The President of the Generalitat, Pere Aragonès, closes a nine-day tour of Latin America tomorrow in Chile, in which he has also passed through Colombia, Uruguay and Argentina, together with the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Meritxell Serret. The trip, despite the difficulties encountered that prevented holding two high-level contacts –with the president of Colombia and with the vice president of Uruguay–, is a sample of the new diplomatic channel of the Government, which places aid to the development, together with the consolidation and opening of delegations abroad.
The path of cooperation is historic in Catalonia, and it is widely accepted among the population, but the importance that the Generalitat will give to this tool to build bridges on the global scene is reflected in the 30% increase experienced by this item in the budgets, up to 45 million euros. It takes more than half of the 77 million allocated to the Foreign Action secretariat.
In parallel, the Government has promised to maintain the plan to open delegations abroad, another leg of Catalan foreign policy, which has 15 million euros.
With this international deployment, the objective 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 implies breaking the isolation imposed in recent years on its foreign policy. Minister Serret defends that to gain this trust, the key is to establish relationships that imply 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 objective of opening the way. They fulfill the double function of assisting the Catalan diaspora and weaving a network of contacts and alliances that defends the interests of Catalonia in leading decision-making and opinion spaces, and attract foreign investment and visits. This week, Aragonès inaugurated the delegation in Argentina, which operates for the Southern Cone, and has announced the opening –it will be number 21 abroad– of another in Colombia, a country that is considered strategic due to its influence in the American Pacific and 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's agenda included a meeting with the country's president , Gustavo Petro, who nevertheless had to cancel two hours earlier due to conflicts in the Cauca area.
Catalonia is also a host country for the 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. Set as priority areas Latin America, Africa and the Mediterranean.