Estonian Free Party's open letter to the Prime Minister of Estonia concerning Catalonia

Mr Jüri Ratas

Prime Minister of the Republic of Estonia,

current holder of the Presidency of the Council of the European Union   

Dear Prime Minister,

Following the Catalan independence referendum, the central government of Spain has resorted to using force, leaving no room for the democratically expressed wishes of the Catalan people or for dialogue with the authorities. Force was used against peaceful citizens who wanted to express their will democratically at the ballot box. Referendum websites were blocked for political reasons. Two Catalan independence leaders, Jordi Sanchez of the Catalan National Assembly and Jordi Cuixart of Òmnium Cultural, were taken into custody.

The Spanish Prime Minister, Mariano Rajoy, said on Saturday that he was invoking Article 155 of the Constitution, which allows the central government to suspend Catalonia's autonomy, subject to approval from the Senate on 27 October. Article 155 gives the central government the authority to dissolve Catalonia’s democratically elected parliament as well as sack its government, take control of the local police and national broadcasting, bring the school curriculum under greater central control, and take other measures.

As the Prime Minister of the Member State currently holding the EU Presidency, you must know how concerned European citizens are about the silence of European heads of state or government over this issue. We are particularly concerned about the silence of the Estonian government. The Estonian Presidency of the Council of the European Union is much more than just organising conferences and meetings. The Estonian Presidency can be successful only if we try to find solutions to even the most difficult problems.

The European Union is a project for peace; therefore, the EU has an obligation to prevent conflicts and to secure a peaceful solution in any conflict. It is our duty to sound the alarm before people are imprisoned for attempting to freely express their political opinions, discrimination and non-respect for human rights begin, and a protracted conflict develops in an EU Member State. Until, and unless, we do so, we bring ourselves into disrepute.

Jón Baldvin Hannibalsson, the former Icelandic Minister for Foreign Affairs, whose role in the restoration of the independence of Estonia as well as the other Baltic States cannot be overestimated, has commented on our silence:

“That is very strange, very strange. However, nobody can expect those countries to suddenly say ‘Okay, we recognize the independence of Catalonia.’ This is not the question, it is not the role for external players right now.” He states that what should be expected of the Baltic and the former Yugoslav countries “is that they defend the rights of the Catalans, or of any other people, to self-determination by democratic means.”

Prime Minister, we call on you and the government led by you to act quickly to ensure that the undemocratic trends in Spain do not become commonplace in Europe, that the right to self-determination for peoples is not deprived of its substance, and that the violation of human rights is not justified by constitution.

Sincerely,

On behalf of the Estonian Free Party

Artur Talvik