A few hours after the All Party Parliamentary Group on Catalonia was constituted in Westminster, composed of over twenty MPs, the promoter of this iniciative, the SNP MP George Kerevan speaks on his vision of what is going on in Catalonia and how he sees its future in an interview that appeared in the Catalan paper “El Punt/Avui” the last 27th of March.
After explaining his firsts contacts with Catalonia on 1974 before the death of Franco, he already noticed that Barcelona and Catalonia “are one of the great historical parts of Europe, it’s not a small part of Spain, but you notice that Catalonia is a nation and a culture with its own rights. That was a revelation”. Afterwards, he came back again to Catalonia and every time, he saw more clearly that, equally to Scotland, “the only way to go on and take care of our own affairs is to be independent. The space for a federal solution has disappeared”.
Differently to Scotland, that has taken the independence option recently, Catalonia has spent many years showing a certain resistance to embrace a majority attitude towards independence. Catalans have believed, during many years, that autonomy could be a good means to resolve its problems. Parties for independence were few and divided. Later on they took the right decision of uniting and starting a process towards independence, which has enjoyed an every time wider social consensus . However, differently to the United Kingdom, the Spanish state does not permit any referendum that would allow Catalans to express their views on their future whatsoever”. The Spanish state puts, by this attitude, itself outside of history and the parametres of democracy of the 21st Century: “the way how things are dealt with in Europe in the 21st Century is by means of discussion and ballot. I think that you create a problem, you create more difficulties, if you try to put limits to this democratic process, even though you would not like the possible result. I am still optimist and I think it is possible to convince Madrid so that it changes its attitude and treats old national identity issues by means of dialogue. I believe that there is a lesson to be learnt of what happened here in the United Kingdom, since all discussion here was held without any kind of violence and everyone in the pro-independence side accepted the result because it was done through a democratic channel. The way I see it, this is the European way. Everyone in Europe should think of this lesson”.
As in the Scottish case, “Catalan nationalism is a civic movement, a lot more than a linguistic struggle, because it is about democracy and self-determination. This is a lot different from the populist nationalisms, the ethnics nationalisms that appear through Europe, and even Trump’s exclusive nationalism. It’s not about democracy but rather the artificial identification of one group against another one”.
The interview ends with a reference to the work of the All Party Group. He reminds that his job is, mainly, to explain “the people of the UK what is happening in Catalonia, because it does not have much media attention there”. As well “if we are able to, helping the dialogue between political forces in Spain. I hope that we can send a Westminster delegation, of all parties, to Catalonia, and also that we are able to talk to the people and have their opinion directly”. As well, “we want to talk with the Spanish government and get to know what the state wants. It is not our job to interfere, and I’d like this to be very clear (…). And if by this we encourage dialogue, I will be happy”.
As a concluding remark to the interview, George Kerevan confesses that “(he) has been surprised that the interest on Catalonia goes further than the SNP or the Welsh or Irish nationalists, of which it is expected that they should be interested in brethren independence movements. Conventional, state-wide parties, Conservative, Labour and Liberal are also very interested. And this is the message for Spain and Catalonia. We shall not interfere, but what happens in your country affects Europe and affects us Scots, because Scotland wants to remain in Europe”.
Chairman emeritus of the CIEMEN
Chairman of the PDD