In the annual reception offered to the Consular Corps, Artur Mas thanked the consulates accredited in Barcelona for their “collaborative spirit” when working with the Government of Catalonia and expressed his appreciation for their willingness to “listen and understand Catalonia’s longstanding reasons to govern itself which, as seen by the walls of this Palau, are centuries old”.
The event which took place on Tuesday and which is hosted every year by the President of the Catalan Government, welcomed more than seventy consuls accredited in Barcelona to the Palau de la Generalitat. There are approximately one hundred foreign consulates accredited in Catalonia, some dating as far back as the 17th century, placing the Catalan capital as the third non-state capital city with more foreign consular offices in the world (behind Hong Kong and New York).
During his intervention, President Mas felt it necessary to explain his reasons for calling a snap election in September, asserting that “it is necessary to know how many people want this country to become its own State, and the right way to do this is through the polls”. “We would have preferred doing it differently” he continued, “in similar way to the United Kingdom or Canada, but a Parliamentary election is the only instrument we are left with”. Furthermore, the Chief Executive stated that “without knowing the answer, it is impossible to do politics in the current Catalonia”.
In his speech, the President also highlighted some of the improvements in Catalonia’s economy, such as the record breaking increment in Catalan exports, the rise in foreign and national tourism, increased foreign direct investment and, for the first time since the crisis began, more jobs are being generated with the last eighteen consecutive months showing an inter-annual drop in Catalonia’s unemployment rate. “The country is starting to turn around the economic situation” asserted President Mas as he commented on the excellent figures from 2014.
Speaking on behalf of the Corps, Dean and Consul-General for the United Kingdom, Andrew Gwatkin, highlighted the equable and permanent relationship with the Government of Catalonia and thanked President Mas, the Minister of the Presidency, Francesc Homs, and the Secretary for Foreign and EU Affairs, Roger Albinyana for their diligence in bringing the Consular Corps closer to the Generalitat.