New EU parliament president on Catalonia: 'I'm a man of dialogue'
Italian David-Maria Sassoli takes his post at the head of the chamber promising that his" door is always open"
"Everyone who knows me knows that I'm a man of dialogue, my door is always open," said the new president of the European Parliament, the Italian politician, David-Maria Sassoli, on Wednesday.
Sassoli, who was chosen to head the new EU chamber that held its inaugural session on Tuesday, was referring to the challenges facing the parliament, such as the situation of jailed and exiled Catalan MEPs-elect prevented from taking up their seats.
The leader of the Greens, Ska Keller, who has championed the cause of the Catalan leaders, called on Sassoli to look into the case of Oriol Junqueras, who was elected to the parliament in May while on trial in Spain for his part in the 2017 independence bid.
"We’re missing one of our members, who’s not able to come here because his member state has not put forward his name even though he’s been elected as an MEP," said Keller, who urged Sassoli to "help us restore the parliamentary rights of Mr Oriol Junqueras."
Former president Carles Puigdemont and former minister Toni Comín, both in exile, have also been prevented by the Spanish authorities from taking up their seats as, like Junqueras, they were unable to complete the accreditation process in Madrid.
When the new EU parliament sat for the first time on Tuesday, thousands of independence supporters and sympathizers gathered in Strasbourg to protest the absence of the three Catalan MEPs-elect.