A BASQUE political party is urging the region's residents to join the 'Support Catalunya' campaign by writing to European heads of State. Eusko Alkartasuna says the campaign, set up by the Catalunya National...
Rajoy refuses 'dialogue' if it 'threatens Spain's unity'
Spanish president Mariano Rajoy, however, says he is only willing to enter talks with Puigdemont 'within the law', meaning that 'under no circumstances will the division of Spain be up for debate'.
Dialogue is 'not possible' where it is 'between legality and disobedience', and 'the diagnosis does not allow for too many discrepancies'.
“The governors of Catalunya have perpetrated a disloyal and very dangerous attack on the Spanish Constitution, their own regional Statute, the unity of Spain and peaceful coexistence,” Rajoy said in Parliament.
“In light of this, the government of Spain has given a full, legal and proportionate response, and has initiated the triggering of Article 155.
“We intend to continue to fulfil our duty to defend national law and the unity of the country, whilst seeking to return to concordance and social peace.
“It's time to put an end to this nonsense in a prudent manner and with the ultimate aim of returning to peaceful coexistence.”
Rajoy says he is 'prepared to talk' about public services, financing, self-governing, accountability and 'even the Constitution', but will not support any kind of referendum or independence.
His direct political rival, socialist (PSOE) leader Pedro Sánchez, announced today he had reached a deal with Rajoy to start working on reforming Spain's Magna Carta within six months.
“The Constitution can be modified; everything is open to being discussed, but dialogue is the polar opposite of law-breaking,” Rajoy insists.
“Democracy is inseparable from the legal framework that makes it possible, and which is enshrined in national law and in the Constitution, and it is impossible to accept any kind of talks with the aim of imposing unilateral opinions or renegotiating sovereignty.
“This is not a discussion about how the law should be interpreted, because the law is clear on the unity of Spain and this is not up for debate.”
Rajoy says the problem started five years ago when Spain was still gripped in the worst of its financial crisis and the then Catalunya president, Artur Mas, asked the State for an additional grant for the region, which was denied because it 'was not provided for within the Constitution'.
Mas reportedly told Rajoy he would 'have to bear the consequences' of this refusal.
Rajoy says the government has 'always been prepared to talk' about the situation, 'even when the pro-secessionists called a regional election in 2012' aimed at giving themselves a mandate for pushing for independence, then during what Rajoy calls a 'referendum drill' on November 9, 2014, which was in effect purely a public opinion poll and attempts were made by police to block it, followed by further regional elections in 2015 in which the separatist parties joined forces and gained a majority.
This last election saw the region 'throw itself into the hands of the most minority and anti-system party, the CUP'. Rajoy explains.
He continues to insist that the referendum 'failed' and 'did not take place' because the State 'stopped it'.
Leader of left-wing independents Podemos, Pablo Iglesias – and Rajoy's political polar opposite – has called for the government to scrap any ideas of invoking Article 155, blaming the right-wing PP for its having appealed to the Constitutional Court 10 years ago to stop the Statute of Catalunya being passed.
Like Sánchez, Iglesias agrees that a Constitutional reform is 'absolutely essential'.
Iglesias and Sánchez had tried to form a coalition after the last two general elections to oust the minority PP, but Iglesias would not budge on his opinion that Catalunya should be allowed to hold a referendum.
Podemos' leader and founder says he would prefer Catalunya to stay in Spain, but believes this will only happen if a legally-agreed referendum is permitted to take place.
Xavier Domènech, of the Catalunya branch of Podemos, En Comú Podem, says Puigdemont has offered 'open dialogue' and 'political proposals' to the State government and, if this is 'unable to engage in discussion', it should quit en bloc 'not just for the sake of Catalunya, but also for the good of Spain'.
United Left leader Alberto Garzón said the Constitution needed to be reformed 'with society's input', and that the solution lay in 'dialogue and negotiation, not in judges and police'.
Centre-right Ciudadanos' leader Albert Rivera called for fresh regional elections in Catalunya and said those who 'expect Puigdemont to return to legality' are 'naïve'.
“If someone who stages a coup blackmails us and is then granted privileges, what does that say to the average Spaniard?” He asks, rhetorically.
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