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Tusk to Puigdemont: “Don't declare independence unilaterally'
DONALD Tusk has urged Catalunya's regional president Carles Puigdemont not to issue a unilateral declaration of independence (UDI) and to 'respect the order of the Spanish Constitution'.
The president of the Council of Europe said if Puigdemont does make a UDI, he would 'make dialogue impossible' between Catalunya and the Spanish State.
Although Tusk made this plea before Puigdemont's Tuesday night speech in regional Parliament, he has since reiterated it as it is not clear to anyone as yet whether Catalunya president has, in fact, made this declaration.
“I'm asking you, not only as president of the Council of Europe, but also as someone who strongly believes in the EU's motto of 'unity through diversity', and also as a member of an ethnic minority, a regionalist,” Tusk said.
The Council of Europe leader is Kaszubian Polish, a community which descends from the Slavs and has its own regional language, a Slavic dialect of Polish, and comes from the north-eastern region known as 'Casubia' in English and which covers Tusk's native city, Gdansk (formerly Danzig).
“I'm appealing to you in my capacity as a man who knows how it feels to be hit by a police officer's truncheon and as the former prime minister of a European country,” continued Tusk, 60, who was Polish PM from 2007 to 2014.
“In summary, as someone who understands and feels the arguments and emotions of both sides.”
Tusk recalled that he had urged Rajoy to 'reach a solution without using force or violence' in light of the extreme police action and widespread aggression seen on the day of the banned referendum.
“I'm now asking you [for Puigdemont] to respect, in your intentions, the order of the Spanish Constitution and not to announce a decision that would make dialoge impossible.
“Diversity should never and must never lead to conflict of which the consequences, obviously, would be bad for the people of Catalunya, for Spain and for the rest of Europe.
He called for Puigdemont and Rajoy to 'always look for what unites us and not what divides us' because 'that is what will decide the future of our continent'.
This led Tusk neatly on to commenting about Brexit.
“We need to reflect on where we're heading for in the negotiations if there is insufficient progress before December in terms of citizens' rights and the divorce bill,” Tusk recalled.
“We in Europe are negotiating in good faith and we hope that said sufficient progress might be seen between now and December.
“However, if negotiations continue at the current pace and progress has not been reached, we will have to reflect with our friends from the United Kingdom about where we're actually heading.”
The fifth round of talks between London and Brussels started on Monday in the latter, where it was once again patently clear that both sides have very different priorities.
Europe will not enter into trade or future relationship talks with Britain until it has resolved the three most fundamental initial issues – the rights of EU citizens living in the UK and British nationals resident in Europe; the so-called 'divorce bill', or Britain's obligation to settle payments it had agreed to make long before Brexit; and the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.
But Britain continues to skirt these three issues and only wants to discuss trade relations, seeking a preferential deal for the UK.
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