Catalan President Carles Puigdemont has stopped short of declaring independence of the region. In a long-awaited speech to the Catalan Parliament, he said that he accepts the will of the people to be independent from Spain, but he asked the lawmakers to suspend the results to make way for dialogue with Madrid.
The Catalan President said that the regional government was contacted by many international authorities, like the Elders, many presidents, and prime ministers, saying that the dialogue with the central government is the best way to solve the crisis.
We tried to talk to the government earlier, to have a binding referendum like Scotland, the UK example showed that it was possible, Puigdemont notes.
“It has become obvious that it is not an internal issue any longer. Catalonia is now a European matter,” he says.
He says he is “not planning any threats or any insults” but instead wants to “de-escalate the tension”. Puigdemont called everybody to make an effort to prevent any sort of violence, and that the events from referendum day should never happen again. It was the first time in European history that police attacked people who were there to vote, The Catalan President says. Their (Spanish police) goal was to cause panic and to stop people from voting, but it did not work because almost three million people voted. Puigdemont thanked the people who made referendum possible. The pictures of people who were injured will forever stay in the minds of Catalans, he adds.
To the companies thinking about leaving the region, he relayed the message that the government of Catalonia will firmly be democratic and that they should have no fear to do business in the region. Puigdemont said he understands other opinions and said that he heard the concerns of those who are for remaining in Spain.
Thousands of people gathered outside the Parliament building to follow the events unfolding inside. Many of them had Catalan flags, and were hoping for a historic day. Tens of tractors were also seen, in an attempt to defend the building in the case of violence with the Spanish police.