Barcelona (ACN).- The day the British and Scottish Governments signed the agreement allowing the organisation of an independence referendum in Scotland, several leaders of the People’s Party (PP), which runs the Spanish Government, excluded the possibility of organising or even negotiating on an independence referendum in Catalonia or in any other part of Spain. Furthermore, the leader of the Spanish PP MPs in the European Parliament, Jaime Mayor Oreja, compared the peaceful and democratic Catalan independence movement with the terrorist group ETA, which brutally killed almost 1,000 people in Spain. Mayor Oreja proposed “facing” the Catalan independence movement as was done earlier with the terrorist group ETA. “As we managed to face terrorism back then, now we have to face this movement”, stated Mayor Oreja. The same day, the Spanish Justice Minister, Alberto Ruiz Gallardón, rejected the possibility of organising or even negotiating on a self-determination referendum in Catalonia and in any other part of Spain. In addition, he responded to the Catalan President, who had said earlier that in case the Spanish Government refused to authorise a self-determination referendum, Catalonia would appeal to European and international organisations. Ruiz Gallardón said “there is no international organisation that will support violating the Spanish democratic legislation”. The Spanish Justice Minister said that if Catalans want to organise such a referendum, they need to modify the Spanish Constitution. Otherwise, if the Catalan President called on a referendum without the Spanish Government’s authorisation, according to Gallardón, he would be a committing a felony and “would have to accept the consequences”, which would be “individual”. In addition, the PP’s Secretary General, María Dolores de Cospedal, emphasised that the Spanish Government will use “all the legal tools to impede the violation of the Law of the Constitution” and stressed that by saying “all means all”.
On Monday morning, the President of the Catalan Government, Artur Mas, stated that “certain reactions of the Spanish Government do not correspond to a fully democratic and peaceful state”. Mas said this after he offered a flower tribute to Lluís Companys’ tomb, the Catalan President who was executed by the Spanish Fascist dictatorial regime on 15th October 1940. In fact, Companys was the only democratically-elected president executed during the Second World War. In front of Companys’ tomb, Mas wished that violence would “never again be used” to face Catalonia’s national identity. “Luckily, we are in a moment of democracy, peace and civic-mindedness. Let’s hope that this time Catalonia’s freedom process can take place with such coordinates”. “I hope the reactions from the Spanish Estate will be modern, mature, European, and based on dialogue and respect”, he emphasised.
The Catalan President had said a couple of hours earlier in a TV interview that in case the Spanish Government blocked the celebration of a self-determination referendum for Catalonia, “the conflict will have to be internationalised”. Mas explained that, if Madrid rejects negotiating the organisation of a self-determination referendum, “Catalonia will have to appeal to European and international organisations”.
A self-determination “referendum means that Spain would give up a thing it owns”
The Spanish Justice Minister, Alberto Ruiz Gallardón, responded to Mas and said “there is no international organisation that will support violating the Spanish democratic legislation”. Furthermore, Gallardón emphasised that his obligation is to respect the Constitution. According to him, it does not foresee a self-determination referendum, as “sovereignty is shared by all [Spaniards] and it corresponds to all Spaniards” to decide. “Celebrating [Catalonia’s self-determination] referendum means that Spain would give up a thing it owns and we cannot do this even if we wanted to do so”, he said.
Gallardón added that if the Catalan President called on a referendum without the Spanish Government’s authorisation, he would be prosecuted. According to the Spanish Justice Minister, Mas would be committing a felony and “would have to accept the consequences”. Gallardón explained that “the Catalan citizens would not be punished” for the organisation of a referendum. The consequences would be “individual”, since specific “individuals would be persecuted”, starting with the Catalan President, he said.
“We need to win this battle and it will be won”, said Mayor Oreja
The leader of the Euro MPs from the Spanish People’s Party, who is Basque and is one of the most Spanish nationalist and conservative members of the PP, proposed “facing” the Catalan independence movement as was done with the terrorist group ETA in past times. Mayor Oreja already linked the Catalan independence movement with the terrorist group ETA two weeks ago. ETA brutally killed almost 1,000 people in Spain in more than 50 years of its history. According to Mayor Oreja’s words published in the Andalusian edition of the ABC newspaper, “the nationalisms [the Basque and the Catalan ones] have put at the vanguard of their movement a project to break Spain, which is ETA”. Mayor Oreja considers that the massive, peaceful and democratic demonstration supporting Catalonia’s independence from Spain from last month represents “a challenge” to Spain’s unity, which need to be faced as ETA. “We need to win this battle and it will be won, if we take the importance of the challenge seriously”, he said. For him, the strong support for Catalonia’s independence, which the last opinion poll indicated might be backed by 51% of Catalans, is “the culmination of a nationalist movement”. “They have sought for Spain’s weakest moment and the conclusion is that we are in front of a non-sense”, he concluded.