This morning, Meritxell Serret i Aleu presented the main strategic lines of the Government's foreign action for 2024 at the informative breakfast Forum Europa Tribuna Catalunya organised by Nueva Economía Forum.
The Law on the Foreign Action and European Union Corps
The Minister for Foreign Action stated that one of the main objectives for 2024 is to make the Foreign Action and European Union corps a reality, which is currently being processed in the Catalan Parliament. Serret has thanked the ERC, Junts, PSC, CUP and Comuns parties for rejecting the totality of the amendments proposed by Vox, Cs and PP to secure the initiative. The minister, however, has urged the different political groups "not to delay this national policy, which will be beneficial for taking a leap forward in the professionalisation of the staff that implements the Government's foreign action".
An unprecedented institutional presence abroad
The minister also highlighted the strength of Catalan foreign action six years after the application of Article 155. "We have an unprecedented institutional presence around the world.21 Government delegations abroad that provide institutional coverage to 72 countries," said Serret, who highlighted the opening of the Delegation to the Southern Cone last year, and the launch of the delegations to South Korea and Japan, which are "the first stone of the executive on the Asian continent". In addition, she announced that in 2024 she will continue the expansion of the government with new delegations to Southeast Asia and India.
Reestablishment of direct dialogue with European institutions
In her speech, Serret recalled the priority areas of Catalonia's foreign action: The European Union and the Mediterranean. "Catalonia is an active and proactive partner in the European project. This week alone we have met with four commissioners," stressed the minister, who recalled that "we have recovered dialogue at the highest level with European institutions", given that in less than two years there have been 14 meetings with 10 members of the European Commission.
Serret also reaffirmed the Government's commitment in the run-up to the European Parliament elections in June to "join forces in the face of the rise of fascism and populism".
Catalan and the drought, two priority issues on the Government's international agenda
On the official status of Catalan in European institutions, the minister explained that the meetings with the European Commissioners in Brussels this week have enabled the Catalan Government to reiterate that it is at their disposal to provide any further information needed to draw up the reports. "We maintain the highest demands on the Spanish government, since only it can guarantee unanimity in the Council on this issue," said Serret.
Serret stressed that the drought and the climate emergency are also shaping the Government's foreign action agenda. In this regard, she announced that on Monday she will take part in a Mediterranean forum on water management in the Mediterranean organised by the Union for the Mediterranean, among others, in Tunisia.
The Catalan Peace Forum to outline Catalonia’s public peace policy
Furthermore, she has described the Government's cooperation policy as a "national policy" and explained that efforts are underway to promote Catalonia's first public peace policy. "This year we will make the Catalan Peace Forum a reality. In February, we will present the participatory process. We want it to be a nationwide exercise with the participation of all social and economic actors," said Serret, who also highlighted the commitment of the government to ensuring the growth of Catalonia's official development aid to 0.7%.
More multilateralism in an unstable and complex world
Regarding the situation in Gaza, Serret highlighted the plight of the civilian population and reiterated the demand for a ceasefire to ensure humanitarian assistance and respect for human rights and international humanitarian law. "In 2023 we contributed 12 million euros to the agencies of the United Nations, which should be a factor that contributes to more peace and coexistence worldwide." The minister explained that this year the government will promote a multilateral strategy to further structure the Government's contribution to the United Nations.
On the second anniversary of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, Serret stressed the Government's clear alignment with the European Union. "We welcome the fact that today the European Council unblocked the aid funds for Ukraine," she said. "We must prevent the collapse of the Ukrainian economy and achieve maximum stability for the good of the civilian population." In the face of attempts at "disinformation", the minister said that "the government led by Aragonès has never been in contact with the Russian government. Neither Russia nor Putin's inner circle have ever been collaborators, nor are they on the list of possible allies. Our frame of reference for action is and always will be the European Union".
The political conflict between Catalonia and Spain is also on the international agenda
Finally, Serret referred to the passing of the amnesty law to put an end to political repression and move forward in negotiations under equal conditions. "Amnesty is a legitimate and internationally recognised tool to bring a political conflict back into the political sphere. Which it should never have left," she said. "We also explain the country's situation to the international community because it is a matter of interest," she concluded.