Economy

Catalan Independence: What Happens Next After Crunch Speech By Region's President?

Catalan Independence: What Happens Next After Crunch Speech By Region's President?”

Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont said Tuesday he had accepted the "mandate of the people" for his region's independence from Spain but suspended the declaration to allow more time for talks with Madrid.

Puigdemont made the statement in the Catalan parliament on Tuesday where he appeared to assess the political situation in Catalonia, after an illegal referendum was held on October 1.

But he also said Catalonia was being denied the right to self-determination, and paying too much in taxes to the central government in Madrid. The Spanish government through the Prime Minister Soraya Saenz Santamaria said that it would react to a declaration of independence.

"We call on Puigdemont not to do anything irreversible, not to pursue a path of no return and not to make any unilateral independence declaration", he said.

The government of Spain is fiercely opposed to Catalan separatism and has threatened punitive action if the region declares independence.

Puigdemont said he was suspending the effects of a declaration of Catalan independence to allow time for dialogue.

"We call on all states and worldwide organizations to recognize the Catalan republic as an independent and sovereign state".

He spoke to the government in Madrid.

The Catalan crisis has deeply divided the northeastern region as well as the Spanish nation.

Madrid has repeatedly said it would not negotiate on Catalonia's independence.

"We are not delinquents, we are not insane, we don't want to overthrow the government", he said.

"I am disappointed. I hoped for a declaration of independence and it didn't happen", said 18-year-old student Julia Lluch, among a crowd of independence supporters who were rolling up their flags and drifting away from the assembly.

The stakes are high - losing Catalonia, which has its own language and culture, would deprive Spain of a fifth of its economic output and more than a quarter of exports. The region had now won the right to become an independent state.

Instead, they got what Peter Ceretti, a Spain analyst with The Economist Intelligence Unit, calls "a wishy-washy approach to declaring independence", one that "stops short" of a unilateral declaration.

Eric Martinez, a 27-year-old manager, also wept as he watched the speech with his girlfriend. He said he was open to the possibility of global mediation.

Mr Puigdemont said near the beginning of his speech that he wanted to contribute to reducing an "escalation of tensions" in Catalonia.

Tusk, the European Council president, asked Catalan leaders to "respect, in your intentions, the constitutional order and not to announce a decision that would make such a dialogue impossible".

European Union nations are watching developments closely amid concern that any Catalan move to break away from Madrid could put further pressure on the bloc still dealing with the fallout from Britain's shock decision to leave.

CUP leader Anna Gabriel said her party believed the Catalan parliament should have proclaimed a Catalan Republic on Tuesday. Negotiation and mediation with whom? If Spain rejects Puigdemont's invitation for dialogue, "that will allow [Catalonia] to say that the Spanish government is really, truly intransigent.to try to present Spain as an inflexible partner in a conversation that would require worldwide intervention", he says.

Puigdemont said various mediation initiatives had been put forward since the referendum and proposals for talks at a national or worldwide level.



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