The Catalan president, Quim Torra, has insisted that the Spanish government has to accept talking about self-determination to continue with the talks that began in February and were halted due to Covid-19. In an interview with the Catalan News Agency (ACN) published on Tuesday, the Catalan chief said that he intends to take the negotiation over the independence crisis to Europe.
“Enough with this farce. People want the truth. Are you [Spain] willing to negotiate Catalonia’s right to self-determination? Yes or no? If not, let us know so we can negotiate in Brussels and stop wasting our time,” said Torra. He called on Spain to set an agenda for a meeting “clearly” stating the conditions for a referendum of self-determination and amnesty for those convicted or charged after the 2017 independence push.
“If we do not see it written on a paper, we will not attend the negotiation table, and we will seek talks in Europe, like [we are doing] with justice,” he added, asking the Spanish cabinet to clarify if they are ready to talk about a referendum – Pedro Sánchez has repeatedly denied any interest in a deal over an independence vote over the past few months.
Negotiation outside Spain
“Is not it right that we have reached the conclusion that it is impossible that an independence supporter is tried with neutrality in Spain? And that a president [Torra himself] is about to be barred from office for hanging a banner in favor of the freedom of speech? With dialogue the same will happen, and we will only find negotiation outside Spain” he said during his interview with ACN.
Torra was barred from office for not removing signs in favor of the jailed and exiled pro-independence leaders within a deadline set by Spain’s electoral board during the April 2019 election campaign. Yet, the decision, taken in December by the Catalan high court, is not final, and the Supreme Court will review his case in a hearing on September 17.
If the top judges confirm the conviction, he will automatically be ousted from power and, unless the Catalan parliament gathers enough majority to pick a new president, a snap election will be called.
Thus it remains a mystery to know whether Torra will call the election before being removed – during the interview, he said the date “will not be established by Spain’s judiciary,” but that the priority is now fight Covid-19.
Sooner or later Catalans will have their say – no later than December 2021 – and the Catalan president said pro-independence parties have to “clarify in their manifestos” how the road to a split up with Spain should continue.