The president and exiled ex-president of Catalonia, Quim Torra and Carles Puigdemont, have expressed their regret of the cancellation of a European Parliament (EP) conference scheduled for Monday.

“The duty of your institution is to preserve freedom of speech as the most superior value, party politics or supposed security concerns should not be used to silence legitimate ideas” said Torra and Puigdemont in a joint letter to EP president Antonio Tajani. “The contrary would be a shame for Europe and damages the democratic credibility of the EU.”

Despite the cancellation of the event, Torra and Puigdemont announced that they would still go ahead with a conference of a similar nature.

Debate on the trial

The conference, entitled ‘Catalonia and the trial on the referendum: a challenge for the EU’ was organized by MEPs Ralph Packet and Ivo Vajgl, and they had hoped to open discussions related to the Catalan independence referendum in 2017 and the trial against those who organized it.

Former MEPs Oriol Junqueras and Raül Romeva, who are currently facing trial in Madrid for their roles during the vote, were set to be focal points for the meeting.

Vajgl criticized the chamber’s reasons for cancelling the event, citing a recent protest by pro-independence supporters who occupied the headquarters of the EU in Barcelona to protest against the independence trial: “This Parliament has the political and the moral obligation to let everybody express his or her opinion.”

“Many petitions related to the repression, self-determination and human rights in Catalonia are automatically declared not admissible. We cannot let this happen,” said Vajgl.