Politics

Catalonia Opens Regional Office in Zagreb

By 3 March 2019

ZAGREB, March 3, 2019 - The Delegation of the Government of Catalonia has recently reopened its office in Zagreb with an aim of establishing and developing relations not only with Croatia but also with other countries in southeast Europe in a bid to ensure the recognition of Catalonia, the current Minister of Foreign Action, Institutional Relations and Transparency of Catalonia, Alfred Bosch says in an interview with Hina.

"Those are delegations of the Catalan government. People such as Eric Hauck (the Catalan envoy in Zagreb) are representatives of the Catalan government in certain regions, and Hauck covers southeast Europe," Bosch says in the interview published on Sunday. "We want Catalonia to be recognised as a country. We would like to have the relations with all countries in the world.".

The Zagreb office is supposed to be the place for establishing the relations with Croatia, Slovenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Montenegro, Macedonia, Kosovo, Albania, Bulgaria and Greece.

Those offices to which Spanish media outlets refer as "embassies of Catalonia" were closed in the autumn 2017 when the Spanish government took over the direct rule over this 7.5 million-populated region, which is one of 17 autonomous regions in Spain.

After pro-independence parties won the last year's elections in Catalonia and formed the government, Bosch, a member of the Catalan Republican Left party (ERC) became the minister of Foreign Action, Institutional Relations and Transparency of Catalonia.

In his capacity as the minister, Bosh continued reopening the Catalan offices, including the one in the Croatian capital city.

"Zagreb is an important city in this region, it has a strategically suitable place," said Bosch who praised the Croatians for pro-Catalan sentiment. In his opinion, Catalonia has a good image in the eyes of the Croatians. In this context, he said that he perceives the Dalmatian coast as very akin to Catalonia, particularly owing to the climate, scenery, food.

The Spanish government has warned that those offices cannot develop political relations, with an explanation that in political terms, Catalonia is represented by Spanish embassies.

This prompted Bosch to raise the question whether anybody from the Spanish embassy in Zagreb had ever enabled someone to get acquainted with a real state of affairs in Catalonia.

"It is our duty to tell you what is going on here, in the society and among the people. We want the whole world to get an opportunity to be get an insight with our real life. When we did not have these offices, it was difficult to explain what we did," Bosch said underscoring that in the political reality "there are political prisoners and people in exile".

Recently, a trial started in Madrid against former Catalan officials who are charged with rebellion. Bosch says in the interview that this "a trial against democracy as it is based on accusations against the Catalan government of holding the referendum."

"This is a political farce, revenge and punishment against those who set up ballot boxes enabling the Catalans to decide on their future," Bosch says. He also insists that the court proceedings are pointless.

"The positions of the Spanish and Catalan governments are far away, however wee need to talk." He also insists that the Catalan path is peaceful, democratic and civic.

In reference to the trial which started on 12 February, the Spanish Ambassador to Croatia, Alonso Dezcallar de Mazarredo told a news conference in the Croatian capital that former Catalan officials were accused of rebellion, sedition and the misuse of public funds.

The trial will not decide on the future of that region or any ideology but only whether a breach of law occurred, the Spanish diplomat said at the news conference he held on 12 February.

Ambassador Dezcallar underscored that the actions of the defendants have triggered a constitutional crisis.

"Catalonia's future is not being decided here. Secessionist parties will probably exploit this trial as an instrument of propaganda. They are already claiming that Spain's judiciary is not independent and that they are political prisoners and that they have a right to go to referendum," the ambassador told the press conference then.

He underscored that the officials are not being tried for their ideas, because there are a lot of people who are calling for Catalonia's independence and are still free.

"They aren't in prison because of what they believe in but because of what they did," the Spanish diplomat said.

They are indicted for rebelling against Spain, disobedience and misuse of public funds to organise a referendum that had been banned by the Constitutional Court, according to his explanation.

The ambassador underscored then that according to the Economist Intelligence Unit index, Spain is among the 20 most advanced democracies in the world.

More news on the relations between Spain and Croatia can be found in the Politics section.

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