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  By a Newsnet reporter

The Spanish government is continuing in its attempts to construct European support for its refusal to acknowledge the right of Catalonia to self-determination, and to hamper independence movements within European states. 

Speaking yesterday to foreign ministers from the 57 member states of the Organisation for Security and Co-Operation in Europe (OSCE), the Spanish foreign minister José Manuel García-Margallo urged the OSCE to keep working "to build ever greater political unities", and to fight against what he described as "exclusive nationalisms".

Speaking at the ministerial summit in Dublin, Mr García-Margallo claimed that independence movements threaten European stability and security, warning of the "potential descructiveness of particularist and exclusive nationalisms".  He added that within a democratic state: "It is obvious that the reason for asking for unilateral separation is not exactly to seek greater democracy or liberty."  

The Spanish foreign minister warned that the goal of such movements was "not the search for the common good, but rather to break the framework of solidarity which makes living together possible," and insisted that independence movements were founded on "irrelevancy and triviality".

The Spanish government hopes that OSCE members will support Madrid's refusal to recognise an independence referendum in Catalonia.  The Partido Popular government insists the referendum is illegal and against the Spanish constitution.  Despite this, parties supporting the referendum and Catalan independence won a large majority in the recent Catalan elections and reiterated their intention to hold an independence referendum in Catalonia within the next four years.  

The Partido Popular is actively engaged in building alliances with conservative parties in other European states, and pays particular attention to its relationships with conservative parties in states where there are active independence or regionalist movements such as the UK, Romania and Slovakia. 

Romania and Slovakia are both home to large Hungarian speaking minorities which are seeking greater autonomy.  During the recent conference of European conservative parties in Bucharest, the Partido Popular delegation sought support for a possible motion in the European Parliament which if passed would ensure that Scotland or Catalonia would have to reapply for EU membership as new candidates.  

Last month, the Spanish press reported that the Partido Popular's deputy secretary for projects, Esteban Gonzalez-Pons, had announced that he had reached an agreement with the British Conservatives to "give a common response" to possible Scottish and Catalan independence.  Mr Gonzalez-Pons was quoted as saying that he had reached an agreement with the British Conservatives during their annual conference in Birmingham in October, and that the terms of the agreement would be finalised during additional meetings in December, which would also be attended by representatives of the Scottish Labour party.

After Mr Gonzalez Pons's remarks were published in the Spanish media and Newsnet Scotland, the Scottish Conservatives issued a denial that they had made any agreement with the Partido Popular, and insisted they had no plans to make any such agreement in the future.  However their spokesperson admitted that Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson had indeed met with Mr Gonzalez-Pons during the recent Conservative party conference.  

Despite numerous requests from Newsnet Scotland, the party refused supply details about the topics discussed during the meeting, and while insisting they had no plans to reach any deal, did not deny that there would be future meetings between Scottish Conservatives and the Partido Popular representative.

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