Rajoy rules out ‘mediation or negotiation’
Spanish president insists talks on political conflict can only happen if Catalan president “returns to legality”
Spanish President Mariano Rajoy has responded to calls for mediation in the political crisis in Catalonia by adamantly ruling out any talks with the Catalan president. On Thursday, Rajoy responded to various offers and calls for mediation, insisting that “the unity of Spain cannot be the subject of any mediation or negotiation.” Addressing Catalan President Carles Puigdemont, Rajoy added that only if he “returns to legality” can there be any hope of “dialogue, talks and agreement”.
Rajoy’s comments came a day after the Catalan president issued a statement stressing the need for mediation in the conflict, and Puigdemont reiterated his government’s willingness to accept one of the offers so far put forward. “Peace, dialogue and agreement are part of the political culture of our people, but we have not received any positive response from Spain to any of the mediation options that are already on the table,” the president said.
"The unity of Spain cannot be the subject of any mediation or negotiation"
Mariano Rajoy · Spanish president
One option for mediation came from Barcelona’s bar association. Puigdemont will meet an independent mediation committee led by the lawyers’ association on Friday. The committee will be made up of representatives of the CCOO and UGT trades unions, the UB and UAB universities, the PIMEC business association, Barcelona’s Chamber of Commerce, and the United Nations Association of Spain, among others.
Talks instead of threats
The word mediation was also on the lips of Catalan vice president, Oriol Junqueras, on Thursday. In an interview with La Sexta television channel, Junqueras criticized Rajoy for his “habit of making threats” and instead advised him to accept the alternative option of mediation and to begin a process of dialogue.
Since the October 1 referendum, the Catalan president has been just one of many key political figures calling for international mediation in the conflict in Catalonia. In fact, Spain’s left-wing Podemos party as well as the Catalan socialists have both offered their services as mediators between the two governments.
However, negotiation does not appear to be something that the state authorities are even considering. Apart from Rajoy’s adamant rejection of talks on Thursday, the King of Spain notably omitted any mention of dialogue as a solution to the political crisis in his televised address earlier in the week. According to Puigdemont, the king disappointed “many people in Catalonia,” said Puigdemont; “they expected another tone and an appeal for dialogue.”