President of the Catalan Generalitat Carles Puigdemont told a Paris conference that the EU would recognise an independent Catalonia, citing the example of Slovenia and the former Yugoslavia, as well as Scotland and its dissatisfaction with Brexit. EurActiv Spain reports.
At a seminar held at Paris’ Sciences Po University yesterday (17 October), Puigdemont spoke about the future of Europe and Catalonia’s place in it.
“I remember when Jacques Delors (former president of the European Commission) said that Slovenia’s independence would never be recognised, then it joined the EU (in 2004),” said the president, addressing 200 people in French.
Puigdemont insisted that an independent Catalonia would be recognised by the EU, because, in his view, it would be in the interest of the European bloc.
Hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets across Catalonia yesterday (11 September) to support a break from Spain which local leaders want to deliver for next year in spite of legal blocks by the central government.
He also batted away criticisms that there is no appetite for independence, based on economic concerns, rebutting that Spain depends more on Catalonia in this regard than vice-versa.
“It’s true that the state has lent us money, but that has been the case because we have not been able to go to the international markets and ask for investment ourselves,” he said.
Citing Nobel laureate in economics Joseph Stiglitz, Puigdemont said that an independent Catalan nation would be “viable”.
During his speech, the politician made reference to other countries that have haboured independence aspirations, like Scotland, which has indicated that it has not ruled out holding a second referendum, given the chaos that has been unleashed by the UK’s Brexit vote.
Brussels “does not see a big problem in Scotland joining the EU”, Puigdemont said.
“If Scotland holds another referendum and it goes through, it will want to join the EU and the EU will surely be pleased by that,” he added.
Scotland’s government will publish a draft bill for an independence referendum next week as a last resort if it cannot keep close EU ties when the UK leaves the bloc, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon warned today (13 October).
He criticised the central government in Madrid for not taking the time to even consider the possibility of a consultation on the issue and said that “it is a headache for everyone”.
Puigdemont stressed that an independent Catalonia would not be a “nationalist state” and that there would be a plurality of languages.
The president, who replaced Artur Mas at the beginning of the year, said that their independence movement is “the most powerful currently in Europe” and reiterated his intention to have held a “referendum on the independence of Catalonia by September 2017 at the latest”.
Spain has submitted a proposal to the UN that would see it share sovereignty over Gibraltar with the UK, as the Iberian nation continues to put its card on the table regarding Brexit. EurActiv Spain reports.
Puigdemont added that he believes the Madrid government is worried about their “unstoppable” movement. “For years, we have helped Spain modernise, democratise and regenerate… Now we are closing one chapter and opening another,” he concluded.
Today (18 October), Puigdemont will meet with Union of Democrats and Independents leader Jean-Christophe Lagarde in the French capital and is set to sign a cooperation agreement in various sectors with President of the Paris region Valérie Pecresse.