Thanks to the dignity, strength and courage of our imprisoned friends, this “internal affair” is now a European problem

Xabier Macías, President of the Coppieters Foundation - 10th anniversary speech

News / 28.6.18

The Coppieters Foundation celebrates its 10th anniversary in 2018.

Beyond the ideals of peace, democracy, diversity, equality and self-determination we stand for; our actions, our research, lectures, debates and events are driven by kindness, recognition and admiration towards our members, towards our partners, towards our network and towards our friends.

So, allow me to have a word about some of them.

We live all throughout the small continent we call Europe and we may not have the chance to meet as often as we would like but we still develop bonds of friendship, appreciation and recognise ourselves in all our partners.

That is why I want to use this opportunity to remember some of our friends. Those that cannot be with us today:

Oriol Junqueras; whom I met in a bus station in our way towards our 2011 General Assembly in the Åland Islands. Back then already, he mentioned how difficult it was to build bridges of dialogues with the Spanish State.

Marta Rovira; whom I met for the first time in Meran, South Tirol, back in 2013. We had dinner together. We exchanged views, opinions and ideas about politics and about Europe. Also, about life and the child she was expecting.

Carme Forcadell; we were introduced for the first time less than a year ago. It was during the second edition of the Coppieters Awards in Brussels. We awarded her our highest distinction for her political work and her commitment to the right to self-determination.

Raül Romeva, with whom I run some joint environmental projects in Africa and Latin America. It was in the framework of the World Social Forum in which he was very engaged.

There I met also Anna Gabriel, another friend who is currently in exile.

Today we have many friends imprisoned in Spain or seeking justice abroad because of their ideas, because they were true to a democratic mandate, because they listened to the people that through free and fair elections elected them and mostly because they organised a referendum.

I think it is important that we remember them and what they stood for because history repeats itself.

Sadly, this is the second time I have friends imprisoned.

The first time was in 1975, under the Franco dictatorship.

The Coppieters Foundation is a European Foundation, our focus is Europe and we do not often discuss specific cases, but an exception is needed in these circumstances.

Many among you are witnessing for the first time the limits of Spanish democracy. The Catalan case shows very clearly who certain power structures built and supported under the Franco regime still exist nowadays. Freedoms and democracy are in peril and authoritarianism is finding its way back in the mainstream political arena.

Thanks to the dignity, strength and courage of our imprisoned friends and the Catalan people, this “internal affair” is now a European problem. This case, and the brave defence of our democracy and our freedoms is now in the agenda at a European level.

We hear more and more European voices that, even if late, point at the lack of individual freedoms and democracy in the Spanish state.

In Catalonia, Scotland, Galiza, the Basque Country, Brittany and/or Corsica, to name a few cases, we share a struggle, we share an ambition. If one moves forward all of us move forward together.

That is why it is important to show respect, warmth and solidarity with the Catalan people.

What they have achieved is very important for all of us, the peoples of Europe. Also, for all of those who relentlessly champion a Europe of the peoples.

Xabier Macías

President of the Coppieters Foundation

Landshut, 13 April 2018