· Artur Mas assures that “in spirit” he will be joining the Catalans participating in the demonstration planned on Catalonia’s national holiday, “an act of support for Catalonia, expressed by each and every one of us in our own way”.
· The Head of Government has revealed that the term for the conditions offered to Eurovegas has expired and that the Catalan government “feels free to explore alternative options”.
· The President emphasizes the capacity of Catalonia to attract foreign investments, placed in third position in Europe, just after Paris and London.
During an interview at Catalunya Ràdio this morning, Catalan President Artur Mas stated that “setting up a new tax system and a Catalan tax agency does not cost a cent”. He explained that the lack of funds is no excuse for turning down the fiscal pact. “We have not lost our mind. We are well aware that this is not the time to hand out money, because there is not any to spend. Yet this does not mean that there will not be any in the future, which is why we need to establish new rules on how this money is to be divided”.
Artur Mas vindicated that even though “there are no guarantees that the negotiations on the fiscal pact will be successful, we should definitely give it a try”. “Any headway to be made will depend on ourselves and our strength of will”, he stressed. “If one day our aspirations take the shape of an independent country, does anyone think it will easy?”, President Mas asked. “I think as Catalans we all have this endurance, but we cannot go drawing pictures of a rosy future as if playing a children’s game, when all historic precedents show that this is not the case”, he added. He pleaded for “going all out” during the negotiations on the fiscal pact.
According to the President, “if we come away empty-handed because the Spanish government turns us down, there are many ways of changing focus in the future”. “The fiscal pact is only a first phase in the process of national transition, a common goal shared by a majority of the Catalan population”, said Mas, who urged “to set ourselves short-term objectives that can count on the broadest possible social support. To the extent that we are able to build other social majorities, we can pursue other goals, not necessarily in the long term”.
As for tomorrow’s meeting of the parliamentary working group on the fiscal pact, the Head of Government reiterated that the government maintains it invitation to PSC and PP to join the agreement on the fiscal pact adopted by the Catalan parliament. “Support for the fiscal part comes from all sectors of society, which is why we are insisting on including these other parties. In this way we can achieve maximum support for a proposal which is a national objective, not just a government objective”, he pointed out.
Regarding the conditions that might be imposed by the Spanish government if the Catalan government were to request assistance from the Regional Liquidity Fund and the question whether this might result in Catalonia being put under financial surveillance, Mas wanted to make clear that “this will not happen, because everyone knows that Catalonia is making tremendous efforts as far as austerity is concerned”. Nevertheless, he assured that “if we were to find ourselves in the extreme situation where legitimately established political powers in Catalonia are usurped under the pretext of solving the crisis or our treasury problems, several responses may be considered”.
In answer to the question of the presenter of programme, Manel Fuentes, whether one of the responses considered is calling for new elections, Artur Mas stated that this would be a possibility, even though “this remains to be decided”. “If at any moment I am convinced that the country can no longer be governed with the existing parliamentary support, or when important political operations fail, in democracy we should not be afraid to call for elections and let the people decide”, he said. “I will not take these decisions based on my personal convenience or party interests. The national interest must prevail”, he insisted.
11th September demonstration
With regard to the demonstration planned for 11th September, the Catalan national holiday, Artur Mas plainly stated that personally and politically he would like to join the demonstration, but that he will not be able to do so, being the Catalan President. “Artur Mas as a citizen would attend beyond any doubt; considering my party’s interests, or the federation’s interests with Unió, as well; and considering only my own electorate, as well. Even considering Catalonia as a country, and the media attention this might generate. But I am the president of a country with a population of 7 million people, and we are talking about the national holiday, not the holiday of the nationalists, of those seeking independence, or groups who are angry for some reason”, he stated.
“The President is a symbol of the country’s unity, which goes beyond the government, beyond the public forces, and I believe it is my duty to preserve this role during Catalonia’s national holiday more than ever, especially considering the country’s current situation”, he pointed out. “I will be there in spirit, but not physically”, he concluded.
In this respect, Mas was hopeful that the participation to the demonstration will be massive, as the event “is an act of support for Catalonia, expressed by each and every one of us in our own way”. He stated that during the month of September he will meet with the organizers of the demonstration.
President Mas during the interview also made reference to Eurovegas and the latest news suggesting that this project will finally go to Madrid. Mas observed that the final location has not yet been decided, but revealed that “on July 19th, the Catalan minister of Economic Affairs informed Adelson that August 31st would be considered as the final day for the Catalan government to maintain the conditions offered”. “We have fought for this project because there are a lot of jobs at stake, but if we do not succeed, it is not the end of the world”, he explained. “At this moment we consider us no longer bound” – the President stated. “They will decide as they please, but we now have the opportunity to negotiate other options”.
In this respect, the President announced that a report by consultancy firm Ernst & Young shows that Catalonia is the European region that managed to attract most foreign investment in 2011, more than Madrid and Düsseldorf, and only less than London and Paris. “This investigation analyses the number of direct investment projects; the Government is working every day to attract more investments of this kind”, said Mas.