“Emergence of the democratic right to self-determination is more alive than ever,” Daniel Turp on #CoppietersAwards
Last 14 December 2016, Centre Maurits Coppieters foundation recognised Alex Salmond, Scottish National Party (SNP) International Affairs Spokesperson, at an award ceremony in Brussels for his service to Scotland and Europe with the first ever Coppieters award to honour individuals and organisations that stand out in defence of diversity, rights of minorities, self-determination, peace, and democracy in united Europe.
The Coppieters award ceremony featured, speakers from across Europe, including Daniel Turp, Professor of international and constitutional law, on behalf of the Jury and Advisory Scientific Council of Centre Maurits Coppieters. You can read his full speech below.
“Monsieur le Premier ministre Alex Salmond, Monsieur le Ministre-Président Geert Bourgeois, Mesdames les députées Marta Rovira et Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh, Monsieur le Président du Centre Maurits Coppiters, cher Xabier Macias,
Mesdames et messieurs, Je tiens d’abord à remercier les dirigeants du Centre Maurits Coppiters (CMC) et de l’Alliance libre européenne (ALE) de m’associer à cette première – et historique – cérémonie de remise du Prix Maurits Coppiters.
The CMC, whose Scientific Council I represent here this evening, has once again decided to perpetuate the memory of Maurits Coppiters by instituting a new Prize in his name. We thus honor anew a political leader who was president of the Flemish Parliamentary Assembly and one of the first members of the European Parliament elected by universal suffrage in June 1979. There, and throughout his whole political life, he was the spokesman for a “Europe of peoples and regions”.
The Coppiters Prize aims to highlight the contribution of individuals and organizations, such as Coppiters himself, who defend cultural and linguistic diversity, favor intercultural dialogue, and promote the right of self-determination and the national rights of peoples and minorties, but also peace and democracy within a united Europe.
For the first Coppiters Prize, the choice of the man who incarnates and embodies the democratic quest for an independent Scotland in Europe was seen by the members of the jury as the best of choices. As leader of the Scottish National Party, Alex Salmond led his party to two electoral victories and allowed the Scottish people to exercise its “right to decide” in the referendum of 18 September 2014. Following the referendum and in a honourable gesture, Alex Salmond passed the torch to Nicola Sturgeon who, as Prime Minister, continues the Scottish people’s endeavour for more freedom. Still today, he sits in the Parliament of Westminster where he was elected with a record number of 55 other colleagues of the SNP. It is conviction and perseverance which the CMC emphasizes in granting its first Maurits
Coppiters Award to Alex Salmond.
Dear First Minister Salmond, you have contributed to the emergence of a democratic right to the selfdetermination
of peoples. This right is more alive than ever. And it is important that the peoples of Europe, including your Scottish people, continue their struggle for the recognition and respect of this fundamental collective right. The achievement of independence for a people is a matter of conviction and perseverance. And behind a people, and sometimes before it, there are also leaders who demonstrate such conviction and perseverance. You are, Alex Salmond, such a leader. Today, the Coppiters Award recognizes your leadership at its face and with full value.
In two days, the international community will celebrate the adoption, 50 years ago, of the International Covenants on Human Rights. Article 1, common to these treaties, states that “[a]ll peoples have the right to self-determination” and that ” [b]y virtue of that right, they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development”. This recognition of a “universal” right of peoples to self-determination in 1966 has, without doubt, contributed, as the Maurits Coppiters Center will illustrate in a collective work I am the co-editor with the young Catalan academic Marc Sanjaume-Calvet, to the emergence of a democratic right to self-determination.
Au nom des membres du Conseil scientifique du Centre Maurits Coppiters, et une fois de plus, Monsieur le Premier ministre Salmond, je vous transmets mes félicitations les plus chaleureuses.”