Addressing accredited consular officials based in Barcelona this evening, the president of the Government of Catalonia, Quim Torra, said that “the situation of injustice persists” and that “the exercise of democracy remains under threat”, calling for “an end to the persecution of citizens”. The head of the executive – together with the Minister for Foreign Action, Institutional Relations and Transparency, Alfred Bosch, and the Minister of Business and Knowledge, Àngels Chacón – received the consuls at the Palau de la Generalitat.
The president told the consuls that the Catalan government has added its voice to that of the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, calling for the political prisoners to be released and for those in exile to be allowed to return home without facing persecution. “The conflict is political, not judicial,” he said. “The Catalan independence movement has always been strictly civic and democratic, and based exclusively on the defence of civil, political and human rights, including the right to self-determination. And this will not change.” President Torra also expressed his gratitude to the consuls: “Thank you for listening to us and telling the governments and countries you represent about the reality of Catalonia. And thank you for your professionalism and vocation of service.” Torra added that the Catalan government “isn’t asking anyone to back Catalonia’s independence. We’re calling only for democratic solidarity and respect for rights that have been exercised in other European countries.”
Catalonia’s international orientation
During his speech, the head of the Catalan government thanked the consuls for their work and said the annual gathering was intended to reaffirm “Catalonia’s international orientation in a global world”, which also means being receptive to the interest many countries have in being actively present in Barcelona. “We’ve always been outward-looking, and we’ve always been receptive to foreign influences because exchanges are what define us as a country,” said the president. He noted that Barcelona has hosted foreign diplomatic missions for over 200 years, citing this as evidence of “the open tradition of the city and the openness of Catalan society and the Catalan economy”.
Torra stressed Catalonia’s “strategic position, well-trained human capital and cosmopolitan environment” and recalled that the Financial Times identified Catalonia as the most attractive region in southern Europe to invest in. According to the president, data on economic growth, employment growth and wealth creation are all positive and above Spanish and European averages.
Minister Bosch, who welcomed the Barcelona-based consular officials, said the Catalan capital “has the honour of having the fourth-largest diplomatic presence among cities that aren’t state capitals”. There are currently 90 consular offices in Barcelona and that number continues to grow. “This shows that Barcelona already has the character of a state capital to some degree.” Bosch thanked the consuls for their work, noting that “the world’s interest in Barcelona and Catalonia is constantly increasing. You, as consuls, are the best antidote to combat any misconceptions about Catalan society.”
“Catalonia is a society that knows how to compete and is equipped to do so. And we know you’re getting this message across to the countries you represent.” Bosch also said the Catalan government is “very conscious of its responsibility to be a worthy representative of our society and our country. If Catalonia is dynamic and hard-working, if it’s making progress on practically all indicators of well-being, and if it’s capable of being global and competitive in this world, the Catalan government must perform at the same level.”
Bosch stressed that “internationalising Catalonia is a necessity and an obligation. We need to be present around the world. When we open delegations, we’re fulfilling our obligation. We need them in order to compete and tell people what we want to be in the world. And we also want the world to be here.”
Josep Lluís López, secretary-general of the Consular Corps and honorary consul of the Republic of Mali, also spoke at the event.