The Catalan Minister for Foreign Action, Institutional Relations and Transparency, Alfred Bosch, has given a lecture entitled “Democracy and the rule of law: issues raised by the Catalan crisis at the outset of the trial against pro-independence leaders” at the French Institute for International and Strategic Affairs (IRIS) in Paris.
The minister began his lecture by stressing that fundamental rights are a key pillar of full democracy: “We appeal to the French state to defend and uphold democracy and republican values.”
Bosch noted that the Spanish state has failed to respect fundamental rights and said the trial on charges arising from the 1 October referendum was a mistake: “The Spanish state refuses to find a political solution to this political issue. That’s a historic mistake. Perhaps it would be appropriate to ask about the roots of the Spanish judiciary, an heir to Francoism.”
Bosch said that 12 activists and public figures are being tried for having organised a referendum, even though the Spanish Congress of Deputies decriminalised the organisation of referendums when it amended the law in 2015.
The minister also pointed out that in the rest of Europe, politicians facing accusations from Spanish courts are free, whereas in Spain their colleagues are now on trial for crimes they did not commit. “There can be no crime of sedition or rebellion without violence,” he said, adding that the only violence on 1 October was that inflicted by the state.
Among the future scenarios he set out, Bosch stressed the need to negotiate an agreed referendum with the Spanish state as a clear path to a more democratic, dialogue-based solution.
The minister drew a distinction between his tour of European cities and the actions recently undertaken by the Spanish state: “We won’t take the kind of approach being pursued by the Spanish government, which is spending a million euros on its Global Spain initiative and carrying out a campaign called ‘This is the Real Spain’ that’s being paid for by all taxpayers.”
Bosch concluded by warning of the emergence of far-right groups on the political scene and noting the pressure they are putting on the government in Spain: “If repression continues, and in the absence of separation of powers, the kind of abuses affecting Catalonia will become widespread.”
The minister said he was grateful for being inviting to take part in the conference, organised by the prestigious think tank headed by Pascal Boniface, and noted the presence of the deputy director of the Institute, Didier Billion, who participated as a moderator.