Puigdemont accuses Spain of being “suspicious” towards Catalonia’s efforts to aid in the refugee crisis
On the 3rd of May, the President of Catalonia, Carles Puigdemont, and the Mayor of Barcelona, Ada Colau, spoke at the inauguration of the International Forum on the Reception and Integration of Refugees in the EU. The forum centred on what was described as “the biggest humanitarian crisis since WWII”, focusing on its long-term and short-term solutions as well as its “challenges and opportunities”, according to DIPLOCAT, the organising entity. Barcelona’s “willingness” to accept 4,500 asylum seekers, 1,800 of which could be helped immediately, was spoken of by both Colau and Puigdemont. Puigdemont accused the Spanish Government of “ineffectiveness”, having not yet carried out its compromise of accepting 17,000 refugees, while Ada Colau stated that it “isn’t right” that Barcelona doesn’t have more power in deciding its own immigration policies.
Barcelona (CNA).- The President of Catalonia, Carles Puigdemont, and the Mayor of Barcelona, Ada Colau, have gathered together at the inauguration of the International Forum on the Reception and Integration of Refugees in the EU, held on the 3rd of May by Barcelona City Council and the Public Diplomacy Council of Catalonia, DIPLOCAT. During the forum, “the biggest humanitarian crisis since WWII” was discussed as well as possible short-term and long-term solutions, with the objective of sharing “challenges and opportunities”, according to the organisation responsible for the event. Both Colau and Puigdemont spoke of the willingness of Barcelona to accept 4,500 asylum seekers. Puigdemont lamented the “ineffectiveness” of the Spanish Government in accepting 17,000 asylum-seekers, as promised, and called for a “common asylum policy” to be instituted by the EU. The Catalan President additionally accused the Spanish Government of being “suspicious” towards Catalonia’s efforts to aid in the refugee crisis. Ada Colau also called for potential host cities to have more power in the policy-making, as opposed to the current, state-held system, stating that it “isn’t right”.
The President of Catalonia, Carles Puigdemont, accused the Spanish Government of acting “suspicious” of the Government of Catalonia and the Municipal Government of Catalonia, now that “solutions” must be found to welcome refugees. At the inauguration of the International Forum on the Reception and Integration of Refugees in the EU, the President of Catalonia and the Mayor of Barcelona, Ada Colau, spoke of Barcelona’s readiness to help asylum seekers. The objective of the forum was “to discuss this new situation and share the challenges and opportunities arising from the influx of refugees”, focusing on the immediate welcoming of refugees and the long-term effects as well as integration.
Both Ada Colau and Carles Puigdemont reaffirmed the “willingness” of the Catalan Government to receive 4,500 asylum seekers, of which 1,800 could be helped immediately. In fact, Barcelona was one of the first cities within Spain to declare itself ready and willing to welcome refugees, welcoming the title ‘Ciutat Refugi’ (‘Refugee City’). Puigdemont furthermore lamented the “ineffectiveness” of the Spanish Government in holding up its end of the bargain to welcome 17,000 refugees. Ada Colau additionally spoke against the Spanish Government, referring to it as “one of the primary obstacles” to the Catalan capital becoming a host city. Puigdemont called on the EU, asking for a “common asylum policy”, to create a “secure and reliable way” for those in need to request shelter and asylum.
In mid-2015, “The number of refugees of concern to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in mid-2015 reached an estimated 15.1 million refugees, the highest level in 20 years” reported the Public Diplomacy Council of Catalonia (DIPLOCAT). The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees also reminded the online community on Twitter of the “60 million displaced people, the highest figure ever registered by UNHCR”. The spokesperson for UNHCR in Spain, María Jesús Vega, noted, indeed, that “the Mediterranean is today the most lethal border”.
The founding principles of Europe and its future
Both Colau and Puigdemont recalled the original values of the EU in a post-war situation during their interventions in the forum. Puigdemont called for a “more united EU that honours the principles of its founding fathers” while Colau warned that “if Europe doesn't return to its founding principles on this issue, then it will be definitively lost”. The Mayor of Barcelona also said that Barcelona’s “good practices” are a result of the city’s “experience during the Balkan war”.
In regards to the policies of the Catalan capital, its mayor challenged the notion that it is the State that dictates the refugee and immigration policy, whereas the city itself has little to no say in the matter, stating that it “isn’t right”. On the potential and the future of the region and its capital were things to change, the Secretary General of the Public Diplomacy Council of Catalonia, Albert Royo Mariné, stated that “Barcelona and Catalonia can play a relevant role for the solidarity tradition of its civil society”.