The Washington Post reports: In a long-awaited speech, Catalan regional president Carles Puigdemont affirmed on Tuesday the right of Catalonia to be an independent country. But he notably stopped short of declaring the region an independent polity, calling for further dialogue with the Spanish government.
By suspending the secession process, Puigdemont signaled an overture to critics and observers in Spain and across the European Union who feared the rise of separatism in the increasingly embattled 28-state bloc. He said that Catalonia’s conflict with Spain could be resolved in a rational way and suggested exploring international mediation as a possible solution.
Earlier Tuesday, the Spanish government rejected any offer of negotiation.
Throughout a long and often bitter process, Madrid fiercely rejected the prospect of Catalan independence, deploying police to interrupt the vote in violent clashes and threatening to throw Puigdemont in jail if he went any further. Spain’s constitutional court had ruled Catalonia’s referendum illegal, and although a majority of those who voted supported leaving Spain, fewer than 50 percent of eligible Catalan residents ultimately cast ballots. [Continue reading…]