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Stereotypes about Catalonia – Tomanic: “My Balkan origins know that nationalism can be very dangerous”

Aleksandra Tomanic, a German with Balkan roots, tells CNA what she thinks about Catalonia and nationalism. Muriel Casals, president of the main NGO promoting Catalan culture and expert in International Relations, responds to Tomanic.


15 November 2010 08:37 PM


ACN / Raquel Correa / Maria Fernandez

Brussels/Barcelona (ACN).- Catalan nationalism is a peaceful and integrative nationalism that wants \u201Cto build our country together\u201D without excluding anyone, states Muriel Casals, President of Òmnium Cultural, the main NGO promoting the Catalan language and culture. Casals said this to Aleksandra Tomanic, a German with Yugoslavian roots. Tomasevic claims to understand Catalonia\u2019s struggle for more autonomy \u201Cas a German\u201D, but that her \u201CBalkan origins know that separatism and nationalism can be very very dangerous if you overdo it\u201D. \u201CMy German origins understand Catalonia\u2019s fight for more independence and more autonomy because Germany has grown historically this way, as we are a very federal state and if you were trying to centralise it, you will have a revolution\u201D, explains Aleksandra. However, Aleksandra\u2019s parents come from former Yugoslavia and she fears radical nationalism. She is pushed to frame Catalan nationalism into her Balkan referent.

Aleksandra Tomanic also sees Catalans as closed people. She says that \u201Cwhen I have been in Barcelona or in another place in Catalonia, it has been unfortunately difficult to get along with people by talking in Spanish\u201D. Muriel Casals, President of Òmnium Cultural, states that it is important to well integrate newcomers. \u201CThe future of Catalonia will be characterised precisely by this; we will have hosted many people and we will transform each other. The will to make roots together and build the future together is what we understand for Catalan nationalism in this moment\u201D, explains Casals. She also stressed the will of Catalans \u201Cto build a strong and specific identity within Europe\u201D, but without excluding or confronting anyone.

A series of stereotypes

Today the CNA started a review on a series of stereotypes, myths and ideas that foreigners have about Catalonia. What do people in Berlin, New York and Paris think about Catalonia? What are the first things that cross their minds? CNA correspondents are asking residents in world cities to express their views on Catalonia. Stereotypes, myths and common ideas are being shed to light. CNA has also asked experts in Catalonia to verbally reflect on the stereotypes expressed by foreigners.

Today we are presenting the first piece of this series: a German woman working at the European Commission\u2019s General Directorate for Enlargement reflecting on Catalan nationalism. Muriel Casals, university professor of International Economics and president of the main NGO promoting Catalan culture, defended the peaceful and integrative nature of Catalan nationalism.

A constructive nationalism

The motto \u201CWe are a nation; we decide\u201D of the massive demonstration on the 10th of July perfectly reflects Muriel Casals\u2019 views on the issue. The President of Òminium Cultural wants to put aside the negative connotations of the word \u201Cnationalism\u201D. \u201CWhen Catalans talk about \u201CCatalanism\u201D, we talk about a collective feeling, the recognition that we are building our country, which is not really finished. This is why we have this label of \u201Cnationalists\u201D. Many times this label is given to us by large countries such as France, which do not recognise their own nationalism\u201D.


  • Muriel Casals, President of Òmnium Cultural (by M. Fernández)

  • Muriel Casals, President of Òmnium Cultural (by M. Fernández)
Stereotypes about Catalonia – Tomanic: “My Balkan origins know that nationalism can be very dangerous”