The Catalan Government stresses that no treaty says that an independent Catalonia would be out of the European Union

September 17, 2013 09:20 PM | ACN

The Catalan Presidency Minister, Francesc Homs, answered the statement made by the Spanish Vice President of the European Commission, Joaquín Almunía, which was later backed by the Spokesperson of the international institution. Homs insisted that there is no automatic mechanism in the EU treaties to kick out a separated part of a Member State, although neither are there automatic mechanisms to ensure it remains within the EU. The Catalan Government’s Spokesperson stated that everything depends on the political will and negotiations. In fact, he hoped to hold such talks at Spanish level but also including the EU institutions, “because too many interests are at stake”. He added that the most pressing question is whether the Catalan people can hold a self-determination referendum, and that the EU debate is used as a distraction.

Latvia and Lithuania say the press offered a “biased” version of their Prime Ministers’ statements on Catalonia

September 16, 2013 10:36 PM | ACN

In two exclusive interviews with the Catalan News Agency, the Prime Ministers of Latvia and Lithuania answered questions on Catalonia’s independence and self-determination process. The statements were badly received by the Spanish Government. The Spanish Foreign Affairs Minister summoned the Latvian and Lithuanian ambassadors in Madrid and met with them on Monday morning. Despite the video showing how the Lithuanian PM literally stated “each country has to find its own way” and “has the right to self-determination” referring to Catalonia, the country’s Foreign Affairs Ministry issued a note stating that the press had offered a “biased and wrong interpretation”. Additionally, Latvia’s Foreign Affairs Ministry also issued a note saying the interpretation was “biased”. However, at the same time, a Spokesperson of the Latvian PM stated he had nothing “to take back” from the interview, in which he was asked about recognising an independent Catalonia and stated “if there is legitimacy in their process, then I would say, theoretically, 'why not?'”.

Almunia now states that an independent Catalonia would be out of the EU and the European Commission backs him

September 16, 2013 10:17 PM | ACN

Last October, the Vice President of the European Commission, Joaquin Almunia, emphasised “it would be dishonest [...] to give a strict answer” as to whether a separated part of a Member State would still be part of the EU. Back then, Almunia insisted that “the question is not a black and white one” and “it has many nuances”. However, this Monday he stated that the “separated part of a Member State would no longer be part of the European Union”. A few hours later, the European Commission’s Spokesperson, Pia Ahrenkilde, backed Almunia’s statements. The issue comes after last week’s 400-kilometre-long human chain supporting Catalonia’s independence from Spain, which was formed by 1.6 million citizens, and Madrid’s diplomatic offensive, including the controversy with Latvia and Lithuania.

Lithuania’s Prime Minister on Catalonia: each country “has the right to self-determination”

September 14, 2013 12:12 PM | ACN

In an exclusive interview with the CNA about Catalonia, the Prime Minister of Lithuania, Algirdas Butkevicius, states that each country “has to find its own way” and “has the right to self-determination”. Lithuania is holding the European Union Presidency from July to December. The CNA interviewed the Lithuanian Premier on the occasion of the 400-kilometre human chain ‘Catalan Way towards independence’, which was inspired by the ‘Baltic Way’ of 1989 requesting the independence of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia from the USSR. The ‘Baltic Way’ united in an uninterrupted and peaceful human chain Tallin, Riga and Vilnius; two years later the 3 Baltic states became independent. Butkevicius said he was “very happy that the Lithuanian example inspired” the Catalan human chain.

The Spanish Foreign Affairs Minister summons Latvia’s ambassador over his Prime Minister’s statements about Catalonia

September 13, 2013 10:46 PM | ACN

In an exclusive interview with the CNA, the Prime Minister of Latvia, Valdis Dombrovskis, was asked if his country would recognise an independent Catalonia. Dombrovskis answered: “if there is legitimacy in their process, then I would say, theoretically, 'why not?'”, opening the door to  recognition. The statement has been badly received in Madrid and the Spanish Foreign Affairs Minister, José Manuel García Margallo, requested an urgent meeting with Latvia’s Ambassador in Madrid in order to clarify the issue. The Spanish Deputy Minister for the European Union, Iñigo Méndez de Vigo, will also be present at the meeting.

The Prime Minister of Latvia does not see an issue in recognising Catalonia if it reaches independence in a “legitimate” way

September 13, 2013 12:34 PM | Albert Segura / Laura Pous / Julian Scully

In an exclusive interview with the CNA, the Prime Minister of Latvia, Valdis Dombrovskis, stated that the ‘Catalan Way towards independence’ human chain is a “powerful signal” that is “worth paying attention to”. When asked if Riga would recognise an independent Catalonia, Dombrovskis stated that “if there is legitimacy in their process, then I would say, theoretically, why not”. He highlighted how “we should look at options” on how to deal with the independence demands that exist in Catalonia following a 1.6 million people human chain that took place on Wednesday. However, he also warned that if Catalans decided upon a unilateral declaration of independence, it would be “more complicated”, although he does not rule out the possibility of gathering international recognition.

The majority of Catalan parties propose an independence vote in 2014 the day after the human chain

September 12, 2013 10:19 PM | ACN

The day after Catalonia’s National Day and the 1.6 million strong human chain supporting independence from Spain, Catalan parties reacted to the massive demonstration. The President of the Catalan Government and leader of the governing Centre-Right Catalan Nationalist Coalition (CiU), Artur Mas, re-affirmed yesterday his “commitment” to organising a referendum on self-determination for 2014. The Left-Wing Catalan Independence Party (ERC) declared its intention to work with other parties and civil society organisations on having the question and exact date for the vote ready within the next two months in order to call it in 2014. The Catalan Socialist Party (PSC) asked the other parties to put forward their projects for the day after the referendum.

The Spanish Government initially downplays the human chain for Catalonia’s independence

September 12, 2013 09:18 PM | ACN

However, the Spanish Foreign Affairs Minister, José Manuel García Margallo, recognised the “success” of the demonstration. Earlier, the Deputy Prime Minister, Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría, had stated that there was “a silent majority” who “stayed at home” and did not participate in the 1.6 million strong demonstration, since Catalonia has 7.5 million inhabitants. She also insisted in holding “a dialogue within the Constitution”, which means completely rejecting a self-determination vote. The Catalan Minister for the Presidency, Francesc Homs, considered that the Spanish Government emphasising that there was a “silent majority” was an “absurd” statement. Homs added that, if the Spanish Government really wanted to count how many people are against Catalonia’s independence, the best thing is holding a democratic vote on the issue.

Extreme right-wing group attacks the Catalan Government delegation in Madrid

September 11, 2013 11:34 PM | ACN

This Wednesday, an extreme right-wing Spanish nationalist group interrupted the institutional celebration of Catalonia’s National Day at the Catalan Government delegation in Madrid. The Fascist group assaulted the delegation and attacked some of those present causing five minor injuries, including a 4-year old girl. As the Catalan Government’s representative was about to make his speech, some 15 members of an extreme-right wing group entered the centre shouting “make no mistake, Catalonia is Spain”. The group was carrying Nazi flags as well as flags of the Falange – the party of Franco. One camera operator was taken to hospital with a dislocation. No arrests have been made by the Spanish Police.

Catalonia’s human chain for independence gains worldwide coverage in the international press

September 11, 2013 11:32 PM | ACN

The ‘Catalan Way towards independence’ has achieved significant coverage throughout the world as numerous media outlets focus on the impact and scale of Catalonia’s historic 400 km human chain, gathering 1.6 million people. The world’s major newspapers and news agencies have published articles detailing the events of the ‘Catalan Way’ human chain. The Associated Press revealed how there was “a festive mood” and that an “estimated 1 million people took part”, before the official figures were released. Meanwhile, the BBC spoke of a “huge human chain”. The Guardian documented the success of the human chain that ran all the way from “the border with neighbouring France to the region of Valencia”.

1.6 million independence supporters form an historic 400km-long human chain throughout Catalonia

September 11, 2013 11:10 PM | ACN

The civil society platform that organised the colossal ‘Catalan Way towards independence’ demanded a self-determination referendum to be held in 2014 and not at a later stage. The festive demonstration was a great success, gathering more participants than last year’s 1.5 million strong rally, which was also organised on Catalonia’s National Day. Most of the Catalan Government Ministers took part in the human chain, but neither the President of Catalonia, Artur Mas, nor the Chairperson of the Catalan Parliament took part. However, they did both gave their personal support to the peaceful demonstration. Many folkloric performances and festive celebrations were carried out throughout the non-interrupted human chain. 500,000 citizens held hands in the city of Barcelona alone, and a total of 1.6 million Catalans participated in the rally, according to the Catalan Police.

Pictures of the 400 km ‘Catalan Way towards independence’

September 11, 2013 08:37 PM | ACN

The CNA provides a range of images from this Wednesday’s ‘Catalan Way towards independence’, the 400-kilometre human chain that spanned Catalonia from north to south. The demonstration gathered 1.6 million people and called for an independent Catalonia from Spain. The ‘Catalan Way’ has been organised by the grass-roots organisation the Catalan National Assembly. It was organised after the success of last year’s peaceful demonstration that bought 1.5 million people to the streets of Barcelona. Catalans seek to hold a referendum on whether Catalonia should remain part of Spain. Opinion polls reveal that over 50% of Catalans would vote to leave Spain if the vote were to take place.

The morning ceremonies of Catalonia’s National Day honour culture with the absence of the People’s Party

September 11, 2013 07:46 PM | ACN

11th September is Catalonia’s National Day and two main ceremonies traditionally take place in the morning. The first one is the flower offering at the Rafael Casanova monument, honouring the leader of Barcelona’s defence against the Bourbon invasion of 1714. The second one is an institutional ceremony near the Catalan Parliament honouring Catalan culture, language and identity, including: poetry, music and flamenco dancing brought by Andalusian immigrants. The People’s Party (PP) – which runs the Spanish Government – has not been participating in the flower offering for the last few years, but this year it also decided not to attend the institutional ceremony. Instead, the PP held its own get-together with party banners.

FC Barcelona opens the Camp Nou stadium to the ‘Catalan Way’ 400-km human chain

September 11, 2013 05:20 PM | ACN

On Wednesday, the 400 kilometre ‘Catalan Way’ human chain, which calls for an independent Catalonia, passes through FC Barcelona’s Camp Nou stadium and into its stands. The Vice President of the sports club, Carles Vilarrubí, stated that Barça “always has its doors open to FC Barcelona fans and Catalans who want to express themselves”. He stated this following the flower offering that took place at the statue of Rafael Casanova during Catalonia’s National Day. Along with Vilarrubí, Barça’s delegation was headed by first team coach, Gerardo ‘Tata’ Martino, defender Gerard Piqué as well as other first team players, technical staff and players from other sections.

Director of historic Latvian museum: Catalans “should have the right to determine their future”

September 11, 2013 04:09 PM | ACN

The Director of the Museum of the Occupation of Latvia, Gundega Michele, has stated that it is “marvellous” that the ‘Baltic Way’ “can help” Catalonia achieve independence. In an interview with the CNA, Michele also predicted that the Catalan human chain, which takes place this Wednesday afternoon, may be “more successful” than its Baltic equivalent thanks to new technologies than facilitate its organisation. The ‘Baltic Way’ took place in 1989 to claim independence from USSR for Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. Michele continued by stating that Catalans “should have the right to determine their future” and added that if a referendum cannot be held, a unilateral declaration of independence would be a “reasonable” solution.