Replay
The Sound Kitchen
Feelin’ good!
 
Listen Download Podcast
  • RFI English News flash 04h00 - 04h10 GMT Mon-Fri
    News bulletin 10/21 04h00 GMT
  • Paris Live AM 04h10 - 04h30 GMT Mon-Fri
    Features and analysis 10/21 04h10 GMT
  • RFI English News flash 05h00 - 05h10 GMT Mon-Fri
    News bulletin 10/21 05h00 GMT
  • Paris Live AM 05h10 - 05h30 GMT Mon-Fri
    Features and analysis 10/21 05h10 GMT
  • RFI English News flash 06h00 - 06h10 GMT Mon-Fri
    News bulletin 10/21 06h00 GMT
  • Paris Live AM 06h10 - 06h30 GMT Mon-Fri
    Features and analysis 10/21 06h10 GMT
  • RFI English News flash 06h30 - 06h33 GMT Mon-Fri
    News bulletin 10/21 06h30 GMT
  • Paris Live AM 06h33 - 06h59 GMT Mon-Fri
    Features and analysis 10/21 06h33 GMT
  • RFI English News flash 07h00 - 07h10 GMT Mon-Fri
    News bulletin 10/21 07h00 GMT
  • RFI English News flash 07h30 - 07h33 GMT Mon-Fri
    News bulletin 10/21 07h30 GMT
  • RFI English News flash 14h00 - 14h03 GMT Sat-Sun
    News bulletin 10/21 14h00 GMT
  • RFI English News flash 14h00 - 14h06 GMT Mon-Fri
    News bulletin 10/20 14h00 GMT
  • Paris Live Weekend 14h03 - 14h30 GMT Sat-Sun
    Features and analysis 10/21 14h03 GMT
  • Paris Live PM 14h06 - 14h30 GMT Mon-Fri
    Features and analysis 10/20 14h06 GMT
  • RFI English News flash 14h30 - 14h33 GMT Mon-Fri
    News bulletin 10/21 14h30 GMT
  • Paris Live PM 14h33 - 14h59 GMT Mon-Fri
    Features and analysis 10/21 14h33 GMT
  • RFI English News flash 16h00 - 16h03 GMT Sat-Sun
    News bulletin 10/15 16h00 GMT
  • RFI English News flash 16h00 - 16h06 GMT Sat-Sun
    News bulletin 10/20 16h00 GMT
  • Paris Live Weekend 16h03 - 16h30 GMT Sat-Sun
    Features and analysis 10/15 16h03 GMT
  • RFI English News flash 16h30 - 16h33 GMT Mon-Fri
    News bulletin 10/20 16h30 GMT
  • Paris Live Weekend 16h33 - 17h00 GMT Sat-Sun
    Features and analysis 10/15 16h33 GMT
To take full advantage of multimedia content, you must have the Flash plugin installed in your browser. To connect, you need to enable cookies in your browser settings. For an optimal navigation, the RFI site is compatible with the following browsers: Internet Explorer 8 and above, Firefox 10 and +, Safari 3+, Chrome 17 and + etc.
Europe

French Catalonia uneasy over Spanish turmoil

media A sign reads "Stop dividing Catalans now" in Spanish as a pro-union demonstration organised by the Catalan Civil Society organisation makes its way through the streets of Barcelona. REUTERS/Juan Medina

The French region of Pyrenées-Orientales -- known to some as "Northern Catalonia" is keeping an anxious eye on the crisis just across the border.

Taken over by France in the 17th century, many in this region nestled between the Pyrenees mountains and the Mediterranean retain close cultural links with Catalonia to the south.

"They have family ties, they go there on weekends," said Jean-Luc Pujol, co-founder of the political party Yes To A Catalan Country, which pushes for greater autonomy in the French region.

Home to some 470,000 people, Pujol said there were fears in the Pyrenees-Orientales of serious violence in Catalonia following its tumultuous independence referendum -- and of an economic fallout.

If Catalonia is the richest part of Spain, the Pyrenees-Orientales remains among France's poorest departments.

Separatists are "very much a minority" in the French region, said Pujol.

"But a large number of people have a lot of sympathy for the Catalans and are ready to defend their identity, without wanting to leave the French state."

Some in France even took an active role in preparations for Catalonia's banned October 1 referendum.

According to Pujol's party, several million ballots were printed by companies in the Pyrenees-Orientales and sent over the border.

Two demonstrations in the regional capital Perpignan have each gathered some 500 people protesting against the violent crackdown on the vote, which saw 90 percent back secession in a poll boycotted by many who reject independence.

Perpignan Mayor Jean-Marc Pujol called the shocking scenes of violence "unbearable, unjustifiable and reprehensible".

'Very dangerous situation'

As Catalan leaders weigh a possible declaration of independence this week, Pyrenees-Orientales senator Jean-Paul Alduy joined calls for international mediation of Spain's worst political crisis in a generation.

"It is a very dangerous situation," he said.

The prospect of a Catalan independence bid is cause for particular concern for the region's businesses.

For Bernard Fourcade, president of the local chamber of commerce, independence "seems rather unrealistic. Catalonia would be forced to leave Europe -- it seems complicated."

He added that the economic problems raised by the Catalan crisis were not being discussed enough.

"Perhaps over time it will come back to haunt us," he said.

Raymond Mitjavila, who runs businesses operating in both France and Spain including in Catalonia, said "economically, it will be a mess".

"Forty-five percent of our sales revenue comes from Spain," he added.

Mitjavila's parents, like many others, arrived in the Pyrenees-Orientales after fleeing the Spanish dictatorship of Francisco Franco.

"It's exasperating what's happening. In my heart, I'm with them," he said of the separatists.

"But what is happening is scary."

Few in the Pyrenees-Orientales are mulling a similar breakaway bid -- Jaume Roure, president of local pro-Catalan party Unitat Catalana, said the region was "light-years away from independence".

But campaigners are pushing for "Northern Catalonia" to win special status within the framework of the French constitution, similar to that held by the island of Corsica.

If the Catalan crisis "can reinforce a sense of identity ... attachment to France in the Pyrenees-Orientales is very, very strong," said mayor Jean-Marc Pujol.

 - with AFP

Related
 
Sorry but the period of time connection to the operation is exceeded.