'We are willing to negotiate tomorrow, unconditionally'
Quim Torra urges Spain to open dialogue with the Catalan government and asks Juncker for mediation
The presidential candidate Quim Torra urged the Spanish government to open dialogue with his government if he is elected as new Catalan president. "We are willing to negotiate tomorrow, unconditionally," said Torra in his investiture debate. "We ask Spain to sit on the same table with us to solve the political problems that we are facing. From government to government," he insisted. "We won't give up anything, not even reaching an agreement with the Spanish government," said Torra.
The presidential candidate also called on the European Union to mediate. Speaking in English, he addressed European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker: "The Catalan crisis cannot go on for one more second. Catalan people deserve the support and mediation of the European community." Torra warned that the Catalan situation is "unacceptable in a 21st century democracy" in Europe.
"I've asked Spain and the European Union for dialogue. But I also urge dialogue amongst us, Catalans," Torra added, urging politicians in the Catalan parliament to avoid the way of "insult" and to speak to each other.
Torra said that his term would be "provisional" as they see it as the "best way to protect political prisoners and exiled." "Democracy is at stake," he added, saying that Carles Puigdemont, sacked by the Spanish government, is the "legitimate president" of Catalonia and should be able to be reinstated "as soon as possible."
The presidential candidate also said that his government will work to "build a Republic" and follow the mandate of the October 1 referendum. "If I gain the trust of the chamber and we start this term, the government will assume full responsibility of its actions," he insisted, warning that what they do in the future shouldn't affect "those in prison or exile." "We want to advance toward the Republic, and that is entirely our responsibility," he insisted.
Torra also promised in his speech to start a constituent process "from the bottom to the top" to "build a Republic." "We have a unique opportunity, let's use it. Let's design from scratch" what we want, he said. According to him this process should mean "real change" for Catalonia, with a model based on "equality and fraternity" where no one would feel excluded. Torra said this constituent process would end up with the draft of a new constitution.
In his speech, Torra also promised to reopen the network of Catalan delegations abroad. The Spanish government shut them all but the one in Brussels in October, when it triggered Article 155 of its Constitution. "We'll restore, consolidate and expand the Catalan delegations abroad," Torra said.
The presidential candidate promised that his government will find ways to implement all social laws challenged by the Spanish government and suspended by the Constitutional Court in recent years. Spain’s courts have suspended laws such as one aimed at tackling energy poverty, climate change or equality between men and women. Torra also said that the Catalan government will withdraw a lawsuit against the organizer of the 2014 non-binding vote on independence. The lawsuit was presented by the Catalan administration while controlled by Madrid against the recommendations of the Catalan civil servants.