Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy on Wednesday branded moves for independence such as those in Scotland and Spain’s Catalonia region a “torpedo” to European integration.
The conservative premier’s comments sharpened the political tone in a potentially crucial week for the Catalan independence movement. There have also been calls for a rethink by separatists in the Dutch-speaking Flemish areas of Belgium.
“Everyone in Europe thinks that these processes are hugely negative,” Rajoy said.
“These processes are a torpedo to the waterline of the European spirit, because Europe has been built to integrate states, not to fragment them,” he added.
Scotland’s referendum, approved by the British government, has fired up nationalists in Catalonia, a northeastern region of Spain with a distinct language and culture.
Catalans want to seize full political and economic control of their region from Madrid. Catalonia is the richest part of Spain but has suffered in the economic crisis that broke out in 2008.
Quebec looks on
Quebec’s separatists are also watching closely this week to see if the Scottish independence movement has learned from their failed attempts to break away from Canada. And they could be rejuvenated if Scotland breaks away from the United Kingdom.
The Scottish National Party has been advised over the years by separatists in Quebec, a French-speaking province where two referendums on independence failed, though the last “Non” was narrow.
A ‘yes’ vote by Scotland to separate from Great Britain could in turn bolster the Parti Quebecois, which has never let its dream of independence die.