April 29th 2022

MCI Distinguished Guest Lecture with Carles Puigdemont about Freedom & Democracy in Europe.

Carles Puigdemont, MEP, 130th President of Catalonia shares his views on Europe, digitalization and the independence of Catalonia.

© MCI/Kiechl


Freedom as an "intrinsic part of democracy”
Carles Puigdemont emphasizes right at the beginning of his talk that freedom is a personal and individual concept that has always strongly influenced his political career and decisions: "It is an intrinsic part of democracy. One cannot exist without the other." The creation of the European Union has allowed the European community to continue to grow and bring freedom and democracy to the forefront. However, Puigdemont expresses concern that Europe can lose its stability due to current global events, such as Russia's attack on Ukraine.

Puigdemont hopes for a Europe "that is internationally involved, striving to promote democracy, freedom and human rights." At the same time, however, he recognizes limited international influence and a lack of a common defense policy as weaknesses of the European project. Setbacks such as the economic crisis of 2008 or Brexit have also severely shaken the EU's image. Nevertheless, Puigdemont remains optimistic and stresses that the sense of a common European identity is an essential factor for a successful future of the EU.

Digitization - opportunity or danger?
For Puigdemont, global digitization is unstoppable, which is why he sees it as aimless to resist the rapid developments. Instead, the focus must be on teaching people how to use digital tools to benefit from their full potential. In politics, for example, they can allow citizens to actively participate in decision-making processes. However, the president has already experienced first-hand that modern technology can also bring dangers: he and other Catalan politicians were the victims of a cyber-espionage attack, which Puigdemont condemns as the "most serious danger" to our democracy.

Independent Catalonia - a question of respect
Puigdemont can only recognize that Catalonia is an autonomous region on paper, but not in reality. In fact, he considers Catalonia's power to be "less than ever”. In the end, the longed-for sovereignty of the region is above all a question of identity, which is based on fundamental factors such as language: "As an MEP, I cannot use my mother tongue. Why? Because we are not independent."

Carles Puigdemont thus hopes not only for an honest dialogue, but also for concrete negotiations with Spain. For his part, however, the first step needs to be mutual respect: "Respect for our reality, our identity and our democratic position. If there is respect, we can find agreements. Start with respect and the rest will be".