Sánchez and Aragonès agree to resume the dialogue table in September in Barcelona | Catalonia
Two and a half hours to start the thaw ended, as expected, with a single pact of dates and ERC entrenched in self-determination and amnesty. The President of the Government, Pedro Sánchez, and the President of the Generalitat, Pere Aragonès, have agreed to resume the government-Generalitat dialogue table, which only had one meeting in February 2020 (before the pandemic), during from the third week of September. with a meeting in Barcelona. They also agreed that the Bilateral State-Generalitat Commission will meet again in July, and there will be discussed the issues on which there is more scope for agreement. Among them, questions on transfers, investments in Catalonia, the financing of the dependency law and the expenditure of the large European recovery fund.
Sánchez and Aragonès agreed to separate the two main questions: on the one hand, the political conflict; and on the other hand, economic questions. The first will be dealt with at the dialogue table, an unofficial body; and the others, in the bilateral, which has existed for years, although during the stage of Mariano Rajoy he hardly met. The differences between the two positions are enormous. Aragonès has made it clear that they will bring self-determination and amnesty, the two most delicate issues, to the dialogue table. And they will demand that any solution has final validation in the Catalans’ vote; that is to say a referendum. Sánchez doesn’t even want to hear about it. “The president made no reference to amnesty and self-determination. The two presidents are aware of the limits of dialogue, ”concluded government spokeswoman María Jesús Montero.
At the start of the press conference, Aragonès left the positions open enough for negotiations to take place, since a reform of the Statute could also finally be voted on, a solution that the Executive proposed at one point. But as the questions progressed, the President he was hardening his position. Aragonès explained that Sánchez did not propose a new statute as a solution, but insisted that it was not the solution they saw, but the referendum. “The State can make the proposals it considers. But we have not come all this way to go back to 2010, when the Constitutional Court amended the Statute approved by the Parliament of Catalonia. Our proposal is to organize a referendum so that the citizens choose the future of Catalonia. Don’t make mistakes. The government does not renounce the independence of Catalonia. Is it extremely complex? Yes. Because it is about sovereignty. We defend that the future is chosen by Catalonia ”.
And what middle way would there be? They asked him. “For us, the middle way is the referendum, because the starting point is independence. Despite everything, Aragonès also insisted that ERC would not leave the table and did not even fix his life in two years, like Junts, since he only suggests that after that date there will be a evaluation to see if it’s worth continuing. “We have marked this two-year milestone in which a review of the work of the table will be carried out to decide whether it is concluded or continues to move forward. But the table will last as long as it takes. We will never stand up from areas where there is the possibility of dialogue and negotiation, ”he insisted. The Catalan president did not want to clarify whether Oriol Junqueras will be at the table, but from his remarks it was deduced that this was probably not the case, as he insisted on the “institutional” nature of the meeting.
In the tone clearly started from a long negotiation where time has been saved for the moment by calling the most difficult meeting for the end of September, Aragonès admitted the enormous difficulty of reaching an agreement. “We checked the distant positions between the government of Catalonia and Spain. There are obvious differences in how to resolve the conflict. But the existence of this conflict is recognized, which will be resolved only through dialogue and an agreement which must have the approval of the citizens by a vote. We have agreed that the teams will work in the coming weeks to agree on the working methodology to hold a meeting in the third week of September in Barcelona to discuss the political conflict between the two governments, ”he said. insured.
Sánchez, through the government spokesperson, wanted to offer a version much more optimistic than Aragonès himself. Montero spoke of a “cordial” meeting with various agreements. “The conflict in Catalonia has been entrenched for a long time. It is time to take a step forward. No one is invited to give up our way of thinking. Our framework of coexistence is subject to the Constitution of 1978. Spain has no meaning without Catalonia and Catalonia cannot be understood without Spain. Unity is the engine that will allow us to overcome this economic crisis, ”said the minister, seeking that speech of harmony that Sánchez has given since he made the decision to grant pardons. “It is the cordiality and the meeting which presided over the meeting”, insisted the minister.
Montero assured that Sánchez had asked Aragonès to attend the Conference of Presidents scheduled for July to discuss the recovery fund, an issue of particular interest to Catalonia. For the Executive, it is relevant that ERC has agreed to meet first with the bilateral commission, where there are many possibilities to reach agreements, and to leave the dialogue table for later, which is much more. complex. Sánchez, according to Montero, also asked Aragonès to have “a dialogue between Catalans”, it is a forum of parties in this community like the one proposed by Salvador Illa, of the PSC.
The President of the Generalitat insisted: “We must find a way to satisfy the majority will of the Catalans and that requires self-determination. Amnesty and self-determination are the two great consensuses of Catalan society. This is what we are going to transfer to the dialog table. The first step is to comply with the Council of Europe, withdraw extradition requests and end the persecution ”. This was the furthest part of the positions of the Sánchez government, which excludes amnesty and self-determination and rejects the recommendations of the Council of Europe. “This negotiation will not be easy because we are not going to resign. Let no one be confused. It is not a question of reforming the financing. We are leaving with all the ambition to defend a referendum on the future of Catalonia. We must arm ourselves with patience. The State has an opportunity, but it must make a State proposal ”, assured the President.
Montero offered a very different version of the meeting, always in a positive tone. And despite what Aragonés pointed out about the possibility of the government withdrawing the extradition requests of Carles Puigdemont and other leaders, what the President, the spokeswoman for the executive made it clear that Sánchez is not participating and that he does not intend to go beyond pardons. “What I can tell you is that nothing entered into the gestures. What the government considers necessary is that the people who have escaped the action of justice return to Spain and put themselves at the disposal of justice, ”declared the spokesperson. While Aragonés kept returning to self-determination, amnesty and “exiles”, Montero tried to bring everything back to the field of “possible negotiation”.
There was no exchange of gifts or a walk in the gardens of the Moncloa, as has happened on other occasions. the ex-president Quim Torra, disqualified for disobedience, gave Sánchez a gift at their 2018 meeting, which opened the dialogue table, with a bottle of ratafia, a traditional Catalan liqueur that the former Catalan ruler is very fond of. The head of government, for his part, took Torra for a short walk.
Expectations for the meeting were not particularly high. The objective of La Moncloa was to try to break the granitic intention of Aragonès to focus the meeting on the sovereign question while the Government wanted to take advantage of the meeting to insist on the need to stop the causes derived from the treat, like that of the Court of Auditors which yesterday confirmed fines of millionaires to former senior officials of the Catalan executive.
The Generalitat has always insisted that its proposal to resolve the political conflict in Catalonia consists of holding a referendum on independence agreed with the central executive, a formula similar to that applied in Scotland, and the approval of a amnesty law. The government replies that neither of the two proposals is part of the Constitution and has undertaken to modify the Statute. And there, they continue the positions after two and a half hours of meeting, but with a great novelty: both insist on their desire to dialogue, dates are set to start it and neither seems willing to leave the table for a long season. .