Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Following in the footsteps of Kosovo and Montenegro

Citizens' Voice Series

Germà Capdevila
Editor of Catalonia Today magazine
Deputy editor of El Punt Avui newspaper
www.germacapdevila.cat
Catalonia is arriving at a crossroads in its history. In 1714, the country lost a war and was absorbed into the Kingdom of Spain. Since then, the nearest the country has come to recovering its independence was the short-lived proclamation of the Catalan Republic in the early 1930s by President Francesc Macià. Until now, that is. Today, Catalonia is closer than ever to recovering its independence as a new state within the European Union.

A powerful movement is growing among the people of Catalonia. It is not led by the government or politicians, but rather by the people, who are demanding that their leaders and the political parties catch up. Last year, more than 1.5 million people poured into the streets of Barcelona to protest against the ruling of Spain’s Constitutional Court, which declared some vital articles of the Catalan Statute of Autonomy related to national symbols, language and self-government to be unconstitutional. At this expression of people power, the word 'independence' was on everyone’s lips.

Unsurprisingly, politicians wanted to lead the demonstration, but they were ignored. By definition, political parties are interested in maintaining the status quo but on this issue the reality of change is staring them in the face. Polls show that those in favour of independence are now a majority and the politicians will have to address the issue sooner or later.

The path for them to follow now appears clearer than ever. Recently, the International Court of Justice in The Hague ruled that Kosovo’s secession declaration in 2008 had not broken international law.

Kosovo is not an isolated case and comes on the back of the 2006 referendum in favour of independence for Montenegro. The new Eastern European state is now waiting to hear that it has been accepted into the EU fold.

The narrative of Catalonia’s independence now appears clear: a formal declaration of independence from the Parlament, followed by a referendum. The people are ready. The politicians are running out of time.


Germà Capdevila
Managing Editor
Catalonia Today

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5 comentaris:

  • Candide says:
    September 26, 2011 at 8:34 AM

    Oh my dear, where to start....

    So Catalonia was not part of Spain before 1714?

    So there were "more than 1.5 million people", and you as a journalist have counted them all? Because otherwise, as a journalist, you'd have been obliged to quote that number with the caveat that it comes from the organisers of said protest.

    So polls show a majority for secession and "the people are ready", but you wouldn't like to give us a number and the collaterals of this poll - because you actually mean only one, right? - so that we get some qualified information?

    The content of this article is as light-minded as its title: the footsteps of Kosovo kind of still evoke images of war.

  • Catamunt says:
    September 26, 2011 at 11:49 AM

    @Candide, I'd like to point you to this other article with many polls: http://helpcatalonia.blogspot.com/2011/08/do-catalans-really-want-independence.html

    Catalonia was not part of Spain before 1714 because Spain didn´t exist as a state. Spain was a geographical concept that included all the peninsula.

    Catalonia was militarly conquered in 1714 and lost its Constitutions, Laws, Rights and Freedoms (the equivalent of independence at the time), which were all replaced by the ruling of Castille. The Nueva Planta Decrees by the Spanish king that ban all Catalan instutions, Constitutions, etc, said it very clearly. They are imposed by the "just right of conquest".

    In fact, they had been planning that conquest for a while. This is the First Minister of Castille (that later used the name Spain for itself), talking to the king:

    "Tenga V.M. por el negocio mas importante de su Monarquía el hacerse rey de España: quiero decir, Señor, que no se contente V. M. Con ser rey de Portugal, de Aragón, de Valencia, Conde de Barcelona, sino que trabaje y piense, con consejo maduro y secreto, por reducir estos reinos de que se compone España al estilo y leyes de Castilla, sin ninguna diferencia".

    And even suggesting specific ways of doing so:

    "hallándose V. M. con esta fuerza que dije, ir en persona como a visitar aquel reino donde se hubiese de hacer el efecto, y hacer que se ocasione algún tumulto popular grande, y con este pretexto meter la gente, y con ocasión de sosiego general y previsión de adelante, como por nueva conquista asentar y disponer las leyes en la conformidad de las de Castilla, y de esta manera irlo ejecutando en los otros reinos. (...) En efecto, Señor, el primer negocio y el mayor es allanar a Cataluña".

    However, you might be more interested in the version given by the Lords of England in the House of Lords: http://helpcatalonia.blogspot.com/2011/09/english-betrayal-on-september-11-th.html

    Regarding the demonstration, what is clear is that it was a large one. If demonstration have any meaning, this one had a lot of meaning, 'cause it had much more people than any other demonstration ever held in Catalonia, and that is obvious to the eyes, regardless of the specific counting.

    Kosovo doesn´t remind me of war. Kosovo reminds me of what happens when peoples and nations don't respect each other and love each other at the same time. Imposing something over Kosovo, Catalonia, or any other nation is evil. By becoming a free nation, free to talk in foot of equality with all other nations in the world, free to rule over it's own destiny, a people can contribute to end those tensions and to the betterment of the world in general. Self-determination is a pillar of international peace and a human right. Its exercise, no matter if you are Kosovo of Catalonia, is positive, and most independent states of the world, including Spain, have commited to promote its exercise.

  • Candide says:
    September 28, 2011 at 1:16 PM

    Sirs, after more than a day it might be time to get a follow-up comment approved. It seems that for some, like Catamunt, the waiting period is only 3 hours.

    I will resend with the original timestamp:

    quote


    So Spain was no kingdom, that included all of the peninsula from 1580 until 1640, and all but Portugal thereafter? It was a mere "geographical concept", ruled by a king?

    So the anti-war rally on February 15 2003, with 1.3 million on the streets of Barcelona, was not the biggest demonstration? Quoting police figures. For the above mentioned rally in 2010 the police's count was one million. And what about 1977?

    Hey, have history your way. But don't be surprised when you are not convincing anybody.
    September 27, 2011 11:35 AM

    unquote

    I'd like to add the recommendation that all those who see an example in Kosovo at least follow the daily press. Kosovo is a split country, its northern tip is not under control of the Kosovan government. Since right after the war -which one is not to mention- talk has been about the possibility of a land swap, north of Kosovo for Albanian inhabited parts of southern Serbia.

    Is this really the place you want to compare Catalonia with?

  • Catamunt says:
    September 28, 2011 at 9:42 PM

    @Candide, I apreciate your participation in this blog. I have to say that my comments are published automatically because I have admin permissions in this blog. I wish we could publish users comments quickly, but this is a private blog without any funding, and to manage all the work (that, as you can imagine with so many and so important contributors is not trivial) takes more time than we have.

    I think that the comparission with Kosovo is regarding the process of independence. Kosovo declared independence unilaterally, and the International Court of Justice ruled that the declaration was not illegal under the general international law.

    Let's say the demonstration was not the biggest. It was still one of the biggest and its importance would still be huge.

    And yes, exactly, Spain was not a single Kingdom. I showed only one example (from the prime minister of Castille), but many many many more texts from within the different kingdoms in the peninsula and from other european countries can be quoted showing that that was in fact the case. In fact, the King had the different titles of King of Castille, King of Portugal, of Navarra, etc. Sometimes the geographical term was used too, and only in Castille and internationally they called the king "King of Spain" or, to show the difference in kingdoms, "King of the Spains".

  • Candide says:
    September 29, 2011 at 1:44 AM

    Thank you, Catamunt. It is good to see when hyperboles fall out of use.

    As to Kosovo, please don't separate the legal process from the political one, and the political one includes the war, the intervention and the establishment of an international administration under UNSCR 1244.

    Without this succession of events there would not have been any Kosovo authority to declare independence.

    The only remaining point is that Kosovo's declaration of independence did not break international law. Good, now we know, but that means zip for Catalonia because the whole process still has a decisive political element, the conditions of which change drastically from one case to the other.

    There are specific questions that have to be answered and specific measures that have to be taken to make Catalonia independent, and to get its independent internationally recognised:

    A free and fair process leading up to a majority decision. The external set-up of Catalonia, i.e. its borders. The internal set-up of Catalonia, i.e. its Constitution, including the protection of minorities as a prominent element. And last but not least regional and geopolitics are setting a framework.

    None of these elements has been sufficiently dealt with, several (such as the questions of borders and minorities) are being kept in a limbo, at best.

    So less demagoguery and much more hard work are required.

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