Catalan President Pere Aragones pledges to relaunch independence talks with Spain

CATALAN President Pere Aragones has declared his intention to end the political impasse between Catalonia and Spain and relaunch negotiations between the two nations, despite what he described as the “authoritarianism” of the Spanish government.

In a speech Monday at the National Art Museum of Catalonia on the first anniversary of his election as president, Aragones said he was committed to “new opportunities for negotiations”, but warned that he could take further steps if the dialogue does not progress.

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After Aragones’ Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya victory last year, which saw the pro-independence majority in Catalonia’s parliament strengthened and a coalition formed with Junts per Catalunya (JxCat), Aragones repeatedly urged the Prime Minister Spaniard Pedro Sanchez to start talks with the Catalan government.

The two leaders met last September, the first time such a meeting had taken place since before the Covid-19 pandemic. Following their meeting, Aragones told the press that his two main objectives in the talks were the negotiation of a new referendum on independence and a general amnesty for Catalan independence leaders prosecuted or imprisoned for their political actions by the authorities. Spanish. Sanchez has so far refused to back down on either issue, and the Spanish government has since avoided calling another meeting.

Addressing four hundred guests from various Catalan political parties, Aragones said yesterday that he wanted to “strengthen” Catalonia and its institutions, and called on the Catalan independence movement to relaunch its mass mobilizations in order to make both a amnesty law and “inevitable” self-determination.

Aragone said: “We must share with the whole country that the negotiation process is going through difficulties. But to overcome them, we must change the balance of power to strengthen the Catalan position.

“For this, we must reactivate all the forces of those who want to see a democratic solution to this conflict – all our institutional strength, and the political mobilization of all actors. Because when we have shown all our strength in a unified way, Spain is obliged to act.

The response to the president’s speech from other Catalan pro-independence parties was mixed, however. JxCat party secretary Jordi Sanchez, who was previously imprisoned for his role in Catalonia’s 2017 independence referendum, speculated in an interview with Catalunya Radio that the president’s reference to pardons granted to leaders separatists indicated “the first proof of a dialogue with Spain”.

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“If so,” Sanchez commented, “ERC negotiators should have provided us with the details.”

In response to this, a Catalan government spokesperson pointed out that Aragones “at no time” suggested that the pardons already obtained for the pro-independence leaders were the result of negotiations with Spain, but were rather the result of the victory of the independence parties in the Catalan elections.

The leftist and pro-independence CUP also criticized Aragones’ speech, saying he “didn’t say anything that would give the impression that something was going to happen”.

“We are in the same place as a year ago,” noted CUP parliamentary spokeswoman Dolors Sabater. “We need less talk and more action.”

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