Last week, a delegation of the Government led by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Institutional Relations and Transparency, Raül Romeva, travelled to the United States of America to speak about the current political situation in Catalonia and offer first-hand experience in the management of mass migration and the refugee crisis affecting Europe. The speeches were part of a series of debates taking place in New York City prior to the 71st UN General Assembly and the Summit on Migration and Refugees
On Thursday, the Minister took part in the debate ‘Is Successful Integration Possible? Best Practices from North America and Europe’ held at the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs in New York, and was introduced by the director of think-tank, Joanne Myers. Romeva spoke about the challenges of migration and expanded on the analysis of the best practices in terms of integration and community hosting. Also participating in the debate were the Founding Director of UN University Institute on Globalization, Culture and Mobility (UNU-GCM), Parvati Nair, the Secretary for Equality, Migration and Citizenship of the Government of Catalonia, Oriol Amorós, and the commissioner of the Immigration Office of New York City, Nisha Agarwal, who explained the experiences of the City of New York regarding integration and community hosting.
Romeva’s second conference was held on Friday morning at the City University of York (CUNY), where the Minister and Patrizia Nobbe, director of the CUNY European Union Studies Center, opened up a panel discussion on the magnitude of the Mediterranean refugee crisis.
During his intervention, the Minister stressed that "Catalonia is a country willing to find a place in the world and participate constructively in all global debates". In this respect, Romeva noted that the visit to New York City opened up the way for dialogue with the New York City Council and several UN multilateral bodies thanks to the sessions organized at the Carnegie Council and CUNY. "We exchanged opinions and experiences to share knowledge that may enhance our chances to better face -and hopefully help solve- the global challenges that keep emerging every day, such as migration and the drama faced by refugees in the Mediterranean", he explained.
Nevertheless, Romeva was critical of the position adopted by the European Union, and highlighted the need to build a new Europe founded on "the observance of civil rights, including the right to access public services, political consensus and a socially-inclusive notion of group identity, which must be respectful of diversity and have full citizenship for all as its core goal".
Among the other participants of the day’s conference were Jordi Solé, Secretary of Foreign Affairs and the European Union in the Catalan Government; the Secretary for Equality, Migration and Citizenship, Oriol Amorós; the senior advisor at the Migration Policy Institute, Gregory Manitais; and the Coordinator of the UN Joint Migration and Development Initiative, Cécile Riallant.
Minister Romeva also met representatives of several United Nations agencies, such as the United Nations Program for Development (UNDP), for preparatory talks on cooperation agreements with Lebanese towns to support refugees –a project that began during the Minister visit to Beirut in May- to be signed shortly by the Generalitat, the Catalan Cooperation Fund, the Metropolitan Area of Barcelona and the Barcelona City Council. During his visit, Romeva also met with the director of UNRWA in New York and dean of the UN University to discuss the development projects.
While in Washington DC, the Minister of Foreign Affairs held meetings with associates of various think-tanks, members of Congress and was interviewed by Politico, The Washington Post and the CNN.