Catalan leader condemns violence, calls for meeting with Spain’s PM

Regional premier Quim Torra said on Tuesday that he wants to hold “dialogue with no conditions” that leaves the door open to a new referendum

Catalan premier Quim Torra wants to meet with Spanish PM Pedro Sánchez.
Catalan premier Quim Torra wants to meet with Spanish PM Pedro Sánchez.Andreu Dalmau (EFE)

Catalan premier Quim Torra on Tuesday made a public appearance during which he applauded last week’s demonstrations against the sentencing of nine separatist leaders to prison over the 2017 unilateral breakaway bid.

Torra also condemned the acts of violence that took place, and insisted on meeting with Spain’s caretaker Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez to hold “a dialogue without any conditions,” and requested a parliamentary inquiry into the actions of the regional police force during clashes with protestors.

Speaking at the headquarters of the Catalan government, Torra also celebrated the fact that the three separatist parties in the regional parliament on Tuesday reached an agreement defending renewed institutional support for self-determination.

Catalan parliament speaker Roger Torrent (sitting, right).
Catalan parliament speaker Roger Torrent (sitting, right).GTRES

The text of the agreement also expresses separatist parties’ rejection of the Supreme Court ruling, which it describes as “unfair.” It calls the 11-and-a-half-year sentence for sedition against former parliament speaker Carme Forcadell “a democratic scandal.” The text will be voted on at a plenary session on Wednesday.

On October 16, the Constitutional Court warned Torra and the speaker of the Catalan parliament, Roger Torrent, that there could be criminal consequences if the chamber disobeys the court’s earlier suspension of a parliamentary resolution that insisted on the right to self-determination and independence for Catalonia.

Torrent on Tuesday said that he and other parliamentary officials are aware of what’s at stake. “We will accept all judicial and personal consequences derived from defending that the Catalan parliament may speak about anything,” he said. “Democratic parliaments talk about things that are of interest to citizens.”

Political agreement

The text of the agreement states that the Catalan government “congratulates itself on all the political demonstrations that have taken place as a result of the [Supreme Court] ruling, and reiterates its condemnation of all the acts of violence that have taken place. It also expresses sympathy for all the people who were injured, and wishes them a speedy recovery.”

This is irresponsible

Catalan premier Quim Torra

Pressed by reporters to explain what he meant by violence, Torra said: “I condemn all forms of violence,” and stated that he wanted accountability for possible police excesses during clashes with protesters last week.

Torra said that he had placed a new telephone call to Spain’s caretaker prime minister, Pedro Sánchez of the Socialist Party (PSOE), but that the latter had again refused to speak to him. Sánchez was in Barcelona on Monday morning, but only met with police chiefs and officers who were injured in the street clashes.

“This is irresponsible,” said Torra, who wants “a commitment for a political and democratic solution for Catalonia” and “a dialogue without any conditions,” which could include the possibility of a legal referendum on breaking away from Spain. Last week, Torra suggested inside parliament that a new vote should be held before the end of this political term.

Disagreement over the right to a referendum led to a breakdown in talks between the Sánchez administration and the Catalan government following the no-confidence vote that removed former PM Mariano Rajoy from power in late May 2018.

English version by Susana Urra.

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