President calls on Spain for 'immediate meeting' to engage in dialogue
Madrid responds that Torra has to "categorically condemn violence" before talks
The Catalan president, Quim Torra, has called on Spain's leader, Pedro Sánchez, for an "immediate meeting" in order to engage in dialogue and find a way out of the crisis.
"We urge the Spanish government to set a date and time in order to talk, negotiate and reach an agreement," said Torra. "This is their responsibility and obligation, we have been asking to talk for a long time." For him, this is "more urgent than ever" now.
In the early afternoon, the Catalan leader phoned Spain's president to engage in talks but the response from Madrid after a 20-minute wait was that Pedro Sánchez could not "pick up the phone" and would be able to talk sometime later, according to government sources talking to the Catalan News Agency.
An hour later, Spain's government sources said that Catalonia's leader needs to "categorically condemn violence" before Pedro Sánchez engages in dialogue. "First of all, [complying with] the law, and then dialogue," they said.
During his statement, joined by the vice president and mayors of Girona, Lleida and Tarragona, Torra made clear that protesters should rally "peacefully and civically."
"No sort of violence represents us," he said in a statement not joined by Barcelona's mayor, who earlier in the day rejected the riots.
"This cannot cannot go on, Barcelona doesn't deserve it," she said. "Barcelona is everyone's and we need to take care of it."
Right-wing unionists blame Catalan president
Meanwhile, right-wing unionist parties blamed the Catalan president and the independence movement for the riots, but also accused Spain's leader of inaction.
People's Party candidate for Catalonia in upcoming Spanish election, Cayetana Álvarez de Toledo, blamed "nationalism" of the riots.
Ciutadans leader in Catalonia, Lorena Roldán, says President Torra is the "instigator" of the riots. "He neither condemns firmly violence, nor distances himself of the road blocks."