The Slovenian MEP and former foreign affairs minister of this Balkan country, Ivo Vajgl, has been awarded with one of Catalonia’s highest civil distinctions, the Creu de Sant Jordi (Saint George’s Cross). He is the president of the EU-Catalonia Dialogue Platform, which calls for Brussels to mediate in the Catalan crisis.

The government made the announcement on Tuesday afternoon, as part of 29 people selected for the prestigious award. FC Barcelona starLeo Messi has also been awarded the prize.

Among the other awarded personalities are three former Catalan parliament speakers: Ernest Benach, Núria de Gispert and Joan Rigol. They have all been outspoken to defend an agreed independence referendum for Catalonia in the past few years, and to denounce the imprisonment of their predecessor as speaker, Carme Forcadell, and other politicians.

Other personalities awarded with Catalonia’s Creu de Sant Jordi include comedy music trio La Trinca, mountain runner Núria Picas and architect Benedetta Tagliabue.