An Alliance of Liberals and Democrats (ALDE) MEP has accused Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont of using “lies” and “propaganda” to organise a conference at the European Parliament this evening (24 January) on the planned independence referendum. EURACTIV Spain reports.
During an interview with EFE, Vice-President of the ALDE group Maite Pagazaurtundúa criticised the three Catalan MEPs that have organised the event (Ramon Tremosa, Josep Maria Terricabras and Jordi Solé), accusing them of doing so “in a personal capacity” and for using ALDE’s logo, despite only one of them (Tremosa) actually belonging to the political group.
“Normally, the logo is used when the group is funding the event but this is not the case, and it has been used to give an appearance of respectability. It is another trick, along the same lines as when they say they will not respect the laws or court rulings,” said Pagazaurtundúa, who is the Union, Progress and Democracy party’s spokeswoman.
The Basque politician added that “we are facing a very serious case of populism and what is an obviously an advanced form of political pathology”.
“I hope that they are not received as usual by European Parliament leaders, given the lies they have told through pure propaganda to get there. They have lied even about their own record, since they are ministers of a country that does not exist. It is very absurd.”
Spanish Foreign Minister Alfonso Dastis said last week that Madrid will stand up to “any attempt to justify the unjustifiable”. But he later toned down his comments and said it was entirely “legitimate” for people to defend their political views.
Pagazaurtundúa believes that the secessionist movement is just “populism” and should be taken more seriously because, in her view, it is “extremely serious for the rule of law” as “we are talking about an illegal referendum” that is “not only bad for Spain but also bad for the wider European Union”.
She insisted that this evening’s event will be held by “people that lie, people that lie about what Catalonia is, speaking in favour of an illegal referendum, committing a crime and, by repeating and repeating it, it will spread, appear normal and that is absolutely ridiculous”.
Pagazaurtundúa regretted that “many politicians, many governments are capable of addressing far-right or far-left populism, but nationalist populism often passes them by unnoticed”.
She added that “in Spain, we have faced up to secessionist Catalan and Basque populism, which have often shown contempt for the law and used emotional topics to stir things up.”
Basque and Catalan nationalists, “years before the word populism appeared, were populist”, she claimed.
Papazaurtundúa reiterated that the event does not have the support of ALDE, which was also echoed by the group’s leader, Guy Verhofstadt, in a statement.
Pagazaurtundúa is not alone in her criticism of the event and MEP Esteban González Pons (EPP) wrote to his Brussels colleagues saying that the referendum plans are “an unconstitutional act, which goes not only against Spain, but also against the deepest principles and values of the EU”.
Pons, who represents the Popular Party, urged fellow MEPs not to attend the event because “your presence could be used to create the false impression that the European Parliament supports this call for an illegal referendum”.
But Swedish MEP Bodil Valero (Greens/EFA) said she would attend and hoped that “many others would too”.
Puigdemont is expected to tell the 300 people predicted to turn up at the conference that Catalonia is still seeking an agreement with Spain to hold the independence referendum but that if Madrid still refuses to budge, the vote will go ahead anyway later this year.
The conference is taking place at the same time as a reception that is being hosted by new European Parliament President Antonio Tajani. It remains to be seen if either event will affect the attendance of the other.