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Dimarts  14.01.2014  01:19

Obama avoids question on Catalan independence

The US President met with Spanish PM Rajoy Monday in the Oval Office • Rajoy said independence 'was not going to happen'


The president of the United States, Barack Obama, yesterday avoided responding to a question about whether Catalonia's independence could be considered a 'risk' for continuing economic growth in Europe. In a joint press conference with the Spanish Prime Minister, Mariano Rajoy, the US president evaded a reporter's question (in Spanish) on the topic and focused on the economic situation.

During the joint appearance, a journalist asked if secessionist movements that exist in some countries could be counted as a risk for economic growth in Europe. The US president gave the first opportunity to respond to Rajoy, who took advantage of the moment to say that Catalonia would not become independent.

In addition, Rajoy went on to cite the risk of creating 'divisions' and the dangers of being a 'small' country. When it was his turn, the president of the United States avoided making any reference to the independence movement. Obama said that the 'first step is to stabilize the economy and that means making sure that the banking sectors, the financial systems, are stable.' Obama continued, "For Spain that was a greater challenge to settle down the markets, to ensure that they had access to those markets.' He warned Rajoy, 'The most important thing is growth and to bring down the unemployment rate, that is too high around the world, and that has hit countries like Spain especially hard.'

Obama declared that Europe 'as a whole' has the capacity 'to grow faster', even though some countries are still facing economic adjustments. And he sent a message to Germany when he stated that 'there are also surplus countries that can be doing more to increase demand'. According to Obama, Europe has the 'recipe' for generating a 'cycle that can lead ultimately to greater prosperity, lower unemployment, and higher wages', which is the 'objective of any government'.

Indeed, Obama wasn't willing to talk about any kind of risk, beyond unemployment, adding that the US feels 'much more optimistic about Europe's prospects this year than we were last year and we're very optimistic about the prospects for Spain not just this next year but in the years to come'.

The question about independence can be seen at minute 29 in the video. Rajoy's answer and its translation come at 30:50, and Obama's reply begins at the 33:44 point.