Friday, 12 May 2017

Puigdemont's offers final chance to negotiate referendum: May 22


Barcelona (ACN).- Catalan President, Carles Puigdemont, together with Catalan VP and Catalan Minister for Foreign Affairs, Raül Romeva, will travel to Madrid on May 22nd to give the conference ‘A referendum for Catalonia. Invitation to a democratic agreement’. The conference is the same one that the three Catalan leaders gave in Brussels last January for nearly 500 people. Although the Catalan Government initially asked to hold the event in the Spanish Senate, that request was dismissed by the Spanish Government. So instead, the event will be held in the Caja de la Música auditorium, which has a capacity of about 250 people. The conference will be the Catalan Government’s last attempt to negotiate an agreed-upon referendum with the Spanish Government.

Given the difficulty that Rajoy and Puigdemont have had setting up a meeting to agree on a referendum in Catalonia, the conference will be used as the Government’s last offer to negotiate. The main argument used to defend the need to hold the vote will be the signatures collected by the National Pact for the Referendum (PNR). Indeed, this campaign will have come to an end on the 19th of May, only three days before the conference in Madrid is due to take place. So far, the PNR has collected more than 400,000 signatures from institutions, organizations, elected representatives, and private individuals, both within and outside of the country in support of holding a referendum on the Catalonia's political future.

The main political parties in Spain will be invited to attend the conference, as well as many representatives from the business field. Puigdemont’s intention was to hold the conference in the Spanish Senate, but the institution refused to allow it. The event will be held at ‘Caja de la Música’ auditorium instead, with a capacity for some 250 people.

The same conference held in Brussels

Last January, Puigdemont, Junqueras and Romeva travelled to Brussels to give this same conference in the biggest room in the European Parliament. Despite the calls from the Spanish People’s Party to boycott the event, around 500 people attended the conference, including members of the Catalan community, international journalists, diplomats, and MEPs.

During the talk, Puigdemont urged the EU to “be part of the solution” to the Catalan situation and to get involved in a matter that has now become “a European problem”. The Catalan President said that Catalonia would hold a referendum on independence this year even if the Spanish government refused to acknowledge it. The Catalan president highlighted the judicial process against the pro-independence politicians and the “intransigence” of the Spanish executive, which has so far refused all Catalan calls to discuss the issue of an independence referendum. “About 80% of Catalans are in favor of calling a referendum, regardless of what their vote would be,” said Puigdemont, adding that a vote has been “a constant request” by Catalonia in recent years. “The issue at stake is not independence but democracy,” he warned.

Among the MEPs that listened to Puigdemont in Brussels were Ana Gomes, from the Portuguese Social Democrats, Hungarian European People’s Party member and Vice President of the chamber, Laszlo Tokes, the former minister of Foreign Affairs of Slovenia, Ivo Vajgl, the Lithuanian liberal Petras Austrevicius, the Romanian Renate Weber and the Swede Bodil Valero. Moreover, the talk also attracted the attention of the Flemish N-VA, Sinn Féin, the Scottish National Party and the Basque nationalists parties.

The Catalan MEPs who organized the event, Ramon Tremosa, Jordi Solé, and Josep Maria Terricabras, also had the support of Ernest Urtasun and Francesc Gambús, who represent parties that defend the right to hold a referendum but not necessarily a ‘yes’ vote.

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  • Catalan President, Carles Puigdemont, joined by Catalan VP, Oriol Junqueras, Catalan Minsiter for Foreign Affairs, Raül Romeva and representatives of the National Pact for the Referendum (by ACN)