Successful first academic debate in Paris about the self-determination of Catalonia
DIPLOCAT – The Public Diplomacy Council of Catalonia launched at Sciences Po a series of debates to be continued at prestigious international universities.
On Friday, June 7th 2013, the Public Diplomacy Council of Catalonia and Sciences Po organised, in partnership with the Delegation of the Government of Catalonia in France, the conference-debate Law in the service of people: Catalonia’s right to decide its future.
The conference was opened by Guillaume Tusseau, professor of the Sciences Po Department of Law, expert in constitutional law and theory of law, and Albert Royo, secretary general of the Public Diplomacy Council of Catalonia. Tusseau pointed out that “Spain cannot refuse to recognise the will of a majority of the people of Catalonia. If it did, it would violate human rights and this lack of recognition as such would even justify independence”. Royo, in turn, stressed that the civil society is the driving force behind the self-determination process in Catalonia and wondered why the Spanish government refuses to accept Catalonia’s right to decide [its political future] at a time when other Western democracies, such as Canada or the United Kingdom, have allowed for similar processes within their state borders.
Muriel Casals, chairwoman of Òmnium Cultural, further explained the process that Catalonia is currently living and highlighted that “the Catalan people want to build something new and inspiring”. Josep Ramoneda, philosopher, journalist and director of the Institut de Recherche et d’Innovation (IRI, Centre Pompidou), mentioned that “the main problem is that Spain does not recognise the aspirations of a large majority of the people who want to emancipate”.
Subsequently, the journalist Patrice de Beer, former Le Monde correspondent in London and Washington, moderated the round table featuring Catalan members of the European Parliament. Ramon Tremosa, member of the Group of Liberals and Democrats for Europe, said that “in [the rest of] Europe, people do not understand why Rajoy does not authorise a referendum if Cameron does”, especially if you take into consideration that two thirds of the members of the Parliament of Catalonia are in favour of the right to decide its political future. According to Maria Badia, of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats, “if there was political will, the Spanish Constitution could allow for a referendum”. Eventually, Raül Romeva, of the Group of The Greens / European Free Alliance, stressed that “Catalonia is a reality that evolves inside Europe, inside a European Union that is evolving at the same time … Catalonia is not recognised in Europe. This frightens and angers people, and motivates mobilisation.”.
Maryse Olivé, delegate of the Government of Catalonia in France, concluded by highlighting the “difficulty of explaining the Catalan process in France”, where the available information is often biased “but where there is also a great interest. The large attendance of this very conference seems to prove this interest”.
Adding to this conclusion, Astrid von Busekist, professor at Sciences Po, warned the participants and speakers about the risks of secession and the use of romanticism in politics.
The conference-debate attracted approximately one hundred participants and a great number of media representatives from mainly Catalonia and, to a lesser degree, from France.
This conference launched a series of similar activities about Catalonia’s right to decide its political future that the Public Diplomacy Council of Catalonia plans to organise in further renowned universities all over Europe. This series of debates started at Sciences Po, one of the most prestigious universities in France and talent hotbed of the French political and diplomatic élite. Sciences Po is characterised by the high level of engagement of its teachers and researchers with the key challenges facing contemporary society. The school encourages research that has an impact beyond academia, and is a centre for debate and discussion of key social and political issues.