President insists Spain's king 'should apologize' to Catalan people
Some parties see the monarch decision not to hold talks with Torra as a "mistake" while Cs accuse the Catalan leader of playing tricks
President Quim Torra insisted Spain's King Felipe VI should meet him to learn about the political situation in Catalonia and "apologize" for condoning police violence during the October 1 referendum.
On Wednesday, the monarch rejected meeting with the Catalan leader. Felipe VI forwarded a letter by Torra and two previous Catalan presidents to the Spanish president Pedro Sánchez, one that urged him to listen to Catalans demands and regretted that his attitude during the independence process "opened great wounds."
Monarch should play 'neutral' role, says Torra
The kind of Spain is visiting Catalonia on Friday for the inauguration of the Mediterranean Games. President Torra suggested they could hold bilateral talks there, and insisted the monarch should play a "neutral" and "respectful" role in the Catalan conflict. The Catalan leader is not confirming if he will attend the event himself yet, while his team is waiting for the king to make "gestures" towards Catalonia.
Torra said that if the Spanish king "is willing to inaugurate the Games in Tarragona, should also show the responsibility to listen what a good number of citizens think and to respect the opinion of Catalans ." He stated the monarch should "apologize to the Catalan people" for his speech on October 3, when he condemned referendum organizers for being "outside the law," accused them of showing "disloyalty to the powers of the State" and "breaking democratic principles." In that speech, King Felipe VI did not mention police actions to stop the vote nor showed sympathy for those injured.
'Huge mistake taking sides,' says vice president
"The monarchy committed a very huge mistake on October 3, taking sides. And now, it is persisting on this mistake" by refusing to meet with Catalan leaders, said vice president Pere Aragonès, from the Esquerra Republicana party (ERC). The vice president said that he would respect any decision by the Catalan leader on whether or not to attend the inauguration of the Mediterranean Games if Felipe VI doesn't show his willingness to discuss, with him, what happened last October.
However, the main opposition party in Catalonia, Ciutadans (Cs), accused the Catalan government of disrespecting the king for not having officially confirmed yet whether he will attend the inauguration of the Games. Cs MP Lorena Roldán said that the Catalan president "doesn't have any problem" attending pro-independence events but he doubts about the Mediterranean Games because he "doesn't want to be in the same place as Felipe VI." Roldán criticized Torra for only being president "to pro-independence Catalans." "They want us to believe they want dialogue. But they declare Felipe VI persona non-grata. They don't fool us," she said.
CatECP regrets lack of dialogue
The king's refusal to hold a bilateral meeting with Torra to listen about Catalans demands was regretted by Catalunya-En Comú Podem (CatECP), an in-between-blocs party, not in favor nor against independence, and aligned with Spanish Podemos. "It would be a good start for a new era of dialogue for someone designated by blood, not elected by anyone, to at least take the step of meeting a democratically elected official such as Torra," said the party spokeswoman, Elisenda Alamany.
"He is head of state because he inherited the post from a fascist regime such as the Franco dictatorship. We don't care about him. His opinion on Catalonia was crystal clear on October 3, and we don't recognize him," said far-left CUP MP Natàlia Sánchez. According to her, it is "cynical" for the king to reject a meeting with Torra arguing that "political questions are discussed in political spheres" while he "took sides in favor of state violence" during the Catalan referendum. "We are not surprised," she added.
July 9 meeting between Spanish and Catalan presidents
While the Spanish government said on Wednesday that there won't be a bilateral meeting between Torra and the king, they also announced a summit between the Catalan and Spanish presidents for July 9. The Spanish government delegate in Catalonia, Teresa Cunillera, urged the Catalan president to show "respect" to attend the Mediterranean Games out of "respect".