Spain’s Prime Minister is in Barcelona to reopen separatist talks in Catalonia.
Pedro Sanchez, the Spanish Prime Minister, is in Barcelona on Wednesday to start talks with Catalonia’s separatist leadership about resolving the political crisis sparked by the region’s failed independence push in 2017.
“On behalf of the Spanish government, I will lead this negotiation,” Sanchez said late Monday, confirming that he will meet Catalan leader Pere Aragones on September 15 for talks on the region’s political status.
Catalonia has been a dominating subject in Spanish politics since the October 2017 conflict, and Sanchez’s government has pledged to address it through discussions.
“The situation in Catalonia is extremely different, much more stable than it was in 2017 or in 2019,” the prime minister said, referring to the massive violent protests that erupted after Spain imprisoned nine separatist leaders two years after the failed secession attempt.
Sanchez decided to begin talks in January 2020 after the ERC, Catalonia’s oldest and largest separatist party, provided key legislative backing that allowed his minority government to be accepted.
Initial discussions began at the end of February 2020, but were quickly halted as the virus spread.
This time, the stakes are minimal, with both sides bringing completely different expectations to the table.
Separatists want amnesty for all those engaged in the failed independence bid, as well as a fresh vote on self-determination, this time with Madrid’s blessing.
Both are vehemently opposed by the Spanish government.
“If we go with a list of maximalist demands, the debate won’t last very long,” Sanchez said on Monday, while acknowledging that he was open to a vote on Catalonia’s status inside Spain, but only within certain parameters.
“A democrat has no difficulty calling for a vote under the constitution, but it must be through agreement, not by going it alone.”
Many things have changed since the Catalan regional government held a referendum that was declared illegal by Madrid and then made a short-lived proclamation of independence, sparking Spain’s worst political crisis in decades.
Those behind the movement were apprehended, tried, and imprisoned, while others fled to avoid punishment, leaving the separatist movement headless and divided over how to proceed.
And the topic of engagement with Madrid has been a major source of contention in this 7.8 million-strong area, which remains divided over the issue of independence.
There has been a shake-up in Catalonia’s separatist-dominated leadership since the last round of talks, with the moderate leftist ERC taking control the regional coalition and its hardline opponent JxC taking a. Brief News from Washington Newsday.