Torra to send letter to European leaders requesting help in solving crisis
In an interview, the new Catalan president insisted on the legitimacy of nominations for ministers
The new Catalan president, Quim Torra, has announced that in the coming week he plans to send a letter to European heads of state to request help in resolving the conflict between Catalonia and Spain.
He explained his plans in a TV interview with Catalan media El Punt Avui on May 20 2018. In the same interview, Torra also argued for the legitimacy of the officials he chose to nominate the day for ministers to his new government, adding that he is looking forward to the Spanish government’s reaction.
"They deserve to be ministers," insists Torra
Torra’s list of nominated ministers has quickly become the source of yet another clash between Spain and Catalonia. Among the individuals that Torra chose to be part of his cabinet-to-be are incarcerated officials Jordi Turull and Josep Rull, as well as leaders abroad Toni Comín and Lluís Puig. All four were also part of Carles Puigdemont’s government in the same posts, and were deposed by the implementation of Article 155 following a declaration of independence.
In the interview with the Catalan media, Torra insisted that Turull and Rull’s “political rights are intact,” adding that he trusts the Spanish Supreme Court judge will grant them the ability to provisionally leave prison in order to be able to carry out their duties as ministers, a motion the two officials requested immediately after their nomination.
Torra also showed conviction that Toni Comín and Lluís Puig would be able to assume their positions from Brussels, where they are currently residing. Referring to the four deposed officials, Torra defended: “They deserve to be ministers. It’s the minimum moral compensation we could provide to figures so prestigious as they are.”
Goal is “to win the case as a whole,” explains Torra
The new Catalan president defended that the nominations he chose are “democratically correct” and that “it should be democratically feasible” for Turull, Rull, Comín and Puig to assume their posts. Still, he urged “cautiousness” as the Spanish government decides what steps to take next.
Torra noted that, weeks before, a Spanish judge had blocked Jordi Sànchez, one of the candidates put forth for the presidency before Torra was ultimately appointed, from leaving prison in order to be attend his swearing-in debate. If Spain were to put up another roadblock, Torra explained he believes it will serve as “contrast” which he ensured “can help, case by case, to win the whole case in as a whole.”
The ministers are set to be inaugurated on Wednesday, and Torra hopes that once this happens, Article 155 will be immediately lifted. To back this up, the Catalan president argues that all conditions imposed by Article 155 “are being scrupulously met.” “It seems unimaginable to us that it wouldn’t be lifted and, if the State doesn’t do it, it will be infringing on a decree of the Senate and that would be a considerable constitutional crisis,” Torra pronounced.
It’s “evident” that Puigdemont is the “political leader,” Torra insists
Torra has also recently come under fire and questioning, recently, regards his traveling to Berlin to meet with predecessor Carles Puigdemont or even how much decision-making power the aforementioned would hold in the new government.
Regards the issue, Torra responded that the future executive is to work autonomously but “in a coordinated way” with Puigdemont, who Torra insists is the “legitimate president.” “The decisions will be made by the Catalan government but it’s evident that our political leader is him,” he emphasized, explaining that there will be meetings with Berlin done through video conference and in person.
Torra aims to meet with Rajoy and Sànchez
Quim Torra also voiced confidence that Spanish president Mariano Rajoy would agree to meet with him shortly, as regards the letter that the Catalan leader sent asking to speak. The Spanish head of state answered yes, but on one condition: that it should be within the Spanish framework. Meanwhile, Torra expressed that he wants to “speak about everything,” because “this situation cannot go on for a minute longer.”
The Catalan president explained that, in the meeting he wants to have with Rajoy, he plans to demand to learn the Spanish leader’s is for Catalonia, while also furthering that he doesn’t take the possibility of negotiating for the release of politicians in prison out of the equation. If they were to be found guilty of the crimes they are charged with, Torra is steadfast: it would be “impossible to accept” sentences of “10 to 15 years in prison.”
While waiting for a definitive, official answer from Mariano Rajoy, Torra divulged that he aims to meet with Pedro Sánchez, leader of the Socialist PSOE party, in a short time. The Catalan president explained his objective is to ask what the political leader’s proposal for Catalonia is, while stressing the “gravity” of having “political prisoners” and “people in exile,” demanding that Sànchez “not criminalize the right to self-determination.”
From Barcelona to Europe
Torra stated he is hopeful about European justice, that within Europe “all extradition requests will fail,” and assures that “Spain will face immense rejection of the judicialization of politics.” To explicitly request help from Europe, additionally, the Catalan president has furthered that he plans to send, on Tuesday, letters to heads of state around the continent detailing what is happening in Catalonia, says Torra. “We put ourselves at their disposition because we’ll only get out of this situation if we use dialogue and politics.”
The Catalan president has also reached out to work with Barcelona mayor Ada Colau, who is also the referent for a larger political platform in Catalonia which has not before positioned with either pro-independence or unionist blocs. Still, Torra admitted he would see as as positive, should the next municipal elections in the Catalan capital yield a pro-independence mayor; in fact, he sees the fact that this has not been the case as a “weakness in the independence roadmap.”
Twitter and legal action
Torra reiterated his apologies for tweets he made years ago which have recently come under fire for their criticisms of Spaniards. The Catalan president defended them as having been written with “irony” and regrets that now, as president, he’s been the target of insults on the social media platform.
While Torra accepts “legitimately” that some of the criticism be directed at him, he does not when it comes to his family. Indeed, some of the publications have been against his wife and his children, one of whom has a disability. Condemning this, he warned that his lawyer “will take any legal measures he deems appropriate.”