Puigdemont visits Copenhagen for the inauguration of the new Delegation of the Generalitat with an aim to enhance ties with Scandinavia
The President of the Catalan Government, Carles Puigdemont, began a two day visit to Denmark, together with his Foreign Minister, Raül Romeva, for the inauguration of the Delegation of the Generalitat to the Nordic Countries. Directed by Francesca Guardiola, its aim is to promote bilateral relations between Catalonia and Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden. This visit coincides with a decisive moment of the Catalan independence process, ten days before the Catalan National Day and practically one month before the referendum on 1 October. The President and his government are very aware that international recognition is essential and Denmark and the Nordic Countries are among those that have appeared to be most favourable toward Catalan self-determination.
Indeed, the Danish Parliament was the first to hold a debate and approve a motion on the right to self-determination of the Catalan people. This was in 2015 thanks to a resolution moved by the left wing group Enhedslisten (Green-Red Alliance), requesting a peaceful and democratic debate by the Catalan and Spanish governments within the context of a process toward independence.
The Danish political establishment has followed the Catalan process and made declarations against the Speaker of the Catalan Parliament, Carme Forcadell, being tried for having allowed a debate on the constituting process and a vote on a resolution defending the referendum. They complained that the repression of the pro-independence politicians by the Spanish justice system contravened the spirit of the 2015 resolution by the Danish Parliament requesting dialogue between the parties.
Indeed, the difference in attitude between the Spanish and the Danish states became quite apparent when Danish Premier, Lars Løkke Rasmusse, stated in May this year, that both Greenland and the Faroe Islands had the right to become independent whenever they wished.
Furthermore, Denmark’s main political festival, el Folkemødet, this year held a debate on the Catalan referendum called “Can Catalonia become the next member state of the EU?”, where various academics, politicians and journalists discussed the vote called on 1 October.
The Scandinavian Block
Denmark, like its partners in the Scandinavian block, boasts a strong democratic tradition and the Catalan independence movement has been on the radar for some time. Let’s see what the attitude is in the other countries.
Finland has one of the three official parliamentary support groups in Europe and Minister Romeva made an official visit. Spanish unionist groups tried to manipulate public opinion, because the chairperson of the group is a member of the nationalist True Finns party. They did not point out, however, that the vice-chairperson is a member of a sister party to the Spanish Podemos and includes members of all the parties in the Finnish Parliament.
Setting up a Delegation
In this context, the Delegation in Copenhagen to strengthen relations between Catalonia and these countries is crucial.
The ties between Catalonia and the Nordic Countries have been commercial. Since 1991, ACC1Ó, the agency for commercial competitiveness, has an office in Copenhagen to promote commercial and economic links between Catalonia and Sweden, Norway, Finland, Estonia and Iceland.
Catalan exports to Denmark and Sweden make up one fifth of all Spanish exports to those countries. There are number of branches of Swedish and Danish companies in Catalonia and a few Catalan companies are present there, too. The northern market is number seven in absolute numbers of tourists to Catalonia. From January to May this year, 255 600 Nordic tourists visited Catalonia.
The Delegation in Copenhagen is the twelfth set up by the Catalan Government. The others are to the European Union; UK and Ireland; France; Germany; the USA, Canada and Mexico; Austria, Italy; Portugal; Geneva; Poland and the Baltics; and Croatia and the Balkans.