Conservative think-tank does Aznar’s talking for him

FAES paper on Catalan sovereignty drive stakes out territory PP leader Rajoy should be occupying

José María Aznar will not be in attendance at the Popular Party (PP) conference in Valladolid this weekend and will therefore be unable to do what he has been doing for the past few years: laying out the path he believes Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy should be taking. But the FAES think-tank presided over by the former prime minister has effectively done his work for him by publishing an extensive paper on the sovereignty of Catalonia.

The rightist faction of the PP, led by Aznar, the conservative grouping’s honorary president, and former minister and current party leader in the European Parliament, Jaime Mayor Oreja, has directly and indirectly accused Rajoy of handling the question of Catalonia’s secession with kid gloves. The FAES document, under the title 20 question and answers on the secession of Catalonia, is a scathing assessment of regional nationalism that sets out the stance Rajoy should be adopting in response.

In essence, the paper is not far removed from the speech delivered last Saturday by Rajoy in Catalonia, in which he reaffirmed his constitutional obligation to oppose any referendum on self-rule. But the tone of the FAES document is stronger and its content a direct response to the paper issued by the Catalan regional government laying out its economic gripes with Madrid; something Rajoy did not comment upon and a subject he has studiously avoided.

Secession is an act against the political civilization of Spain and Europe"

“As will be proven in this document, [the desire for secession] is a damaging aim that will harm Spain and Catalonia socially and economically, but which also goes against history, undermines democracy in the name of democracy and casts into question the democratic state and the values of peace and harmony that are the basic norms of our coexistence,” begins the document.

“Has Spain robbed Catalonia? Of course not. The secessionists hold that there is a supposed financial mistreatment against citizens of Catalonia under the current state model and that the system needs to be changed as a precursor to the break-up of Spain as a result of so many years of injustice. But this is nothing more than a myth, which if repeated often enough appears to be true, but it is not. It is simply propaganda that some Catalan parties have fueled to stir up one of the most dangerous factors of nationalist populism: the feeling of belonging to a community that is being attacked from the outside and whose identity is being threatened.

The document concludes: “Secession is probably the most absurd and willingly destructive political, economic and social enterprise in the history of Catalonia. It is an act against the political civilization of Spain and Europe, a civilization that Catalans have helped to make possible.”

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