Catalonia’s fitting into the EU “should not be used as an argument” in Catalonia’s independence debate, the Swedish Parliament’s Committee of European Affairs’ president Carl Schlyter stated this Thursday. “If a new state wants to apply for membership, why would we deny that?” he said and emphasised that to be part of the EU depends on many democratic criteria and “Catalonia will for sure fulfil them all”. Regarding Spain’s position on Catalonia’s push for independence, he stated that “democracy should be fair” and “it would be much better if [Catalonia] could actually have a real referendum”. “Being angry with your neighbours is the worst strategy” he assured and suggested that “Spain will see the benefits of having good relationships with Catalonia”. These comments were made in the Swedish Parliament in Stockholm, where the Public Diplomacy Council of Catalonia, Diplocat, had organised an event related to the 27-S elections.
The Public Diplomacy Council of Catalonia, Diplocat, explained this Thursday Catalonia’s independence process and the 27-S upcoming elections to the Swedish Parliament. Following the Catalan government’s strategy of internationalising Catalonia’s case, Diplocat organised the event together with the Swedish Green Party and counted the Swedish Parliament’s Committee of European Affairs’ president Carl Schlyter and Diplocat’s secretary-general Albert Royo amongst those present. Royo highlighted the fact that Catalans have repeatedly asked for a referendum and the Spanish government has kept on denying it, with the upcoming 27-S elections being therefore “the last resort”.
Schlyter suggests holding “a real referendum”
“Democracy should be fair and for the moment it feels like you don’t have the chance to make democracy fair”, Schlyter stated. He recalled that Spain’s government has repeatedly denied Catalans a referendum, forcing Catalonia to “make one in a tricky way in order to be able to do at least something”, referring to the 9-N consultation. “It would be much better if you could actually have a real referendum” he stated, adding that then “at least everybody could express their opinion fairly, and that’s the basis for everybody respecting the decision”.
Catalonia’s fitting into the EU “should not be used” as an excuse
When asked about Catalonia’s fitting into the EU should Catalonia become an independent state, Schlyter assured that “ifthe Catalan people choose a new future, a different future, then of course we would have to react”. He also pointed out that to be part of the EU depends on many democratic criteria and “Catalonia will for sure fulfil them all”. He emphasised that Catalonia’s future within or outside of the EU “should not be used as an argument in this referendum campaign”.
Regarding the possible veto of Spain in the event that an independent Catalonia applies for EU membership,Schlyter admitted that it would be a problem but was confident that in the end “Spain will see the benefits of having good relationships with Catalonia”. “Being angry with your neighbours is the worst strategy”, he added.
The consequences of the 27-S
Carl Schlyter admitted that the 27-S elections will have a plebiscitary character. “If there is a clear majority of parties who want a different future for Catalonia, then how can you stop that process?”, he asked. “Even if you don’t want to recognise that there’s a referendum, there is still a political reality”, he continued. “You can stay as much as you want in a corner and say ‘no no I don’t like this’; it doesn’t matter, the reality will be there”, he warned.
“Maybe we will come back here”, he said, especially “if the Catalans want to change their relationship with Spain” he said in conclusion.
The Swedish MEP, Bodil Valero, explained her experience as an international observer at the ‘Via Lliure’ demonstration, where on Catalonia’s national day (11th September) over 1.4 million people showed their support for the creation of an independent state , noting that “those who say that there were few people are lying”. Valero said that she and other observers could not even reach the top of the demonstration because there were so many people on the streets.
Swedish MP Valter Mutt, the moderator of the debate stressed that the right to self-determination “is recognised” on an international level. During the debate, a representative of the Spanish Embassy intervened to defend the position of the Spanish government, saying that the 9th of November consultation did not abide by Spanish law and remarking that Madrid “cannot authorise a legal referendum”.
The seventh parliament to discuss the Catalan case
“It is difficult to understand that these debates are sometimes easier abroad than in Madrid or in Spain” secretary general of Diplocat Albert Royo lamented. “The parliament of Sweden is the seventh that has invited us to explain and discuss the Catalan case”, he said.
Speaking to the CNA, Royo, stressed that the debate in Stockholm was “very lively” especially due to the Spanish consul’s participation. “The public asked him ‘why don’t you let the Catalans vote? What do you have to offer them?’” he said.
“Let us not be intimidated, let us not limit our political choice and let us vote freely”, argued Royo, stating that if the majority vote “yes” in the 27-S elections, both Madrid and the EU will have to sit down to negotiate. “The international community is, in essence, pragmatic”, he said.