Catalan Foreign Minister Visits Zagreb, Discusses Independence Effort

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ZAGREB, November 16, 2019 – Catalan Foreign Minister Alfred Bosch said in Zagreb on Friday the Spanish authorities’ response to the question of Catalonia’s independence was a huge historic mistake because instead of dialogue they chose repression, the imprisonment of political opponents.

Last month, Spain’s Supreme Court convicted nine Catalan officials to prison sentences ranging from nine to 13 years for an uprising, for using public money to organise in 2017 an independence referendum which was banned by the Constitutional Court, and for unilaterally proclaiming an independent republic of Catalonia.

The response not just by the Spanish government, but by the executive and legislative authorities, the judiciary, the army, even the monarchy, it’s a big historic mistake, Bosch told reporters in Zagreb during a working visit.

Instead of sitting at the table and talking about politics, they chose repression against the people, he added.

It was wrong to seek a solution in the judiciary, to put people in prison or force them into exile, to suspend the Catalan government or parliament, which are legal, legitimate and constitutional. That’s a huge mistake. It’s a colossal mistake to sentence nine people to 100 years in prison. It won’t solve anything but only make the situation even worse, Bosch said.

He said Catalonia was not imposing anything, neither a Catalan republic nor independence, but the possibility that people decide on their future democratically.

People must be able to decide on their future. We are in the 21st century, not the Middle Ages, Bosch said, adding that as long as Madrid stuck to its strategy, it would only be making an even bigger mistake.

The Catalans want a referendum and to agree on that with the Spanish government, as it was done in Scotland, he said.

The solution from this dead end is in democracy and respect for human rights, he said, adding that now, after the election, when the government will most likely continue to be run by socialist Pedro Sanchez, there is a chance.

Sanchez needs a majority, so he must talk, he must admit that dialogue is necessary. Let’s sit down and talk, Bosch said.

The Catalan issue is a European issue. Europeans are for a democratic solution and dialogue; we have seen that over the past three years. The public is behind us. We also have the European Court of Justice decision that there should be no political prisoners in Spain and that Catalan members of the European Parliament should be there, he said.

The ECJ ruled three days ago that Catalan separatists have the right to use the mandate in the EP and that as MEPs, under Article 9 of the relevant Protocol, they have immunity from serving prison sentences.

Bosch praised the ruling and said Europe was not just the European Commission but the EP and the ECJ as well.

The European Commission is the club of European governments and governments stick together, helping each other, he said.

After the Catalan officials were sentenced, the Commission would not comment on the convictions, saying it remained an internal matter for Spain that should be resolved in line with the constitutional order.

More news about Croatia and Catalonia can be found in the Politics section.


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