At least 350,000 people gathered on Sunday in Barcelona to protest against the independence of Catalonia from Spain. Right before that Spanish PM Mariano Rajoy warned that the central authorities in Madrid would not allow the unilateral proclamation of independence on behalf of the Catalonian officials. Over 4,000 national police officers have been deployed across the Spanish province since the start of the month of the referendum. They are to stay there until the crisis is over.
The international reactions on the issue are more like restrained and speak of a stance of аwaiting. The Bulgarian reaction is the same, as there has not been any official statement yet, except for one of the foreign ministry. The latter was pressed to say whether the critical commentaries of ex-football player Hristo Stoichkov, regarding the firm position of Madrid corresponded to the official stance of the institution. De facto the foreign ministry couldn’t refrain from a commentary due to the fact that Stoichkov is an honorary consul of Bulgaria to Barcelona. The response declared that all statements of Stoichkov were his own view and didn’t express in any way the stand of the ministry. The latter sounded like that: “Bulgaria respects the constitutional order and unity established in Spain, also the compliance with the superiority of the law and the principle of a land of the law, as those are basic values of each EU member-state”. The ministry further voiced to the public its concern about the tension in Catalonia and called on for its overcoming via a political dialogue and in accordance with the legislation of the Kingdom of Spain.
Several Bulgarian politicians made their unofficial statements. MEP Angel Djambazki for instance commented that the Catalonia scenario was impossible in this country, since its Constitution clearly states that the Republic of Bulgaria is a unitary state with local self-government and no autonomous territorial formations are allowed within its borders. At the same time Djambazki commented that the Catalonia issue was not only Spanish, but also a European one.
If this last statement is true then the Catalonia case still concerns Bulgaria, as it questions the unity of the EU and this country is its member-state. Violation of the unity of statehood all over the world is not a single, but a continuous and extremely serious and painful process, affecting the regions which are neighboring on the conflict. The memory of former Yugoslavia’s collapse into pieces is still fresh in Bulgaria – it resulted in the emerging of Croatia, Slovenia, Macedonia, Montenegro, Bosnia & Herzegovina and Serbia on the map of Europe. Although the Yugoslavian federation provided the legal opportunity for each of the six republics to leave, the new states won their independence after bloody conflicts and wars. Macedonia still hasn’t been fully recognized internationally and Bosnia & Herzegovina continues to be an international protectorate. Kosovo is now an independent state, but still unrecognized by some states around the globe. Now Belgrade starts to criticize the EU that in the case with Catalonia the standard is different than the one with Kosovo.
The public in Bulgaria has some concerns due to another fact, related to the Catalonia events – according to unofficial data there are almost 300,000 Bulgarians, currently residing in Spain. Some of those people are located in Catalonia and those might get affected by the problems, related to the conflict situation. That is why not only the politicians, but all the Bulgarian citizens are waiting for the happy end of the Catalonia events.
English version: Zhivko Stanchev