Last Tuesday the parliament of Denmark passed a motion calling on Spain and Catalonia to engage in talks on the subject of Catalan independence. Sources within the Catalan National Assembly’s Danish chapter (1) confirmed that much to this newspaper.
The vote came a week after the Folketinget (Denmark’s parliament) held a debate on the right to self-determination of the Catalan people. This was an initiative of Enhedslisten MP Nikolaj Villumsen (Red and Green Alliance), who asked Denmark’s Foreign Minister Martin Liedegaard to state his position on the matter. The Danish chamber is the first European parliament to call on both parties in conflict to engage in “peaceful” and “democratic” dialogue, thus recognising Catalonia as a political actor in its own right.
Reactions to the news came fast. Diplocat’s Secretary General Albert Royo (2) said to this newspaper that the Danish parliament demands to find a “democratic” solution for Catalonia “through dialogue”, “exactly what the parliament and the government of Catalonia have been urging Spain to do for the last three years”. “The case of Catalonia is on the international agenda”, he added. However, Royo complained about “huge pressure” on the Danish authorities by “the Spanish State”. He claimed that this might have prompted some of the political groups to shift their position.
Even though most of the parliamentary groups expressed their support to finding a solution for the Catalan issue, including the two parties that support Denmark’s government —Socialdemokratiet (S) and Det Radikale Venstre (RV)—, the main Danish party (leading the opposition) decided to change their vote at the last moment. In the previous week’s debate, Venstre had hinted that they would vote in favour of the motion but, in the end, they cast a blank vote. Royo’s put this “change” down to the pressure from Spain, which he decried.
As for the remaining parties, the socialist, liberal, green-socialist and conservative groups all voted in favour. The party of the Danish People cast a blank vote. Sources within the ANC’s Danish chapter --who played a crucial role in getting the parliament to debate the issue-- said the motion was passed without any changes from last week, with 64 in favour, 41 blank ballots and none against.
The text agreed upon states that the parliament of Denmark “has duly noted the Danish government’s explanation of the legal, historical, political and international aspects concerning the situation in Catalonia” and believes that “the matter of Catalan independence should be dealt with by means of peaceful and democratic dialogue between Catalonia and the Spanish government in Madrid”.
A “democratic” solution
Nikolaj Villumsen asked Denmark’s Foreign Minister Martin Liedegaard about the nation’s stance regarding the debate on Catalonia’s right to self-determination. Specifically, he asked: “How will the government of Denmark demand that the peoples’ right to self-determination be respected, in the light of the demand for a referendum of independence by a large majority of the Catalan parliament, the government and the people of Catalonia?”
During his speech, the left-leaning MP stated that “a modern Europe should be able to discuss referendums, rather than resolve conflicts through violence”. He urged his peers to bring the debate on self-determination to a European level because, according to Villumsen, what happened in Scotland in September last year was “very interesting”.
Foreig Minister Martin Liedergaard recognised that Catalonia “lost her status in 1714” and the Spanish constitution “does not recognise the nations that exist within Spain”. Furthermore, he expressed the need to find “a democratic solution to cases such as the Catalan one”.
(1) N.T. The ANC is the main grassroots, non-partisan, pro-independence organisation behind the September 11 demonstrations in Catalonia. It has several chapters abroad, including in Denmark.
(2) N.T. The Public Diplomacy Council of Catalonia (DIPLOCAT) is a public-private partnership designed to foster dialogue and build relationships between the citizens of Catalonia and the rest of the world.