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Sun, 17 Nov 2019 10:44 GMT

Spanish Ambassador to Cairo: Majority of Catalans against Separation


Taha Sakr

Fri, 08 Nov 2019 20:44 GMT

In exclusive replies to questions for 7DNews, the Spanish Ambassador to Egypt Ramón Gil Casares said that ‘In the region of Catalonia, numerous media outlets are suggesting that its residents want separation from Spain… Catalonia is considered the most popular province in Spain where the current Spanish constitution has enjoyed the greatest popular support.”

He explained that the region of Catalonia, like the rest of Spain, has autonomy under the supervision of the Spanish state, noting that two years ago the local Catalonia government broke the law and the constitution and called for a referendum on independence from Spain, but this was rejected because it was illegal and unconstitutional.

“The majority of Catalonia residents support the central government of Spain,” Casares said stating that throughout history, Catalonia has never been independent and, like other regions, has been a part of Spain for more than five centuries.

“Catalonia is a rich region and has always been the wealthiest region in the country with 19.2% of Spain’s gross domestic product (GDP). It is also the region that received the largest infrastructure investments between 1996 and 2015,” he said.

On the reasons behind the current crisis in Catalonia, Casares said that in 2008, Spain suffered one of the worst economic crises with GDP dropping by 7.9% which had significant political repercussions.

The impact of these consequences was greater in Catalonia, where GDP declined by 10%, partly because of the collapse of Catalan local government policies. With this economic downturn, more calls for autonomy were made, rather than working on reducing public spending, Casares said.

“The aggravation of the economic crisis has made it impossible to meet that demand, and for this reason the head of the territorial government began to promote a superficial narrative that Spain was the crisis and that independence was the only solution to this crisis” he said.

Casares stressed that from that moment on, a campaign for independence began with basic lies and half-truths, that included exaggerations and false claims.

“They presented Catalonia, by falsifying history, as an historical victim since the war of 1714. However, this war was not motivated by independence or separation, but by a struggle between the European kingdoms to control the Spanish Crown,” he said.

Most Catalans oppose independence, Casares said and those who call for separation represent less than half of Catalan voters, adding that the maximum they received in regional elections in recent years was 47% of the vote and barely 39% in the last election.

Spain will hold a general election on November 10th amid political fragmentation in addition to the worsening crisis of Catalonia's secession.

The country is returning to the polls after Socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez won only 123 out of 350 seats in last April's election, when he needed 176 seats.

New elections were called because Sanchez could not form a governing alliance with Podemos or Theodadanos political parties.

Catalonia's recent calls for secession from Spain have garnered considerable attention from all media after recent protests turned violent and the week-long chaos, in October resulted in economic losses of more than €2 million, and numerous injuries and arrests.

What are the reasons for the renewed crisis and the protests in Catalonia?

Last October, Spain's Supreme Court sentenced nine out of a dozen separatist leaders charged for their role in an attempt to secede from the country in 2017 to 13 years in prison, after they conducted a secession referendum, causing many separatists to demand a separate secession from Spain.

Where is the territory of Catalonia?

This region is located in the north-east of Spain, to the north is the border with France, the east of the region is on the Mediterranean coast. It covers an area of 32,000km with a population of more than 7.5 million, almost 16% of Spain’s total population.

Who is behind the recent protests in Catalonia?

In response to the above events, protests broke out in the Catalan capital of Barcelona last October, and moved to other cities in the region, including Girona and Tagorana. Clashes erupted between Spanish police and protesters, calls for protests appeared through a new app informing those wishing to demonstrate of the venues.

This app named ‘Democratic Tsunami’, helped protesters to know the locations of demonstrations, especially in the light of the outbreak of protests in different places in Barcelona. It appeared on social networks in September as a mobilisation campaign without legal authorisation, this mobilisation aimed to hold political negotiations to achieve the self-determination of Catalonia.