Self-determination processes in the European Union: the Catalan case in comparative perspective – Faculty of Social Sciences, Charles University // Prague, Czech Republic
European experts compare Catalonia’s self-determination to the dissolution of Czechoslovakia in a conference organised by DIPLOCAT in Prague
The Public Diplomacy Council of Catalonia (DIPLOCAT) organised the first academic debate on Catalonia in the Czech Republic. The event with the title “Self-determination processes in the European Union: the Catalan case in comparative perspective” took place at the Faculty of Social Sciences at Charles University in Prague, with participation of European experts and the presence of the Delegate of the Catalan Government (Generalitat) to Austria, Adam Casals.
Catalonia at the Crossroads: Czech Perspective
Zuzana Kasáková, professor at the Faculty of Social Sciences - Charles University, opened the conference by welcoming speakers and audience. Albert Royo, Secretary General of DIPLOCAT, followed on with a brief presentation of the current situation in Catalonia, underlining the peaceful and democratic character of the Catalan sovereign movement. Also participating in the round table was Marek Riha, professor of Catalan literature at Charles University, who pointed out similarities of the Czech Republic and Catalonia, of two nations with a language and a long tradition who fusioned with a larger neighbour via military interventions, experienced cultural renaissance, banning of the language, moments of exile and censorship, massive street demonstrations etc. Riha, mentioning the interest which Catalonia has shown in the friendly separation of the Czech Republic and Slovakia, concluded that the Czech Republic understands Catalonia well and that “Czechs owe Catalans solidarity”.
In the debate a desk officer of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic asked if Catalonia would see a future within Spain in case of an alliance of Podemos and PSOE replacing the Popular Party government. Royo showed himself sceptical that a new Spanish government would make a real federalist approach and succeed in reforming the Spanish Constitution in this sense. The round table was moderated by Tomáš Weiss, from the Faculty of Social Sciences of Charles University.
Self-determination Processes in Western Democratic Countries
A second round table, moderated by the Czech journalist Daniel Kaiser, university academics from different European countries discussed self-determination processes in western democracies. Participants included Mar Campins, professor of Public International Law at the University of Barcelona, Vladimíra Dvořáková, professor of Politics at the University of Politics in Prague, Michael Keating, professor of Politics at the University of Aberdeen and director of the ESRC Scottish Centre on Constitutional Change, and Peter A. Kraus, professor of Comparative Politics and Director of the Institute for Canadian Studies at the University of Augsburg.
Campins explained that in case of independence, Catalonia would probably within a very short time become a member of the European Union – while Dvořáková analysed the reasons for the break-up of states, distinguishing between cases of failure of the state system (Czechoslovakia) and the incapacity to accommodate identities. Keating defended the referendum as best democratic way to resolve national conflicts in Europe, and coincided with Campins in that the real problem is the Spanish state, as the EU would not have any problem in accepting an independent Catalonia.
Kraus also referred to the models of Scotland and Quebec as having a stronger democratic culture than the Spanish one, which is often anchored in a purely centralist model. Kraus underlined that the Catalan sovereign movement is not based in a national identity with ethnic-nationalist character, but is a democratic and integrative movement.
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The Faculty of Social Sciences (FSS CU) is the second newest faculty of Charles University in Prague. Shortly after its creation in 1990, the faculty became a regional centre of teaching and research in economics, sociology, political science, international relations, area studies, media studies and journalism. Currently the faculty has around 4,000 full-time students. Approximately 200 of them are enrolled in one of our English language degree programmes. FSS CU has one of the highest international mobility participation rates of all the faculties of Charles University. Each year it welcomes around 500 exchange students from all over the world.
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Last updated: 29 June 2015