Nikola Vuljanić: “Si pares el camí d’un poble a la força, la situació explota”
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GUIFRÉ JORDAN. Croatia, a EU member State since July 2013, is choosing 12 MEPs after celebrating alone a European election just before its accession. Mr Vuljanić was the sole representative elected for the Croatian Labour Party –affiliated to the European group European United Left/Nordic Green Left, led by Alexis Tsipras. Vuljanić, who is set to be appointed again according to all the polls, talks on the Catalan political situation.
Last year the turnout was around 20% in Croatia. In 2009 this figure wasn’t higher than a 37% in Catalonia. Why doesn’t the EU awaken interest?
In my country, I believe that people doesn’t understand yet that the issues of vital relevance for their daily life are decided in the European Parliament, rather than in Zagreb, our capital city. One poll points out that only 15% of Croatians are aware of what’s going on in Brussels. It’s a feeling spread throughout the country.
You’re a representative for the Foreign Affairs Committee of the chamber, and you mainly work on the enlargement policy focused on the Balkans. The election at the end of May is another step towards the integration of Croatia within the EU. From now on, what are the chances for an improvement of the relationship between Zagreb and Belgrade, and for the final stabilisation of the Balkans?
This is a crucial issue for Croatia. I’m sure that the Union will never work properly until all the countries willing to be part of it are accepted. Our effort will forge alliances, but the different accession processes are the key. I’m sure that the relationship between Croatia and its neighbours, including Serbia, will be much better once all of them finish their process to become EU members.
In relation with the EU enlargement, Scotland is set to hold a referendum on self-determination next September and Catalonia has shown its determination for a similar vote in late 2014. In case any of them gets full independence, should the new state be automatically expelled from the EU?
This is something new, the Commission hasn’t thought about it yet, I don’t know what they would decide. However, concerning Catalonia for instance, I’d be very disappointed if the Spanish government stands on the way of Catalonia to go on being part of the Union. It wouldn’t be a democratic attitude at all.
Before this happens, the vote has to take place…
Every nation should have the right for self-determination, and Catalonia can’t be different. Catalans must choose and no one should stop any decision they take, including gull independence of higher degree of autonomy within a bigger state. If any of these two alternatives wins in a referendum, I’m sure Catalonia will reach an agreement with Spain to make it possible.
And in the event that the vote is not allowed, is a unilateral independence declaration a realistic solution?
A declaration in the parliament has full legal force, provided that Catalan people support it. No one has the right to stop the people of Catalonia if they want to be independent or want to vote on their future. Who can stop it? If you stop them by force, with legal or military means, the situation explodes. Spain needs to find a solution, for the good of both sides, because Catalonia wouldn’t be the only one harmed.
Could there be any similarity between Catalonia and the end of Yugoslavia?
Spain is a democracy and will show it. I lived in the Yugoslavian regime for 45 years and that was a true colonialist regime, the ones thinking differently weren’t allowed to speak. I can’t see any similarity between both scenarios. Moreover, I don’t think there will be clashes or violence in Europe anymore. I can’t imagine it, as the EU exists basically to ensure the peace in the continent.
The Croatian language became last year the 24th official language in the Union with 5.5 million speakers. Do you know why Catalan isn’t official yet?
The official languages in the Parliament are decided by the member states. This is a decision for Spain to take, so the only way Catalan gets this status is that Catalonia becomes a member state. With Spain’s ‘no’, there’s no alternative.