Catalan President: We can strike a deal with Spain, but no negotiations ‘in any circumstances’ over freedom of political prisoners


Speaking on the Alex Salmond Show, Torra refused to compromise over demands for the release of Catalan independence leaders, and advocated the abolition of the Spanish monarchy

CATALAN PRESIDENT QUIM TORRA has stated that the Catalan Government will not consider any compromise over its demands that pro-independence political prisoners be released, and articulated his hope that both Catalonia and Spain might one day be republics.

Speaking with former first minister Alex Salmond in an exclusive interview on his weekly current affairs programme on RT, Torra described his recent negotiations with new Spanish prime minister Pedro Sanchez, saying that he would be open to a deal that guaranteed another independence referendum for Catalonia with the blessing of the Spanish Government.

Torra said: “This is a reasonable deal, I think, for trying to solve this issue politically.”

However, on the matter of the nine Catalan political prisoners currently incarcerated by Spanish authorities, Torra reaffirmed that the Catalan Government are “not negotiating in any circumstances,” and would continue to press for their immediate release without condition.

If the fate of Catalan political prisoners were to become a factor in negotiations between the two governments, Torra said, then “in a certain way, we are admitting they are in prison for some [legitimate] reasons.”

At present, the Sánchez administration has appeared to soften its approach to the Catalan situation in comparison with the deposed hardline government of Mariano Rajoy, but has thus far not indicated that Catalonia’s political prisoners will be released, or that their cases will be reconsidered.

Torra’s interview with Salmond echoes remarks that the Catalan president made earlier this week at a demonstration in Josi del Cadi in support of former Catalan minister Jordi Turull, who is currently imprisoned on charges of rebellion and sedition.

Speaking at the protest, Torra said: “We will not accept a sentence that punishes innocent people, good people, people we want to free, and people we want to free already.

“We will not accept sentences… or a ruling other than the filing of an unfair cause, and that is what I want to say with all solemnity and with all firmness, as well as that we will not accept an unfair trial, nor that this farce [is given] cause to continue. Remember the indecency that they are in jail.

“This should be the centrepiece of the debate over the coming months because it is impossible for our political prisoners to have a fair trial in Spain and we will not tolerate it.”

Commenting on the legal setbacks the Spanish state has faced in attempting to extradite exiled Catalan politicians on charges pertaining to their involvement in the 2017 independence referendum, Torra also argued to Salmond that Europe was turning against Spain, saying the Spanish Government had been rebuffed by: “The justice of Germany, the justice of Switzerland, the justice of Belgium and Scotland as well.

“Who is right? Europe or Spain?”

READ MORE: ‘Clara, we are with you’: Catalan President voices support for Clara Ponsati ahead of meeting with Sturgeon

Asked by Salmond about the relative silence from the institutions of the European Union on the attempted suppression of the 2017 referendum by the Spanish authorities and the subsequent imprisonment and legal pursuit of those involved, Torra acknowledged the “realpolitik” of the situation, but remained hopeful that Catalonia would eventually gain entry to the EU.

Torra said: “If we are determined to be independent, if we really have the strength, have the determination, even the aim to suffer the sacrifices that probably we will have to do to be independent, then I don’t have any doubt that the European Union should accept Catalonia as a member of this club of states.”

Addressing the controversy over some of his earlier statements concerning Spain and the Spanish language, Torra told Salmond that the best way to unite the Catalan peoples would be for both Catalonia and Spain to become republics – an implicit endorsement of the abolition of the Spanish monarchy.

Torra observed: “I used to say that the same freedom that they [independence supporters] want for Catalonia, I want the same for the Spanish people. Now freedom, in the [Iberian] Peninsula, means ‘republic’.

“I hope that soon the republic of Catalonia and the republic of Spain should meet together fraternally. I think that this is the best future for all of us.”

These comments follow another controversy earlier this week, when Spanish monarch King Felipe VI – who suffers poor approval ratings, and has been described as “arguably one of the most unpopular figures in Catalonia” – confirmed his attendance at an upcoming remembrance ceremony for the Barcelona terror attacks.

In response, Torra told the press: “We did not invite him.”

Picture courtesy of Adolfo Lujan

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