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Puigdemont: ‘We are close to an agreement’

Catalan leader says he will give up presidency if Catalan parliament so decides

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28 February 2018 10:45 AM

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ACN | Ghent

Pro-independence parties are "close to reaching an agreement" on forming a new Catalan government. That is according to Carles Puigdemont. The Catalan leader reported on Tuesday night that an agreement is "near." In an event in the Belgian city of Ghent, Puigdemont pointed out that he does not want to be just a "symbol," arguing that he was the Catalan president following a vote in Parliament. Yet, Puigdemont also said he will give up the presidency if the Catalan chamber decides not to support his candidacy for president.

Puigdemont also stressed that the parties in favor of a Catalan state should continue working on developing the Catalan republic in the next parliamentary term. Yet the Catalan leader said that while doing so, the next Catalan government also needs to work on running the government within Spanish law. 

"If the Catalan parliament decides to swear in another person, I will respect it," said Puigdemont. However, he also pointed out that a majority of MPs want him to be the next head of the Catalan executive. Despite stating his willingness to give up the presidency, Puigdemont continued to insist that it is "possible" to govern from Belgium.

  • "If the Catalan parliament decides to swear in another person, I will respect it"

    Carles Puigdemont · Catalan president 

At the event organized by the youth branch of the liberal Flemish Open VLD party, Puigdemont called for dialogue. "We want to reach an agreement with the Spanish authorities if possible," he said. The Catalan leader urged both the Catalan and the Spanish governments to make a move to start talks. "We are willing to do so," stressed Puigdemont.  Yet, he added that the conditions to start a dialogue are not ideal with Catalan leaders still in prison.

Proceedings against Catalan leaders an obstacle to dialogue

According to the deposed president, the main obstacle to talks is the prosecution of Catalan leaders for their role in Catalonia's push for independence and holding the October 1 referendum. Puigdemont said that Spain has a "huge problem," as to his mind there is no separation of powers.

Puigdemont also mentioned the imprisoned Catalan leaders. He insisted that the jailed pro-independence grassroots leaders, Jordi Sànchez and Jordi Cuixart, are the heads of a "peaceful movement," and he pointed out that they have never acted violently.  

Puigdemont also addressed the subject of his arrest should he he set foot in Catalonia, arguing that he is "defending the legitimacy of the Catalan institutions and the right to self-determination" from the EU capital. "I am here to defend our legitimacy," said the Catalan leader.

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  • Carles Puigdemont takes part in an event in Ghent (by Blanca Blay)

  • Carles Puigdemont takes part in an event in Ghent (by Blanca Blay)