"Barcelona, capital del Mediterrani. Democràcia local i combat per la pau" is the title of Oscar Monterde's publication, result of the Research Grant "Llegat Pasqual Maragall 2019". The book analyzes the international action of Barcelona in the Mediterranean region during the period of the mayoralty of Pasqual Maragall within the framework of a post-cold war regional historical and political context.
"This study is framed within the need to project Pasqual Maragall's thought into the future and to boost the debate on it", said Oriol Nel·lo, professor of geography at the UAB and patron of the Catalunya Europa Foundation. The presentation ceremony, held in a suitable environment, the Institute of Mediterranean Studies (IEMed), also served to open a debate on the present and future of relations between Mediterranean cities and the role that the city of Barcelona.
Oscar Monterde, author of the research and doctor in contemporary history from the UB, explained the 3 main axes on which the research is structured. On the one hand, the role of the city network in Pasqual Maragall's international action as a whole, and how the first forms of cooperation between Mediterranean cities were woven. Second, the book focuses on those actions that go beyond the strict powers of the cities, among others, local diplomacy, cooperation between cities and the construction of peace from the municipality. Monterde says that cities can contribute to give a more human dimension to international relations, with a direct impact on people's lives, as happened with the relationship that was created between Barcelona and Sarajevo in the context of the Bosnian War. Finally, Monterde adds the European dimension in relations between Mediterranean cities. In effect, the concepts of "local democracy" and "combat for peace" are key in the great axes that draw the thought of Pasqual Maragall.
Therefore, Barcelona has had extensive experience as a local actor in international relations. For Anna Terron, director of FIIAPP and patron of the FCE "we must recover this legacy to carry out an exercise of forward projection". The projects of local democracy and the fight for peace "are vectors with a very clear projection towards the future, especially if we look towards Asia."
Antoni Segura, president of CIDOB and professor of contemporary history, highlighted the impulse of metropolitan areas as subjects of international relations carried out by Pasqual Maragall. Sure, but it warned of the setback that has occurred in recent years, caused by a loss of dialogue and multilateral cooperation between countries due to the great potholes experienced, among others, that of the migratory crisis. "I am pessimistic about the Barcelona Process and I think that we have lost a large part of this legacy," he lamented.
According to Senén Florensa, president of the IEMed, Barcelona must contribute to develope the role that was drawn during the Barcelona process, that is, working for an area of ??peace and stability in the Mediterranean context, for shared progress and for dialogue among the peoples. "Pasqual Maragall demonstrated that it was necessary to exercise civic leadership, based on key concepts such as urban democracy or dialogue," Florensa stated.
Despite the fact that the situation in the Mediterranean has worsened compared to the 1990s, we must continue working to achieve "fewer walls and more bridges", as Oscar Monterde said. The Europe of cities is one of Maragall's great driving ideas that continues to this day to face the great Mediterranean challenges: the growing inequalities between the shores and within the shores themselves and the climate emergency that threatens to convert the cities in uninhabitable territory.
Check the book here.