The president of the Generalitat, Pere Aragonès, will conclude a nine-day tour of Latin America tomorrow in Chile, during which he has also visited Colombia, Uruguay and Argentina, together with the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Meritxell Serret. The trip, despite the difficulties encountered that prevented the holding of two high-level contacts -with the president of Colombia and with the vice-president of Uruguay-, is an example of the new diplomatic path of the Government, which places development aid, together with the consolidation and opening of branches abroad.
The way of cooperation is historic in Catalonia, and has a very wide acceptance among the population, but the relevance that the Generalitat will give to this tool to build bridges on the global scene is reflected in the 30% increase in this item in the budgets, up to 45 million euros. It takes more than half of the 77 million allocated to the Secretariat of Foreign Affairs.
At the same time, the Government has committed to maintaining the plan to open delegations abroad, another leg of Catalan foreign policy, which has 15 million euros.
With this international deployment, the goal of the Generalitat is that of any chancellery: to generate relationships of trust, gain credibility as an institution and ultimately improve Catalonia's reputation in the world. For the Catalan Government it is a priority, which involves breaking the isolation imposed on its foreign policy in recent years. Councilor Serret defends that in order to gain this trust, it is necessary to establish relationships that involve mutual benefit, and that it cannot be interpreted that the relationship is instrumentalized.
The delegations, along with the rest of the Government's sectoral offices abroad, are key to this goal of paving the way. They fulfill the double function of assisting the Catalan diaspora and of weaving a network of contacts and alliances that defends the interests of Catalonia in decision-making and reference opinion spaces, as well as attracting foreign investments and visits.
This week Aragonès inaugurated the delegation in Argentina, which operates for the Southern Cone, and announced the opening – it will be number 21 abroad – of another in Colombia, a country that is considered strategic for its influence in the American Pacific and the Caribbean.
Colombia is a priority country for Catalan cooperation and in fact it is the one that has received the most official development aid: more than 14 million euros since 2017. It is not surprising that Aragonès' agenda included a meeting with the country's president, Gustavo Petro, which despite this had to be canceled two hours earlier due to conflicts in the Cauca area.
Catalonia is also a host country for a Colombian population. They are 4.31% of migrants, and a large part have arrived fleeing the armed conflict. There are several cooperation projects related to the peace process.
The general lines of cooperation are in the master plan that will be approved by the Government in the coming weeks. Fixed Latin America, Africa and the Mediterranean as priority areas.