By Hossein Yari 

The crisis continues in Catalonia

November 29, 2017

TEHRAN _ In 2006, when some residents of Catalonia called for the autonomy of this state in a broad referendum, some separatist groups became active in the region. This activity was very limited because many of Catalans believed that, despite being autonomous, there was no place for a claim for independence from Spain. However, over time, we witnessed the intensification of the economic crisis in Catalonia, on the one hand, and the increase in the activities of the separatists on the other. The Catalonia's rising debt to the central government (which now accounts for nearly € 42 billion) has been the result of the inaction of the authorities of the central government of Madrid.


On the other hand, the supporters of Catalonia's independence believe that despite of contributing 20% of Spain's GDP, and while 27% of Spain's total exports is represented by Catalonia, there is a proper context for the independence of this state and it’s becoming an independent country.

On the other side, Catalonia's independence opponents are optimistic about options such as greater autonomy and reform of the existing relations, despite the frustrations that come with the Madrid government, and especially its tax policy towards Catalonia. They believe that Catalonia's independence is the worst option, because in this case, Spain will cut off its relations with Catalonia, and it will not be a partner for export and import. Moreover, many European countries will not recognize the independence of Catalonia. This will create a lot of troubles for the inhabitants of this state.

However, many experts, after the 2006 referendum, predicted that the desire for independence of the inhabitants of Catalonia would once again become a major hardship for the Madrid government. Perhaps it would have been wise for the right-wing and socialist parties in Spain to have better policies towards Catalonia. They should have taken the necessary precautions to prevent the realization of the current situation. Anyway, it didn't happen!

The Madrid government is now in control of Catalonia, and soon there will be an early parliamentary election. The Spanish Foreign Secretary has emphasized that Catalonia's independence is not possible, but it could be negotiated with Catalan for awarding further autonomy. Perhaps this is the most logical position toward recent changes in Catalonia. It should not be forgotten that only 43% of the inhabitants of Catalonia participated in the referendum in October this year. The lack of participation of 57% of the Catalans showed that they did not have a strong interest in separating from Spain. Obviously this is the best opportunity for a long-term solution to the crisis in Catalonia.

Many of Europe analysts believe that resolving the Catalonia's crisis depends on direct talks without tension between the central government and the Catalans. This may happen in the near future. Here again it is emphasized that, despite the current discontent with the central government, many Catalans don't want to separate from Spain. Prior to the October referendum this year, surveys also showed that, despite the massive propaganda of the supporters of Catalonia's independence, the number of opponents of independence is still higher than the number of its supporters.
 Therefore, the supporters of the independence of Catalonia have failed to persuade the majority of the inhabitants of the region to independence from Spain.Many analysts believe that the best way to control the crisis in Catalonia is through the logical discussions between central government and Catalans over disputes like the tax issue. A topic that will be welcomed by many Catalan residents. The European Union's concern is also quite understandable about the current changes in Catalonia. European officials are deeply concerned about the impact of Catalonia on other currents and separatist groups in different EU member states. This concern has led the European Union to support the Spanish government against Catalonia's separatists.

An important and final point in this regard is the United States Government's stance on recent incidents in Catalonia. Donald Trump and other U.S. authorities apparently support the unity of Spain and declared that Catalonia's independence is unacceptable. However, there is a significant difference between the declared positions and the American authorities' real approach to this matter! It should not be forgotten that Washington is one of the main supporters of the division and weakening of the United Europe.
 The fact is that the President of the United States welcomes any incident and behavior that is taking place in the direction of the weakening and division of the European Union. This rule also applies to the independence of Catalonia and its separation from Spain.This issue will, of course, stimulate other independent groups in Europe, and this is exactly what Donald Trump and his entourage are looking for.
 Bilateral contacts between Trump and extremist groups indicate that the U.S. president is still demanding the destruction of the European Union. During the U.S. presidential campaigns in 2016, we witnessed the full support of the nationalist and radical European parties of Donald Trump. After Trump won the presidential election last year, taking a clear standpoint, he declared his support from "Brexit" and the withdrawal of Britain from the European Union. Even the President of the United States indirectly called on other European countries to follow Brexit as a model.

This approach by the American President led to the anger and dissatisfaction of European authorities. Even at a joint NATO meeting, tensions took place between U.S. and European officials over this issue. However, Trump didn't retreat from its explicit positions in undermining and weakening of the United Europe. In such a situation, the American president's gesture of supporting the integration of Spain is nothing but mere pretense. Washington, following its diplomatic positions, continues to pursue the issue of undermining the United Europe by fostering independent and radical currents.
 As noted above, the Spanish government has recently stated that Catalonia's independence isimpossible, but there will be a possibility of granting more autonomy to this state (in case of agreement).What is certain is that many dissatisfied people in Catalonia support the second option, which is having more autonomy. In any case, it seems not only in 2017, but also in 2018, talks on determining the status of Catalonia will continue between the central government and members of the Catalan Parliament and other local authorities.

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