Puigdemont to explain the Catalan Referendum in the European Parliament
Barcelona (CNA).- The Catalan President, Carles Puigdemont, the Vice President and Minister of Economy, Oriol Junqueras, and the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Raül Romeva, will visit Brussels on the 24th of January to defend the Government plans to hold an independence referendum in 2017, the CNA has learnt. Puigdemont and his two more senior ministers, both of them former MEPs, will defend in the European Parliament Catalonia’s seeking of an agreement with the Spanish government to hold a legally binding referendum. However, they will point out that Madrid has repeatedly ruled out any discussion on the issue, arguing that a vote on independence is legally impossible. The Catalan President, the Vice President and the Foreign Affairs Minister will stress that Catalonia will celebrate the referendum even if Spain continues to refuse to engage in negotiation.
The conference, ‘The Catalan Referendum’, will be hosted inside the European Parliament in what will be the first official visit to the European institutions by the Catalan President since he took office last year. Puigdemont travelled to Brussels in May but did not visit the EU institutions. The Catalan Government has decided to hold the talk in the European Parliament because it is the house of European sovereignty.
The CNA has learnt that Puigdemont, Junqueras and Romeva will stress that Catalonia has always been pro-European and intends to stay in the European Union if it becomes independent. The Catalan President and the two ministers in charge of the referendum will also argue that a vote is supported by a vast majority of citizens in Catalonia and should not destabilise the EU.
The Catalan Government wants the event to become an opportunity for diplomats, EU officials, MEPs and international journalists to understand the referendum plans. Puigdemont gave talks at Chatham House in London and the Science Po in Paris last year, but the European Parliament conference with Junqueras and Romeva on the 24th of January will be his biggest diplomatic event so far.
On the other hand, the Spanish Government expressed its opposition to the initiative. According to the Spanish Minister for Foreign Affairs, Alfonso Dastis, the Spanish executive “will tackle any attempt to justify what is not justifiable from a legal point of view”. Although he didn’t specify any particular action, Dastis insisted that Madrid’s government will explain “the legal parameters of Spain and the current situation".