I was disappointed to learn that the majority of Bulletin readers who responded to your EU Constitution poll, lined up with the hard right, the extreme nationalists and the ex–communists, in voting 'No'. I first came to Spain the year that Franco died, and since then I have watched and benefitted from the enormous progress that this nation has made. Now it is the turn of the less fortunate states of Eastern and Central Europe to start catching up with the rest of us. Nationalism and petty jealousies are the scourge of our times, whether they emanate from the Basque Country, Ireland, Britain or Iraq.
My contempories in the 'new' Europe have suffered enough so let's not stop the clock or turn it back, but rather move on towards greater unity, peace and prosperity for all Europeans (and not just the fortunate few).
On numerous occasions, during the past 30 years, I have had reason to feel ashamed of some of my fellow countrymen (and they were mostly male). To the list of football hooligans, nuclear submarines and certain members of our royal family, I hope I won't have to add the 'I*m alright, Jack' attitude of the British electorate, when the British referendum eventually takes place.
Yours faithfully, George Tunnel
PS Perhaps readers in Britain, who voted 'No' should be encouraged to go to a non–European island for their holidays or retirement. It's nice and sunny in Haiti.
Let's have a referendum on whether
we want Britain in European Union
IF the British are so much against the referendum and the use of the euro then let us on the continent have a referendum to see what the opinions are re allowing the UK to stay in the EU.
Not allowing us to vote is surely
AS I am sure you know, Spain was the first country in the EU to have a vote on the EU referendum, fine. But the Spanish Prime minister felt it necessary to ban all immigrants from voting. (I guess this was in case they voted no including immigrants from other EU countries). I am not sure if this action could be classed as illegal, or just plain racist. Many of us living in Spain, like my wife and myself are residents here, and a great many people work and pay tax here. So as EU residents surely we should have been entitled to vote in the referendum. I am not sure that I would call this action Democracy.
Now I suppose that the rest of the EU countries could do the same.
I can see it happening now. No aliens or immigrants allowed to vote for or against the referendum unless you go home to your own country. It sounds like something that the U.K.I.P. would come up with. This even sounds like it could be a human rights issue. I would like to know, how many years this ban went back to. I am sure that there are people that have been here 60, 70 or 80 years, that arrived as immigrants.
I wonder if they had a vote or not. I would like to know, what the rest of the EU countries think of this behaviour.
As a result of the Constitution we should all be treated as equals
JUST recently, February 20th 2005, the Spanish population voted in a referendum concerning the European Constitution.
There was a very low turn–out and of those that did vote there was an approx. 4–1 in favour of the Constitution.
However, speaking to many Spanish friends here in Minorca, I was able to ascertain that virtually no–one had received any information by any means and as a result were only voting as they did on the say–so of the politicians, with really no idea at all as to the content of the said Constitution! However, now having said SI they will have to comply with European constitutional rules which give us all equal rights in the European Union State.
This brings me to a point which has long worried me.
Catalan – the baby of Sr Jordi Pujol, the ex–president of Cataluña, has been forced upon the residents of this region which includes Barcelona and the Catalan area of Northern Spain plus the Balearic Islands.
The European charter governing the protection of minority languages was designed to conserve and encourage the culture and history behind the language and allow people, if they so desired, to have access to learning facilities and use the language – once again emphasising – if they so desired.
It was not meant in the spirit of the charter to create a devisive situation whereby young people from other regions of Spain or, indeed, Europe, were to be barred from employment in any local authority, police or social services if they did not speak and write Catalan.
This is blatantly discriminatory because all Spanish people speak Castellano Spanish – the national language and there is no reason whatsoever to deny employment to perfectly qualified youngsters on the grounds of language.
Also, the charter states that the learning of a minority language in schools is and must always be optional and up to the parents to decide.
Here it has crept in as compulsory and often at the expense of learning English or another more widely useful language.
The reason for this rather unpleasant state of affairs in the region is due to the political pressure brought to bear on the administration of Felipe Gonzalez, the first ever socialist premier of Spain post–Franco. The pressure was brought on by Catalan Nationalists lead by Sr Jordi Pujol, President of Cataluña at the time, who insisted that Gonzalez bend to his demands in return for the Catalan vote, one of them being the enforcement of Catalan on the population as a prerequisite to employment in official positions.
Totally against the European concept of Human Rights, but a sad reality guaranteeing that power rested basically with Catalans and making it almost impossible for outsiders to get a foothold in local government.
If I wanted a job in Glasgow I would not be expected to write and speak Gaelic, and especially not if I happened to be Spanish! The same principle applies here.
Considering the fact that there are approximately 5'000 English and German residents in Minorca and that the vast majority of tourists and visitors are of those two nations, there is not one single member of any local council who is of those nationalities. The reason is that they cannot speak Catalan.
A very convenient method of discrimination against “outsiders “or” foresteros as we are called here, even though they may have been residents for years, from joining any council or social services department.
The mainland Spanish also have an equally unfair opportunity. The result is a virtual closed shop in local government and that is why there are no new innovations from outside of this very small, almost family, circle.
David Cox, Minorca