Speech by Quim Torra, President of the Generalitat of Catalonia, in the act of taking possession of the Catalan government
June 3, 2018, Palau de la Generalitat. Barcelona (Catalonia)
Dear authorities, beloved friends, dear family members of President Carles Puigdemont, Vice President Oriol Junqueras, President Carmen Forcadell, Minister Jordi Turull, Minister Raül Romeva, Minister Joaquim Forn, Minister Clara Ponsatí, Minister Toni Comín, Minister Josep Rull, Minister Lluis Puig, Minister Dolors Bassa, Councilor Meritxell Serret, Deputy and General Secretary of ERC Marta Rovira, Deputy of the CUP Anna Gabriel, Deputy of Junts per Catalunya Jordi Sánchez and President of Òmnium, Jordi Cuixart.
This government that has just taken office is indebted to the work, sacrifice and fidelity to their commitments of our dear companions. In prison or in exile, their example is our strength. The path covered by them is our encouragement. And their freedom and their return home is our vital goal. You have seen that I have mentioned them all with the position they exercised when they were expelled and prosecuted by a coup against democracy and Catalan institutions. Our commitment is also their restitution.
Our will is the exercise of the responsibility assumed with loyalty to their work and their ethical and political leadership.
You, relatives and friends, more than anyone, you pay the price of the repression of a state that has shown itself to be intolerant of democracy, civil rights and political liberties. Away from home, away from you, away from your sons and daughters, prisoners and exiles are a beacon of this government and a majority of the people of Catalonia. But they are also an example that are making of all of Europe open their eyes.
The government takes on the commitment to move forward in accordance with the mandate of the referendum on self-determination on 1 October, that is, an independent state in the form of a republic. A mandate ratified in the elections of last 21 December. It will not be an easy path. There are very powerful interests that want to prevent it. We have already seen it and we have many examples and testimonies. For this reason, I would like to thank the courage and determination with which the Vice-president and the Ministers have accepted this assignment. Ours will be the responsibility and only ours. Thank you very much.
We are fortunate to represent the people of Catalonia who have proven to be a mature people who want to make decisions about their future in a peaceful, serene and democratic way; without ever losing their smile and their good manners.
Yesterday, 8 months ago, we experienced the tenacious – and also painful – resistance in the polling stations to protect the ballot boxes on the first of October. It was an act of civic commitment and generosity that fills us with pride. We must be worthy of these people; of the whole people of Catalonia. We will be a government for everybody. We are a government for everybody.
We have a republican mandate.
And we also have a mandate to serve with decisiveness and all possible effort to a citizenship, the 7 and a half million Catalans, which deserves more social justice, welfare, a more effective redistribution of wealth and public attention of the highest quality. Generating opportunities for everybody, protecting and supporting the most vulnerable, facing the abuses of the most powerful and, ultimately, a program of ambitious economic and social progress and at the height of the moment, these are all government commitments that I have the privilege of presiding.
These are commitments that also require a clear willingness to dialogue. An indispensable dialogue to resolve conflicts in the way that the civilized world solves them. I have repeated it in every public intervention I have made since the investiture speeches and today I do it with more force than ever.
President Pedro Sánchez, let’s talk, let’s engage in a dialogue, let’s take risks, you and us. Let’s sit at the same table and negotiate from government to government. This situation that we live can not be extended for another day.
One of the first decisions that this government will take is the creation of a plan to recover laws and measures of a social nature that were suspended by the Constitutional Court at the request of the Spanish government.
We must make the Republic an example of guarantee of rights for everybody, without exceptions. We must move forward thinking and drawing it as a tool of transformation. Let the real engine of republican change be social rights and the welfare of citizens. This is a priority objective of the government that begins to walk.
Today, article 155 ends. Without euphoria because we are very far from where we would like to be. We will implement the action plan to reverse the decisions taken and the barriers created during this period of democratic suspension in Catalonia. I take this opportunity to thank the self-sacrificing and constant work of the officeholders of the Generalitat to maintain good service to the citizens of our country.
I do not want to end these words without also addressing all the people who have suffered the consequences of political persecution before and after the historic day of the referendum. Teachers, mayors, councillors, mechanics, musicians, artists, civil servants, mossos (Catalan police), firemen, members of entities and civic organizations…
Thank you very much. Thank you very much for your generosity, for your commitment and for your courage.
Always radically defend your freedom. Because the government of Catalonia will be at your side at all times.
Let’s look forward to building that better future for all. The Republic will be everyone’s house and where everyone can feel at home. We have to move at a steady pace, serene and smiling.
Montserrat Abelló, whose the centenary we celebrate this year, said in one of her poems:
«Today I am proud of my time and it hurts to waste it.»
Friends, let’s all be proud of our time and let’s not waste it. We have a democratic and republican mandate to fulfil. Vice-president, ministers let’s get to work.
Thank you very much.