Catalan president attacks Spanish king over independence stance

King Felipe VI accused of following Madrid’s ‘catastrophic’ policies on Catalonia

 Catalonia’s president Carles Puigdemont gives a televised speech on Wednesday, at Palau de la Generalitat in Barcelona, Spain. Photograph: Jordi Bedmar Pascual/Generalitat/EPA

Catalonia’s president Carles Puigdemont gives a televised speech on Wednesday, at Palau de la Generalitat in Barcelona, Spain. Photograph: Jordi Bedmar Pascual/Generalitat/EPA

 

The president of Catalonia, Carles Puigdemont, has accused King Felipe VI of following the Spanish central government’s “catastrophic” policies towards the region.

In a televised speech on Wednesday evening, Mr Puigdemont also called the central government “irresponsible” for not accepting mediation in the political crisis that has engulfed the region.

The Catalan leader’s comments followed an intervention by the king after Sunday’s independence referendum in Catalonia.

King Felipe issued the stern warning to Catalonia’s pro-independence government on Tuesday, accusing it of “inadmissible disloyalty” to the state’s institutions and of putting at risk the economic and social stability of Spain.

Mr Puigdemont’s government is considering when it will declare independence from Spain in the wake of the disputed referendum, which has triggered the country’s worst national crisis in decades.

He has said an independence declaration will come within a few days, but Spain, which declared the referendum illegal and invalid, is bitterly opposed to any such move.

“This will probably finish once we get all the votes in from abroad at the end of the week and therefore we shall probably act over the weekend or early next week [to declare independence],” he said, in remarks published on Wednesday.

In Wednesday’s speech, Mr Puigdemont condemned violence by police who tried to halt Sunday’s referendum.

“We held the referendum amid an unprecedented repression and in the following days we will show our best face to apply the results of the referendum,” he said.

The separatist leader told the Spanish king: “You have disappointed many Catalans.”

Independence debate

Pro-independence parties which control Catalonia’s regional parliament have asked for a debate and vote on Monday on declaring independence, a regional government source said.

Spain is the euro zone’s fourth-biggest economy and the referendum has shaken the common currency and hit Spanish stocks and bonds, sharply raising Madrid’s borrowing costs.

On Wednesday, the Ibex stock index fell below 10,000 points for the first time since March 2015 as bank stocks tumbled. In a sign of the nervous public mood, Catalonia’s biggest bank, Caixabank, and Spain’s economy minister had earlier sought to assure bank customers that their deposits were safe.

Mr Puigdemont opened the door to a unilateral declaration of independence from Spain on Sunday after voters, according to regional officials, voted 90 per cent in favour of breaking away.

Irish support

Meanwhile, Spain’s ambassador to Ireland, José Maríá Rodríguez Coso, called on the people of Ireland to support his country.

He told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland that Spain and Ireland had a common history of struggle and that what happens in Spain could occur elsewhere in Europe.

Mr Rodríguez Coso said Spain was facing a dramatic and historic moment.

Asked about police violence during Sunday’s referendum, Mr Rodríguez Coso said no one could defend the actions of the police, but that such actions had been limited to specific locations and were done to protect people.

He added that the continued illegal activity in Catalonia was against the legal constitution of the country.

PA and Reuters