How to re­solve the Cata­lan ques­tion?

Costa Blanca News (South Edition) - - Vox Pop -

By Dave Jones Any­one who had the du­bi­ous plea­sure of lis­ten­ing to Prime Min­is­ter Mar­i­ano Ra­joy’s speech in Par­lia­ment on Wed­nes­day af­ter­noon may have been ex­cused if they’d switched off their ra­dios.

It was pre­dictable but sad to hear. Ad­dress­ing the Cata­lan cri­sis, rather than adopt­ing a tone of rec­on­cil­i­a­tion he made a point of stat­ing, and I para­phrase (you’ll be glad to hear), ‘ev­ery­thing that has hap­pened is their fault’.

With­out any re­sort to self­crit­i­cism – or nod to the short­falls of the govern­ment in the han­dling of Cataluña’s re­gional statute which has been tied up in the courts for a num­ber of years, and other is­sues – Sr Ra­joy lim­ited him­self to launch­ing at­tack af­ter at­tack on the ac­tions of the proin­de­pen­dence govern­ment.

If blame ap­por­tion­ing was an art form, then Sr Ra­joy would be up there with the likes of Pi­casso. His mantra was that you can­not talk/ne­go­ti­ate with peo­ple who do not com­ply with the Spanish con­sti­tu­tion.

Af­ter the di­a­tribe came one small crumb of com­fort at the end. This was that re­form of the Spanish con­sti­tu­tion might be pos­si­ble - but only in the way that the law sets out. For me, and no doubt many oth­ers who were lis­ten­ing, this sounded pos­i­tive – but what did it mean?

An in­ter­view by for­eign min­is­ter Al­fonso Dastis on French tele­vi­sion yes­ter­day (Thurs­day) shed a smidgen of light on this. He said that if Cata­lan pres­i­dent Car­les Puigde­mont states that he did not de­clare Cataluña an in­de­pen­dent state on Tues­day, then talks can be started ‘to try to find a gap in the con­sti­tu­tion for the as­pi­ra­tions of some Cata­lans’.

So, the na­tional govern­ment seems to be of­fer­ing the pos­si­bil­ity of ei­ther con­sti­tu­tional re­form or tweak­ing the con­sti­tu­tion.

How­ever, this does ap­pear to fall short of what a large per­cent­age of peo­ple in Cataluña want, which is a le­gal and bind­ing ref­er­en­dum on in­de­pen­dence.

Sr Dastis recog­nised that the sit­u­a­tion in Cataluña is ‘very se­ri­ous’. How­ever, de­spite this the Par­tido Pop­u­lar na­tional govern­ment has con­stantly been act­ing as the best re­cruiter that the na­tion­al­ists in Cataluña could pos­si­bly want for their cause. Al­most ev­ery­thing the PP does and says seems to be tai­lored to push­ing more Cata­lans into the ranks of the pro-in­de­pen­dence par­ties.

If the Spanish govern­ment takes over the run­ning of Cata­lan in­sti­tu­tions un­der ar­ti­cle 155 of the con­sti­tu­tion, as was touted this week, this will take the con­flict to a new level.

It could mean that some ac­tivists in Cataluña will think they no longer have a pos­si­bil­ity of achiev­ing their as­pi­ra­tions through po­lit­i­cal means. And Spain has the ex­am­ple of the bloody con­flict in the Basque Coun­try as an ex­am­ple of how this must be avoided at all costs.

It is ob­vi­ous that it will not be easy for two gov­ern­ments with such huge dif­fer­ences to re­solve the cri­sis in Cataluña. But, ef­forts in North­ern Ire­land and Colom­bia show how it is pos­si­ble through di­a­logue to reach agree­ment if there is will on both sides. The Spanish peo­ple can only hope that they sit down to talk be­fore it is too late.

Min­is­ter Al­fonso Dastis

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