Spain’s Prime Minister and Catalonia’s leader relaunch negotiations in hopes of finding a solution to the current political crisis caused by the region’s separatist movement
BARCELONA, Spain – The Spanish Prime Minister and the leader of Catalonia met on Wednesday to restart negotiations in hopes of finding a solution to the current political crisis caused by the region’s separatist movement.
Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez sits with Regional President Pere Aragonès at the Catalan government headquarters in downtown Barcelona.
Expectations are low for any huge breakthrough from the meeting that caused a rift within the separatist camp. Aragonès and his party of the Republican Left of Catalonia describe the talks as “a historic opportunity”.
But the leaders of the Aragonès government’s junior party have publicly expressed their doubts about the chances that there will be any real gains for the separatists. The influential popular group Catalan National Assembly goes further, saying the talks will only serve to derail their cause.
Sánchez found a solution to the crisis he inherited when he took office in 2018, not a year after the leaders of the Catalan government and grassroots separatist groups failed in a unilateral break-up attempt that violated the Constitution Spanish.
In a bold move to reduce tensions, the socialist leader took the decision in June to pardon the nine jailed instigators of the 2017 secession attempt. The pardons and talks have been heavily criticized by Spanish right-wing parties.
Now, ahead of the meeting in Barcelona, Sánchez has said he will insist on finding ways to improve the economic and social well-being of Catalans, while firmly denying any separatist claims to sovereignty.
Aragonès insisted that the only issues on the table are the possibility of Spain allowing an independence referendum and a general amnesty for all those separatists in conflict with the law.
After years of limited dialogue between Catalan leaders and Spanish conservatives then in power, Sánchez met Aragonès’ predecessor, Quim Torra, in February 2020 in Madrid. The result of this meeting was to agree to hold meetings once a month. But these were suspended by the pandemic, which hit Spain just weeks later.