Swiss Parliament to create friendship group with Catalonia
The independence process in Catalonia has awoken international interest. Proof of this is the friendship group with Catalonia that Swiss MPs from different parties will set up in the Federal Assembly. The Delegate of the Catalan Government to France and Switzerland, Martí Anglada, celebrated the “plural and transversal component” of the initiative, which goes beyond political ideologies. Anglada also emphasised the importance of a country “which is a point of reference in terms of democratic quality, direct democracy and international mediation tradition” showing its friendship toward the Catalan people “in the middle of the independence process”. Other countries, such as Estonia, have also set up friendship groups with Catalonia in their Parliament.
Barcelona (CNA).- A group of Swiss MPs from the main political parties in the Federal Assembly will set up a friendship group with Catalonia. According to the Delegate of the Catalan Government to France and Switzerland, Martí Anglada, the initiative has a strong “plural and transversal component” which shows the interest that the political process in Catalonia has awoken in the Swiss Parliament, regardless of the MPs’ ideologies. Indeed, the group has been launched by MPs from the Socialist Party (PS), the Christian-democrats (PDC), the Liberal Party (PLR) and the Swiss People’s Party (Union Democrátique du Centre, in French). Anglada also emphasised the importance of a country such as Switzerland, “which is a point of reference in terms of democratic quality, direct democracy and international mediation tradition”, showing its friendship to the Catalan people “in the middle of the independence process”.
“The friendship group Switzerland-Catalonia shows the progressive international support towards the Catalan process”, stated Anglada. The MPs who launched the initiative aim to gather the attention of other MPs and also that of the Swiss Government in relation to the Catalan process. In this vein, they see the creation of the friendship group as a useful tool to follow the political process in Catalonia and strengthen the binds with the different actors in Catalan society.
There are currently a hundred friendship groups in the Federal Assembly, since all Swiss MPs and senators are free to join or even create friendship groups, whose activities are not subject to parliamentary control.
Some of the members in this new friendship group have previously defended the right of self-determination and the need to find a political solution to Catalonia’s push for independence. They have called for holding a referendum, a democratic resource quite normal in Switzerland. Moreover, they claim that Switzerland is a country which aims to promote dialogue and listen to all the parties involved.
The Catalan process previously gathered Swiss attention
This is not the first time Swiss MPs have shown an interest in Catalonia’s push for independence. In September 2015, Socialist Mathias Reynard, Christian-democrat Yannick Buttet, Conservative Oskar Freysinger, Liberal Green Beat Flach and Green Balthazar Glätti asked their government if they could “mediate between Madrid and Barcelona”. “Considering Switzerland’s neutrality and democratic tradition would the Federal Council propose our country’s good manners to ensure mediation between Madrid and Barcelona?” asked Swiss MPs to the Federal Council. The representatives also lamented Spain’s position as it “seems to be doing the opposite of the international procedures expected from democratic countries” and pointed out that their “constant vetoes have ended all the legal possibilities for Catalonia”.
They also stated that “despite Madrid’s obstruction, Catalonia aspires to choose its own political future” and that Catalonia has “a strong and particular identity” which can be seen through its language, culture and also “centenary institutions”.
After the 27-S Catalan elections, the Federal Council responded that it wouldn’t mediate between Catalonia and Spain unless “all the parts explicitly request it”. The Swiss Federal Council stated that “Catalonia’s pro-independence aspirations affect Spain’s internal politics” and therefore “the possibility of a Swiss intervention isn’t planned”. The Catalan Foreign Affairs Secretary at the time, Roger Albinyana, celebrated the Swiss proposition as “it is the first international actor” to highlight the “lack of dialogue” of the Spanish government.