Is there a solution to the Catalonia conflict?

Countdown in Barcelona: in the run-up to the speech by the Catalan head of government, Carles Puigdemont, the question on everyone's lips is whether the region will declare its independence this afternoon. Meanwhile the press continues to ponder solutions to the Catalonia conflict.

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The Irish Times (IE) /

Risk more autonomy

The prospect of Spain remodelling itself as a republican federal state would decisively weaken the separatists in Catalonia, The Irish Times explains:

“The right response, as Catalonia’s Socialist party argues, is for Spain to recreate itself as a republican, federal state rather than attempt to sustain itself as a monarchially legitimised unitary state. The only way to avoid disaster and give the mainstream parties in Catalonia the political ammunition to argue against secession, which neither they nor the majority of Catalans want, is to offer the prospect of an autonomous Catalonia within a federal Spain.”

El País (ES) /

Freedoms have united the Swiss

Carrots are more effective than the stick, David Hesse, editor of the "Background" section at the Swiss daily Tages-Anzeiger, writes in a commentary piece for El País:

“When hundreds of thousands of people take to the streets to demonstrate for more self-determination, the state can't simply cite the constitution and send in the police with their truncheons. It needs to open a debate with its citizens and try to convince them of why it makes sense to remain part of the country. Generally, concessions on autonomy and fiscal sovereignty serve to cool the desire for secession, as happened in the Basque Country. In Switzerland the federal freedoms of the cantons go as far as allowing them to leave the federal state if they gain the backing of a majority for such a move. Perhaps because they have this freedom no canton has ever tried to leave so far.”

Neatkarīgā (LV) /

More solidarity from the Baltic states, please!

Neatkarīgā criticises the Latvian politicians' lack of support for the Catalan independence movement:

“In 1990 and 1991 the Latvians were angered by the slow and irresolute reactions of the Western European countries on the issue of the independence of the Baltic states because the latter had demonstrated loyalty to the Soviet regime right to the end. ... Now that the same political heat that raged in the Baltic states in 1991 has Catalonia in its grip, the Latvians are acting like global geopoliticians. Despite the fact that the Catalans went to the independence referendum inspired by the non-violent ideas and implementation of the Baltic states - even singing a hymn based on a song written by a Latvian composer ['Saule, Pērkons, Daugava', composed by Mārtiņš Brauns].”

Adevărul (RO) /

The advantages and limits of mediation

Journalist Cristian Unteanu reflects on who could mediate in the Catalonia conflict in his blog with Adevărul:

“If the EU intervenes it knows very well that this would create a precedent and it would have to play the judge in all similar cases in the future. This is not out of the question, but the treaty would have to be amended and a special institution for managing internal crisis situations in Europe set up. The UN? Perhaps, but that would require a mandate from the Security Council. ... But it's hard to imagine that Spain will accept a mediation and give up its requirement that the Catalan separatists repeal the two new laws and accept the authority of the Spanish king and the constitution.”

Dilema Veche (RO) /

An important lesson for nation states

Spain should become a confederation of states, writes Dilema Veche:

“It's clear that in the end only dialogue can lead to a redefinition of the Spanish state. But this is an option that Mariano Rajoy's rigid centre-right government has ruled out so far. Transforming Spain into a confederal state would be a historic victory for the Catalans. But not just for them. It would show that a struggle for regional emancipation can lead to a radical change in the structure of a state, if not secession - to the advantage of the regions. Catalonia would be a good example for the EU and beyond it. Already Catalonia has taught nation states a lesson: they should always respect the foundations of national cohesion as well as the discrepancies among regions.”

taz, die tageszeitung (DE) /

Secession means more democracy

The only possible step now is the foundation of a Catalonian republic, author Raul Zelik writes in a guest commentary for the taz:

“Because Madrid has refused to make a single compromise for the past 15 years. ... Calls for recognition of Spain's plurinational reality have been systematically ignored. In cases of fundamental conflicts, the central state has threatened to suspend autonomy. ... In the Spanish media it's often said that the north [of Spain] doesn't want to share its riches with the south. But in reality a clear majority of the Catalonian population wants more, not less, solidarity. This is about social and democratic reforms that cannot be implemented within the Spanish state, not even under PSOE governments. ... The proclamation of a Catalonian republic will open the door for a more democratic society - also in the rest of Spain.”

e-vestnik (BG) /

EU must guarantee Catalonia membership

The EU must act before any blood is shed, e-vestnik urges:

“If the army is deployed in Catalonia and the violence escalates, as now seems unavoidable, even more people will be moved by sympathy to join the separatists. The EU must intervene now, engage in talks with the Catalonian authorities and guarantee that Catalonia will be able to join the EU immediately [if it becomes independent]. They have the euro, their institutions work in accordance with EU guidelines, they are in the EU - and none of that should change. Instead, however, we'll soon be witness to bloodshed. The wounds of the Spanish Civil War are not yet healed, and they will soon be torn open again.”

Keskisuomalainen (FI) /

Independence isn't sovereignty or recognition

If it attained independence Catalonia would still have a problem securing international recognition, Keskisuomalainen points out:

“The criteria for an independent state vary according to perspective but it's clear that Catalonia doesn't fulfil them. The regional government lacks sovereignty, in other words unrestricted control over its own territory. And also regarding recognition things could get uncomfortable. At least in this phase Catalonia would land in a group of states that lack either sovereignty or international recognition as an independent state. For example a large group of countries have recognised the independence of Palestine and Western Sahara but it's difficult to see these states as independent because neither is sovereign.”