Otto Ozols, writer
From time to time people ask me – why do you defend the Catalans so fiercely? Friends, my answer is simple – Catalans are Latvians.
Perhaps not in the literal sense – their land borders on a somewhat different sea, but in a philosophical sense. In terms of European values in the deepest and widest sense – yes, Catalans are Latvians! Catalans are also Finns, Estonians, Lithuanians, Norwegians – a self-respecting European nation which has earned the right to self-determination — neither more nor less than Latvians, Finns, Estonians and others. The fact that we live in a democratic European Union in the 21st century is in no sense a reason for denying them that right. On the contrary – we must in principle respect the fundamental rights of nations. This is the basic constitutional and foundation of our own Latvian Republic, our rock-bottom legal underpinning. If we start to doubt the validity of it, then we call into question the validity of our own right to self-determination.
And the most important thing – if we condone the persecution of any nation in Europe, then it is inevitable that eventually other nations will be persecuted in Europe. There may come a day when the list of persecuted nations will include, once again, our own nation – the Latvians… as happened in our comparatively recent tragic history. Today the Catalans are persecuted in the EU simply because they are Catalonians. We must no turn a blind eye to it, for then our cynical blindness will open the door to perdition, as it has happened before in the history of Europe, when the fates of small nations were traded for the interests of imperial powers, for arrogant, unfeeling aggrandizement. I will never accept such a thing, I will never be silent, and I will never give up. Defending the Catalans, I defend also the Latvians and all other European nations. I have experienced the totalitarian nightmare of the USSR, and therefore I will stand firm for the core principles of democracy, its values and human rights.
P.S. I have said to the Catalans that they could become the fourth Baltic republic, no matter that they are on a different sea. They like the idea. What would you say, if Catalonia became the fourth Baltic republic?
Picture: together with a great friend of Latvia, the Catalans musician, conductor Francesc Bitlloch at the very start of the Catalan Way, in El Perthus on the border with France. The choir of Francesc, and he himself, of course, have sung the Catalan version of „Saule, Pērkons, Daugava“ – „Ara és l’hora” – especially for Mārtiņš Brauns.