent, to establish a presence and to influence, by "representing Catalan society and institutions."
Asked about the reopening of the Diplocat agency, aimed at promoting international awareness of Catalonia, Maragall said it was in a process of "formal and operative recovery" and he estimated that it would be operational again by the end of the year.