CATALONIA’s National Day – La Diada – will be “a turning point” on the way to a Catalan republic, according to the leader of one of the groups behind the celebration.

Elisenda Paluzie, president of the Catalan National Congress (ANC), was speaking to journalists as she launched her organisation’s website for the Diada on September 11, which is expected to attract hundreds of thousands of visitors to the main celebration in Barcelona.

In a reference to the anticipated trial of political leaders who have been in jail since Catalonia declared independence last October, she said: “We have to start with strength in the fall because it will be intense.

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“This year’s day should be a turning point to get the republic.”

This year’s event will start with a giant wave from volunteers with coral-coloured banners, which will link several parts of the Catalan capital.

Diada organisers have said that as many as a million people could take over the town centre for the day, with many visitors coming from abroad. Foreign Friends of Catalonia, an initiative to internationalise the right to self-determination in Catalonia which was formed in February, said it expected around 150 “friends” of 15 nationalities to take part.

The National:

“The citizen platform Foreign Friends of Catalonia has launched a campaign so that its supporters can share the celebration of the day staying at to private houses of Catalan families who, voluntarily, offer themselves to welcome them,” said the group.

“The objective of the initiative is that guests can enjoy, from September 8 to 11, the atmosphere of the day, sharing with them various cultural activities and constitutional acts.

“It is anticipated the number of foreign friends will be more than 150 of about 15 nationalities, including journalists, politicians, activists, lawyers and academics.”

Among the activities planned for the foreign friends are a conference on the internationalisation of the Catalan crisis, with speakers from the USA, Italy, Quebec, France and Germany and an institutional event involving senior Catalan political figures.

Their visit culminates in their attendance at the main event in Barcelona.

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“On September 11, the plan is for our foreign friends and their host families to join us in Barcelona where we’ll all march together under a ‘Foreign Friends of Catalonia’ banner made especially for the occasion,” said the group.

It will be followed by a Diada “Foreign Yellow Dinner” for them and their hosts, to raise funds for the Catalan political prisoners.

A delegation from the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Catalonia will visit Barcelona the following week when SNP member Ronnie Cowan will keep readers of The National up to date with a daily diary.