Catalan Government rejects comparison between Eastern Ukraine’s referendums and Catalonia’s

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Barcelona (ACN).- The Spanish Foreign Affairs Minister, José Manuel García-Margallo, compared last weekend’s independence referendums in Donetsk and Lugansk with Catalonia’s self-determination process. On Tuesday the Spokesperson of the Catalan Government, Francesc Homs, rejected the comparison and stated that García-Margallo “is making a mistake” by putting at the same level both situations since “he is putting Spain’s image in a place that should not interest him”. “In any case, Catalonia does not compare itself” with Eastern Ukraine, added Homs. On previous occasions he has stressed that Catalonia’s demands are peaceful, which could fit into Spain’s constitutional framework if there was the political will to allow a negotiated vote. On top of this, Catalonia’s self-determination claims have a long and proven democratic trajectory and they have been backed by several transparent, free, plural and non-violent elections offering full guarantees. Besides, on Monday the Catalan Government issued a statement in which it did not recognize the legitimacy of Donetsk’s and Lugansk’s referendums and it expressed its full support for the European Union’s decisions. The Catalan Executive criticized the lack of democratic guarantees in such a vote.

The Spanish Government has been comparing the situation in Ukraine with that in Catalonia in recent months, in order to damage the legitimacy of the Catalan self-determination process. On Monday afternoon, the Spanish Foreign Affairs Minister linked the referendums in the Ukranian provinces of Donetsk and Lugansk with the vote that almost 80% of the Catalan population wants to hold. The Spanish Government considers that a vote on Catalonia’s self-determination would be illegal, according to their interpretation of the current legal framework and the Constitution. However, some Constitutional experts in Spain have argued that such a vote could be possible if there was the political will for it. This stance is not in line with the Spanish Govenrment’s strategy, which is to use the legal framework to block the democratic demands of a large majority of the Catalan population, expressed in several elections.

On Monday, García-Margallo said that Catalonia’s vote and the referendums in Eastern Ukraine are both “illegal” and do not respect the Constitution of their states. In this vein, “the international community will never recognize them”. Referring to the Catalan self-determination vote that Catalan institutions are trying to organize on the 9th of November, the Spanish Foreign Affairs Minister said: “I can assure you that if it quacks like a duck and it swims like a duck, it is a duck”. “One is in the East and the other one in the South of Europe, but if both of them go against the internal Constitution, Ukraine’s in one case and Spain’s in the other, they cannot be recognised  by International Law”, he emphasized. “Going against the internal Constitution” is an argument that is definitive on its own, according to García-Margallo, since International Law “can never and will never accept it”. He concluded that this is not his opinion only, but that of “the entire European Union, the United Nations’ General Assembly and all the statements made by international leaders”.

Catalonia and Eastern Ukraine cannot be compared

The next day, on Tuesday, the Spokesperson of the Catalan Government insisted that García-Margallo “is making a mistake”, according to him. “I don’t know if he is fully aware that [by making such a comparison] he is putting Spain’s image in a place that should not interest him”.

The situation in Ukraine is close to a civil war and part of the country is occupied by military forces that have close links with another country, Russia in this case. In addition, the provinces where independence votes are held have a sharp division between national and linguistic communities, with violent episodes involved. On top of this, the referendums were called and organized in less than 2 weeks and they took place in the midst of violence and threats. Additionally, plurality was not guaranteed, nor was it ensured that the people voting were informed and free. Neither was transparency guaranteed, nor did the electoral process respect international standards, nor were there international observers. The Catalan Government is stressing that this situation has nothing to do with the peaceful and democratic demands from a plural Catalan society. For these reasons, Francesc Homs totally rejected the comparison with Eastern Ukraine.

The Catalan Government rejects Eastern Ukraine’s referendums

In fact, on Monday, the Catalan Government had issued an official statement in which it did not recognize the referendums in Donetsk and Luhansk. “The referendum process in the Ukranian regions of Donetsk and Luhansk is not legitimate”. The Catalan Government considers that the referendums have been organized “without the conditions that guarantee its fully free and democratic development”. In addition, they suffered from violent episodes and “external interferences”. In addition, the Catalan Executive is emphasizing its “full support” for the European Union and its decisions on the Ukraine crisis. The Catalan Government insisted on “the importance” of Ukraine’s presidential election, which will take place on the 25th of May and which should be “free and democratic”. Finally, the Catalan Executive is supporting the idea of pushing for a national dialogue between Kiev authorities and the pro-Russian groups, “without previous conditions”, in order to promote peace, put an end to the violence and find long-term solutions.