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Spain used Gibraltar ‘as a smokescreen’, Catalan academic says

Symposium International 2017 ( Photo John Bugeja) 13-10-17 Understanding Referenda and Self Determination in Europe Symposium at the Garrison Library

Spain uses Gibraltar as a smokescreen to divert attention away from the Catalonia issue, the Gibraltar international symposium was told yesterday.

The second day of the symposium on referenda and self-determination featured discussions from Catalonian academics and politicians on the highly topical situation there.

Dr Maria Mut Bosque, a lecturer at the Universitat Internacional de Catalunya, delivered a talk focusing on the political, legal and social parallels and differences between Gibraltar and Catalonia.

She claimed that the Spanish Government uses Gibraltar as a smokescreen in order to hide corruption, political, territorial and economic problems.

Dr Mut Bosque highlighted ‘Catalonian problems’ between 2010 to the present and explained that the press paid a lot of attention to Gibraltar at these times.

She also told delegates that both territories started from the same starting point – the 1713 Treaty of Utrecht – but historical events forced them to take different pathways.

Today Gibraltar and Catalonia have different legal statuses and political situations but they share a range of challenges and aspirations, Dr Mut Bosque said.

But, their different political situations have brought them to a similar position regarding Spain as well as their future involvement with the EU.

Both territories have always advocated for dialogue and self-determination, however they have found a similar response on behalf of the Spanish Government.

An unintended consequence of Spain’s actions and attitudes towards both territories has been the bringing together of Gibraltar and Catalonia.

“There are uniting us,” she said.

Dr Mut Bosque said Spain uses the same arguments in both cases, namely the principle of territorial integrity and the rejection of dialogue with both territories.

She concluded that Gibraltar and Catalonia’s relationship is strengthening on the basis of solidarity, mutual respect and empathy.

Catalan MEP, Ramon Tremosa i Balcells also address the symposium with a discussion on Catalonia’s independence referendum.
While Gibraltar has a constitutional document recognising its right to self determination, Catalonia does not.

But, seven years of mobilisations with more than one million people in the streets show the sustained will of the Catalan people to self-determination, Sr Tremosa told delegates.

A will that was accomplished on October 1 despite the aggression from Spanish police forces sent to Catalonia to repress voters.

Sr Tremosa predicted that when Catalonia goes to the polls again there will be a surge in votes in favour of independence.

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