Catalan crisis: Switzerland to offer good offices but not interfere

Switzerland-based Catalan separatist Anna Gabriel has a Spanish arrest warrant against her Keystone

If asked, Switzerland is ready to mediate between the Spanish government and Catalan separatists but will leave it to the judiciary in Spain to decide how to handle the issue. 

This content was published on April 23, 2018 - 16:40

Madrid “must manage its internal problems in accordance with the country’s constitution,” said Swiss Foreign Minister Ignazio Cassis during his Spanish counterpart Alfonso Maria Dastis Quecedo’s visit to Bern on Monday. He added that Spain was a sovereign and democratic country and that Switzerland had nothing to teach it. 

It was a sentiment that was also echoed by Quecedo. 

“We both agree that justice must be allowed to run its course, in the confidence that we are democratic states based on the rule of law,” he said. 

The two men also discussed the case of the two notable Catalan separatists currently residing in Switzerland: Ana Gabriel and Marta Rovira. 

These people, “like all European Union (EU) nationals, have the right to come to Switzerland and express themselves freely,” Cassis said. If an extradition request is filed by Spain, “we will respond legally, respecting the separation of powers,” he said. 

Quecedo remarked that he was unaware if an arrest warrant for the two separatists had been sent to Interpol, but that, if so, “it would be a discussion between judges”. 

Elusive whistleblower

The subject of Spain-based SwissLeaks whistleblower Hervé Falciani was also mentioned. Switzerland has requested his extradition for violating Swiss banking secrecy laws and “stealing” banking information. Cassis said there was no “secret plan” to swap him for Catalan separatists. However, he confirmed that Switzerland’s extradition request had reached Madrid a few days ago. Quecedo said that the extradition request was also something that was a matter for the Spanish courts to decide and not the government.

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