Talks with Spain 'only viable way' out of Catalan crisis, president tells international press
Pere Aragonès insists on referendum and amnesty and says potential deal after talks with Madrid will be voted by Catalans
The talks with Spain are "the only viable" way out of the Catalan crisis. That is what the Catalan president, Pere Aragonès, said in a meeting with international press based in Barcelona and Madrid this Friday, coinciding with the fourth anniversary of the referendum on independence.
"The government I lead is promoting a negotiation process with the Spanish government," he said, referring to the renewed talks between cabinets that began on September 15 – despite the fact that the junior partner of his executive, Junts, has so far declined to send any of their cabinet members to the forum.
For Aragonès and the rest of the mainstream parties and entities in favor of a Catalan state, the ideal outcome of the talks would be an amnesty for those involved in legal proceedings stemming from the independence push during the 2010s and a referendum on a split with Spain.
"This is the proposal we bring to the negotiation table with the Spanish government," he added, urging Spain to also come up with a plan to resolve the decade-long crisis.
Yet, he said there is agreement with Madrid regarding the fact that there is a political conflict and that a potential outcome of the talks "will be followed by a vote" in which Catalans will have to greenlight or reject a republic.
"There is a real possibility to solve a political conflict between both sides," he said before international journalists following an informal meeting held with some 30 professionals from top media outlets such as BBC, Reuters, Associated Press, The Independent, The Economist Le Monde and Le Figaro.
Aragonès also denied that Catalonia had been harmed due to the independence crisis. "During the last years, we have been the territory of Spain that has gathered more foreign investments."
"Our economy has all the assets to be a very interesting region to invest in, we have very powerful research centers, an environment of research, start-ups and industry in several areas and Barcelona is a powerful city, well-connected internationally and with a skilled population."
The president also referred to the recent arrest of former Catalan president Carles Puigdemont in Alghero, on the Italian island of Sardinia. He said that the Spanish government "has responsibility" for the events as they have rejected accepting an amnesty that would also benefit Puigdemont.
The brief press conference also included the foreign minister, Victòria Alsina, who highlighted the recommendations the Council of Europe made to Spain in June, which included releasing the then jailed leaders and withdrawing the European arrest warrants for Puigdemont and other 2017 government officials in exile.
As for the detention of MEP Puigdemont in Sardinia, she said that it was "irregular and against EU law" and evidence that a solution to the open "political conflict" needs to be found.
"It is now time for Pedro Sánchez to show that he really believes in a real political negotiation," she added.
Puigdemont will face his extradition hearing on Monday in Sassari, near Alghero where he was arrested.