Barcelona (CNA).- Catalonia’s push for independence is being observed internationally. Coming on the back of last week’s statements from German Chancellor Angela Merkel and UK Prime Minister David Cameron, this week members of the US Congress showed their support for Catalonia’s right to vote. At a meeting held with a Catalan government delegation on Wednesday, Republican Dana Rohrabacher, chairman of the House Subcommittee on Europe said “I see no reason why people in Catalonia cannot have their own choice of whether they want to be part of Spain”. In front of the Catalan Government’s Secretary for Foreign and European Union Affairs, Roger Albinyana, and Head of the Foreign Action Committee of the Catalan Parliament, Jordi Solé, Rohrabacher emphasised that “it’s better to let people decide and for them to choose to remain in the country, instead of making them feel they are being forced to stay”. Earlier in the week, 31 MEPs from 14 different EU states sent a letter to the Spanish Defence Minister in which they urged him to “rectify” his position on Catalonia’s situation and make it clear that Spain’s army won’t interfere in a situation which they described as “pacific and democratic”.
Catalan Secretary for Foreign and European Affairs Roger Albinyana, said that the meeting was held since the US Congressmen requested to have an in-depth knowledge of the situation in Catalonia. “We are not looking for any to join now” as there is not yet a clear demand from the Catalan citizens “in one sense or another”, he added. He emphasised that the US government position is still “neutral” and that they regard the matter as Spain’s national issue.
Together with Head of the Foreign Action Committee of the Catalan Parliament Jordi Solé, Albinyana explained how recent events in Spain and Catalonia have led the Catalan Government to call the “plebiscitary” upcoming elections on the 27th September. After discussing future and hypothetical scenarios for an independent Catalonia, several representatives expressed their support for Catalonia’s right to self-determination.
Following this, Republican Dana Rohrabacher emphasised the internationalisation of Catalonia’s situation and stated that the House Subcommittee on Europe, over which he presides, has been “looking at this from various countries all around the world”. “I see no reason why people in Catalonia cannot have their own choice of whether they want to be part of Spain just like any other people have the right to make their choices”, he added.
When asked what he would say to the Spanish government regarding the Catalan Question, Rohrabacher said that “in the long run” the Spanish government should “give people a choice”. He stated that it is better to “voluntarily remain part of a country rather than make them feel that they are being forced, because it creates resentment and bad feelings”. He added that such a position “weakens the sense of unity that a country needs”.
Republican Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart supported Rohrabacher’s view, saying that the right to decide and to express political aspirations as a society must prevail. Another conservative, Republican Carlos Curbelo, likewise supported the views expressed by his peers, according to the Spanish news agency EFE.
Spain’s Foreign Affairs Minister, José Manuel García Margallo, ironically congratulated pro-independence Catalans for having “the support of 1.1% of US representatives”. He added “it is normal” to be proud of this as it is the “highest rate they have reached” in terms of international support for independence. Margallo also commented that all the states in the US “are ruled by a Constitution” and added that secessionist movements weren’t considered legal by the law.
31 MEPs against the intervention of the Spanish army
The statement of Spanish Defence Minister Pere Morenés warning that Spain’s army won’t intervene in Catalonia as long as “everybody fulfils their duty” worried some members of the Eurochamber. 31 MEPs from 14 different member states and representing five different political groups sent a letter to Morenés urging him to “rectify” his position. They asked him to leave no doubt about any possible intervention in Catalonia by Spain’s army in the event of a unilateral declaration of independence after the 27-S elections. The MEPs stated that “democratic challenges should be responded to with even more democracy” but not with the “threat of violence”. They also emphasised that they “would rather hear” that Morenés and the Spanish government will respect the “democratic will of the Catalan people” no matter what the 27-S election results may be.
Amongst the signatories there are six Catalan MEPs: Josep Maria Terricabras and Ernest Maragall (both of left wing pro-independence ERC-MES), Ramon Tremosa (Liberal party CDC), Ernest Urtasun (Catalan Eco-Socialist party ICV), and Francesc Gambús (Christian-Democrat UDC). Besides them, the chairman of the European Conservative and Reformist group and co-president of the Greens/European Free Alliance, Phillipe Lamberts, also signed the letter.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel supports Mariano Rajoy’s position
At a German-Spanish bilateral summit involving the German Chancellor Angela Merkel and the Prime Minister of Spain Mariano Rajoy held last week, when the issue of Catalan independence arose, Merkel assured those present that her position on the process of sovereignty in Catalonia was “very similar” to that of Rajoy. At a joint press conference she stated that “it is very important that international law is respected. Here there is no difference.” For his part, Rajoy guaranteed that whilst he is Prime Minister, there will be “no split” between Catalonia and Spain.
David Cameron: an independent Catalonia would need to queue to enter the EU
UK Prime Minister David Cameron’s comments on the matter were in align with those of Merkel and Rajoy and highlighted that “countries, governments, Prime Ministers and indeed those who want to take a different path have to obey the rule of law”. At a joint press conference with Rajoy held last week, when asked about Catalonia fitting into the EU in the event of an independence declaration, Cameron stated that “if one part of a state secedes that state is no longer part of the EU”. He emphasised that in this case, Catalonia would have to “take its place at the end of the queue behind those other countries that are applying to become members of the EU”. Cameron added that this was supported by authorities from the European Commission and constitutional lawyers all over the EU so it was “pretty clear”.