This evening, the President of the Generalitat, Carles Puigdemont, held a conference in the Spanish capital entitled ‘A referendum for Catalonia. Invitation to a democratic agreement’ with the aim of offering another chance to negotiate the terms of a referendum with the State.
The President, who was joined by the Vice-president and the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Institutional Relations and Transparency of the Catalan Government, addressed representatives of the Spanish congress, senators and members of the press, among other guests, at the symbolic Palacio de Cibeles in Madrid.
Prior to the President’s speech, Minister Raül Romeva explained that in order to understand the Government’s proposal for “democratic empowerment”, it needs to be seen through a “European prism”. “Together, the people of Europe are deciding how to reshape their coexistence and how to coordinate a common project based on their respective identities and sovereignties”, he affirmed.
“Throughout history”, Romeva continued, “new states have appeared, joint initiatives have been born and all this has been incorporated, with a pragmatic spirit, into the idea of Europe”. “I am sure all democrats will agree that the new future of Europe must define itself on the basis of freedom and not on imposition”, the Minister assured.
With regard to Catalan-Spanish relations, Vice-president Oriol Junqueras assured that Catalonia wants “the best for those with whom it shares cultural, political, and linguistic ties” and assured that “the majority of Catalans want to decide the question of their future relationship by voting”. In this respect, the Government’s objective is “to have the best possible relationship with all of those around us –as equals”, Junqueras noted.
A referendum for Catalonia. Invitation to a democratic agreement
In his opening remarks, the President thanked Mayor Manuela Carmena for receiving and hosting the Catalan representatives in Madrid and noted that the initial intention was to address “the Spanish people” in the Senate, especially when considering its function as a body for territorial representation. However the chamber’s Bureau deemed that a conference on referendums was “inappropriate”. “Apparently it can be used for all sorts of activities, including private ones, but not for the Catalan Government to explain what is happening, why it is happening and what it proposes to do about it”, Puigdemont added ironically.
Once again, the President affirmed that the option of an agreed referendum is “most plausible for everyone” and, for this reason, “the government’s offer of dialogue is permanent” with a firm willingness to “talk about everything and with everyone”, including the date and question of the referendum on independence.
“We await the Spanish government’s proposals because the Catalan and Spanish democracies deserve it, and we will wait until the last minute”, he assured. “However, if no agreed-upon proposal is articulated, the Government's commitment to the Catalan people is democratically is inviolable”, the President warned. "We will never surrender in our intention of allowing Catalans to vote", he added.
The Catalan president criticised Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy for being “irresponsible by not doing anything serious, sincere or real” to address a problem that he himself, in his investiture speech, described as ‘the most serious challenge that exists in Spain’. In this regard, Puigdemont alluded to the exemplary attitude of the Adolfo Suárez Government that had allowed the return of President Tarradellas and the restoration of the Generalitat. Furthermore, the President stressed that “if there is political will, we can find ways […] to agree on the demands of the Catalan people”.
The Head of the Catalan Executive only placed the condition that dialogue between the two governments had to come “without preconditions, without limits, without stereotypes, without reproach, without threats and without subterfuge”. “We will listen and decide together what the best option is, without preconceptions”, he told those attending the conference.