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Mas asks Spain to not put Catalonia’s self-determination “behind bars” when swearing office

Artur Mas, leader of the Centre-Right Catalan Nationalist Coalition (CiU), has sworn the oath as President of the Catalan Government again, two years after he did it for the first time. After swearing office, Mas delivered a long speech in which he asked Spain to not put the will of Catalans to freely decide on their own future “behind bars”. He also compared Spain and Catalonia’s relations with “two boats” following a “collision course”. Mas stated that he is ready “to change direction” because otherwise “Catalonia will be adrift, and when you are adrift, you are the most likely to crash against the rocks”. The Spanish Finance Minister, Cristóbal Montoro, was present at the ceremony as the highest representative of the Spanish Government.

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24 December 2012 08:49 PM

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ACN

Barcelona (ACN).- Artur Mas, leader of the Centre-Right Catalan Nationalist Coalition (CiU), has sworn the oath as President of the Catalan Government again, two years after he did it for the first time. After swearing office, Mas delivered a long speech in which he asked Spain to not put the will of Catalans to freely decide on their own future \u201Cbehind bars\u201D. He also compared Spain and Catalonia\u2019s relations with \u201Ctwo boats\u201D following a \u201Ccollision course\u201D. Mas stated he is ready \u201Cto change direction\u201D because otherwise \u201CCatalonia will be adrift, and when you are adrift, you are the most likely to crash against the rocks\u201D. Mas defended \u201Cthe legitimacy\u201D of the CiU-ERC agreement, offering \u201Cstability\u201D. He emphasised that the agreement has been reached by the two largest parties in Catalonia, who were running in the last elections with \u201Ctwo very clear programmes\u201D, and it represents the \u201Cmain part of the voters\u201D. The Catalan President also emphasised the four \u201Cessential ideas\u201D for the next term in office: firstly, believing in \u201Crespect for democracy\u201D by following \u201Cthe people\u2019s will\u201D; secondly, guaranteeing \u201Csocial cohesion\u201D; thirdly, helping \u201Cthe economy to recover\u201D; and lastly, allowing \u201CCatalonia to freely decide on its own future\u201D. The solemn swearing-in ceremony at the Generalitat Palace was attended by a large representation of Catalonia\u2019s political class, as well as by representatives from economic, social and cultural arenas. The leaders of all the political parties in the Catalan Parliament were present, with two exceptions: the anti-Catalan nationalist party Ciutadans (C\u2019s) and the radical left-wing and independence party (CUP). C\u2019s refused to attend as they say the CiU and the ERC have not formed a government but \u201Can operations committee towards secession\u201D and the CUP was not present \u201Cas they are not used to attending institutional or protocol events\u201D. Additionally, the Spanish Finance Minister, Cristóbal Montoro, was present at the ceremony as the highest representative of the Spanish Government. Montoro, who is imposing strict deficit targets on the Autonomous Communities and is pushing for centralist reforms, stated that the Spanish Government \u201Cneither wants nor desires\u201D a clash with Catalonia.


In a solemn swearing-in ceremony in the Sant Jordi room of the Generalitat Palace, in Barcelona\u2019s Gothic Quarter, Artur Mas swore the oath as Catalan President for the second time in his life. As in 2010, when he became the 129th President of the Catalan Government, an office created in 1359, the oath was administered by the President of the Catalan Parliament, Núria de Gispert. Mas answered \u201CYes\u201D to the promise \u201Cto fulfil the obligations of the position [\u2026] with honour, and with loyalty to the King, the Constitution, the Statute of Autonomy and Catalonia\u2019s national institutions\u201D and, as two years ago, he added \u201Cand with full loyalty towards the people of Catalonia\u201D.

\u201CTo change course\u201D as otherwise \u201CCatalonia will be adrift\u201D

Mas\u2019 speech mainly focused on the relations between Spain and Catalonia. He warned that \u201Cthe course\u201D both governments are following will lead to a \u201Ccollision\u201D, which should be \u201Cavoided\u201D, as \u201Cit would not be positive for anyone\u201D. He added that he wants \u201Cto change the course of Catalan politics\u201D and move towards a \u201Cnational transition\u201D, because otherwise \u201CCatalonia will be adrift, and when you are adrift, you are the most likely to crash against the rocks\u201D.

Not putting Catalonia\u2019s will to decide on its own future \u201Cbehind bars\u201D

To avoid \u201Cconflict and confrontation\u201D, the Catalan President asked the Spanish Government to respect the will of the Catalan people, expressed through the ballots of the last Catalan elections, held on the 25th of November. He asked Madrid \u201Cnot to build walls on [Catalonia\u2019s] open field or put the will of a people to decide on their own future behind bars\u201D. Mas made such statements looking at the Spanish Finance Minister, who is also in charge of the relationship with the Autonomous Communities. The Catalan President emphasised that \u201Cdemocracy will be the universal value\u201D on which Catalonia will build its future; a value he \u201Choped will also guide the actions of the Spanish Government\u201D.

The reactions from the opposition

The Secretary General of the Catalan Socialist Party (PSC), Pere Navarro, stated that \u201CCatalans want to recover from the crisis\u201D as \u201Cneither collisions nor rocks are a good solution for the people who are really suffering\u201D. These people \u201Cdo not want a collision but instead agreements and policies that will take them out of their current situation\u201D, he added. Alícia Sánchez-Camacho, the President of the Catalan branch of the People\u2019s Party (PP) asked Mas for a Catalan Government which would make \u201Ctalk with the Spanish executive\u201D a priority. However, she said that Mas, who has not announced the new government yet, is about to form an executive \u201Cwith a hard nucleus of Talibans, the most radical ones, who will only work towards confrontation, division and a permanent fight\u201D. The leader of the Catalan Green Socialist and Communist Coalition (ICV-EUiA), Joan Herrera, stated that it is \u201Cimpossible\u201D for his group to join the agreement between the CiU and the ERC, as Mas is offering, because the agreement is based \u201Con a \u20AC4 billion budget cut\u201D to be implemented next year. However, as on previous occasions, Herrera emphasised that they will talk with the new Catalan Government about the self-determination process as the ICV-EUiA is in support of it. In an unprecedented move, two parliamentary leaders did not attend the swearing-in ceremony. The radical left-wing and pro-independence CUP, whose MPs wear T-shirts in the Parliament, justified their absence as they \u201Cdo not attend institutional or protocol events\u201D. The anti-Catalan nationalism and Spanish nationalist Ciutadans (C\u2019s) stated they were not attending because Mas \u201Cdoes not want to be President of an Autonomous Community\u201D and \u201Che will not chair a government\u201D but \u201Can operations committee towards secession\u201D.

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  • Artur Mas and Núria de Gispert after the Catalan President had sworn the oath (by M. Belmez)

  • Artur Mas arriving at the Generalitat Palace before the swearing-in ceremony (by M. Belmez)

  • Artur Mas and Núria de Gispert toasting with cava after the swearing-in ceremony (by M. Belmez)

  • Artur Mas and Núria de Gispert after the Catalan President had sworn the oath (by M. Belmez)
  • Artur Mas arriving at the Generalitat Palace before the swearing-in ceremony (by M. Belmez)
  • Artur Mas and Núria de Gispert toasting with cava after the swearing-in ceremony (by M. Belmez)