Ronja Baerecke talks to the political organisation Rons per la Repúplica. Olga Poy gives us her view on the current situation in Catalonia, where still is no government in sight and more than 3000 companies left the region for the political insecurity in the last six months.
Why was Carles Puigdemont taken into custody?
In 2006 the Catalan Parliament passed a new Statute (a regional constitution of sorts) to improve self-government of Catalonia. After being trimmed down, the Spanish Congress ratified it and was finally approved in a referendum in Catalonia.
However, Mariano Rajoy’s PP –a party founded by former ministers of Franco’s fascist regime– started a campaign throughout Spain to further challenge the approved Statute. In an unprecedented move, the politically appointed Constitutional Court further overruled the text, leaving only a severed version of the original text in effect. This was the turning point that motivated many peaceful protests throughout the years, culminating in a referendum for independence held on October 1st, 2017.
The Spanish Government promptly dissolved the Catalan Parliament and its Government (in an overreaching  interpretation of Constitutional Art. 155), followed by a prosecution against all members of the deposed office and the chamber bureau under the false pretense of a non-existing violent rebellion. Some took the decision of leaving Spain in fear of an undue process, and to further internationalise the case. Others chose to stay and were eventually imprisoned without bail, in an unprecedented move in Spanish legal history.
Last November, a first attempt at an extradition of President Puigdemont was issued to Belgium. However, the Spanish Supreme Court withdrew the European Arrest Warrant in fears of having the charges dropped in Brussels, and did not request any further warrant for several months. In the meanwhile, Puigdemont has been invited to hold conferences regarding political and civil rights all around Europe under a presumed freedom of movement.
On the Catalan election held on December the 21st the parties supporting independence revalidated their previous result, regaining an absolute majority of seats. But as the chamber was set out to invest the President, allowing for a swift restoration of Carles Puigdemont’s office, the Spanish Government publicly pressured the Constitutional Court to rule him unfit for the position, violating his political rights as an elected deputy. Two other alternative candidates for presidency were imprisoned, thus blocking their investiture against both international treaties and prior Spanish jurisprudence.
How does this effect Catalunya’s relationship with Germany?
There are serious concerns that the extradition request is strongly political in nature. However we trust that the independence of the German judiciary system will ensure a fair trial for President Puigdemont. This is not guaranteed in Spain. Besides, the Catalan pro-independence movement has showed to the world its inner believe in democracy; after all, a referendum is the quintessential mechanism for peaceful and democratic decision making.
It is precisely because of this judiciary independence that political relations should not be affected.The Catalan people trust the democratic traditions of Germany and is certain that the German government will take the decisions that are important for the peace and freedom of peoples in Europe.
What do you think about Germany’s meddling?
The Catalan issue is not an internal affair any more. Right now, there are 5 European countries individually required to make a decision regarding the elected deputies abroad. In addition to concerns about political and civil rights risen by Amnesty, the UN has required Spain to respect the political rights of the incarcerated elected representatives, in stark contrast to Spain’s current behaviour.
In spite of a theoretical separation of powers, as would be expected from any democracy subject to EU standards, the Spanish Government has been very open about its control over the Spanish Supreme Court. In particular, court decisions are being leaked by government officers and party members days before they are officially released.
Will Germany keep considering this issue an internal affair and leave the final decision to the corrupt Spanish courts? Or will it put a stop to Spain’s alarming drift into political repression by taking the matter into its own hands?
Angela Merkel placed Germany and Europe as guardians of the civil rights and privileges towards the concept of the Universal Citizen. Salih Muslim, the ex-leader of the Kurdish Republican Revolution – a violent revolution – is now in Germany safe and sound from the authoritarian Turkish judiciary system. However, it seems to many that Germany abused from its status of “police state” of Europe when EU citizens in Greece suffered from its interventionism, making the Universal Citizenship concept disappear when it comes to an already EU country.
Just after the Catalan elections on December the 21st, the German Gov. appealed Spain to respect the results, to no avail. Now that Puigdemont is in German custody, and since the motivation of the arrest is political (according to the Bundestag President), Germany has the opportunity to stand by his requirement to Spain, not helping Spain in its political and human rights violations but forcing Spain to a political negotiation.
What will happen now?
We expect that President Puigdemont shall be respected as an elected leader of a democratic government and that Catalan people will be recognised as European citizens. On December 22nd, President Merkel appealed to dialogue. It is an opportunity for Germany to show if dialogue is really wished or will take side of the repressor. Every day more acknowledgments come from around the world and even from the very Germany.
A solution would be to organise another referendum, now without violence, nor threats nor lies from the Spanish side. For this, international observers would be necessary again to ensure that basic voting regulations are complied.
It is important to bear in mind both the violence on the October the 1st (referendum) and the incarcerations, threats and lies on December the 21st (elections). In spite of all this, Catalan people persisted in their peaceful manner and won the referendum and the elections. Catalunya deserves to be respected and a fair referendum, otherwise it will mean Europe is siding with a pseudo-authoritarian Democracy.
We also talked to Franziska Brantner from Die Grünen in Germany. That is her statement on what happened with Puigdemont: “It just shows that the German justice system works and is independent. But it also makes clear that Germany cannot any longer look to the other side. It should intervene in the conflict, like Europe should do as a whole.”
We want to state that we are not responsible for the content of the answers and that we do not necessarily agree with it.