'We already did the referendum', says Catalan Vice President
Pere Aragonès argues upcoming meeting between Catalan and Spanish leaders should address why Spain doesn't recognize Catalans right to self-determination
Catalonia already held a referendum on independence and conversations between the Catalan and Spanish presidents on July 9 should address why Madrid doesn't recognize the right to self-determination, according to Catalan Vice President Pere Aragonès.
In an interview with the Catalan news agency (ACN) he said Spain's refusal to respect self-determination is the "root problem" of the current political stalemate.
"We already did the referendum, it was on October 1. Our priority is for the result to be recognized. And from there, we are always willing to talk," Aragonès said.
However, the Vice President argued that supporters of independence "should be much more" if Catalonia was to go ahead with a unilateral separation.
According to him, the unilateral path wouldn't work because the Spanish state is ready to do "anything" to stop it.
Aragonès insisted that Spain has already done "a lot" to crash the independence movement, including imprisoning leaders or suspending self-rule, and that pro-independence supporters would need to win "by a landslide" to be able to overcome that.
In fact, Aragonès came to power because his predecessor and leader of ERC, Oriol Junqueras, is currently in jail.
"We will address the issue of self-determination whether it is on the official agenda or not"
Pere Aragonès · Vice President of Catalonia
Aragonès said that the meeting between Catalan president Quim Torra and Spanish president Pedro Sánchez should be "profoundly political" and "address fundamental issues" at stake.
"We will address this issue whether it is on the official agenda or not. It's our main point," he said, referring to the debate on self-determination.
Aragonès admitted that if the Spanish government puts forward an alternative proposal to solve the conflict –a federal reform, for example- Catalans should have the right to have their say about it.
"We consider that the referendum was held already, but we are obviously not afraid of the ballot boxes," he said.
Aragonès warned Spanish leader Pedro Sánchez if he follows his predecessor path and does not address Catalans demands, the problem will surface again. "There could be many other Octobers," he said, referring to events last year.
Catalonia hold an independence referendum on October 1, 2017, deemed illegal by Spain. The Spanish government sent thousands of policemen to stop the vote. Scenes of police brutality at the polling stations caused world-wide condemnation, including from the UN Commission on Human Rights, the Council of Europe, NGOs such as Amnesty International or Human Rights Watch and governments in Belgium or Slovenia.
Parliament declared independence on October 27, after dialogue attempts failed. However, the move was not recognized internationally. Spain suspended Catalonia's self-rule immediately after that, dissolving Parliament and sacking the full cabinet. On an election on December 21, pro-independence forces regained their majority in the chamber.
Nine leaders are currently in prison for their role during the vote, while seven are on exile.