Mediterranean Games: Torra’s attendance ‘on hold’ due to presence of Spain’s king
Catalan government urges Felipe IV to retract October 3 speech
Catalan president Quim Torra has not decided yet whether he will attend the opening ceremony of the Mediterranean Games in Tarragona on Friday, which will have the Spanish president Pedro Sánchez and king Felipe VI among its guests.
In a press conference on Tuesday, the Catalan government spokesperson Elsa Artadi asked the monarch for a “gesture” that shows he has backed down from his controversial speech on October 3. Two days after a referendum on independence deemed illegal by Spain, the king accused pro-independence politicians of “fracturing” society and made no reference to victims of police violence.
While Artadi said Torra’s presence at the games would not depend on whether Felipe acquiesces the demand, she said it would “help.” The government spokesperson criticized the king for “taking sides,” and urged him to “publicly” make clear he has retracted his position.
“There can’t a be an official meeting with a smile and a handshake”
Elsa Artadi · Catalan government spokesperson
More than 1,000 people were injured by Spanish police officers during the operation to stop the referendum on independence, according to Catalan government figures.
“Felipe VI has neither rectified nor nuanced his discourse, and we can’t have a normal relationship like we did before,” said Artadi. “There can’t be an official meeting with a smile and a handshake.”
Should Torra attend the ceremony, it would be the first time he meets Sánchez since the latter became the president of Spain, two weeks ago. An official meeting in July has already been confirmed. It will be a crucial first encounter to tackle the political standoff over Catalonia’s push for independence.
The games in Tarragona, meanwhile, are due to start on June 22 and will run until July 1. Taking place every four years, the 18th edition of the Mediterranean Games will feature 33 different sporting competitions and some 4,000 athletes from 26 different countries.