Catalonia defies Madrid on activities of overseas representatives

Mas_BarrosoCatalonia plans to increase its foreign contacts

In defiance of the central government’s plan to clip the wings of Spanish regions conducting their own diplomatic activities, Catalonia on Tuesday said it was going to step up its overseas activity.

“We will extend our overseas activities because of the economic situation and the sovereignty political process that has been initiated in Catalonia,” Catalan government spokesman Francesc Homs told a press conference. “In a moment such as the present, to think that to look abroad is a whim is to be two centuries behind,” he added.

As part of a growing rift between Catalonia and the government of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, a majority in the Catalan regional parliament has approved an independence declaration that sets the ball rolling for a referendum on leaving the Spanish state.

Catalan premier Artur Mas has threatened to curry favor abroad to advance the region’s sovereignty aspirations if stymied by Madrid. On Monday, Mas described the restrictions Madrid wants to impose on regional activities overseas as “fusty” nationalism.

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