Tag Archives: Catalan referendum

German prosecution requests extradition of Puigdemont

Prosecutors have asked a regional court in northern Germany to permit the extradition of the former Catalan leader to Spain. Puigdemont has been detained in Germany since March 25. The public prosecutor for Germany’s northern state of Schleswig-Holstein announced on Tuesday that it had requested the extradition of former Catalan President, Carles Puigdemont.

Puigdemont is being charged in Spain with rebellion and misuse of public funds, for his involvement in the Catalan independence referendum of October 2017. The former leader was living in self-imposed exile in Belgium and was in Finland on March 24, when Spain reactivated the European arrest warrant against him. Puigdemont was arrested when he entered Germany on March 25, as he was making his way back to Belgium.

The request came as a surprise to many European politicians , questioning how such a Medieval crime as a “rebellion” could enter the EU modern legal system.


Sakharov Prize for Catalan political prisoners

Ivo Vajgl, MEP, ALDE, Slovenia, explains the decision of Catalonia Dialogue Platform to nominate Catalan political prisoners in Spain for Sakharov Prize 2018. Vajgl underlined significance of engaging in dialogue to resolve the argument respecting the fundamental freedoms and human rights.

Catalonia former vice-president Oriol Junqueras, ex-Interior minister Joaquim Forn, and activists Jordi Sànchez, Jordi Cuixart remain in prison. Twenty-eight Catalan politicians are being investigated by Spanish Supreme Court judge for their role in the referendum and subsequent declaration of independence. At present all four men are kept in harsh conditions in prison cells with possible charges of rebellion, sedition, and misuse of public funds for organising the referendum on independence of Catalonia.

The European Parliament supports human rights through the annual Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought, established in 1988.  The prize is awarded to individuals who have made an exceptional contribution to the fight for human rights across the globe, drawing attention to human rights violations as well as supporting the laureates and their cause.


Madrid ultimatum tactics failed

A final deadline of prime minister Mariano Rajoy ultimatum to Catalonia to renounce de independence aspirations has passed at 10:00 (local time) on Thursday, 19 October. Madrid wowed to suspend the region’s autonomy in case president Carles Puigdemont does not provide clear proof of alignment to Constitution of Kingdom of Spain, which does not foresee any further forms of independence than regional governance, Catalonia already has.

Catalonia’s president Carles Puigdemont was given until 10:00 local time (08:00 GMT) to clarify his position. After a referendum on 1 October, he signed an independence declaration but then suspended it, asking for dialogue in search for a compromise.

Puigdemont has already informed the members of Parliament and Catalan government of his intention to go ahead with independence in case Rajoy strips the region of autonomy.

There concerns over Catalan crisis are mounting, while Rajoy continues to reject any dialogue, insisting on keeping Constitution intact, addressing a referendum on independence ‘illegal’, and attempting to criminalise the expressions of freedom aspirations of Catalans.

Article 155 of Spain’s 1978 constitution, which cemented democratic rule after the death of dictator General Franco three years earlier, allows Madrid to impose direct rule in a crisis but it has never been invoked.

Catalonia pushed towards independence

Spain’s political showdown with Catalonia is set to reach a new level on Thursday when political leaders in Madrid and Barcelona are expected to make good on pledges made to their supporters to stick to their tough positions over the region’s future.

In an unprecedented action since Spain returned to democracy in the late 1970s, Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy will impose direct rule in Catalonia unless president Carles Puigdemont retracts by 10 a.m. (0800 GMT) an renouncing declaration of independence he made after Catalan referendum on the issue.

Both sides multiplied political and diplomatic activities, attempting to attract supporters to their positions, however in three weeks there is no major breakthrough. Madrid insists the relation with Catalonia is an “internal issue” of Spain, however it is evident, that the crisis projects on EU.

There is a major confusion about Catalan position, after declaration and suspension of independence, and further obscurity about the aims of the ‘dialogue’ Catalans offer to Madrid. However there is a general discontent with the immobility of the EU institutions, continuing to pretend the Catalan crisis is a national problem of Kingdom of Spain.

Puigdemont has already expressed his opinion to members of his Catalan Democratic Party that not only he would not back down but that he would press ahead with a more formal declaration of independence if Rajoy suspends Catalonia’s political autonomy.

Rajoy to react on Catalan Declaration of Independence

The statement of Mariano Rajoy, Prime Minister of Kingdom of Spain is awaited at 18:00 European time, after a day of consultations.

Spain’s prime minister has put Catalonia on notice that it could impose direct rule on the region. Mariano Rajoy said his government had asked the regional government to clarify whether or not it had declared independence.

The move is the first step towards suspending Catalonia’s autonomy under the Constitution of Spain.

Mr Rajoy accused Catalan President Carles Puigdemont of having created “deliberate confusion” and said he wanted to restore “certainty”.

“This call – ahead of any of the measures that the government may adopt under Article 155 of our Constitution – seeks to offer citizens the clarity and security that a question of such importance requires,” Mr Rajoy said.

“There is an urgent need to put an end to the situation that Catalonia is going through – to return it to safety, tranquillity and calm and to do that as quickly as possible.”

Madrid ready to arrest Catalan president for independence declaration

Spanish police are ready to arrest Catalan President Carles Puigdemont immediately if he declares independence in the regional parliament, according to two people familiar with the government’s plans.

While a final decision on whether to act has not yet been taken, Spain’s National Police force has elite officers deployed in Catalonia who are prepared to join a raid if Catalan police try to shield Puigdemont, said one of the people. If Puigdemont makes a statement that falls short of immediate independence, the government in Madrid may stay its hand.

The president is likely to use the words “declaration of independence,” but they will probably be qualified or hedged in some way, according to another person familiar with his plans. The Catalan government spokesman declined to comment on Puigdemont’s speech at a press briefing in Barcelona on Tuesday.

Puigdemont is due to address the regional legislature at 6 p.m with many of his supporters looking for him to announce a new republic to follow through on the makeshift referendum held on Oct. 1. The address was postponed for one hour to 7 p.m. reportedly to continue the discussions with European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker, who tries to convince Catalans to renounce independence declaration. Previously Juncker stated that Catalan issue is an interior problem of Spain, he did not condemn police violence, and did not stand for human rights of Catalans.

France will not recognise Catalan independence

In case Catalonia declares independence “unilaterally,” France will not “recognise” it, said the minister of European Affairs, Nathalie Loiseau.

The president of the breakaway region,  Carles Puigdemont, is expected to announce the independence of Catalonia based on the results of the #1Oct referendum, delivering the majority of ballots dropped in support of the secession from Kingdom of Spain.

Puigdemont has planned to address the Catalan Parliament on Monday, however the session was banned by Spanish Court as ‘illegal’, the sitting was postponed to Tuesday, October 10.

“If the declaration of independence will be unilateral, it will be not recognised”, – said  Nathalie Loiseau in an interview to CNEWS. “One can not let Catalonia on the grounds of the survey, organised by the separatists”, – she added.

Last week Catalan independent government published the final results of the plebiscite, endorsed by Catalan Parliament, and declared “illegal” by Spanish Constitutional Court.

More than 2,3 million Catalans voted in independence referendum, in spite of multiple expropriations of ballot boxes, expropriation of ballot boxes, closure of voting stations, harassments, and open police violence, leaving around 1000 wounded, – 90,18% of voters said ‘YES’ to independence. The participation was estimated at level of 43% of illegible citizens.

The minister of European Affairs reminded that with declaration of independence Catalans will lose their place in the EU, which will be the first consequence of their unilateral act.

Europarliament split on #Catalonia independence

Anna van Densky, Strasbourg.  The hearing on #Catalonia, October 4, could not be qualified as ‘debate’ in a proper sense of this word: the leaders of the European Parliament political groups, and  1st vice-president of the European Commission, articulated their positions vis-à-vis dramatic events, without an opportunity to debate it with fellow MEPs. However even this abridged version was a victory of smaller political groups, pressing EPP – the centre right and  a biggest force in Europarliament  – to accept a public hearing,  according to Europe Diplomatic sources.

The 1st vice-president of European Commission Frans Timmermans defended position already coined  by his boss, Jean-Claude Juncker, qualifying #Catalanreferendum as an ‘internal matter’ of Spain, and under Kingdom’s Constitution ‘illegal’. The difference came in formatting, adding substantial number of the EU clichées, calling for dialog, and plea to restrain from ‘violence’ without mentioning upon whose orders it was committed. There was no condemnation of police brutality against Catalans, neither demands to bring responsible to justice. In some passages Timmerman’s speech sounded as echo of King’s Felipe address to nation, pointing at illegality of the vote, as a refrain: “street does not decide the future of a country,” without any hint on right for self-determination. The views Timmermans changed drastically as he used to be an active proponent of Maidan revolution in Kiev, insisting ‘vox populi vox Dei’.

Timmermans called Catalonia to “leave the path of confrontation and lead to dialogue”, exactly what Carles Puigdemont is looking for, but denied by Spanish government, responding with accusations, police brutality, arrests and court orders.

Traditionally the speech of Manfred  Weber, the leader of the EPP group, replicated the one of the Commission: “we are sorry for those who was hurt”, “violence is never an answer”… EU has “no will, no right” to intervene in internal matters of such a liberal democracy as Spain…”Don’t take irreversible steps! (to Catalans)”.  However Weber’s message has been reaching further, delivering a warning to Catalans: you will be leaving EU, Schengen, eurozone… Weber’s views went through continuing transformation  from enthusiasm  over ‘peaceful revolutions’ in Eastern Europe to an ardent defender of laws, carved in stone in Catalan case:

The  Socialists & Democrats led by Gianni Pittella: “Please don’t declare independence unilaterally!” However no condemnation of police violence. And ‘crescendo’: “Nationalism means war”. According to Pittella Socialists if at power could change Constitution of Spain. He called police action “disproportionate,”  but in general the Socialists supported the EPP line on ‘illegality’ of referendum, and warned against consequences of unilateral declaration of independence.

The wave of criticism of Mariano Rajoy government came from smaller political groups: EU is a Union of “selective values” said MEP prof. Ryszard Legutko, a co-chair of European Conservatives and Reformists group (ECR) directly pointing that if the event would have happened in a different member state, the reactions would be hasher. However triggering articles of treaties to summon Catalans would only polarise the debate. Legutko called the actions of government “appalling,” but it was a European Commission who got the most negative evaluation for “Esopian language”, “double-standards,” and “moralistic” inclinations, – the trends will not make the problem disappear. Legutko proposed Commission to mediate, but underlined it is up to Catalans to decide their future.

Ska Keller, MEP, co-chair of Greens, admitted Mariano Rajoy strategy of violence, and police brutality failed, and insisted on search of a political solution by Spanish government. Keller also proposed to European Commission to act, assessing Spanish crisis as European. However in spite of her repeated calls for dialogue, she admitted a right of self-determination of Catalans as stipulated by international law.

Marcel De Graaf, the co-chair of the ENF group, was not short of words, castigating the hypocrisy and double-standards of the EU, interfering in member-states home affairs, dependent on the correlation with the European agenda. Among other examples of EU double standards, he reminded how President Juncker raised his concerns about EU worker’s rights in UK, but kept silence about police brutality in Catalonia.

Steven Woolfe, MEP, expressed his indignation over police brutality, he also blamed the EU double standards in dealing with human rights issues.  He reminded his fellow-MEPs and European Commission, that Kosovo did not have an agreed secession from Serbia.

MEP Ray Finch, EFDD, proposed the only viable and democratic way out of the crisis in organising a referendum for Catalans.

Catalans exercise self-determination

Catalonia will move on Monday, October 9, declaring independence from Spain after holding a referendum upon the decision of Catalan Parliament, consistently rejected by the authorities in Madrid as ‘illegal’ according to Kingdom’s Constitution.

Catalan President Carles Puigdemont said he favored mediation to find a way out of the crisis but that Spain’s central government had rejected this. Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s government responded by calling on Catalonia to “return to the path of law” first before any negotiations. However many international players see Rajoy as an obstacle on the way to dialog, staining his reputation by an excessive use of police force in an attempt to prevent the vote. The leader of European Parliament Socialists Gianni Pittella admitted that Rajoy is not “up to his job” to engage in a political dialogue.

Mireia Boya, a Catalan lawmaker from the pro-independence Popular Unity Candidacy (CUP) party, said a declaration of independence would follow a parliamentary session on Monday to evaluate the results of the Oct. 1 vote, and pursue the independence from Madrid, based of the right of nations for self-determination, engraved in international law.

Charles Catalan

King Felipe VI condemns Catalan referendum

Spain’s King Felipe VI has condemned organisers of Catalonia’s independence referendum for having put themselves “outside the law”.

In a TV address to the nation, he said the situation in Spain was “extremely serious”, and called for unity.

Thousands of people in Catalonia have been protesting over Spanish police violence during Sunday’s vote, during which nearly 900 people were hurt.

The central government in Madrid has described the referendum as illegal.

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