Puigdemont calls Rajoy for a two-month negotiation period
Catalan president asks his Spanish counterpart to stop “repression” but does not clarify whether or not he declared independence
The Catalan president, Carles Puigdemont, asks the Spanish president, Mariano Rajoy, to stop the “repression” against Catalonia and calls for a two-month negotiation period. In a letter sent to Rajoy on Monday, Puigdemont makes a new call for dialogue after tensions between both governments peaked in the past few weeks. "We want to talk, which is what consolidated democracies," Puigdemont writes. “Let’s not allow the situation to get any worse,” he adds.
Yet, he does not make clear whether or not he declared independence when he addressed the Parliament last week to give the results of the October 1 referendum. Rajoy asked Puigdemont for clarifications and set today as the deadline, while threatening to suspend Catalonia’s self-rule if the answer was affirmative. A second deadline is set on Thursday.
"Firm intention to find the solution rather than generate confrontation"
In the message, Puigdemont insists on the need to open a dialogue. “The priority of my government is always to seek solutions by way of dialogue,” the letter reads. In addition, according to him, the fact that the independence declaration was suspended last week demonstrates the government's "firm intention to find the solution rather than generate confrontation”.
"Democratic mandate to declare independence"
Although he avoided giving a yes or no answer to Rajoy’s official request, Puigdemont stated that on October 1, “more than two million Catalans entrusted to the Parliament the democratic mandate to declare independence.” Furthermore, he reminds Madrid that “80% of citizens have repeatedly expressed their intention to decide their future by way of an agreed referendum.”
"We want to talk, which is what consolidated democracies do"
Carles Puigdemont · Catalan president
In his written reply, Puigdemont also attaches the referendum law, reports about police violence against referendum voters and a transcript of his address in the Catalan Parliament. On October 10, Puigdemont said that Catalonia had “earned the right to be an independent state”, but suspended the official declaration and proposed putting the effects of independence on hold for a few weeks in order to allow time for dialogue.
In his letter, Puigdemont also refers to the leaders of pro-independence organizations and the head of the Catalan police, who will give testimony today in the Spanish National Court in relation to sedition accusations for their role in the September 20 demonstrations, when thousands of people peacefully took to the streets to protest the arrest of several high-ranking officials.
The ball again lies in Rajoy’s court. As Puigdemont’s response falls short of the yes or no answer which Rajoy had asked for, it is yet to be seen whether Rajoy will continue to deploy Article 155 of the Spanish Constitution in order to take over the Catalan government. In any case, Puigdemont expressed "surprise" that Rajoy mentioned Article 155 in a statement last Wednesday.
Pressure from pro-indy allies
Puigdemont’s letter will probably not satisfy some of his pro-independence allies either. The anti-capitalist CUP — the only partners of Puigdemont’s ruling coalition in the Parliament — had asked him to officially declare independence as a response to Rajoy’s call for clarifications.