Yellow ribbons, anti-riot police deployment key issues at Catalan-Spanish security summit

Meeting should also address integration of Catalan police forces into Spanish and international antiterrorist coordination bodies

President Quim Torra and Spanish minister Fernando Grande-Marlaska (by ACN)
President Quim Torra and Spanish minister Fernando Grande-Marlaska (by ACN) / ACN

ACN | Barcelona

September 6, 2018 02:07 PM

A security summit between the Catalan and Spanish government is currently underway in Barcelona with protests over yellow ribbons and the deployment of hundreds of Spanish anti-riot police officers in Catalonia as key issues on the table.

President Quim Torra and Home Affairs Minister Miquel Buch are meeting with Spanish Minister Fernando Grande-Marlaska and other government representatives in the run-up of an autumn that is expected to see many demonstrations for and against independence.

During summer, yellow ribbons in support of jailed pro-independence leaders hanging from public spaces or balconies became an issue of controversy.

While their promoters say they have a right to put them as a sign of solidarity and within their exercise of freedom of expression, unionist Ciutadans party has initiated a campaign to remove them.

Dozens of people wearing white hazmat-like suits removed yellow ribbons from the streets in order to "clean them."

There has been some tension and, in some cases, even attacks over this issue, which is going to be addressed in the security meeting.

Another hot topic for both governments is the deployment in Catalonia of hundreds of anti-riot Spanish police officers in the run-up of Catalan National Day and the first anniversary of the independence referendum.

The Spanish delegate in Catalonia said the deployment is normal and aims at helping Catalan police in days that are expected to see big demonstrations.

However, the Spanish riot police actions during last autumn and especially their violent crackdown of the referendum, make their presence uncomfortable, to say the least, for the Catalan administration.  

The summit is also expected to address the Catalan police's request to join international coordination bodies to share intelligence about terrorism and other major crimes.

Catalonia suffered two terrorist attacks on August 17 and 18 last year, that saw 16 people dead and more than 100 injured.

Although the Catalan police were praised for their handling of the attacks and their aftermath, concerns have been raised over their lack of direct access to international databases such as Europol.