Remarks by the leader of the unionist People’s Party (PP) comparing efforts to find a political solution to the Catalan conflict with the strategies formerly employed by Basque ETA terrorist group have not been welcomed in Catalonia. PP leader, Pablo Casado, said in a radio interview on Friday that Spanish president Pedro Sánchez’s willingness to talk to Catalan pro-independence parties and accept an observer at the meetings shows “he has Stockholm syndrome” and is following an “ETA agenda.”

He also compared the independence movement with Batasuna, the Basque nationalist party that was declared illegal in 2003 after a Spanish court ruled that it was using public money to finance the ETA terrorist group, which killed over 800 people between 1968 and 2010.

Justice minister Ester Capella responded by predicting people would begin to miss Casado’s predecessor and former Spanish president, Mariano Rajoy, who led the efforts against the 2017 independence bid, and she called for “less testosterone and more dialogue.”

Rally against dialogue

Yet, the leader of the unionist Ciudadanos party (Cs), Albert Rivera, was reluctant to comment on Casado’s remarks, saying it is “irresponsible” to “give opinions on what this or that person says,” and he preferred to focus on Sunday’s rally in Madrid to protest the talks.

Cs, along with PP and the far-right Vox, is one of the opposition unionist parties that have called the demonstration  to reject the Spanish government’s efforts to find common ground with the Catalan pro-independence parties.