Socialist minister open to recognizing Catalonia as a nation
Ex president Carles Puigdemont says recognition would be “first step” to advance dialogue
The Spanish minister of health, Salvador Island, has said that there would be “no problem” for the Catalan Socialists (PSC) to "recognize Catalonia as a nation" in order to "advance" the dialogue between the two governments.
The request to recognise Catalonia as a nation comes from former Catalan president Carles Puigdemont, now an MEP with Junts per Catalunya (JxCat).
Puigdemont, who led Catalonia during the 2017 push for independence and is now residing in exile in Belgium, made the request to Spanish president Pedro Sánchez, who began the negotiation table between the two executives in February with a dossier responding to various requests made by past presidents over the issue.
This document, however, was dismissed as "monologue" by Catalan president Quim Torra.
Salvador Illa, who is also a member of the Spanish delegation in the negotiation table with the Catalan government, said in an interview with local radio station Rac 1, “the Catalan Socialists have been saying for a long time that Catalonia is a nation."
Asked if Sánchez would accept it, he responded that this should not be taken for granted. "We will see," he said.
In an interview with AFP, Puigdemont stated that the "first step" of the next meeting of the dialogue table is for the Spanish government to recognize Catalonia as a nation.
He added that this would open the door to further progress in the following meetings. For his part, the President of the Generalitat, Quim Torra, endorsed Puigdemont's proposal through a message on Twitter. "Thank you, President. Indeed, it is a step forward. And moving forward means taking action," Torra wrote.
In response, Illa was "surprised" to see this claim now coming from JxCat, when a few days ago they said the dialogue was "worthless," while also underlining the "commitment" from the Sánchez executive to dialogue.
"Everybody has the right to express their point of view in the dialogue. All demands must be put on the table."
Scepticism from Catalan government
Spokesperson of the Catalan government, Meritxell Budó, was sceptical on the idea that Pedro Sánchez and the Spanish Socialists would accept recognizing Catalonia as a nation, but nevertheless celebrated that the Catalan Socialists didn’t see a problem in it.
“This would be a good start,” Budó explained, “but we have doubts about whether the Spanish Socialists will view things in the same way as the Catalan Socialists.”
The presidency minister argued that the dialogue table could not be "an excuse for demobilization or for diluting the approaches we have defended until now."
The government spokesperson said that within the framework of this bilateral negotiation table, it is necessary to be able to speak "of the free exercise of the right to self-determination, of amnesty as one of the ways to end repression, to stop mixing the judicial system with politics, and on the recovery of social and political freedoms and rights."
"Mobilization and dialogue go hand in hand, and one will not be possible without the other. In fact, mobilization strengthens negotiation and the dialogue table," insisted Budó.