Several Catalan leaders boycotted King Felipe’s visit to the region today for the start of this year’s Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.
The Mayor of Barcelona, the head of the parliament and other officials want the King to apologize for apparently supporting the government’s efforts against separatists.
King Felipe attended a dinner at the famed Palace of the Arts in Barcelona. Many Catalan leaders say he should have spoken last year against police actions against an illegal referendum on independence. Don Felipe instead spoke in defense of the constitution and Spanish unity.
This evening the King spoke in Spanish, Catalan and English. “I am delighted to give you all the warmest welcome to Spain, to Catalonia and particularly to the truly global city of Barcelona and today the World Mobile Capital,” he said.
Last week King Felipe and Queen Letizia visited a contemporary art fair in Madrid, which was mired in controversy after organizers took down a piece describing jailed separatists as political prisoners.
Catalionia’s former president, Carles Puidgemont, who fled Spain to avoid arrest, said the region would welcome the King once independent.
The Spanish government slammed the regional officials who refused to meet Don Felipe and said they threatened to spook mobile fair organizers.
King Felipe arrived at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, yesterday and already made news.
In remarks, the King promoted a global Spain committed to innovation. He also touched on the Catalan crisis.
I don’t wish to conclude this part of my speech without addressing the recent crisis in a truly fundamental part of our country’s soul and diverse identity: Catalonia; where we have seen an attempt to undermine the basic rules of our democratic system.”
A lesson to be learned from this crisis — a lesson not only for Spain, but for democracies in general — is the need to preserve the rule of law as a cornerstone precisely of democracy, and to respect political pluralism and the basic principle of national sovereignty that -in fact- belongs to all citizens. Political disagreements and disputes must be resolved in accordance with the democratic rules and values laid down in our Constitution and legal framework.
Spain’s Constitution, as you can all well understand, is no mere ornament. It is, rather, the very expression of the will of our citizens and the key pillar of our democratic coexistence. As such, it deserves the utmost respect from each and every one of us. My country is a law-abiding State where legal certainty prevails and therefore the Constitution and the laws are effectively enforced.
-King Felipe VI
The King also met with corporate and world leaders, including Juan Manuel Santos of Colombia, and Spaniards participating at the conference.
U.S. President Trump is also due in Davos this week. But King Felipe has a public event back home tomorrow. It doesn’t seem the two will meet.