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The Catalan President states in Brussels that the EU views Catalonia's self-determination "with great respect"

In an official visit to Brussels where the President of the Catalan Government, Artur Mas, met with three Commissioners, he recognised that the European Union institutions view Catalonia’s self-determination “with great respect” but they have “some concerns” about “the potential independence” from Spain. Mas emphasised that Catalonia is too significant and relevant “not to be taken into account”. Therefore, the EU “is interested in providing Catalonia with stability” and to “not turn their backs on the Catalans’ majority public opinion”. Mas celebrated that at an international level “instead of closing the door, they listen to us”, which “is different” to the Spanish Government’s attitude.

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23 April 2013 01:16 AM

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ACN

Brussels (ACN).- The President of the Catalan Government, Artur Mas, who was on an official visit to Brussels on Monday, recognised that the European Union institutions see Catalonia\u2019s self-determination \u201Cwith great respect\u201D but they have \u201Csome concerns\u201D about \u201Cthe potential independence\u201D from Spain. Mas, who met with three European Commissioners, emphasised that Catalonia is too significant and relevant \u201Cnot to be taken into account\u201D. He underlined this to the EU leaders saying that \u201Cif Catalonia has a very huge problem, it will not only be Spain\u2019s but also affect the entire EU\u201D. \u201CAnd they know that\u201D, Mas added. Therefore, the EU \u201Cis interested in providing Catalonia with stability\u201D and to \u201Cnot turn their backs on the Catalans\u2019 majority public opinion\u201D he said. Mas celebrated the fact that at an international level \u201Cinstead of closing the door, they listen to us\u201D, which \u201Cis different\u201D to the Spanish Government\u2019s attitude. In the morning, Mas met the Commissioners for Home Affairs, the Swedish Cecilia Malmström, and with the Commissioner for Education, Culture and Multilingualism, the Cypriot Androulla Vassiliou. In the afternoon, he met with the Commissioner for Energy, the German Günther Oettinger. This is Mas\u2019 sixth visit to the European institutions \u201Cin the last two years\u201D, as he underlined in a press conference held at the Catalan Government Delegation\u2019s offices in Brussels. In the afternoon, on the ground floor of the offices, Mas unveiled an exhibition about the Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí, who designed the Sagrada Familia, the Parc Güell and La Pedrera. Furthermore, he also unveiled a second exhibition at the European Parliament\u2019s building called \u201CCatalan, a language of Europe\u201D. It allows the visitor to discover this relatively unknown language, which is the ninth most used one in the EU and yet it is not an official EU language. In fact, Malmström, who speaks Spanish and a little Catalan, was very interested in both exhibitions. On top of this, Mas also met some Catalan civil servants working in the EU institutions and the President of Flanders, Kris Peeters, with whom he will share an institutional trip in the future.


Future \u201Cdiscreet meetings abroad\u201D to talk about Catalonia\u2019s self-determination

Mas admitted that the Commissioners have asked \u201Cvery little, almost nothing\u201D about Catalonia\u2019s self-determination process and therefore they have not \u201Cgone into detail\u201D. However, he said that the issue \u201Cis always present\u201D. Mas also stated that in the near future he hopes to have \u201Cdiscreet meetings abroad\u201D with international leaders and decision makers, since \u201Cunder media pressure, this kind of work is difficult to do\u201D as it is \u201Ca very delicate and complex\u201D issue. He added that such meetings\u201D have not taken place yet\u201D. However, the Catalan President said that if on an international trip he is asked about the process he will answer \u201Cthis is an on-going process, which is really moving forward, and there is the desire to end it and to end it right\u201D. He will also add that \u201Cthe aim of the process\u201D is \u201Cto have a vote and to allow the people of Catalonia to freely decide on their country\u2019s future\u201D.

\u201CInstead of closing the door, they listen to us\u201D

The President of the Catalan Government stated that, in the last two years, after several meetings with EU leaders, he has the impression that \u201Cin general terms\u201D Catalonia\u2019s self-determination process is viewed with great respect\u201D. However he also noted that \u201CCatalonia\u2019s potential independence\u201D generates \u201Csome concerns\u201D. Mas explained that, at an international level, the process might be seen \u201Cas a problem to be added to those they already have\u201D. However, he celebrated the fact that \u201Cinstead of closing the door, they listen to us\u201D, which \u201Cis different\u201D to the Spanish Government\u2019s attitude. He also warned that \u201CSpanish authorities are very tough\u201D and \u201Cdespite the respect at a European and international level towards Catalonia\u2019s self-determination\u201D, he thinks that \u201Creaching an agreement on the self-determination vote might be very hard\u201D. Mas added that \u201Cthe Spanish Government will be as tough with the people of Catalonia\u2019s right to self-determination as it has been on recognising Kosovo\u201D, since Spain is one of the few countries not recognising this Balkan state yet.

Catalan, a language of Europe

Artur Mas unveiled the exhibition called \u2018Catalan, language of Europe\u2019 at the European Parliament. It was organised by the Euro MP Ramon Tremosa, from the Centre-Right Catalan Nationalist Coalition (CiU), which is the party led by Mas and which runs the Catalan Government. The exhibition will run for the entire week and explains that Catalan is the ninth most used language in Europe, with 10 million speakers. Catalan is also the world\u2019s 22nd most translated language, the 8th most active in the blogosphere, the 13th with the most Wikipedia articles and the 19th language on Twitter, among other figures. Furthermore, 1.4 million people have learned to speak it since 1991. The exhibition also discovers that UNESCO chose April the 23rd as \u201Cthe world\u2019s day for books and author rights\u201D in order \u201Cto foster reading, editorial industry and the protection of intellectual property\u201D. This day is the day of Sant Jordi (Saint George), who is not only the Patron Saint of Catalonia but also other European countries including England. The Day of Sant Jordi is also the day in Catalonia when people give books and roses to each other as a sign of love.

Explaining the Catalan school model

Furthermore, the exhibition also explains the Catalan school model, which is based on the linguistic immersion principle. This guarantees equal opportunities and social cohesion, as pupils totally master both Spanish and Catalan by the end of their schooling period, fostering true bilingualism. In addition, now a third language, English, has been introduced in order to have children able to communicate in this international language. Therefore, the European Commission and UNESCO praised the Catalan school model as a best practice example for other countries. However, this model is currently under attack by the Spanish Government and Spanish nationalist media.

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  • The European Commissioner Androulla Vassiliou and the Catalan President Artur Mas (by L. Pous)

  • The European Commissioner Androulla Vassiliou and the Catalan President Artur Mas (by L. Pous)