Puigdemont warns Sánchez that the roadmap towards independence remains “unchanged”
The leader of the Spanish Socialist Party (PSOE) says the plans are “illegal and unilateral” but that he could offer a better fiscal settlement to Catalonia. The Catalan President and the Spanish presidential hopeful met on Tuesday in Barcelona in the first of what they hope could be a series of meetings to restart the dialogue between Madrid and Barcelona. The Catalan President thanked Sánchez for his willingness to talk to him, but regretted his comments about a potential “coexistence crisis” in Catalonia.
Barcelona (CNA).- The Catalan President, Carles Puigdemont, and the leader of the Spanish Socialist Party (PSOE), Pedro Sánchez, met on Tuesday in what the Spanish presidential hopeful said could be the end of the “institutional stalemate” between Madrid and Barcelona. Puigdemont told Sánchez that the Catalan Government roadmap towards independence remains “unchanged”, while the Socialist warned that any referendum would be “illegal and unilateral”.
Puigdemont thanked Pedro Sánchez for his willingness to talk to him, but expressed his concerns with the Socialist’s comments about a potential “coexistence crisis” in Catalonia. Puigdemont also regretted the fact that Sánchez has not condemned the judiciary process against the 9th of November vote, which will see former Catalan President Artur Mas and three other prominent figures from the last executive being prosecuted by the Spanish Supreme Court for allowing a non-binding vote on independence.
At a press conference after the meeting, Pedro Sánchez said that the talks will be a “thaw” in Catalan-Spanish relations after four years of “institutional stalemate” caused by the attitude of People’s Party (PP) leader and current Spanish President, Mariano Rajoy. Sánchez said he is willing to talk about everything “within the law”, and argued that there is a “lot of room of manoeuvre” within the Constitutional framework.
“Solutions will only come through dialogue and I hope this will be the first of many meetings”, Sánchez told journalists in Barcelona. However, he warned that there are no “easy or immediate” solutions to the crisis in Catalonia, which he considers will only be solved if he becomes Spanish President.
Despite his willingness to talk, Sánchez stated his frontal opposition to the Catalan Government roadmap towards independence, calling it “illegal and unilateral”. According to Sánchez, there are a number of Catalans who reject the “current stagnation” but also the idea of independence. “A majority of Catalans voted for change and I would like the forces of change to come together to offer Catalonia the type of change that it needs, and that is also needed by the whole of Spain”, he said.
Sánchez presented to Puigdemont his proposal to better fit Catalonia within Spain, including a compromise to create a bilateral commission between Madrid and Barcelona and the start of a constitutional reform. The Catalan Government has rejected the calls for reform of the Constitution since they don’t include the right of self-determination of Catalonia. In fact, the investiture agreement between the PSOE and Unionist Ciutadans explicitly rejects granting a referendum to Catalonia. For Sánchez, the “priority” should be reform of the fiscal settlement in Catalonia.