A CATALAN mayor has urged Scotland to do more to explain Catalonia’s plight to an international audience as “brothers, sisters and citizens of Europe”.

Marta Madrenas, mayoress of Girona, was speaking to The National yesterday, as she and a group of local authority colleagues from the Catalan Association of Municipalities (ACM) prepared to leave Glasgow after a five-day exchange of cultural ideas with Scottish councils.

She said she wanted to explain what was happening in Catalonia, where “our essential rights, our human rights are oppressed”.

“We think the Scottish people can understand us better than another regions,” said Madrenas. “But we want more – we don’t want only Scottish people to understand us we need the democratic people of Scotland to help us.

“We need hard positions across Europe for example – to explain clearly and make representations to the Spanish authorities.

“Speak with them and tell them ‘Spain you are not a democracy. You are abusing democratic norms and you should change. If not we don’t want to work with you’.

“Democratic people should be allowed to vote in an election. If you believe in human rights you should allow this – you cannot close your eyes and let it pass because we are brothers and sisters and citizens of Europe, all of us.”

Foreign policy is a matter reserved to Westminster, and the Scottish Government has said the issue of Catalan independence should be settled politically and democratically.

However, Madrenas said making a noise about the right of self-determination was important: “Noise is important for us. Yesterday I was writing a tweet about Joan McAlpine [convener of Holyrood’s Culture, Tourism, Europe and External Relations committee] who met us, and Spanish people answered me – ‘you invented this, where can we see this, you are lying’.

“We need to show we are not lying. It’s also important to do communal projects with cities of Catalonia and say ‘we don’t want to work with the Spanish cities because they are not democratic. We want to work with Catalan cities’. It’s important to say this publicly. All democratic people should say this. We need public declarations, not symbolic, but real.”

She added: “I am sad for Spanish people because they don’t know what is happening. They believe the lies of the Spanish state. They don’t know the truth and we need to demonstrate we are telling the truth to the Spanish people.

“You are the most European people I have talked with. We are Catalan people with the same sense of Europe – we are true Europeans and I think we can help you.”

Josep Cervera, president of the Association of Pro-Independence Municipalities (AMI), said he had expected a more positive reaction from Scottish authorities, but added: “I understand it is very difficult for them to understand our situation because here you have not suffered the situation we are suffering in Catalonia... I was expecting maybe a more supportive reaction, more backing.”

ACM president, David Saldoni, said they could learn much from Edinburgh’s festivals and other events across Scotland, which attracted private sponsorship.

By contrast, such events were paid for from the Catalan public purse and people expected to pay nothing to see them.

He said: “In our country the majority of municipalities finance culture by themselves. We have to work on this.

“In Catalonia the citizens are used to not paying anything. By paying a little bit culture will improve a lot.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “The Scottish Government supports the right of the Catalonian people to decide their own future.

“The External Affairs Secretary, Fiona Hyslop, recently wrote to the Spanish Ambassador and the First Minister made a joint statement with President Torra making clear our view that dialogue between the Spanish government and Catalonia’s political leaders is essential.

“We continue to encourage the Catalan and Spanish Governments to resolve their differences by mutually agreed democratic means.”