Catalonia says Council of Europe report is 'major victory' while Spain sees 'inconsistencies'
Catalan president Pere Aragonès argues findings send "clear message" to Spanish judicial system
A "first major political victory abroad, in the heart of Europe."
That was how Catalan vice president Jordi Puigneró's reacted to the Council of Europe's report officially calling on Spain to release Catalonia's jailed pro-independence leaders, withdraw the extradition requests for their exiled colleagues and reform the crime of sedition.
President Pere Aragonès also welcomed the endorsement of the report, by 70 votes to 28, and said it sent a "clear message" to the Spanish justice system that the way forward was to "reverse the repression" of the organizers of the 2017 independence referendum.
The report is "oxygen for the resolution of the political conflict between Catalonia and Spain through negotiation and democracy, "he wrote on Twitter, adding, "Catalonia is committed to it."
The vice president Jordi Puigneró said he believes the report "implicitly" calls for an amnesty for all jailed and exiled pro-independence figures.
Speaking to Catalan public broadcaster TV3 on Tuesday morning, Puigneró also claimed that it was "no coincidence that [Spanish president] Pedro Sánchez came to Catalonia yesterday" to announce pardons for the nine jailed pro-independence leaders.
He warned that the pardons do not go far enough, saying "we must stop persecuting political dissidents, allow the safe return of exiles and, therefore, withdraw all extradition orders."
On Monday evening, Puigneró described the vote overwhelmingly in favor of the report as a "slap in the face" for Spain and its Supreme Court, "which has been doing politics for too long."
Spain: Report "inconsistent with rule of law"
The Spanish government has criticized the Council of Europe report, with foreign minister Arancha González Laya describing it as "inconsistent with the rule of law."
Speaking before the vote, González Laya said that while the report recognizes judicial independence in Spain, it nevertheless contained "inconsistencies" regarding the principle of separation of powers.
Following the greenlighting of the report, Spain's foreign ministry released a statement saying that the Spanish government continued its opposition to the report, while emphasizing that in its findings it "endorsed" Spain's actions and recognized that pro-independence politicians acted "outside the Constitution and the law."
The statement also said that several of the recommendations made by the report already form part of the Spanish government's strategy for a solution to the Catalan conflict, namely "opening talks, granting pardons and reviewing the crime of secession."