Catalan Minister for Foreign Affairs: “Everything is impossible until it happens”
CATALAN NEWS AGENCY – Romeva believes that the birth of new and smaller states implies mores opportunities than fears
The Catalan Minister for Foreign Affairs, Institutional Relations and Transparency, Raül Romeva, has defended on Monday that “everything is impossible until it happens” and that “when it happens, it is irreversible”. At the opening of the conference, ‘Sovereignty and self-determination in times of Brexit’, organized by the Catalan Public Diplomacy Council (DIPLOCAT) and the Pompeu Fabra University in Barcelona, the Minister of Foreign Affairs noted the “capacity for adaptation” shown by the European Union “throughout history” in order to respond to “the will of the citizens”. Romeva insisted that the birth of “new and smaller” states like a possible independent Catalonia or Scotland should not “frighten anyone”, but rather should be seen as an “opportunity”.
The Catalan Minister for Foreign Affairs, Raül Romeva, highlighted the importance of building a European identity based on the desire to live together but also “on freedom” and not “on imposition”. Romeva defended that Brexit, for example, was not “the cause” of the problems of the EU, but “a symptom” of its “identity crisis”.
Club of states
“Europe still works like a ‘club of states’, but for me this is not an option any more. This project has failed, and it can evolve, but not in this way any more,” said the Catalan Minister for Foreign Affairs. Romeva also warned the European and Spanish leaders that people will not be willing to wait for problems to be resolved by some “spirit” or “at the last minute”.
Furthermore, the minister said that many citizens perceive the European institutions as “opaque”, because it is difficult to see “who makes the decisions” and many times “the social and institutional agents that are closest to the citizens” are left “aside”. According to Romeva, the EU is not only undergoing an “economic or institutional” crisis but a “democratic” crisis. “This is the debate that we have to put on the table,” he remarked.
“The governments should act according to the citizens’ demands, according to their mandate,” Romeva insisted, stressing that governments on a European level as well as in Catalonia should always respond “to the democratic mandates people give them”.
Keating: “The States will not interfere”
Michael Keating, a Political Science professor at the University of Aberdeen, also participated in the conference ‘Sovereignty and self-determination in times of Brexit’, organized by the Catalan Public Diplomacy Council (DIPLOCAT) and the Pompeu Fabra University in Barcelona on Monday. In comments to the CNA, he defended that “the States will not interfere” in case of a unilateral referendum in Catalonia and that Scotland “does not serve as an example anymore” for the Catalan movement, because the British government says that Scotland “cannot hold a referendum now”.
“Nothing has really been resolved in our country, any more than in your country”, Keating said, pointing out that the British government “is backtracking” from the principle of self-determination, saying that Scotland can only celebrate a referendum when the parliament in Westminster “decides it is allowed to”. Keating is convinced that if Catalonia goes ahead with a unilateral referendum, the rest of the EU member States “will take the lead from the Spanish government”.
“The other European states would be saying, let the Spanish and the Catalans sort this out between themselves and we’ll come in and accept whatever solution they arrive at,” he explained. Asked about the rising tensions in Catalonia, Keating suggested that things should be seen in context, for example “in Bosnia, Cyprus or other places these things are really difficult”. According to Keating, the situation between Catalonia and Spain is very different. “Nobody is being killed, it’s being solved democratically.” Keating also warned Catalans “not to idealize” the United Kingdom because “people were being killed” in Northern Ireland until “very recently”. “The notion that you have over here that in Britain we are all peaceful and democratic and that we recognize the right to self-determination, that is not true. It is a difficult problem everywhere you go,” Keating concluded.
The conference, ‘Sovereignty and self-determination in times of Brexit’, was introduced by the Secretary General of Diplocat, Albert Royo. Additional speakers were Jessica Almqvist, teacher of International Law at the Autonomous University of Madrid, and Jan Wouters, professor of International Law at the Catholic University of Leuven.