To Free Party MP Artur Talvik and his support group for the Catalan cause in the Riigikogu, Catalonia is comparable to pre-independence Estonia. To Minister of Foreign Affairs Sven Mikser, this comparison borders on an insult to those who suffered under Soviet oppression, and unfairly compares Spain to the Soviet Union.
Member of the European Parliament Kaja Kallas (Reform/ALDE) said on ETV’s political debate program Foorum on Tuesday evening that some of her fellow MEPs were in favor of Catalonian independence, but a lot were against it as well.
“They are saying very clearly: had you wanted an honest result of the referendum, you would have set some kind of threshold how many have to go and vote that the referendum or the response to it would be legitimate. And the other matter is that knowing ahead that the referendum wouldn’t be considered legitimate, those who weren’t in favor of independence wouldn’t have voted,” Kallas pointed out, adding that surveys have shown that support and rejection were roughly the same. “It isn’t that 95 percent are in favor of independence and the others against it,” she said.
The Catalan people hadn’t be told the whole truth about the aftereffects of the referendum either, Kallas said, in particular about the economic implications.
The independence movement’s main argument is that the area is Spain’s strongest in terms of its economy, and that they can manage, Kallas said. But whether or not this will be the case in the future wasn’t discussed. “Can they remain in the European Union, can they go on using the euro. This isn’t automatically part of a new state when you break up another country,” Kallas said.
The current situation reminded her of the British referendum, Kallas said, where the leaders of the movement hadn’t been honest about the effects of Brexit either.
Minister of Defence Jüri Luik (IRL) said that the Catalans couldn’t be compared to an oppressed people. “On one hand it is clear that Estonia’s security is closely connected to the unity and support of our allies. The Spanish minister of defense is my colleague, and he and his government are the people who sent their air force here twice, who participated a company to NATO forces stationed in Latvia, and a lot more,” Luik said.
“On the other hand, where our conscience is concerned, then here we have to take into account that in the case of the Catalans we’re not talking about an oppressed people. Their principal right to self-determination is given, conceptionally, but international law doesn’t specify this in detail. And there’s a very clear reason. States, which are subject to international law, defend their territorial integrity, and for pretty clear reasons there isn’t a mechanism for a people to define itself. There is no simplified model that would let you submit an application to the United Nations, and then you count as independent,” Luik added.
Free Party MP Artur Talvik, who has been outspoken about his support of Catalan independence, said that Catalonia’s problem had its beginning in the years 2005 and 2006, when the region’s autonomy legislation was renewed, but later declared invalid by Spain’s supreme court.
“This can be seen as oppression in a certain sense,” Talvik said. He also pointed to the violent actions of the Spanish police during the referendum, and that the former speaker of the Catalan parliament and members of the regional government may be facing prison sentences.
Estonia should have officially taken the position that it stands for the right of self-determination, Talvik said.
Minister of Foreign Affairs Sven Mikser (SDE) commented that the principles of self-determination and territorial integrity might seem contradictory, but that international law is based on the states themselves, hence territorial integrity and state sovereignty are given preference. He pointed out that the principle of self-determination in recent history has been used mainly in the context of decolonization.
“I think that what is extremely bad and unfair are the references and hints that Estonia needs to relate to the struggle of the Catalan independence movement, just like it was the same thing we went through ourselves. This isn’t the case. This comparison is unfair to Spain, which mustn’t, can’t, and shouldn’t be compared to the Soviet Union,” Mikser said.
“And even more so, I think that comparing the Catalan society to those who suffered under the oppression of the Soviets and those who fought for independence and against the Soviet terror, that’s extraordinarily unfair,” Mikser added.
Editor: Dario Cavegn