Col·lectiu Emma - Explaining Catalonia

Monday, 22 february 2016 | THE NATIONAL

English

Profile: Catalonia



THE NATIONAL
 
20-02-2016.-
 
GREG RUSSELL


 
WHAT’S THE STORY?

CATALAN President Carles Puigdemont and some of his ministers have asked the diplomatic corps in Barcelona to keep an eye on the political situation in Catalonia and Spain and urged them to make sure their respective capitals were kept informed as the north-eastern region “walks towards independence”.

He also asked them to properly explain to their countries Catalonia’s process towards independence, and forecast that Barcelona would have a greater quantity and quality of diplomacy in “some months” when it became the capital of a state.

Spain’s wealthiest region has long sought independence from Madrid and Puigdemont, who was named its president last month, is embarking on the “roadmap to independence” that he and his supporters believe is their right following his nationalist coalition Junts pel Si (Together for Yes) victory in Catalan elections in September, and the outcome of December’s Spanish general election.

Spain is in something of a political quandary following the poll, which saw Mariano Rajoy’s right-wing and anti-independence People’s Party win most seats, but lose its outright majority. He is now a caretaker prime minister, who has been unable to reach a coalition agreement with opposition parties.

WHAT HAPPENS NOW?

RAJOY unintentionally let the cat out of the bag earlier this week in a conversation with David Cameron in Brussels, which he was unaware was being captured on video.

He told Cameron that he believed no government would be formed and that Spain would probably go to the polls again on June 26.

In the meantime, Catalan pro-independence parties are making moves to embark on their indy road map – hence the ministers’ messages to diplomats.

Their efforts are being frustrated though by the Spanish Constitutional Court, which has effectively neutered the government of Catalonia by removing its autonomy.

Motions passed by the Catalans in November sought to introduce new laws on social security, a legal transition to independence and a Catalan tax authority, as well as the start of a process to design the new constitution.

So far, the court has approved the suspension of the parliament’s declaration of independence and the Spanish government’s appeal to halt reform of Catalonia’s tax agency.

Albert Royo-Mariné, secretary general of the Public Diplomacy Council of Catalonia, previously told The National that it could not propose new laws without the probability that they’d be rejected.

He is among those who believe the results of both elections in Catalonia give the pro-indy lobby a mandate to hold a referendum on secession.
“It’s a shame we don’t have a framework put in place like Scotland had for the referendum, because if Spain is a real democracy, such a poll should be possible in Catalonia,” he said.

“I think it is quite dangerous for a young democracy like Spain to keep on systematically ignoring the demand of 80 per cent of Catalans who want to hold that vote, regardless of what they will vote for.

“If we are part of the EU, we are a modern democracy and we should be able to find a way to give a proper answer to this broad demand that has been coming for a long time.”

IS IT STILL A STALEMATE?

YES, and the latest move from the constitutional court will do nothing to resolve it. The court has suspended the new Catalan Ministry for Foreign Affairs, headed by Raül Romeva, a leading pro-indy figure.

The Spanish government had argued that the Catalan government had over-reached is competences in foreign action as specified in the Catalan Statute of Autonomy and suspended the ministry for five months. During this time the court will decide if the ministry is acting in accordance with the Spanish constitution.

Royo-Mariné, however, said it wasn’t quite as simple as that: “It is not clear yet what exactly has been suspended. But it appears to me very difficult that the central government or the court can stop us from communicating to the world or visiting our counterparts.

“It will not be more difficult than now – they are already trying to block all our activities with quite poor results.

“It reminds me when Spain kept on sending official letters to Cuba suspending certain powers once the island had already proclaimed independence in 1898.”

BUSINESS AS USUAL FOR CATALONIA?

AS much as it can be. Puigdemont has said his ministers will continue to work with foreign consular officials and would not surrender that duty.
He said many consuls were following Catalonia’s process with interest, and added that the policies he was going to launch were those that were needed “to build a new state”.

The president offered to explain to diplomats anything they didn’t understand and urged them to placate any companies who were concerned about the process.

He also confirmed that Romeva would remain the Catalan foreign affairs minister.




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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