The president of the Republic, Carles Puigdemont, has announced that Catalonia’s legitimate government will continue with its activities, preparing actions against the politicisation of the Spanish justice, and will politically oppose the criminal charges filed against them by Spain’s public prosecution. Furthermore, Puigdemont has made a call to “view the elections” on December 21 “as a challenge to provide a response to Article 155 before the international community”. On this point, he asked “the 155 bloc” whether they are willing to accept any election result: “Will the Spanish State abide by the outcome of the vote? I demand a clear commitment [from Madrid]. Otherwise, if a pro-independence win is not acceptable, that will mean that there are two categories of voter. Are you prepared to respect the result of the election, regardless? The Catalan people and their government are”.
Puigdemont’s spoke at a public address at the Brussels Club international press centre, right by the EU’s institutional HQs. The venue was packed to the brim with reporters from over one hundred international news outlets.
Puigdemont asked the Catalan people to get ready for a long journey based on unity and “the collective wisdom that has allowed us to make progress, with pacifism as our only weapon”. He also asked Catalans to “acknowledge the government ministers who have said goodbye to their families and children, certain that they could end up in jail”. And he appealed to the international community, especially the European Union, to react: “Allowing the Spanish authorities not to dialogue, to prevail through military might, to imprison us for thirty years, is to terminate the European ideal and it is a mistake that all Europeans will pay dearly”.
“To avoid getting dragged into a violent situation”
The Catalan president gave an account of this government’s actions since the republic was proclaimed last Friday. He explained that they could have opted for a confrontational strategy and stand up to the Spanish government’s takeover of Catalonia’s institutions, endorsed by the PP, the PSOE and Ciudadanos. He revealed that he had “wholly reliable intelligence which indicated that the Spanish government intended to launch a highly aggressive, unprecedented onslaught against the Catalan people”. The criminal charges filed yesterday against his cabinet and the Bureau of the Parliament is evidence of this aggression, as they are facing charges such as rebellion, which carries a prison sentence of up to thirty years. “The Spanish State’s aggression gave us no choice but to adapt our plan to the new circumstances and avoid violence at all costs”, he said. Puigdemont also stressed that he did not want to put public employees in a tight spot: “My government could have chosen to send our loyal civil servants into a head-on battle for hegemony or could have used the elements of the Catalan police that are loyal to the Republic to defend our independence, but we chose to avert confrontation and violence. Spain will not drag us into a violent scenario”.
Carles Puigdemont added that if all this “comes at the expense of slowing down the deployment of the Republic, it must be seen as a reasonable price to pay in 21st century Europe”. He emphasised that “this decision is consistent with the notion that the Catalan republic will be a different sort of country”.
The government’s policies
The Catalan president listed four of his government’s policies, starting with the preparation of an international lawsuit against the Spanish State over the politicisation of its justice system and ideological persecution. The Catalan government will continue “to work despite the limitations imposed by its non-confrontational strategy” and will politically oppose the charges filed by the Spanish prosecution. Furthermore, it will support “the various initiatives that aim to avoid the implementation of Article 155”. Finally, he made a call to make the most of the snap election on December 21.
“I am not here seeking political asylum”
Puigdemont also clarified that he did not travel to Brussels to ask for political asylum, as some had speculated so far. “I’m not here seeking political asylum, but to act freely. I’ve travelled to Brussels because this is a European affair”, he said. And he went to note that they would be able to work and be heard safely and in peace, bearing in mind that the Spanish authorities have ordered that the Catalan government’s security detail be removed.