Puheenvuoro Euroopan neuvoston paikallis- ja aluehallinnon kongressissa Strasbourgissa 19.10.
Dear Madame President,
The situation in Catalonia remains very challenging. The Spanish government has announced today that it will implement Article 155 of its constitution on Saturday to restrict the self-rule of Catalonia partially and temporarily.
In the eyes of international community and international law there are three main questions to be asked: is the referendum legal, is it politically legitimate and has it been recognized internationally. At least some of these questions have already been answered. First, the Spanish constitutional court ruled in 2010 that any referendum held in Spain should include all citizens, not just particular communities. Second, there has not been any real outside support for Catalonian independence within Europe or elsewhere. However, many politicians have condemned the use of violence in the electoral process. So do I.
It is clear that the only way forward is through dialogue. As you know, Catalonia has asked the European Union to mediate between Madrid and Barcelona, but this would require Madrid’s approval. Mediator accepted by both parties could indeed be the key for finding a solution. Council of Europe could also consider taking this role.
In the future we need more discussion also here in the Council on what is the role of international organisations, when a member nation is facing internal challenges. How can we help prevent conflicts, how can we de-escalate them and how can we prevent them from escalating even more?
Upholding democracy and rule of law are fundamental principles of the Council also in the future.