The president of the Government of Catalonia, Quim Torra, has today inaugurated the new headquarters of the Catalan government delegation to Portugal, which was initially opened in 2015 and then closed by the Spanish government in 2017 following the suspension of Catalan self-rule through the application of Article 155 of the Constitution. President Torra said: “Despite the attempt to punish Catalonia by closing all our international delegations, today we’re reopening this one in Lisbon.”
According to the president, by reopening the delegation to Portugal, the Catalan government is “strengthening its international profile and sending a clear message: Catalonia wants to have a presence in the world and will continue to position itself as an open European nation that maintains relations of cooperation and trust with other countries.”
President Torra headed the reopening ceremony together with the Minister for Foreign Action, Institutional Relations and Transparency, Alfred Bosch. The Catalan government’s representative in Portugal, Rui Álvaro Serra da Costa Reis, also spoke at the ceremony, which was attended by the Secretary for Foreign Action and the European Union, Mireia Borrell Porta. Other attendees included prominent figures from Portuguese civil society and members of the Catalan community in Portugal.
The president said: “It hasn’t been easy to get to this point [because the Spanish state] has been trying to block the opening of many Catalan delegations through legal actions brought by its Ministry of Foreign Affairs.” The head of the executive stressed: “The important thing is that we’re back to a place we never should have left and can once again forge bonds with our Portuguese friends, to whom we’ve always felt so close.”
“We’re proud to here in Portugal again because it’s a priority country for Catalonia and a good friend,” Torra said. The president also noted that Portugal is the country where the most Catalan companies are established – nearly a thousand – and the fourth most important export destination for Catalonia.
The head of the executive spoke of his gratitude to the Parliament of Portugal for a resolution adopted in March 2018 that called on the Spanish government to seek a political solution for Catalonia. He also said he was grateful for “the warmth and support that the Catalan people felt when nearly sixty Portuguese politicians and intellectuals signed a manifesto entitled For Democracy and Freedoms in Catalonia” that emphasised the political nature of the conflict and called for the immediate release of the Catalan political prisoners.
Minister Bosch: “We have to go from courts to ballot boxes”
The Minister for Foreign Action recalled his now-imprisoned predecessor, Raül Romeva. “This political conflict must be resolved through dialogue, which must lead to a democratic solution,” Bosch said. “We have to go from courts to ballot boxes, and from prisons to votes.”
The minister welcomed the opening of the office in Lisbon, which he said “should never have closed”.
The opening of this delegation further strengthens the Catalan government’s presence abroad. The Catalan executive now has 15 delegations around the world that are operating normally.
This afternoon, President Torra, accompanied by Minister Bosch, will open an exhibition entitled The Catalan Language: 10 Million European Voices at the Camões library in Lisbon. The show is organised by Plataforma per la Llengua, an NGO that works to promote the Catalan language as a tool for social cohesion.