Spain’s Prime Minister Admits Significant Disparities Remain in place while Catalan talks resume.
On Wednesday, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez resumed talks with Catalan separatist leaders in an attempt to address a political crisis sparked by the region’s failed independence campaign in 2017.
Sanchez returned to Barcelona after an 18-month break, where he met with newly elected Catalan leader Pere Aragones for two hours, later claiming the two sides were still “very far apart.”
In October 2017, the Catalan regional government held a referendum that was declared illegal by Madrid, followed by a declaration of independence that lasted only a few months, causing Spain’s worst political crisis in decades.
Since then, Catalonia has remained a prominent political issue in Spain, which Sanchez’s government has promised to address through discussions.
After the discussion, Sanchez told reporters, “The thoughts we have on how to end the problem in Catalonia are quite different, dramatically different from those of the Catalan administration.”
Separatists arrived at the discussions with the goal of obtaining amnesty for all those involved in the failed independence bid, as well as a new referendum on self-determination.
Spain, on the other hand, is adamantly opposed to both notions.
“Neither a referendum nor amnesty are conceivable for us,” Sanchez added, despite the Spanish government’s stated willingness to “resolve this crisis.”
“The most essential thing is to move forward without establishing timelines for resolving this conflict,” he stated, promising to work “without haste, breaks, or deadlines.”
“If we go with a list of maximalist demands, the debate won’t continue very long,” Sanchez said earlier this week, while acknowledging that he was open to a vote on Catalonia’s status inside Spain, but only within certain parameters.
After ERC, Catalonia’s oldest and largest separatist party, offered essential legislative backing to his minority administration, the Spanish leader agreed to resume discussions in January 2020.
Initial discussions began a month later, but were quickly halted as the coronavirus pandemic spread.
Since the referendum in October 2017 and the accompanying upheaval, a lot has changed.
The separatist movement was dismembered and bitterly divided over how to move forward after those responsible were prosecuted and imprisoned, while others went abroad to avoid prosecution.
The subject of discussion with Madrid has been a major source of contention in the 7.8 million-strong region, which remains divided over the issue of independence.
Despite the divisions, talks are expected to have a better chance this time due to a shake-up in Catalonia’s separatist-dominated leadership, with the moderate leftist ERC taking the reigns a few months ago.
Its hardline rival JxC was in command the last time.
Brief News from Washington Newsday.