Spanish government rules out meeting between king and Catalan president
Quim Torra sends letter to Spanish king calling for dialogue
The Spanish government has rejected a meeting between king Felipe VI and Catalan president Quim Torra, after the latter sent a letter to the monarch calling for dialogue in order to heal “wounds” caused by the “repression” against independence supporters.
The first official communication with the king since Torra’s election last month, the letter has also been signed by the president’s most recent predecessors, Artur Mas and Carles Puigdemont—the latter currently in Germany awaiting a decision on his extradition to Spain.
With the king due to attend the opening ceremony of the Mediterranean Games in Tarragona on Friday, Torra described the king’s visit as a “historic opportunity” to “repair” the “violence, the repression and the persecution” against the independence referendum last October.
"In your speech last October 3, you opened a great wound for many citizens"
Letter by Catalan presidents to Spain's king
“In your speech last October 3, you opened a great wound for many citizens who would have never expected a head of state to give his approval to violent repression of peaceful citizens by police. Shouldn’t you be above individual interests and try to be a voice for conciliation and in defense of dialogue?”
A Catalan government spokesperson said on Tuesday that Torra has not decided yet whether he will attend the inauguration of the games in Tarragona, and suggested that a message from the king retracting his controversial speech "would help" make his mind up.
The ceremony will also be attended by Spain's new president, Pedro Sánchez. His delegate in Catalonia criticized Torra's demand on Wednesday and urged him to show "institutional respect."
A first official meeting between Sánchez and Torra will take place in early July, in what is deemed as a crucial first summit to tackle the political standoff over the independence bid, as well as the situation of Catalan leaders incarcerated in Madrid.
Meeting with Pablo Iglesias
Pablo Iglesias, the leader of left-wing Podemos, will be Spain's first major political figure to speak in person with president Torra. The meeting will take place next Monday in Barcelona.
"This will be a very profitable meeting," said Torra, adding he was open to "anything that implies building bridges," especially with those who want Spain to be a republic.
Torra's second trip to Berlin
Quim Torra will travel to Berlin on Thursday for his second meeting with Puigdemont since he was elected. The two pro-independence leaders will discuss the government's action and the current political situation in Catalonia.
Puigdemont chose Torra as his successor after Spanish courts blocked all his attempts to reclaim the post from abroad. The Spanish government dismissed him following a declaration of independence last October, and he left the country alleging he would not face a fair trial if he stayed.