Published: Thu, October 12, 2017
World News | By Carolyn Briggs

Madrid Asks Catalonia to Explain Whether It Has Declared Independence

Madrid Asks Catalonia to Explain Whether It Has Declared Independence

On the same day that Catalonia's president called for negotiations with Spain to secure independence for his state, the White House signaled it favored talks between Catalonia and the Madrid government and "them moving forward".

But Mr Puigdemont in his declaration to parliament called for Catalonia's independence to be suspended pending negotiations with Madrid.

In a much anticipated address to the Catalan Parliament on Tuesday night, President Puigdemont said: "We call on global states and organisations to recognise the Catalan republic as an independent and sovereign state".

The Spanish expect their prime minister to do more than just hide behind the shield of the constitution. Earlier on Wednesday he proposed during an interview with CNN that a mediator be named to settle the crisis.

The semi-autonomous region of Catalonia, which has its own language and culture, held a referendum on independence on October 1.

While separatist leaders say 90 percent of voters opted to split from Spain in the October referendum, less than half of the region's eligible voters actually turned out.

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Expectations before Catalan president Carles Puigdemont's appearance in the regional parliament on Tuesday were enormous, and he has faced severe pressure in recent days. "We are normal people who ask to be allowed to vote and who have been ready for all the dialogue necessary to achieve it in an agreed way".

He accused Mr Puigdemont of having created "deliberate confusion" and said he wanted to restore "certainty".

"The answer from the Catalan president will determine future events, in the next few days", the prime minister pointed out. "My arrest would be unjustified and a mistake; this is not the moment to send people with whom you have political discrepancies to prison."Puigdemont said it was an important time for both sides to enter into dialogue."We are at a point where the most important thing that there is no previous condition to sit down and talk, to accept that we have to talk, we need to talk in the right conditions", he said".

But on Wednesday morning, the Spanish stock market rose 1.16 percent on hopes for a breakthrough in the crisis.

The European Union made clear that if Catalonia split from Spain, the region would cease to be part of the EU.

But a 2010 move by Spain's Constitutional Court to water down a statute that gave Catalonia additional powers, combined with a deep economic meltdown in Spain, sparked a surge in support for independence.

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