Catalonia stops short of independence as talks with Madrid are proposed by it`s leader
On Tuesday the leader of Catalonia’s government called for a reduction in tensions in its standoff with Madrid over a bid for independence from Spain in the wealthy northeastern region, Reuters reports.
On 1 October Catalonia, a Spanish autonomy with a population of 7.5 million held a referendum seeking independence. The Spanish authorities declared it illegal and tried to prevent voting from taking place. Over 800 were injured in clashes with the police.
The referendum was held with 90 percent voting in favor of independence. The Catalonian government accepted although only 43 percent of voters attended.
On Tuesday Carlos Puigdemont, the head of the Catalonian government, halted efforts seeking the explicit support of the chamber for the declaration of independence in a vote. The move would have closed the door to resolve the matter via negotiations, albeit with the declaration now plunging Spain into the unknown.
“With our differences … we make up one people,” Puigdemont told the regional parliament in Barcelona.
“I assume the mandate that Catalonia should become an independent state in the form of a republic … I propose suspending the effects of the declaration of independence to undertake talks to reach an agreed solution,” Puigdemont told the regional parliament in Barcelona.
The Spanish government has said any unilateral declaration of independence would be illegal and has promised action ‘to restore law and democracy’ if the parliament of the autonomous and affluent northeastern region presses ahead.
E arlier the European parliament has demonstrated unprecedented cohesion on the issue of Catalonia. On 4 October it called the pending referendum ‘illegal’ with practically all the deputies voting in favor of the resolution. This is not common for an organization representing very different political forces.
Even the French deputy Marin Le Pen, who accuses the European parliament of being a foe to national identities, failed to support the Catalonian separatists. Most deputies accused the Catalonian authorities of irresponsibility for using popular dissatisfaction to reach political goals and provoking clashes with the police whose actions were termed as an overreaction.
The deputies agreed that dialogue is the only way to resolve the conflict between Madrid and Barcelona with possible mediation of Brussels. As Frans Timmermans, deputy chairman of the European Comission put it: “One can struggle for the implementation of a law, but should not ignore it.”
Guy Verhofstadt, the former Belgian Prime-Minister with his own experience of supporting separatists said: “Compromise is not a shame in politics.” His home Flandria remains a part of Belgium as the result of long and complicated talks.
“Men and women, not the states, make the world. States are being established to make life more comfortable,” Verhofstadt said.