First international reactions to independence
CATALAN NEWS AGENCY – Germany, US and UK refuse to recognize the new Catalan Republic while Belgium calls for a “peaceful solution”
Following Friday’s proclamation of independence in the Catalan Parliament, reactions from outside the country were not long in coming. European Council president Donald Tusk set the tone in a statement that said for the EU “nothing changes” but called for the use of force to be avoided. “Spain remains our only interlocutor,” he said. “I hope the Spanish government favours force of argument, not argument of force,” Tusk added.
Belgian PM, Charles Michel, also urged a “peaceful solution” and on Twitter said that a political crisis “can only be resolved with dialogue.” According to Michel, the solution should respect “national and international order”. Michel had criticized the violence of Spanish police during the independence referendum on October 1, when he tweeted: “We condemn all forms of violence and restate our call for dialogue.”
An official statement from the US State Department insisted that Catalonia is an integral part of Spain and that Washington backs Madrid’s efforts to keep the country united. “Catalonia is an integral part of Spain, and the United States supports the Spanish government’s constitutional measures to keep Spain strong and united,” said State Department spokeswoman, Heather Nauert.
Germany also gave its support to the Spanish government. Government spokesman Steffen Seibert said Berlin was concerned about the political crisis and sees the unilateral declaration of independence as a violation of Spain’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. “The German government does not recognize such a declaration of independence,” said Seibert, adding that Berlin supported the “clear position” of Spanish President Mariano Rajoy.
Later, in a statement released by Downing Street, the British Prime Minister Theresa May said: “The UK does not and will not recognize the Unilateral Declaration of Independence made by the Catalan regional parliament. It is based on a vote that was declared illegal by the Spanish courts.
“Estonia supports the territorial integrity and unity of Spain. Internal affairs must be solved according to their constitution and laws,” tweeted the Estonian Prime Minister, Jüri Ratas.
Meanwhile, Spain remains an important NATO ally and the Catalan crisis is a domestic issue, a NATO official said on Friday. Asked about the Catalan parliament’s declaration of independence, a NATO official said: “Spain is a committed ally, which makes important contributions to our shared security. The Catalonia issue is a domestic matter which should be resolved within Spain’s constitutional order.”
“I congratulate the independent Republic of Catalonia”
Yet, not all foreign voices refused to support Catalonia’s bid for independence. Mikko Kärnä, an MP for the Centre Party of Finland, tweeted that next week he would present a motion to the Finnish Parliament recognizing Catalonia’s independence. “I congratulate the independent Republic of Catalonia,” he tweeted on Friday. “Next week I will present a motion in the Finnish Parliament for your recognition,” he said. In Ireland, the Sinn Féin expressed support to Catalonia and also said it would bring a resolution on this issue to the Dáil.
The leader of the Social Democrats in Slovenia, Dejan Levanic, and his deputy, Jan Skoberne, tweeted a video of support to the Catalan Republic. “We congratulate the brave people of Catalonia on the establishment of the new Republic. May solidarity, equality and justice be ever in your favor,” they said.