During an informational press conference held today in the Palau de la Generalitat, the President of the Catalan Government denounced the actions taken by the Spanish government that “punish and harm Catalonia simply for defending political, pacific and democratic ideas”. Artur Mas qualified the State government’s recent decision to set strict conditions on Catalonia’s finances as an “institutional attack”. Furthermore, Mas considered the unnecessary and differentiated scrutiny imposed by the Spanish Treasury as “financial suffocation for Catalonia” that “directly or indirectly is an intervention of Catalonia’s autonomy”.
During the press conference, which was held after the Executive Council’s weekly meeting, President Mas noted that these “belligerent actions” being carried out by the Spanish government “are taking place on highly sensitive grounds”. “We are talking about paying wages at the end of the month and about issues of security and the fight against terrorism”, Mas explained, “these are matters of maximum priority that affect the entire population, whether they have voted in favour of independence or against it”, he added.
Artur Mas considered that the measures demonstrate “a seriously alarming lack of democratic quality” that go beyond Spanish borders. “It should concern the whole of the European Union, because a member state such as Spain is executing an attack on a democratically elected parliament and on social movements with political implications that are simply defending democratic ideas and projects”, he asserted.
The President accused the Spanish government of “using its institutional strength” to attack the Government of Catalonia as it did “when it mobilized the State Prosecutor Office to file lawsuits for simply setting up the polls last year during the November 9 vote, or when it excluded the president of Catalonia’s Security Board, who incidentally is also the President of the Catalan government, from conversations regarding the fight against terrorism”.
In this regard, the President described the new and unfounded conditions of the Regional Liquidity Fund (Fons de Liquiditat Autonòmica) as another example of this institutional clout. Artur Mas referred to the fact that Catalonia is one of territories which has had to adjust its public finances the most out of the Spanish state as a consequence of the initial financial situation and its systematic economic suffocation. Despite these efforts, Mas affirmed that Catalonia “has been singled out from the other autonomous communities by the Spanish government and by Minister Montoro, and it is being punished in matters of finance through these humiliating conditions”.
Furthermore, as to the State’s questionable transparency, the President warned the central executive that it has “a serious problem with the investments it made through certain financial methods” as they are not recognized in the budget’s accounting nor do they follow EU guidelines. The acting president cited the example of Madrid’s failed radial motorways, and the debt brought about by the AVE high-speed rail tracks built throughout Spain during recent years.
The Catalan Government’s reaction in the face of these attacks
With regards to how to respond to these attacks, President Mas highlighted that, as Catalans, “we do not turn our backs on dialogue and negotiation” and for this reason the acting president upheld the need to react to these measures “with composure, both as a country and as an institution”, but made it clear that “we have no other choice but to respond politically because we are being attacked”. “And anyone who is attacked”, Mas continued “has the right to act in legitimate self-defence, as do we”.
On this matter, Artur Mas announced that the response of the Government will have a double perspective. On one hand, he explained that “there will be legal solutions” and the other “political ones”. With regards the first, the President affirmed that “we have instructed our legal services to analyze all possible recourses against this institutional aggression and disloyalty by the Spanish government”. In this context, the President explained that among the available legal channels “we will consider going beyond the Constitutional Court” because "we must defend ourselves in the face of such a profoundly unjust attack that is completely separate from any legal coherency”.