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24 / 05 / 2004
Antoni Mir forecasts that the main advance in the more widespread use of catalan will be in the private sector

This afternoon at Forum Barcelona 2004, the secretary of language policy in the Generalitat (Catalan Autonomous Government), Antoni Mir, outlined the language policy blueprint of the tripartite administration. Mr Mir, from Majorca, announced that, in the next four years “the main advance” in the more widespread use of Catalan “is likely to be in the private sector”, because it is inconceivable that in this day and age there are businesses and multinational companies unable to communicate with the consumer in Catalan.

At 5.30 pm, Antoni Mir took part in the closing session of the Dialogue “Linguistic Diversity, Sustainability and Peace”, which was presented at the Barcelona Convention Centre from 20th to 23rd May. The Catalan government representative explained that, “any business or company with a presence in Catalonia must be able to communicate in Catalan”, and that the administration is prepared to speak “of the how and when”, however it will reject the arguments made so far in favor of its “putting pressure” on the private sector.

Mir pointed out that it is unjust to talk about “coercion”, because we are talking about a citizen’s “civic right”. In this sense, the head of language policy said that just as there is a right to health and good diet, there is also the “legitimate right to speak Catalan in everyday life”. He posed the rhetorical question: “Catalan exists only in our region, so why should it not have every right to be our common language?” The secretary of the Generalitat reminded participants that Catalan cannot yet be described as an official language for public use, because there are some sectors of society where “the effects of legalization have not yet been fully introduced”.

Antoni Mir pointed out that the next four years should be used to bring about the smooth introduction of the Catalan language into all sectors of society. To achieve this aim, the head of language policy considers that the Generalitat should take on an “exemplary role”. The Maragall administration will adhere to the language policy, in such a way that the actions of the entire executive will be aimed at favoring the Catalan language. By way of example, Mir mentioned that the Generalitat is Catalonia’s largest client, and that defense of the territorial language will be a priority in the contracts to be drawn up over the next few years. The latest measures taken come in reference to the mobile telephone contract entered into by the Generalitat: a “full service in Catalan” was insisted upon by the Generalitat and AUNA was given the tender in collaboration with Siemens.

The “goal” of the Catalan government will be to strengthen and promote the language in three social fields: interpersonal relations, technology and the economy. But this should not be to the exclusion of other languages, because Mir says Catalonia is a “multilingual society” and that systems for learning other languages have already developed. He maintained that this should not prevent anyone coming to our country from finding in the Catalan language “an instrument for opening the way to the heart of Catalonia”. Lastly, Antoni Mir concluded that if there is “freedom of choice” this will only be guaranteed if there is a sufficient supply of products and services in Catalan”.