Col·lectiu Emma - Explaining Catalonia

Sunday, 16 february 2014 | The Malta Independent


Recommended: "Let us vote!" by Artur Mas (The Malta Independent)

We recommend the following article "Let us vote!" by President Artur Mas. Originally published in English in The Malta Independent on Sunday February 9th, 2014, the article has also appeared republished in newspapers in Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, and Estonia.

It is a fundamental principle of European democracy that the great issues of public interest, indeed of the future of the state, can and must be resolved by the wishes of the people.

Artur Mas is the President of Catalonia

The people of Catalonia - one of Europe’s oldest nations- want and deserve the opportunity to decide for themselves whether to become a new state within Europe.

The majority of Catalonia’s citizens have made clear, in elections and public demonstrations, that they want to vote on their own future. A million and a half men, women and children took to the streets last September, joining hands to symbolise their solidarity and freedom, as the Baltic peoples did in 1989. No true democrat can ignore or deny the power of that popular will.

As mandated by our voters, the Catalan Government and most opposition parties have together decided to hold a popular vote on self-determination on 9 November 2014. Catalonians will be asked a two-part question: “Do you want Catalonia to be a state? If so, do you want Catalonia to be an independent state?” Nobody has anything to fear from these simple questions, except perhaps those who want to pretend that the wishes of the people should be ignored.

The relationship between Catalonia and Spain is not what it might be. Our political rights within Spain, enshrined in our Statute of Autonomy agreed with the Spanish Parliament and later endorsed by a referendum in 2006, were unilaterally revoked by a contested Spanish court ruling in July 2010.

My government, with the support of 65% of the Catalan Parliament, plans a referendum that will be conducted openly, transparently and peacefully. We regret that the Spanish Government’s response so far has been hostile, but we must all stay true to the universal values that lie at the heart of Europe – to quote from the EU Treaty, “the inviolable and inalienable rights of the human person, freedom and democracy.”The Catalan people’s desire for a vote on our future will not simply go away, even if it is ignored. Any effort to mute or deny the will of the Catalan people will fail.

We will do what we can to promote a calm and commonsense discussion with EU member states and the European institutions about how a choice by the Catalan people to pursue their own state should be implemented. Uncertainty is disruptive, and does not serve anyone’s interests. We are confident that pragmatic and creative solutions can be found, as long as we start from the premise that the democratically expressed will of the people is paramount.

Catalonia is a part of Europe, and Catalans are European. Twelve centuries ago, Charlemagne established us as the southern march of his empire. We want to play our full part in a peaceful and prosperous European Union, which we joined three decades ago. We are committed to maintain and implement common EU laws and regulations. We will celebrate and protect the cosmopolitan diversity of both our people and of Europe at large. We will strive to support a common European approach to resolving problems, including the Euro and the health of the European economy. And we will always be good neighbours to those across our borders, including our Spanish friends, ready to assist in time of need.

There is no doubt that the 9 November referendum on the future of Catalonia, coming as it does on the anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, presents many challenges for Catalonia, for Spain and for the European Union. But it cannot be wished away. With calm, with good sense, and with a pragmatic political outlook, the referendum and any subsequent transition is an opportunity for Europe to once again demonstrate to the rest of the world its great qualities and capacities for addressing challenges peacefully, democratically, and in the spirit of freedom that lies at the heart of our continental union.

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Col·lectiu Emma - Explaining Catalonia

Col·lectiu Emma is a network of Catalans and non-Catalans living in different countries who have made it their job to track and review news reports about Catalonia in the international media. Our goal is to ensure that the world's public opinion gets a fair picture of the country's reality today and in history.

We aim to be recognized as a trustworthy source of information and ideas about Catalonia from a Catalan point of view.
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Col·lectiu Emma - Explaining Catalonia