Puigdemont asks Rajoy to “at least hold a binding referendum” in Catalonia
Catalan President Carles Puigdemont travelled to Madrid this Wednesday to hold his first meeting with current Spanish President, Mariano Rajoy, 100 days after he took office. The first point of the 46-point document which the Catalan President handed over to Rajoy calls for “at least” holding a “binding referendum” in Catalonia, as it is amongst democrats’ obligations “to find ways of negotiation and dialogue” in order to respond to the “democratic aspirations of the majority of the citizens”. Puigdemont insisted on the government’s commitment to “turn Catalonia into an independent state” and lamented that he didn’t see in Rajoy any sight nor possibility of reaching an agreement on this matter. The Catalan President also expressed to Rajoy his disconformity regarding the “judicialisation of politics” which has led to the suspension of many laws promoted by the Catalan government and to the summonsing of several public figures, including former Catalan President Artur Mas.
Madrid (CNA).- Catalan President Carles Puigdemont has insisted on his commitment to “Catalonia’s roadmap towards independence” as it is “the majoritarian will of the Catalan Parliament”. He made this statement after meeting for the first time since he took office with current Spanish President, Mariano Rajoy. Puigdemont also called for “at least” holding a “binding referendum” in Catalonia, as it is amongst democrats’ obligations “to find ways of negotiation and dialogue” in order to respond to the “democratic aspirations of the majority of the citizens”. However, he denied seeing any sight nor possibility of reaching an agreement with the Spanish President on this matter. The Catalan President also expressed to Rajoy his disconformity regarding the “judicialisation of politics” which has led to the suspension of many laws promoted by the Catalan government and to the summonsing of several public figures, including former Catalan President Artur Mas.
Puigdemont admitted to being “sceptic” regarding any agreements which could be reached after meeting with Rajoy this Wednesday and confirmed the current Spanish President’s refusal to dialogue over the possibility of holding a referendum in Catalonia. “I’ve insisted on the Government’s commitment and that of the majority of the Parliament regarding Catalonia’s roadmap towards independence”, he stated in a press conference right after the meeting. “I’ve made a commitment and I will definitely carry it out, because it is the mandate which made me President”, insisted Puigdemont.
He also emphasised his will to dialogue but also the government’s need to start building its own infrastructures. “If the Spanish government would agree to negotiate a deal which would imply a referendum, I’d be willing to sit down and talk about it”, he assured but lamented that Rajoy refused any “possibility of agreement regarding the celebration of a referendum”. “I haven’t seen any willingness to reach an agreement between his position”, which is “the position of a provisional government”, and that of the Catalan government, “which is fully operational”.
Puigdemont also discussed other major topics with Rajoy besides Catalonia’s push for independence. One of these was in relation to the social emergency and fundamental rights, including how to tackle the refugee crisis, another concerned the Spanish state’s repeated unfulfilment of different precepts established in Catalonia’s Statute of Autonomy and a last one was in relation to the judicialisation of politics, especially regarding the 9-N symbolic consultation on Catalonia’s independence, which took place in 2014 and for which the public figures responsible, including former Catalan President Artur Mas, have been taken before the court.
The last time Rajoy met a Catalan President was in 2014, when Artur Mas visited him in Madrid.
“Without law, there is no democracy”
For his part, Rajoy assured that the meeting was cordial and emphasised that he had always been kind on meeting the Catalan President. However, he stressed the differences between their positions. Catalonia is Spain and the vast majority of Spanish wants us to continue living together”, he stated. “I’ve told him that the law comes first and without law there is no democracy”, he said before the press. “I’ve defended Spain’s sovereignty and my commitment to a nation which is one of the oldest in Europe”, he concluded.
Meeting between Spanish and Catalan vice presidents
The meeting wasn’t completely sterile, although most of Puigdemont’s demands didn’t find a response. Both leaders agreed on arranging a meeting between the current Spanish Vice President, Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría, and the Catalan Minister for Economy and Tax Office, Oriol Junqueras, to be held shortly.