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Foreign Policy

Catalan President Cautions Towards Unilateral Independence Vote



In 2017, Spain’s northeastern area of Catalonia unilaterally voted for independence, setting off the nation’s worst political disaster in a long time. Since then, among the motion’s leaders have fled the nation, going through costs of sedition and insurrection in the event that they return. 5 years on, felony instances stay open in opposition to leaders who stayed.

Polls point out that standard help for Catalan independence is down, however stress continues to simmer. The newest flare-up erupted this 12 months in a spyware and adware scandal, when the telephones of Catalan journalists, activists, legal professionals, politicians, and their households had been hacked with the controversial Israeli spyware and adware Pegasus thought to have been utilized by the Spanish authorities. 

This month, negotiations targeted on transferring the battle out of felony courts are set to renew between Madrid and the Catalan authorities, however mutual suspicion and entrenched disagreements threaten to derail the talks earlier than they get began. Overseas Coverage spoke to Pere Aragonès, president of the Catalan authorities, about negotiations with Madrid, Catalan views on NATO, and whether or not constructing a brand new fuel pipeline via the Pyrenees may ameliorate the vitality disaster.

In 2017, Spain’s northeastern area of Catalonia unilaterally voted for independence, setting off the nation’s worst political disaster in a long time. Since then, among the motion’s leaders have fled the nation, going through costs of sedition and insurrection in the event that they return. 5 years on, felony instances stay open in opposition to leaders who stayed.

Polls point out that standard help for Catalan independence is down, however stress continues to simmer. The newest flare-up erupted this 12 months in a spyware and adware scandal, when the telephones of Catalan journalists, activists, legal professionals, politicians, and their households had been hacked with the controversial Israeli spyware and adware Pegasus thought to have been utilized by the Spanish authorities

This month, negotiations targeted on transferring the battle out of felony courts are set to renew between Madrid and the Catalan authorities, however mutual suspicion and entrenched disagreements threaten to derail the talks earlier than they get began. Overseas Coverage spoke to Pere Aragonès, president of the Catalan authorities, about negotiations with Madrid, Catalan views on NATO, and whether or not constructing a brand new fuel pipeline via the Pyrenees may ameliorate the vitality disaster.

The dialog has been flippantly edited for readability and brevity.

Overseas Coverage: Negotiations between Madrid and Catalonia concerning the query of independence are set to renew this month after a protracted hiatus. The place do issues stand, and what do you hope to get out of the discussions?

Pere Aragonès: First, we had that essential step by the Spanish authorities that was the pardons that allow the discharge from jail of the people who find themselves imprisoned. This pardon doesn’t cowl all of the penalty. The second [step] was an settlement concerning the standing of the Catalan language. That’s not the difficulty of the negotiation course of, however we see this settlement as a confidence-building measure. So it exhibits, or is seen, because the Spanish authorities exhibiting willingness to have interaction in a negotiation. And the third was an settlement about what we’ve known as “dejudicialization.” After we speak about repression, the Spanish authorities says there isn’t a repression. However they know that there are some issues that should be solved. So the concept is to advance some reforms, most likely [Spain’s] Prison Code, concerning the penalty of sedition and a few others that aren’t in accordance with worldwide requirements.

FP: So it’s taking the method away from the courts, mainly taking the felony ingredient out of it.

PA: That’s the concept.

FP: How critically do you suppose the federal government of Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez is taking these talks? Cynics say it’s a ploy to maintain his coalition collectively. Do you suppose they’re performing in good religion?

PA: Properly, our leverage is that they rely upon our votes within the Spanish parliament to cross the funds. Pedro Sánchez relied on our votes to be elected as president. So I feel that they notice that they have to do one thing. However there are all the time different points within the agenda which are extra essential. Now, inflation clearly is essential, as was COVID some months in the past, and so on. I noticed some public statements of Pedro Sánchez saying, “effectively, negotiations with Catalonia should take time, and it’s essential it should take time.” That’s essential, however we’ve got to take [negotiations] from the medium time period to short-term commitments. And I feel right here is the place they must exhibit that they need critically to be a part of this negotiating course of. 

FP: Latest opinion polls have indicated that help for Catalan independence is down. What explains the decline?

PA: I feel that the political setting impacts the best way you present within the polls. I’ve to keep in mind that in July 2017, earlier than the referendum of Oct. 1, 2017, the polls prompt the identical: that help for independence was about 40 p.c and that the votes in opposition to independence may win. But in addition the identical polls now say that between 70 and 80 p.c of Catalan individuals settle for that the political battle should be solved via negotiation and thru a referendum.

FP: Just lately, the Nationwide Catalan Meeting—a pro-independence civil society group—prompt making one other unilateral declaration of independence within the second half of 2023, however you shot that down, saying it wasn’t the best second or the best technique. Why not?

PA: As a result of I feel [about] the situations that we didn’t have in 2017, the constraints that restricted us to succeed in independence. The situations that we didn’t have then, we don’t have now. We don’t have and we have to have a wider majority moreover Catalan individuals. We’d like worldwide alliances. Particularly now in Europe after COVID, the place the function of states has been strengthened, and with the scenario of conflict within the Ukraine and the positions of NATO, I feel that unilateral independence now has extra constraints than 4 years earlier than.

FP: What’s your place on NATO, and do you suppose that an unbiased Catalonia would be part of it?

PA: That is an open debate in Catalonia. I feel that Catalonia should be a part of the European scheme of safety. That doesn’t imply precisely to be a part of NATO or not; that will be a dialogue for the members of the parliament in an unbiased Catalonia. However I feel Catalonia should be dedicated inside the nationwide safety. We play an essential function from a geopolitical perspective due to Catalonia’s place within the Mediterranean, so we’re in a really crucial space. Now with issues of vitality provide in Europe, we are able to play an essential function due to the fuel infrastructure that we’ve got, particularly in Barcelona’s port.

FP: Talking of vitality, what’s your tackle constructing the MidCat pipeline via the Pyrenees?

PA: I feel it’s a possibility to make sure the availability of fuel not solely to Southern Europe [but] particularly to Germany and its neighboring states. The MidCat, I feel, is critical. We help MidCat, with the situation that it should be ready to move hydrogen sooner or later.

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