UN denies Catalonia’s call to self-determination from Spain

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon states that UN does not see Spain’s Catalonia region as having right to self-determination

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon waves beside Spain's Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo before their meeting at foreign ministry in Madrid, Spain, October 29, 2015.

The UN recently denied the request of Spain's separatist-ruled Catalonia region for self-determination, claiming that it has no right to call for a recession, UN chief Ban Ki-moon said in an interview published on Saturday.

"Spain is an independent and sovereign country that includes the Catalan region," as stated by UN Chief in four Spanish newspapers, El Pais, El Mundo, ABC and La Vanguardia.

"It is in this way that it was admitted to the United Nations and acts within the international community," he said in a statement, according to a Spanish translation of his comments published by El Pais.

Ban’s argument stated that the UN did not recognise Catalonia as a non-autonomous territory that would be able to be given the right to self-determination.

"When one speaks of self-determination, certain areas have been recognised by the United Nations as non-autonomous territories. But Catalonia does not fall into this category," he told the Spanish press.

"A positive aspect of Spain is that there is respect for diversity: the culture, the languages, the traditions," he added.

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy stated on Friday that the nation's main parties have reached an agreement to defend the national unity of the country after the Spanish PM called Spain's main parties to cooperate to defend the nation’s unity against those who seek independence.

Spain's Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy speaks during a news conference at the Moncloa Palace in Madrid, October 30, 2015.

"The fundamentals of the agreement are done," Rajoy, whose own conservative Popular Party criticises him for the lack of effort he has put to block the separatists, told a news conference after meeting opposition leaders to build a united response to put an end for the independence push.

"We are all in agreement on the unity of Spain, we all agree on national sovereignty, we are all in agreement that laws must be respected, we are all in agreement that all Spaniards are equal," he added.

Head of the center-right party Ciudadanos, Albert Rivera, said after his talks with Rajoy that he had proposed a "national pact" against Catalan separatism that would require all major parties agree to support the country's unity.

Ciudadanos party leader Albert Rivera speaks during his news conference at the Moncloa Palace in Madrid, Spain, October 30, 2015.

"The idea is that Spaniards know that whatever parliamentary majority emerges (after the general election), Spain will not be in play," Rivera added.

Ciudadanos, which is a Catalonia-based party formed to oppose separatism, came second in a Catalan regional election last month behind a coalition of pro-independence parties, and polls show it could emerge as a power broker at the national level following the general election.

Ban Ki-moon reiterated his hope for "a consensual solution" for Catalonia, "based on dialogue and conforming to the democratic tradition".

"I ask leaders and the Catalan people to engage in the dialogue," he stated, as the country prepares to enter its general elections due on December 20.

The separatist-seeking parties in the wealthy northeast Spanish region are trying to pass a motion in the Catalan parliament in November which will declare their official initiation of a separation from Spain and the formation of a new republican state within the duration of 18 months.

The motion calls on the regional assembly to start working on legislation within 30 days to create a separate social security system and treasury.

It also states that the process would not be subject to decisions made by the Spanish institutions, including the Constitutional Court.

The Catalan assembly has not announced yet a specific date to vote on the motion.

Nonetheless, Deputy Prime Minister Soraya Saenz de Santamaria said that if the motion succeeds in passing through, then the government will immediately challenge the motion in Spain's Constitutional Court.

Spain's Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy (R) and Deputy Prime Minister Soraya Saenz de Santamaria react during the last control session before upcoming general elections at Spanish parliament in Madrid, Spain, October 21, 2015.

Last month, the pro-independence parties gained a majority of seats in the 135-seat Catalan parliament in Barcelona, winning 75 seats, for the very first time during its regional parliamentary elections.

However, they failed to win a majority of all votes cast in last month's elections, which has left the central government in Madrid questioning the legitimacy of their latest push for independence.

In recent years, Catalans' longstanding demands for greater autonomy have increased, as the country's economy went into crisis.

The Catalan region is home to 7.5 million people, and is Spain's richest region, having its own widely spoken language and distinct culture.


TRTWorld and agencies