“Independence appears as an alternative of deep democracy & social justice,” Xabier Macias at #CoppietersAwards
For the first edition of the Coppieters Awards, the Centre Maurits Coppieters recognised Alex Salmond, Scottish National Party (SNP) International Affairs Spokesperson, for his dedication and advocacy for Scotland’s right to redefine its political future among a European family of nations. His contribution to advancing Scotland’s democratic case for devolution and independence has re-energised the people of Scotland, Europe and beyond. Mr Alex Salmond received the award on 14th of December 2016 in Brussels for his service to Scotland and Europe.
The Coppieters Awards are an initiative of our foundation to honour individuals and organisations that stand out in defence of diversity, rights of minorities, self-determination, peace, and democracy in united Europe. The President of the Centre Maurits Coppieters, Xabier Macias, also addressed Mr Alex Salmond and the audience during the ceremony before presenting the trophy. You can read her full speech below.
“Good evening friends of Center Maurits Coppieters. Thank you for being with us today. Mr Salmond, thank you very much for accepting our invitation.
Our organization, the foundation of the European Free Alliance, will celebrate 10 years of existence in 2017 and this ceremony is the best way to kick-off this commemoration.
Our objective is to promote ideas in favour of diversity, peace, human rights, social rights, and especially, to generate arguments in favour of the right of all peoples to self-government and independence. In our work, we have gathered foundations and cultural organizations of peoples and stateless nations from Galicia, Brittany, Wales, Flanders, Basque country, Aragon, Catalonia, Valencian country, Balearic Islands, Corsica, Sardinia, Occitania, Macedonia, Transylvania and Rijeka. Today, Centre Maurits Coppieters is composed of 17 organisations in 8 Member States of the European Union.
We also have, among our members, the Kurdish Institute of Brussels, to which I would like to dedicate a special salute of solidarity following the attack they have recently suffered in their headquarters in Brussels.
Over the past 10 years, we have been weaving fraternal bonds, sharing initiatives and getting to know the social and political movements that drive our communities towards progress and emancipation.
From Centre Maurits Coppieters, we have sought to facilitate this work by demanding the use of languages in all fields; highlighting cultural diversity as an essential element of the European project; proposing the democratization of the Union with internal enlargement; and formulating new models of economic governance to overcome the current policies of cuts in social spending, which are affecting millions of people – especially peripheral nations – and drastically increasing socialinequality.
We also wanted to update the understanding of the democratic right to self-determination, as was indicated earlier by Professor Daniel Turp, “notre ami québécois”, with a study that will be published in the first months of 2017.
This path has been shaped with many publications, videos and seminars, which we have celebrated throughout Europe: from Aland to Santiago de Compostela, accompanying the processes of progress and recovery of sovereignty of peoples, where we believe the true democratic alternative lies in contrast to the current systemic and economic crisis. We have seen this, for example, here in Flanders and in Corsica, where we are delighted to have in government our former member of the Bureau, Fabianna Giovannini. We also see this in Catalonia, working with Fundació Josep Irla and CIEMEN to assert the democratic will of the majority of the Catalan people against the stubborn and regressive position of the Spanish government.
But if there has been a process, which we have followed with great interest and admiration, it is without a doubt, Scotland and the Scottish National Party, because they have opened an irreversible path towards the recognition of the rights of peoples to independence in Europe. They have achieved this by revitalizing the discourse of historic movements of self-determination. The Scottish example tells us that self-government is about cultural identity, but also about social rights and sovereignty: political sovereignty and full decision-making powers over resources and the economy. In this way, independence appears as an alternative; an alternative for the deepening of democracy and greater social justice for our peoples.
In this Scottish trajectory, from which we are learning so much, the figure of Alex Salmond stands out. This is precisely what we are highlighting with this first edition of the Coppieters awards. Mr Salmond perfectly represents what we would like to symbolize with this initiative: the consistent, democratic and intelligent defence of cultural, social and political rights of nations and peoples. With this distinction we would like to reward his excellent political contribution, and humbly, to further diffuse the experience of the Scottish people on their way to independence.
Thank you for being with us tonight, Mr Salmond. For me, it is a privilege to present this distinction and prize to you, Mr Salmond, on behalf of the foundation and its members.”