July 23. 2024. 1:33

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Catalan president urges Sanchez government to keep bilateral dialogue ‘alive’

Spain’s central government led by Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez (PSOE/S&D) should not “lower the flag of dialogue” with Catalonia, the region´s president, Pere Aragonès, stressed in an exclusive interview with EFE.

According to the president of the Catalan executive, Sánchez should not close the door “for electoral reasons” to deepen the current political dialogue he opened with that prosperous Spanish region, said Aragonès.

“We are fully available for the meetings that are needed and to move forward in resolving the `conflict’ (what pro-independence forces define as “political conflict” with Madrid)”, Aragonès, leader of pro-independence Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya (ERC, Republican Left of Catalonia), added.

Aragonès analysed the future prospects of the process of dialogue undertaken with Spain’s central government and disclosed a few details of his proposal for an ambitious agreement with Madrid.

In December 2022, Sanchez’s executive approved the reform of the Criminal Code – a move that greatly contributed to a relaxation of the tense relationship between previous Spanish governments of centre-right Partido Popular (PP/EPP) and the Generalitat.

But despite the improved relation with Madrid, the dialogue should not come to a standstill in 2023, Aragonès said.

“Dialogue should not be subject to party political tactics incentives”, he suggested.

“That (Spanish regional) presidents can dialogue, meet, reach agreements and address the `conflict´ should not be conditioned by short-term and electoral interests”, Aragonès stressed.

“If Pedro Sánchez, who has made a banner of dialogue and the outstretched hand, now hides, withdraws and hoists that banner of dialogue because he has municipal and regional elections, he must explain why he does not want to dialogue”, he also warned.

Although he refused to link the continuity of his commitment to the path of dialogue to Sánchez and the PSOE winning the upcoming general election, Aragonès admitted that if the coalition changes colours, “the conditions for advancing in the negotiation process (Catalonia-Madrid) will be more difficult”.

Spain will hold its municipal elections on 28 May, which many believe will be the first litmus test for Sanchez’s governing coalition with left-wing Unidas Podemos (GUE-NGL), a relation currently under pressure.

After that, the parties will have to face the general election set for December, and the political row with Catalonia is one of the ‘hot potatoes’ in the Iberian political arena.

(Fernando Heller | EuroEFE.EURACTIV.es)