Catalan president wants dialogue with Spain to continue regardless of Spanish government

Aragonès views agreements reached in negotiations as a method of trust-building while moving forward

Catalan president Pere Aragonès (by Jordi Borràs)
Catalan president Pere Aragonès (by Jordi Borràs) / ACN

ACN | Barcelona

August 19, 2022 12:39 PM

The Catalan president, Pere Aragonès, will not give up on negotiations over the independence issue with Spain even if there is a change of government in Madrid. 

In an interview with the Catalan News Agency (ACN), Aragonès expressed that the talks are between the two administrations and that, consequently, the negotiation process "has to continue” regardless of whoever is in power in Spain, “because the conflict continues." 

Next year, 2023, will see a Spanish election take place which could potentially bring with it a change of government. Aragonès has assured that he will maintain the dialogue table even if there is a right-wing government in Spain, despite the fact that the right in Spain has traditionally been far less open to engaging in dialogue with pro-independence Catalan parties.  

"Catalonia will not leave the negotiating table. And if Spain does, it will have to account for why it does," Aragonès said. "We are not giving up on a process to continue demanding a referendum and amnesty," he added. 

The ERC figurehead also asked for "time" so that "trust between the parties" can be built. He has admitted that the first agreements resulting from this space are "partial," that they must keep moving forward "until we reach a final agreement,” which the Catalan wants to be an amnesty law passed for those prosecuted for things while pursuing Catalan independence, “and an agreement to hold a referendum."

In the last meeting of the dialogue table between governments, on July 26 in Madrid, it was agreed to take steps to de-judicialize and protect the Catalan language at school and promote it in the Senate and the European parliament. 

Aragonès maintains that this latest commitment "has to be understood as a trust-building measure between the parties involved in the negotiation rather than an agreement on the substance of the negotiation.”

With regard to the de-judicialization of the language, the specifics of how this will be approached are still yet to be seen. It is "an open folder" that must be addressed in the coming weeks, Aragonès said. 

JxCat participation

Aragonès has said that he talks "constantly" with the leaders of Junts per Catalunya, the junior partner in the Catalan coalition government, about the dialogue table with Spain. 

JxCat have not participated in the most recent talks because of a disagreement over what roles the delegates taking part should have – JxCat want to send senior party members who are not a part of the current government, but ERC and the Spanish administration want ministers to participate. 

Pere Aragonès said he will continue to work so that "the more parties [meaning JxCat participating], the better."

In the meantime, however, he has urged his partners to build a concrete alternative to the dialogue table if they do not consider it adequate to resolve the conflict. 

He pointed out that no viale alternative has been put on the table "publicly or privately." 

“What I will not do is make the irresponsible move of abandoning a process of dialogue and negotiation if there is no alternative,” Aragonès said. “Whoever thinks that the process of negotiation isn’t the right way forward can come up with an alternative and we’re ready to listen, like we always have been.”