Puigdemont offers Brussels to host 4,500 refugees, Spain criticises “unilateral” action
Catalan President, Carles Puigdemont expressed Catalonia’s willingness to accommodate 4,500 refugees and provide “a solution for those millions of people running away from war”. In a letter to the EU Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship, Dimitris Avramopoulos, Catalan President Carles Puigdemont stated that the Catalan government and institutions are “working to accommodate around 4,500 refugees” and assured that Catalonia is “ready to receive up to 1,800 refugees” right now, “600 of which would be hosted directly by the Catalan government”. On the other hand, the Spanish executive responded to Puigdemont’s action and accused him of acting “unilaterally” and “adding more problems” to the existing situation. “A region in Europe wants to be the solution to the problem, this is impossible”, stated current Spanish vice president, Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría.
Brussels (CNA).- Catalan President, Carles Puigdemont, sent a letter to EU Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship, Dimitris Avramopoulos, to inform him that the Catalan government is “working to accommodate around 4,500 refugees”. He also stressed that Catalonia could receive “up to 1,800 refugees” right now, “600 of which would be hosted directly by the Catalan government”. According to Puigdemont “providing a solution for those millions of people running away from war is not only an international legal duty” but a “moral obligation”. In response, the Spanish executive accused Puigdemont of acting “unilaterally” and “adding more problems” to the existing situation. The current Spanish vice president, Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría, stated that it is the Spanish government which is currently dealing with the situation and which has attended the summit in Brussels. “A region in Europe wants to be the solution to the problem, this is impossible”, she added.
Puigdemont started his letter by expressing his “deep consternation at the serious humanitarian crisis that the EU is facing in the Mediterranean area”, a situation which “absolutely calls for a resolute, comprehensive and long-term EU response”.
In concrete terms, Puigdemont’s proposal is to accommodate 4,500 refugees and stressed that both the government and other institutions “are working hard” on it. “Our government is coordinating an action plan to facilitate the accommodation of this amount of refugees and we are already prepared”, he added. In this vein, he emphasised that Catalonia is “right now” ready “to receive up to 1,800 refugees” in the whole of the territory “600 of which would be hosted directly” by the government. Moreover, “Catalonia’s local governments and civil society are also leading several initiatives to facilitate the migrants’ integration”, an integration which wants to ensure “fair access to healthcare, education and other basic social services”. Puigdemont also notes that Catalonia’s policies on this matter include “an international protection plan” which is currently “in place”.
According to the Catalan President, the EU project “is aimed at bettering the lives” of its citizens and it is “based on the respect for the values of solidarity, diversity and democracy”. “Providing a solution for those millions of people running away from war is not only an international legal duty: it is also a moral obligation for all of us”, he stated.
Puigdemont also nuanced that the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Institutional Relations and Transparency, Raül Romeva, “is the member” of the government “in charge of this issue”. “He is at your disposal to advance this initiative”, he added.
“People in Catalonia have also been refugees themselves”
The Catalan President also referred to Catalonia’s history and its relationship with cross-generation refugees. “The people in Catalonia have also been refugees themselves” he stressed in reference to those who had to go into exile after the Spanish Civil War. Puigdemont also reproduced violoncellist Pau Casals’ words saying that this fact made the Catalan people “against war and the inhumanity of wars”.
“In addition, generations of people in Catalonia have experiences of refugees in their families”, he continued “our history is filled with examples of that and we simply cannot looking at this tragedy without acting”, he stated.
Spain’s executive: Puigdemont’s action add more problems
The current Spanish vice president, Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría, expressed her disconformity with Puigdemont’s action and criticised that he made his offer to the European Commissioner “alone, unilaterally and without agreeing”.
Sáenz de Santamaría also stressed that “it is the Spanish government” which attends the European summits regarding the migration crisis and does so after reaching an agreement with the other parties in the Spanish Parliament. She accused
Puigdemont of “adding more problems” to the existent situation and stressed that “a region in Europe wants to be the solution to the problem, this is impossible”.
The current Spanish vice president also suggested that Puigdemont’s offer could be taken before the Spanish Constitutional Court as it may be contrary to the competences in foreign action regarded in Catalonia’s Statute of Autonomy.