Catalan and Spanish presidents speak for first time since independence trial verdict
Quim Torra reproaches Pedro Sánchez for not answering his calls during the Barcelona unrest
The presidents of Catalonia and Spain have spoken for the first time since the sentencing of 9 independence leaders last October sparked a wave of major protests and altercations.
It was a 15-minute phone call, described by Catalan authorities as "cordial," which comes after two months of crossed accusations and mutual distrust amid increased political tensions.
Catalan president Quim Torra reproached Spain’s acting president Pedro Sánchez for not answering his repeated phone calls and also criticized him for taking a "hard" stance on the independence issue during the campaign leading to last month’s general election.
While Sánchez’s Socialist party came first in the vote, his chances of forming a left-wing government depend on the votes from pro-independence parties’ lawmakers in the Spanish Congress — and Torra’s acquiescence might prove crucial to Sánchez’s bid to stay in power.
Sánchez willing to meet with Torra
Despite Torra's criticisms, during their conversation, Sánchez told the Catalan president that he is willing to meet with him face-to-face once he has been confirmed as Spanish president and has formed a new government.
The Catalan authorities welcomed the news of a future meeting, even if it is within the context of a round of talks with the heads of Spain's autonomous regions, a detail that Torra later said Sánchez had left out of their conversation.
Catalan government spokeswoman, Meritxell Budó, said that "for Pedro Sánchez to recognize there is a political conflict is important," and she called for bilateral talks with "guarantees," without which she said, "there will be no stability in Spain."
Spanish government sources said that Sánchez's main aim is "to reduce territorial tensions" and resume dialogue, which should also include other key issues in Catalonia, such as "health, education, infrastructure, transport, dependency, and industry."