Spain dismisses talks with Catalonia leader - GulfToday

Spain dismisses talks with Catalonia leader


A Spanish national police officer pushes protesters with his shield in Barcelona. Agence France-Presse

Spain’s acting Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez on Saturday dismissed a call for dialogue from Catalonia’s regional chief, telling him he must first condemn the separatist unrest that is roiling Barcelona.

“Mr Torra must strongly condemn the violence, which he has not done so far,” Sanchez said in a statement after the pro-separatist Quim Torra called on the central government to hold talks to try to find a way out of the crisis.

Sanchez also urged Torra to acknowledge the many Catalans who do not want independence for the wealthy northeastern region and who are “asking him to rebuild the coexistence damaged by the independence movement”.

He reiterated his Socialist party line that Catalonia would not be granted independence “because it is not legal”

Separatist Catalan leaders on Saturday called on the Spanish government to enter into talks as Barcelona braced for fresh violence after days of clashes between police and protesters.

 Nearly 200 people were hurt in another night of clashes with radical separatists hurling rocks and fireworks at police who responded with tear gas and rubber bullets.

 A hardcore movement of young separatists, Arran, called for a new demonstration “against repression” for 1600 GMT in central Barcelona.

 “We exhort the head of the government to fix today a day and hour to sit with us for unconditional talks,” regional president Quim Torra said in a speech.

 His demand for “unconditional” negotiations, addressed to Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, appeared to be aimed at ensuring that a referendum on independence, currently a non-starter for Madrid, is up for discussion.

 The Spanish government responded by saying it had “always been open to dialogue in the framework of respect for the law”.

 In a statement, it also called on Torra to condemn the violence, “which he has not done so far”.  Barcelona has been rocked all week by protests against a Spanish court’s jailing of nine separatist leaders on sedition charges over a failed independence bid. Emergency services said Saturday that 152 people were injured in overnight clashes in Barcelona, and dozens more hurt elsewhere in Catalonia, taking the total to 182.

 Authorities had already reported 500 injured since protests started Monday even before the latest clashes erupted.


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