Former Catalan president Carles Puigdemont has this Monday entered the European Parliament for the first time since he's been in exile to take part in the opening of an exhibition on the Catalan language. Also present were MEP Ramon Tremosa (PDeCAT) and the members of the government in exile Toni Comín, Lluís Puig, Meritxell Serret and Clara Ponsatí. Puigdemont's appearance was a surprise, his name not appearing on the list of attendees announced in advance.
Translation: President Puigdemont enters the European Parliament to inaugurate the exhibition by Ramon Tremosa and the Platform for the Language. As a free man, as the legitimate representative of the Catalan people.
This comes the same day that the chamber has given the final green light to an event involving far-right Spanish party Vox on the "coup d'état" in Catalonia. Days before, Parliament officials had suspended an event set to involve Puigdemont and his successor as president, Quim Torra, citing security concerns. They eventually held the conference elsewhere in Brussels.
It wasn't, however, an outright ban on Puigdemont ever entering the Parliament. Since he's been in exile, he's already visited the parliaments of Finland, Denmark, Ireland, the United Kingdom, Germany, the Faroe Islands, Bavaria, Flanders and Switzerland.
In his speech to the ceremony, Puigdemont asked why people can't use Catalan to speak to the European Parliament if it's "the home of language and liberty". Catalan has more speakers than many of the EU's official languages, but as it isn't a national language of any member state, there is no provision for it to be used in the chamber.
'Això no va només de drets lingüístics, va de drets en general. De llibertat i de democràcia. Per què a l' @Europarl_CAT, casa de la paraula i la llibertat, no es pot emprar el català? '. Gràcies, president @KRLS! 👉🇪🇺 pic.twitter.com/U8rPpnK0cW— Plataforma per la Llengua🎗 (@llenguacat) 4 de març de 2019
Translation: "'This isn't just about linguistic rights, it's about rights in general. About freedom and democracy. Why, in the European Parliament, home of language and liberty, can Catalan not be used?' Thanks, president Puigdemont!
The exhibition, called "The Catalan language: 10 million European voices", can be found on the first floor of the European Parliament all week. Like the earlier event involving Torra and Puigdemont, it wasn't free from controversy.
Chamber officials had suspended the event, arguing it was no longer appropriate once Spanish PM Pedro Sánchez had called a snap general election for April. They later backtracked, reauthorising it.
Gràcies @llenguacat per l'exposició sobre la llengua catalana que hem inaugurat avui al @Europarl_EN @Europarl_CAT acompanyats de tots els membres del Govern a l'exili @toni_comin @ClaraPonsati @PuigGordi i @MeritxellSerret #FreeCatalanPoliticalPrisoners— Carles Puigdemont (@KRLS) 4 de març de 2019
Translation: Thanks to the Platform for the Language for the exhibition we've inaugurated today in the European Parliament accompanied by all the members of the Catalan government in exile.