The secretary-general of the United Nations, António Guterres, has spoken out in favour of the pardons given to Catalan political prisoners and of talks between the Catalan and Spanish administrations to resolve the ongoing conflict. “The creation of conditions to allow dialogue to prosper is always very important for our societies,” the head of the supranational organization said ahead of a meeting with Spanish president Pedro Sánchez on Friday.

Responding to journalists’ questions, Guterres initially appeared reluctant to comment on the pardons, saying that he was not meant to address Spain’s “internal political matters.” But he said there is “an essential global principle,” namely that “all problems must be solved through politics, and dialogue is an essential tool to solve the problems of our time.”

While Guterres did not reply when journalists asked whether Catalonia had the right to self-determination, Sánchez insisted that his government would not agree to a referendum. “Anything that fosters divisions among citizens and forces them to define their identities one way or another, that’s what we want to leave behind,” said Sánchez.

The presidents of Catalonia and Spain met this week following the release of Catalan independence leaders on June 23. They agreed to resume talks to address the independence conflict, which were interrupted by the pandemic. The first meeting is set for September.

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