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Catalonia, Spain, and Europe are better together

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Catalonia, Spain, and Europe are better together

By Pedro Sanchez

MADRID ― Above all, Europe is freedom, peace, and progress. We must move forward with these values and make Europe the leading model of integration and social justice that protects its citizens.

The Europe we aspire to, the Europe we need, the Europe we are building is based on democratic stability within member states and cannot accept the unilateral breach of its integrity. The Europe we admire has been built on the principle of overlapping identities and equality for all citizens, and on the rejection of nationalist ideologies and extremism.

For this reason, the challenge of separatism in Catalonia, devised against and outside Spain's constitutional framework, and silencing the majority of Catalans who are against independence, is a challenge for Europe and Europeans. Preserving these values in Catalonia today means protecting the open and democratic Europe for which we stand.

Spain enshrined these values in 1978, when it created and ratified a fully democratic constitution. That historic document was endorsed by almost 88 percent of voters in a referendum. In Catalonia, support and turnout were even higher: Some 90.5 percent of Catalans backed the new constitution.

Spain thus escaped the long and dark shadow of dictatorship and laid the foundations for a state based on the rule of law, comparable today with the long-established democracies of Western Europe. Individual freedoms, fought for and won by Spaniards of differing beliefs and backgrounds, including many Catalans, were restored.

And the 1978 Constitution also provided an innovative and progressive answer to Spain's territorial diversity by treating it as an authentic asset worthy of recognition. Some 40 years later, the Democracy Index, published by The Economist, rates Spain as one of the world's 20 full democracies.

Contemporary Spain is Europe's second-most decentralized country, and Catalonia enjoys some of the highest levels of regional self-governance on the continent, with wide-ranging devolved powers over crucial sectors such as media and public communication, health, education, and prisons.

Today, however, Catalonia is associated not only with the spirit of creativity and initiative, qualities that are broadly admired around the world, but also with a profound crisis,........

© The Korea Times