Martí Anglada presents ‘Quatre vies per a la independència’ in Brussels
On Monday 13 May, at the invitation of the Assemblea Nacional Catalana and the Casal Català, the journalist Martí Anglada came to Brussels, the capital of the European Union (EU), to present his book ‘Quatre vies per a la independència. Estònia, Letònia, Eslovàquia, Eslovènia’ (‘Four ways to independence: Estonia, Latvia, Slovakia and Slovenia’) in the packed conference room of the delegation of the Catalan government.
Amadeu Altafaj, fellow journalist and Deputy Chef de Cabinet of the Vice-President of the European Commission, chaired the event, at which two sovereignist Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) also spoke – Ramon Tremosa from Convergència Democràtica de Catalunya (CDC) and Raül Romeva from Iniciativa per Catalunya Verds (ICV). This was the first big public event organised by the ANC a Brussel·les, just a few months after it became fully operational with a very active membership. The session was opened by Pere Puig, the delegate of the Catalan government (Generalitat) to the EU.
Master of ceremonies Altafaj described Anglada as a man ‘who, in addition to informing, has learnt and taught so much’ and his book as ‘erudite and honest’. Both these adjectives also fit the author, who rose to the task of pointing the way on which Catalonia has embarked to the predominantly independentist audience, but also made it very clear that every case is different. Every success story, every new sovereign state which is born, is unique and probably unrepeatable. ‘Having a roadmap is extremely ambitious. None of those four countries had one. The roadmaps are written afterwards’, he stressed. This was the first myth dispelled in the course of the evening – the idea that everything needs to be tied up first before you can succeed. The second was the myth of unity. As Anglada put it, the right should act like the right and the left like the left and each work in their own camp to convince the like-minded.
‘Independence is declared by parliaments. It needs a majority, a fully functioning parliament and friends’, he said. Does this mean forget about holding a referendum? ‘A public consultation must be held, in any event’, to strengthen the case at home and to send the message that this is a model of democracy around the world. And what about friends? ‘We do not think very much about friends – those we have and those we should make’, he warned. To a large extent, international allies are state structures. For this reason, Anglada would have liked to have seen more European flags at the front of the demonstration on 11 September 2012. Other countries outside the EU might not partner us, but should not be forgotten: ‘The Vatican has been no friend of Catalonia since King Pere III el Cerimoniós’ (in the 14th century), he recalled.
‘Our main ally in the EU will be Spain’, Raül Romeva (ICV) said, with a tinge of optimism and provocation. He meant it in terms of prospects, based on what had happened elsewhere: like it or not, Catalonia and Spain will continue to be neighbours and it is easy to imagine that, in the future, they will still share common strategic interests. Romeva emphasised the civic, citizens, ‘bottom-up’ dimension of this process shaping Catalonia. ‘When I ask our friends for help, I won’t be talking about 1714, but about the demonstration last year’, he said. He knows all about the tragic lessons taught in the Balkans and, despite the enormous differences, was not in favour of fanning the flames of history against anybody. The MEP also highlighted the change of direction made by his own party. In the words of the pop group Manel, ‘It’s cost us heaven and earth to get this far’, he acknowledged.
Ramon Tremosa (CDC) also looked to the Baltic to talk about the concept of ‘country’. He saw a ‘parallel between the period of failure which Spain is enduring’ and Russia 20 years ago. He analysed the current paralysis in Madrid (a complex which Anglada, quoting Zarzalejos, said had led to them no longer celebrating every defeat of Barça) which was incapable of pursuing the modernising policies demanded by Europe. For this reason, Tremosa suggested that ‘the Catalan state is the big reform that Spain needs’. He explained that, in his view, what had made the President of Catalonia, Artur Mas, decide firmly to back the path to a separate state was the week when Bankia was nationalised and he realised that the Spanish Prime Minister Rajoy in turn would not do his duty.
The evening ended with a lively discussion with the audience – in all, more than two fascinating hours which provided an opportunity to learn from the successes and mistakes of other nations which, like Catalonia, also dreamt of becoming a state one day.