U.S. Position On Crimea Music To Spain's Ears

Spanish leaders say they're in the same situation as Ukraine. Spain's northeast region of Catalonia wants to break away from Madrid and plans to hold a referendum in November. The Spanish government says it is unconstitutional and refuses to recognize the result.

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ARUN RATH, HOST:

As I mentioned earlier, when Crimea voted overwhelmingly to break away from Ukraine, the west called that vote unconstitutional and did not recognize the results. It turns out that same dynamic is poised to play out elsewhere in Europe.

From Madrid, Lauren Frayer reports.

LAUREN FRAYER, BYLINE: Everything the U.S. has been saying about Crimea is music to Spanish leaders' ears. They say they're in the same situation as Ukraine. Spain's northeast region of Catalonia wants to break away from Madrid and plans to hold a referendum this November. Spain's foreign minister keeps drawing parallels to Crimea.

JOSE MANUEL GARCIA-MARGALLO: (Spanish spoken)

FRAYER: Under international law, nobody can recognize the Crimea referendum no matter how big of a majority votes for secession because it violates the Ukrainian constitution, Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo told reporters this week. The parallel with Catalonia is absolutely clear. Catalans say that's preposterous.

MARC GUERRERO: It has completely no sense. It's a silly comparison. This referendum in Crimea has been doing with military occupation and with guns.

FRAYER: Barcelona politician Marc Guerrero is a member of the Catalan ruling party that's planning a referendum on breaking away from Spain. He says the west can reject Crimea's vote but still support his, and Scotland's also set for later this year.

GUERRERO: They will hold a referendum, a democratic one, and they have no problem with this. At the end, democracy will win.

FRAYER: Another comparison that's often made with Crimea, Kosovo, which broke away from Serbia in 2008. Its independence was recognized by much of the world, but not by Russia or Spain.

For NPR News, I'm Lauren Frayer in Madrid.

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