This article was translated by John R. Bopp
The Guardian is one of our premier reference newspapers, as we always say, since it always treats “Basque matters” with enormous respect, and has dealt with the matter of the problems between the Kingdom of Spain and the Autonomous Community of Catalonia in a matter critical of all anti-democratic aspects that have arisen. That why we were rather unsurprised that this newspaper published an op-ed piece by Lehendakari Iñigo Urkullu, in which he discusses what he considers to be the most adequate outcomes to the conflict created by the refusal of the Spanish government to accept the existence of the “national reality” of Catalonia.
The other possible newspaper that would have published an op-ed piece like this would have been The New York Times, which has always done its own analysis of Basque and Catalan matters, independent of the influences of the institutions of Spain and its like-minded media.
But it was The Guardian that published this article today. And we think it did so because it’s sending a message straight to the institutions of the European Union and its member state governments. The British daily, which has always maintained itself in favor of keeping the UK in the EU throughout the Brexit referendum process is, like the NYT, one of the most influential and respected newspapers in the world, in addition to being European and pro-Europe.
After having read the article carefully, we’re convinced the Lehendakari’s message will not make everyone happy.
The “unionists” won’t be happy, as they won’t like the idea that within the Kingdom of Spain there are more than just the Spanish nation, which, as the Lehendakari recalls, was invented in 1812 and was imposed by force.
Nor with many “sovereigntists” be happy, as they would prefer a message that completely defends independence, free of any nuance or analysis, even though this opinion comes from an institution and is aimed at other institutions.
And it’s true that the distaste from this latter group of dissatisfied readers will be projected into statements that claim the Lehendakari’s message is “lukewarm”. However, the ways in which the former group will show its dissatisfaction are truly worrying.
The unionists’ decisions, which the Lehendakari criticizes, include applying Article 155, and essentially annulling Catalan institutions. But it seems that they’ve found this measure, using the Spanish Constitution to curtail the freedoms that that same Constitutions is supposed to protect, quite useful, and now, when faced with any criticism about their actions in Catalonia, are threatening any Communities with nationalist governments (Catalonia and the Basque Country) with similar measures.
The Lehendakari is calling on Europe to intervene, to find a solution to a problem that is only going to get worse without Europe’s help. No one can expect, neither the Spanish government nor in the EU leadership, that this crisis will be solved via repression, extraordinary legislation, and a greater level of frustration and offense of millions of Catalans, who are European citizens that are, once again, being attacked by a State that they do not recognize as their own. Legality is nothing without legitimacy.
We believe that we mustn’t lose sight of two elements the Lehendakari includes in his op-ed. First, his commitment to self-determination, and his choice for a model of the referenda held in Quebec and Scotland as valid ways to solve the nationalist issues in Spain, and secondly, to remember that, whatever the results of those referenda, within Spain there are at least three nations that need to reach a status of equality and mutual respect.
In conclusion, before linking to the article, we must recognize that it seemed very opportune, in these days in which the “unionists” can’t stop talking about Europe, that the Lehendakari recalls that Basque nationalism has been a major player in the construction of a united Europe that respects individual and collective freedoms for more than a century.
The Guardian – 23/10/2017 – Gran Bretaña
Only political dialogue can bring stability to Catalonia – and the EU must help
I write this as the democratically elected president of the autonomous Basque region of Spain, as someone who is both strongly pro-Europe and who believes firmly in self-determination, whichever institutional form that takes.