Spain takes Catalan foreign offices to court over ‘separatist’ claims

Madrid asks Catalan high court to suspend delegations in Berlin, London, and Geneva

Catalan president Quim Torra (left) and Spanish president Pedro Sánchez (by Rafa Garrido)
Catalan president Quim Torra (left) and Spanish president Pedro Sánchez (by Rafa Garrido) / ACN

ACN | Madrid, Barcelona

July 2, 2019 10:56 AM

The Spanish government has taken Catalonia’s foreign offices in Berlin, London, and Geneva to court alleging that they serve the interests of the "secessionist project."  

Madrid authorities, with acting president Pedro Sánchez at its helm, has urged the Catalan High Court to provisionally suspend the three delegations and close the offices opened by the Catalan government.

Catalan offices abroad have long been in the spotlight of Spanish authorities. In 2017, with the conservative Mariano Rajoy as president, Spain closed Catalan offices abroad as part of the exceptional measures to stop the independence bid led by Carles Puigdemont.

Up until now, Sánchez and the Socialist party had been more lenient than the previous Spanish government—especially since they rely on votes from Catalan independence parties to stay in power.

As relations between the Socialists and pro-independence parties deteriorate, the Spanish government has become increasingly wary of Catalan offices abroad, with foreign minister Josep Borrell labelling them as “secessionist propaganda" and claiming that they’re “clearly harmful to Spain’s interests.”

While the Catalan government opened nearly a dozen foreign offices in the past year, it was only last week when new delegations in Mexico City, Buenos Aires, and Tunis were announced that Madrid authorities vowed to close them.

In an interview with ACN last week, the Catalan foreign minister Alfred Bosch said that the only negative propaganda Spain received was when it “violated civil and human rights and eroded democracy," referring to the violent crackdown against referendum voters in 2017 and the imprisonment of pro-independence leaders.