THE president of pro-Catalan independence group the Catalan National Assembly (ANC) has accused European leaders of being part of “an authoritarian revolution” which is frightened by the idea of “real” democracy.

Elisenda Paluzie was speaking exclusively to The National after addressing the All Party Parliamentary Group on Catalonia.

She said events in Catalonia, such as Spain’s denial of the right to hold a referendum, were a violation of fundamental rights “happening at the core of Europe”.

“Self-determination is our universal right. It’s recognised in the [UN] Covenant of Civil and Political Rights,” she said.

“To repress a referendum violently like the Spanish government police forces did is not only a violation of fundamental rights – but also it is repressing freedom of expression and is a violation of the universal right of self-determination.”

Paluzie spoke of other violations such as the “abuse of the justiciary” with the “invention” of crimes such as rebellion which implies violence: “That [violence] never occurred from the independentist side or the Catalan government.

“Then there’s this trial that will start in autumn with our leaders accused of rebellion and in the meantime the abuse of preventative jail without bail is something that should only be used in extreme cases of killers and people like that.

“The fact that the prisoners are in jail 700km (435 miles) from their home is punishing their families who have to travel for a day to visit for 40 minutes. One violation after the other.

“Some of the politicians were elected as MPs and now their suffrage is impeded because they have not been allowed by the government or the judges to run for the presidency of the Catalan government or be designated as ministers.”

Paluzie said there was no legal basis for Spain’s actions and yet the European Commission was looking the other way: “It’s because the EU has been working as a club of states and they defend the interests of the members. That and then self-determination and sovereignty of the people is something that EU leaders tend to deal with imperfectly.

“They are afraid of the decision in the hands of the peoples. They have become technocratic, bureaucratic – an authoritarian revolution within the EU that has a fear of real democracy.”

She said European leaders had welcomed other small countries into the EU club yet refused to recognise Catalonia’s case.

“All these Eastern European members and those from the Balkans – such as Croatia, Slovenia, Lithuania, Estonia – all acceded to independence through self-determination strategies that were not agreed with the state to whom they used to belong, so it’s very contradictory.

“These small states are very pro-European and Catalonia has a tradition of being pro-European Union.

“Economically they were interested in the accession of all these Eastern European countries. Germany has a more central role since then because they are closer to them and have stronger economic ties with them.

“In Spain they have a state that fulfils, more or less, the obligations of budget cuts they impose on southern Europe without complaining much and when there’s an issue and they turn away.”

Paluzie is also sceptical of the talk of “dialogue” from new Spanish president Pedro Sanchez, given his support for the policies of Mariano Rajoy’s conservative People’s Party (PP) government.

“I don’t think he will bring real political dialogue to the table, because he has no incentive to do so.

“His attitude and actions and decisions in the last month have been totally in line with the Spanish government.

“He accepted and agreed with the application of direct rule, he never complained about the jailing of political leaders and some of the ministers he has designated are really very aggressive towards Catalan self-determination, such as [foreign minister] Josep Borrell and others.

“But I understand the obligations of [Catalan] President Torra to remain open to negotiation, to dialogue.

“Since 2012 we have tried to negotiate but they say the unity of Spain is everything.”

Paluzie is in no doubt that an independent Catalonia could survive economically within Europe and says Spain would only suffer in the short-term.

And she is convinced independence will come sooner, rather than later.

She commented: “As long as we have an independence majority in parliament and in elections the option is there to find a solution – to get independence.

Adding: “We have to find the right moment or opportunity to create it and seize it.

“It will appear in the near future.”