One day after his first official meeting with his Catalan counterpart, Pere Aragonès, the Spanish president Pedro Sánchez has declared in the Spanish congress that “there will be no self-determination referendum”. Sánchez defended the pardons given to the independence leaders as a sign of the “constitutional spirit” that he believes must mark a new stage of economic recovery.

“There will be no referendum on self-determination unless those who seek it manage to convince three-fifths of the chamber, and then Spaniards ratify it in a referendum, but the Socialist Party will never accept this,” he told MPs and citizens who had “reservations” over his engagement in dialogue with the Catalan president.

He also assured that the law “will be applied whenever necessary” but recalled that the judicial process “is not valid in itself to guarantee coexistence in Catalonia” and called on political leaders not to defer their responsibilities to the courts.

A year and a half later

Pedro Sánchez and Pere Aragonès met on Tuesday evening in Madrid for their first official meeting, in which they agreed to resume the dialogue table over the independence conflict in September. The first meeting between the Catalan and Spanish administrations took place just before the pandemic started and monthly meetings were planned from then. However, the health crisis overtook all other priorities and instability in Catalan politics led to further delays, meaning the second meeting of the dialogue table will take place a year and a half after the first.

For this next meeting, Aragonès wants to formalize an Agreement for Amnesty and Self-Determination with various pro-independence entities and organizations. The head of government wants to arrive at the September encounter with this agreement “consolidated” in order to go into the dialogue table “with full force.” The ERC head also told that he does not foresee party president Oriol Junqueras or the other pardoned independence leaders taking part in the negotiations with Spain, although he has guaranteed them a “relevant role.”

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