The president of the Government of Catalonia, Quim Torra, has said that in the dialogue between the Catalan and Spanish governments that got under way this afternoon, “both sides have spoken frankly. It’s been an open dialogue in which each side has freely set out its position, and the disagreement between the parties has been apparent.” The president was speaking at a press conference following the first meeting of a negotiating table between the governments aimed at resolving the political conflict between Catalonia and Spain. The meeting was held this afternoon at Madrid’s Moncloa Palace. “The important thing was to start the negotiations and define positions,” Torra stressed.
The president said the Catalan side would not walk away from the table but that “future meetings would need to go further in exploring all democratic solutions”. The head of the executive said the Catalan side is committed to finding a political solution to the conflict but lamented that “we still don’t know what the Spanish government’s answer is”. He added: “This is the key to unblocking the situation, and maybe it’s the issue that needs to be addressed in upcoming meetings.”
In his statement to the press, President Torra stressed: “This political conflict has arisen as a result of political rights being denied – rights such as freedom of expression, freedom of assembly and, above all, the right of peoples to self-determination.” On the Catalan position, he said: “Catalonia wants to decide its future freely and democratically based on two points of broad consensus in Catalan society: 80% support for the exercise of Catalonia’s right to self-determination, and 80% support for an amnesty.”
Torra stressed the Catalan side’s commitment to resolving the conflict through dialogue and said that to safeguard the process, the negotiating table would be “insulated” from any external factors that could affect it, a reference to the Catalan election that has been announced and the negotiation of the Catalan government’s budget. “It’s been a year now since we met at Moncloa and Pedralbes, and it wasn’t the Catalan side that walked away from the table,” he said.
The Catalan delegation reiterated that the people who sat down at the negotiating table today are not the ones who should be there. “The people who should have been sitting at the negotiating table are President Puigdemont, Vice-President Junqueras, the secretary of Catalan Republican Left, Marta Rovira, and Jordi Sànchez. We’ve also brought their voice with us,” the president said.
The head of the Catalan executive announced that the next meeting of the negotiating table will be held in Barcelona in March.
Today’s meeting was headed by Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez and President Torra. The members of the Spanish government negotiating team are Carmen Calvo, Pablo Iglesias, María Jesús Montero, José Luis Ábalos, Salvador Illa and Manuel Castells. The Government of Catalonia is represented by Pere Aragonès, Alfred Bosch, Jordi Puigneró, Elsa Artadi, Marta Vilalta, Josep Maria Jové and Josep Rius.