Catalan president and vice president during 2017 referendum meet for first time in over 3 years
Puigdemont, in exile in Belgium, and Junqueras, recently pardoned after years in prison, hold first meeting since peak of independence conflict
Carles Puigdemont and Oriol Junqueras, the two men who were Catalonia’s president and vice president at the time of the 2017 independence referendum, met each other on Wednesday for the first time since the peak of the conflict.
After Catalonia’s sovereign institutions were dissolved by the then-People’s Party in the Spanish government, the various leaders and organizers of the 2017 vote on splitting from Spain took two different paths: some chose to stay in Catalonia and face legal repercussions, while others went into exile in different parts of Europe.
Junqueras, along with eight other independence leaders, was pardoned by the Spanish government in late June, as Pedro Sánchez’s Socialists aimed at fostering reconciliation over the conflict.
Since out of prison, the Esquerra Republicana president has gone on a European tour visiting some of the exiled leaders, and for the first time in more than three and a half years met with his former president Carles Puigdemont on Wednesday.
The last time they were seen publicly together was in the plenary session on October 27, 2017, when the declaration of independence was voted on.
Also present at the meeting were other pardoned leaders Carme Forcadell, Raül Romeva, and Dolors Bassa, while current ERC MP Meritxell Serret also travelled to visit the Junts per Catalunya president.
It is the third stop in a round of visits across the continent of Europe after first meeting with exiled ERC secretary general Marta Rovira and former CUP leader Anna Gabriel.
While Junqueras' initial intention was to meet with Puigdemont in Strasbourg, the long-awaited reunion of the two pro-independence leaders eventually took place in Waterloo.
"It will be another opportunity to talk to him and share visions about the present and the future," Junqueras said on Tuesday in Strasbourg.
The ERC party president also denied that any "reconciliation" was needed with Puigdemont, despite the political discrepancies and moments of tension that both have exhibited in the media and in books over the past three and a half years.