- By Ajiša Dragičović
Catalan Crisis | latest developments
As Catalan regional leaders hesitate on the Declaration of Independence rulled illegal by Spain, France, UK the European Courts and international community, Spain agrees to talks holding back on a full scale “invasion”.
Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy is holding an emergency cabinet meeting this morning as ministers discuss how to respond to Catalan separatists signing an independence declaration.
In a much anticipated address, the region’s leader Carles Puigdemont insisted Catalans had earned the right to independence but said separatists would delay implementing it for several weeks to give dialogue with Madrid a chance.
But Spain’s deputy prime minister Soraya Saenz de Santamaria immediately rejected any notion of talks following a referendum which was deemed illegal, saying Puigdemont “doesn’t know where he is, where he is going and with whom he wants to go”.
The cabinet meeting is looking at a range of ways to deal with the separatist leaders and could include revoking Catalonia’s autonomy, taking over control of the region and sending in the national security forces.
Whilest many in Cataluña oppose independence they cling fiercely to their high degree of self-governance and would likely baulk at any interference from central government.
The national police were also condemned for their aggression in trying to stop the referendum which saw over 1’000 people injured, many Catalans would not be comfortable with their presence in large numbers.
However, Rajoy will want to be seen to be sticking to his hard line against separatists when he addresses an extraordinary session of parliament later.
The Spanish PM has not ruled out arresting Puigdemont and other pro-independence figures, but that would risk playing into the hand of separatists whose leaders could become martyrs to the cause.
Rajoy has come under pressure to soften his stance on negotiations and European Council President Donald Tusk is among the latest to urge him to sit across the table from Puigdemont after both sides previously refused to negotiate.
The Catalan leader’s speech seemed to be cast in overtures of compromise as he said separatists have nothing against Spain or Spaniards.
Puigdemont added: “We’re not criminals, we’re not mad. We’re normal people who want to vote.”
Despite this, the signing of an independence declaration will be viewed by Madrid as an act of provocation and Rajoy will struggle to find a way to respond that satisfies everyone.
With the illegal vote vote only obtaining just over a 40% turn out pro-union Catalan citizens took to the street in their hundreds of thousands.
Madrid and the international community does not recognise any attempt at a referendum or vote of any kind a spokesperson for Madrid told the press today.
Independence for Cataluña would not only ripple through Spain leading to Al-Andaluz independence but through our Europe and the world with hundreds of provences using the new legal president for independence. Under current international laws independence for Cataluña would be illegal.
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