AFP: Spain says Catalan independence response unclear

AFP: Spain says Catalan independence response unclear

16 October 2017 | 11:36 | FOCUS News Agency
Madrid. Catalonia's separatist leader has not given Madrid the clear answer it wanted over whether or not he has declared independence, the Spanish foreign minister said Monday, AFP reported.
"It's clear Mr Puigdemont has not responded, has not given the clarity we asked of him," Alfonso Dastis said of a letter sent by Catalan president Carles Puigdemont following an ambiguous independence speech last week.
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El Pais: Puigdemont letter fails to provide clear answer on independence declaration

El Pais: Puigdemont letter fails to provide clear answer on independence declaration

16 October 2017 | 11:00 | FOCUS News Agency
Madrid. The Catalan premier, Carles Puigdemont, has failed to clear up whether or not he declared independence at a plenary session of the regional parliament last Tuesday, El Pais reported.
Following a deliberately ambiguous statement that declared secession, then immediately placed it on hold, the central government had formally asked the Catalan leader to clarify his position within the space of five days, or face a partial suspension of home rule through the use of an obscure constitutional provision known as Article 155.
Puigdemont insists that he is offering Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy “a sincere dialogue”
The deadline ended Monday morning. But in a letter to Madrid whose contents have been revealed by the Catalan radio stations Catalunya Ràdio and RAC1, Puigdemont fails to answer the question clearly.
Instead, he attaches several documents such as a copy of the breakaway Referendum Law that his minority government rammed through the regional parliament with help from its far-left ally CUP, bypassing ordinary parliamentary procedure and causing the entire opposition to walk out in protest.
The letter also includes a report about the National Police and Civil Guard’s charges against citizens who went out to vote in the illegal referendum of October 1.
In the text of the letter, Puigdemont reiterates that he has placed the unilateral declaration of independence on hold in order to open up a “two-month process” to try to reach a deal with the central executive.
The leader of the Junts pel Si (Together for Yes) coalition, which has 62 deputies in the 135-seat parliament, wrote that “repression” against Catalan citizens should end – alluding to the riot police’s actions on October 1 – and so should “repression” against the Catalan government over the fact that the central government has already taken control of the region’s public accounts.
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Bloomberg: Catalan Clock Ticks as Puigdemont Pressured by Separatist Allies

Bloomberg: Catalan Clock Ticks as Puigdemont Pressured by Separatist Allies

14 October 2017 | 06:57 | FOCUS News Agency
Barcelona. Secessionist allies piled pressure on Catalan President Carles Puigdemont to formally declare independence from Spain as a deadline looms for him to clarify his stance or face being stripped of his powers by the central government in Madrid, Bloomberg reports.
CUP, a radical party that’s part of Puigdemont’s pro-independence coalition in the Catalan parliament, published a letter on Friday saying that the only way to protect democracy and civil rights would be to proclaim a republic. The Catalan National Assembly, a separatist civic group that organizes street protests, also called on him to go ahead with a declaration of independence.
The clock is ticking in Catalonia toward an Oct. 16 deadline set by Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy that risks triggering the suspension of self-rule from Barcelona. Rajoy, who reviewed the troops at a military parade in Madrid on Thursday to mark Spain’s national day, is turning the screws on Puigdemont as he tries to hold his coalition together in the face of threatened legal reprisals for challenging the country’s constitutional order.

“We have a very serious problem facing us which is a coup d’etat against democracy,” Rafael Hernando, the head of Rajoy’s People’s Party group in parliament, said in an interview with TV channel Antena 3 Friday. “The state has many resources to confront this challenge so that no one carves up Spain.”

Hernando said he “wasn’t very optimistic” about Puigdemont’s response because he has already taken the region to a state of confrontation that had resulted in more than 400 firms being “expelled” to other parts of Spain.

Catalan Parliament

In a speech to the Catalan parliament on Oct. 10, Puigdemont claimed the right to declare independence but stepped back from putting it into effect as he called for dialogue. Rajoy responded the next day by demanding that the Catalan president clarify his position on the independence declaration or face a possible suspension of the region’s autonomy beginning Oct. 19.

Spain’s benchmark IBEX 35 stock index was little changed at 4:55 p.m. in Madrid, after losing 2.3 percent between an Oct. 1 referendum on independence illegal under Spanish law and Puigdemont’s address to lawmakers. Puigdemont must now decide whether to take the path of further confrontation with Madrid or risk losing his allies in Barcelona.

Deputy Prime Minister Soraya Saenz de Santamaria said the government may have to consider revising its economic growth forecast for 2018 if the Catalan crisis continues.

“The situation we’re living through in Catalonia prompts us to be more prudent,” she said in a news conference after a cabinet meeting in Madrid on Friday. The Catalan government still has time to return to legality but any negotiation would have to be within the framework of the law, she said.

“Neither CUP nor the ANC lead the government of Catalonia,” former Catalan President Artur Mas said in an interview with regional broadcaster TV3. “There is a government and a president that have to take the decisions, the Catalan parliament is something else. The government can receive advice, recommendations, pressure, but it’s still the government that takes decisions.”

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said he wouldn’t like to see Catalonia secede because it could lead to a greatly inflated European Union. “I wouldn’t like a European Union which in 15 years consists of 98 states,” he said at a conference in Luxembourg. “It’s difficult enough already with 28.”
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Assoc. Prof. Dr. Gergana Aleksieva: Hard to tell if danger of unilateral declaration of Catalan independence is over

Assoc. Prof. Dr. Gergana Aleksieva: Hard to tell if danger of unilateral declaration of Catalan independence is over

13 October 2017 | 11:47 | FOCUS News Agency
Sofia. It is difficult to say if the danger of a unilateral declaration of Catalonia’s independence is over, Assoc. Prof. Dr. Gergana Aleksieva from Sofia University St. Kliment Ohridski told FOCUS Radio.
There were many disappointed faces on the streets after the speech of Carles Puigdemont, but on the other hand there is a criminal code that might be applied, she commented.
Puigdemont did not declare independence, she reminded, but he signed a declaration, firmly reasserting the will to break the connection with the central power in Madrid. The document states the creation of a Catalonian republic as an independent and sovereign state. Later the speaker of the Catalonian government said the document was a symbolic act confirming the government’s commitment to declaring independence. The postponement of the proclamation of independence was explained in Barcelona with the will to give a chance to the dialogue with Madrid. It is difficult to say if the Spanish authorities will waste this opportunity or not, but there are indications that the negotiations are still possible, according to Aleksieva.
From a legal point of view, Madrid has another option – to suspend the autonomy of Catalonia. There is a precedent from 1934. In this case, however, Madrid hopes for support from the main political parties, and such support has not been clearly stated for now. In the senate, the decision has to be approved with an absolute majority, something Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy does not count on.
A change of power in Madrid could be one of the possible solutions to the crisis with Catalonia, as the socialists have always been more inclined to respond to the wishes of regional nationalisms, Aleksieva added.
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Catalan president accuses Mariano Rajoy of ignoring call for talks

Catalan president accuses Mariano Rajoy of ignoring call for talks

13 October 2017 | 01:34 | FOCUS News Agency
Barcelona. The Catalan president has accused the Spanish government of ignoring his calls for negotiations after it warned him on Wednesday to abandon his push for independence or face the suspension of regional autonomy, The Guardian reports.

On Tuesday, Carles Puigdemont pulled the region back from a showdown with the Madrid government by proposing to delay the effects of a unilateral independence declaration following the controversial referendum earlier this month.

The Guardian view on Catalan independence: time to talk
Editorial: This is a dangerous and volatile moment for both Madrid and Barcelona. Both sides should keep calm and negotiate
Read more
He said the move was intended to provide time for dialogue on the issue that has plunged Spain into its worst political crisis for 40 years.

The Spanish prime minister, Mariano Rajoy, responded by asking Puigdemont whether or not independence had been declared and gave him eight days to drop his independence plans and return Catalonia to “constitutional order”.

If he failed to do so, Rajoy added, the government would use article 155 of the constitution, which permits the imposition of direct rule on autonomous regions.

“We ask for dialogue and the response is to put article 155 on the table,” Puigdemont tweeted on Wednesday night. “Message understood.”

The Catalan president had earlier said he was willing to enter into unconditional negotiations to find a solution.

Oriol Junqueras, the region’s vice-president, addressed himself to Rajoy in another tweet, saying: “A sincere dialogue is what the international community wants and what Catalonia expects, not confrontation and new threats.”

Rajoy has emphatically ruled out the prospect of external mediation and told the Catalan government it will face consequences for ignoring the Spanish constitution and pressing ahead with the referendum in defiance of Spain’s constitutional court.

In an address to parliament on Wednesday afternoon, the prime minister insisted there could be no discussion of Spain’s national unity, as guaranteed by the country’s 1978 constitution.
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