Catalan President Quim Torra and the First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon will meet on July 11 in Edinburgh. Both leaders will hold talks at Bute House at 5pm. This will be the first high-level meeting between the Catalan and Scottish governments, both led by pro-independence parties, in 10 years.
During his trip to Scotland, Torra will also meet with former Catalan minister Clara Ponsatí and her lawyer, Aamer Anwar. Ponsatí is currently fighting extradition to Spain in Scottish courts.
The Crown Office will ask for the execution of the European Arrest Warrant against her. The prosecutor will argue that the crime of rebellion for which Ponsatí is wanted in Spain is equivalent to “conspiracy to alter the constitution by criminal means” and “treason” in Scotland. Ponsatí maintains her innocence. Her defence team has said it is committed to “defending her from extradition to Spain.”
“Clara regards it as surreal that she is now accused of treason, when the Spanish State blames the Catalan government for executing a law that was voted on in the Catalan Parliament elected by the Catalan people,” said lawyer Aamer Anwar’s office in a statement.
The last official government meeting between Catalonia and Scotland was in December 2008, when the then First Minister Alex Salmond visited Barcelona and met Catalan vice-president Josep-Lluís Carod-Rovira.
During the campaign for the Scottish referendum, pro-independence officials in Scotland tried to distance themselves from the Catalan situation, having being warned by Madrid that supporting Barcelona could mean a veto to them joining the EU.
They frequently stated that both cases were different due to the diverse constitutional arrangements in Spain and the UK.
After the Scottish referendum, the SNP and the Sturgeon government softened its tone with Catalonia and expressed its commitment to its right to self-determination. Although the Scottish government insists that it remains neutral on the issue of Catalan independence, it has strongly opposed the Spanish government’s strategy against the October 1 referendum and the imprisonment of political leaders.
After the October 27 declaration of independence, the Scottish government said: “We understand and respect the position of the Catalan Government. While Spain has the right to oppose independence, the people of Catalonia must have the ability to determine their own future.”
More recently, Salmond met Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont in London and Belgium.
The current First Minister Nicola Sturgeon also held talks with former Catalan leader Artur Mas in April this year.