CATALAN president, Carles Puigdemont, has failed to clarify whether he declared Catalonia’s independence from Spain last Tuesday.
Instead, in a four-page letter to Spain’s Prime Minister, Mariano Rajoy, he has repeated his calls for negotiations with the Madrid to resolve the country’s political crisis.
Rajoy had set a deadline of today (October 16) for Puigdemont to confirm whether he had declared independence last week, and until Thursday, October 19 to abandon his push for independence or face the imposition of direct rule from Madrid.
In his letter Puigdemont said, “My government’s priority is to wholeheartedly pursue the path of dialogue.”
“We want to talk – as people do in established democracies – about the problem facing the majority of Catalan people who want to begin their journey as an independent country in Europe. The suspension of the political mandate received at the ballot box on 1 October shows our firm desire to find a solution and not confrontation.”
“But logically it is incompatible with the current climate of growing repression and menace … Let’s agree, as soon as possible, to a meeting that will allow us to explore initial agreements. Let’s not let the situation deteriorate still further. With good intentions and by recognising the problem and looking it in the face, I am sure we can find the path to a solution.”
The Spanish prime minister has previously said there will be no negotiations until the independence plans are renounced.
He has also said that the Guardia Civil and National Police officers deployed to the region remain there “until things return to normal”.
Madrid could invoke article 155 of the constitution on Thursday, which allows the central government to take control of an autonomous region if it ‘does not fulfil the obligations imposed upon it by the constitution or other laws, or acts in a way that is seriously prejudicial to the general interest of Spain’.