Catalan President to offer Spanish PM the opportunity for dialogue after November 9's vote
The President of the Catalan Government, Artur Mas, announced on Wednesday that next Monday he will send a letter to the Spanish Prime Minister, Mariano Rajoy, to assess November 9's participatory process and to offer a negotiation for organising a definitive referendum on independence. Mas made such an announcement the day after the Constitutional Court suspended November 9's vote and after the Catalan Government confirmed that the participatory process will still take place on Sunday. The Catalan President emphasised that November 9's vote "is not a referendum to declare independence" and he said that those making these declarations "are lying". Mas emphasised he has respected the suspension of the original consultation vote, launching a citizen participation process instead. "If such a process cannot be carried out in a normal way, then Spanish citizens should think about Spain's democratic quality", he concluded.
Barcelona (ACN).- The President of the Catalan Government, Artur Mas, announced on Wednesday that next Monday he will send a letter to the Spanish Prime Minister, Mariano Rajoy, to assess November 9's non-binding participatory process and to offer a negotiation for organising a definitive referendum on independence. Mas made such an announcement the day after the Constitutional Court suspended November 9's vote and after the Catalan Government confirmed that the participatory process will still take place on Sunday. The Catalan President emphasised that November 9's vote "is not a referendum to declare independence in the next 48 hours" and he said that those making such declarations "are lying". Mas emphasised he has respected the suspension of the original consultation vote and he has launched a citizen participation process instead. "If such a participation process cannot be carried out in a normal way, then Spanish citizens should think about Spain's democratic quality", he concluded. In addition, he called upon Catalans to participate in November 9's vote "in legitimate defence of an entire people" since "we are doing what we are entitled to do". He asked citizens "not to be afraid" to participate and he addressed "those who see things in one way and those who see them in another way because, in the end, the right to participation and the freedom of expression and ideology are in all of our interests". The Catalan President argued that a high turnout on Sunday will help him to convince Rajoy to negotiate "with a 21st century mindset".
On Wednesday morning, the Catalan President spoke in public for the first time after the Constitutional Court announced on Tuesday had accepted to take into consideration the Spanish Government's appeal against the participatory process scheduled on the 9th of November, which represents the automatic suspension of such a process until the Court reaches a definitive decision on it. In a breakfast meeting in Barcelona, Artur Mas asked Catalans to maintain the civic-minded attitude that those supporting self-determination have shown during the last two years. In addition, he called upon them to participate in November 9's vote, which is still on-going despite the suspension, as the Catalan Government announced on yesterday.
Mas delivered a message of keeping calm and literally told citizens "not to be afraid" of participating in Sunday's non-binding vote. He said so in front of the leaders from the main trade unions, leading businesspeople and representatives from the main Catalan parties, except the People's Party (PP) – who are running the Spanish Government – and the populist and anti-Catalan nationalism party Ciutadans (C's). In addition, most of the Catalan Ministers, the Mayor of Barcelona, Xavier Trias, and the President of the Catalan Parliament, Núria de Gispert, were also present.
Catalan representatives have been trying to reach an agreement with Spanish authorities for the last 2 years
The Catalan President highlighted the main milestones of the self-determination process over the last 2 years and all the attempts made in Catalonia to reach an agreement with the Spanish Government in order to organise a mutually agreed referendum, like that made between the British and the Scottish governments. However, Rajoy's answer has always been "no" and he has rejected any negotiation at all on this issue, asking Mas to give up on the demands to organise a self-determination vote before they can begin dialogue. The problem was that Mas, the majority of Catalan parties and a wide majority of the Catalan society wanted to talk about precisely that: the organisation of a self-determination vote. Mas recalled the offer he presented to the Spanish PM in September 2012 to negotiate a new economic agreement for Catalonia, which Rajoy totally rejected. He also recalled the petition sent to the Spanish Parliament to transfer to the Catalan Government the powers to organise a referendum, which was rejected on the 8th of April. The latest to date in Catalonia's self-determination process is the non-binding participatory process scheduled for next Sunday.
To participate on November 9 "for dignity"
Mas asked Catalans to participate "to build a better country" and "for dignity". He criticised the Spanish Government for the way it has been dealing with Catalonia's demands during the last 2 years, based on "a great lack of knowledge" of the Catalan reality and on "a trivialising and intolerant" attitude, including "some episodes of dirty tricks". In fact, Mas predicted that the Spanish Government will try "to induce fear and confusion" in the days to come. Faced with this, he asked citizens "to keep calm and serene" because "Catalonia's biggest mistake would be to lose its calm and its way of doing things, which has been its greatest collective asset", referring to the peaceful and festive demonstrations of the last 2 years. Mas insisted that "calm and serenity cannot be abandoned, despite being very angry or feeling ignored [by the Spanish authorities]".
Furthermore, the Catalan President accused Rajoy of "abuse of power" because he is using his stronger institutional position to stop Catalans from expressing their opinions about independence. "When somebody has a lot of strength, he has to use it in a proportionate way, he cannot abuse it, because he has been granted such strength to protect the general interest and not to smash certain wills or rights", he stated. According to Mas, Rajoy is using such an "abuse of force" because of his "political incapacity to deal with the political challenge" that Catalonia represents. He accused the Spanish Government of not respecting Catalans' right to political participation, neither their freedom of expression nor their freedom of ideology.
Mas called to participate "in legitimate defence"
In front of Rajoy's no-to-everything and intimidating attitude, the Catalan President asked citizens to massively participate in November 9's vote and "not to be afraid". He asked people "to keep pooling together" and show Spanish authorities that "there is a people that has a project, that wants to move forward and that is not easily impressed by some threats and intolerant attitudes". Mas specifically addressed the over 40,000 people who have registered as volunteers to run the vote on Sunday and he told them "not to be afraid" and "not to worry" about hypothetical legal consequences because "they are absolutely legally entitled to be volunteers" on such a day. The Catalan President called citizens "to participate on November 9 defending everybody's personal stance, but being aware that with their participation, people are defending an entire country". "I launch an appeal not to be afraid because we are doing what we are entitled to do, and we are doing it in legitimate defence, in legitimate defence of an entire people", he added. Mas addressed "those who see things in a way and those who see them in another way because, in the end, the right to participation and the freedoms of expression and ideology are in all of our interests".
A letter offering dialogue
Last but not least, Mas announced that the day after the participation process, on Monday 10th of November, he will send a letter to the Spanish Prime Minister in order to firstly assess November 9's process, secondly to offer his will to negotiate about how to allow a legal and definitive self-determination referendum in Catalonia and, thirdly, to find solutions that are beneficial for all. The Catalan President particularly stressed that such an offer to talk is another one in a long series of public offers sent to the Spanish authorities.
According to Mas, a high turnout on November 9 would help him to convince Rajoy about the need to negotiate "with a 21st century mindset", acting "like the rest of mature democratic states when they face such a type of challenge: to talk, to negotiate, to sit around the same table and to reach agreements". The Catalan President added that he prefers to communicate with Rajoy via a letter instead of doing so over the phone, since otherwise "they can say I have not proposed anything".