MEP Puigdemont and President Torra greeted by Perpignan mayor
"The two Catalonias have reencountered," says current head of government in French Catalonia
The former Catalan president, Carles Puigdemont, and his successor, Quim Torra, were greeted in Perpignan city council by its mayor, Jean-Marc Pujol, on Saturday morning.
Exiled leader Puigdemont, now MEP, will feature in a thousand-strong political event in the capital of the so-called French Catalonia or Northern Catalonia, an area belonging to Catalonia until 1659, when Spain ceded it to France.
Earlier in the morning, Puigdemont visited the city council, signed its book of honor, met its mayor and sang the Catalan national anthem outside the building, along with Torra, Pujol and other officials.
During the event, the top authority of Catalonia during the 2017 referendum thanked the Perpignan authorities for welcoming them: "Thanks to you and your empathy and solidarity in these difficult moments we know there is light."
"Thanks to you and your empathy and solidarity in these difficult moments we know there is light"
Carles Puigdemont · Former Catalan president
Puigdemont also pledged to "return" the move by Perpignan on Saturday when Northern Catalonia needs the south.
Torra also referred to symbolism of the event this weekend: "The two Catalonias have reencountered," he said also in the city council. He added that today "is a day of hope for thousands of Catalans."
As for the mayor of Perpignan, he defended his "gesture of humanity and solidarity" towards the exiled Catalan leaders.
"For us freedom of speech has no borders, and this is one of the elements of Europe that we love the most; being free, protecting those who are in trouble and backing those who are persecuted is an element of freedom, of which Perpignan will always feel proud."