Catalan politician urges Spanish Prime Minister to take up offer of talks with Catalan leadership

Courtesy of MGN Online.
By  | 

Updated: October 11, 2017, 1:20 PM

MADRID (AP) -- The Latest on the crisis over Catalonia's independence bid (all times local):
7:40 p.m.
A senior Catalan politician has urged Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy to take up Catalan regional leader Carles Puigdemont's offer of talks, saying it might be the last.

Carles Campuzano, national parliament spokesman for Puigdemont's Democratic Party of Catalonia, said the Catalan leader's offer Tuesday to suspend a declaration of independence to facilitate talks was a generous act that kept the door open to dialogue.

Campuzano called Wednesday on Rajoy to "make the most of the opportunity," adding that "maybe it is the last opportunity we all have to reach a good solution for everyone."

Spain has ruled out talks as long as Puigdemont continues to act illegally. Rajoy earlier Wednesday demanded that Puigdemont clarify if he in fact declared independence Tuesday and intimated Spain might apply a law entitling it to take control of some or all of Catalonia's autonomy if he did.

Campuzano said such an intervention would be a "major error."
------
7:05 p.m.
The Spanish prime minister says there's not a single country that recognizes the right to independence, after officials in Catalonia signed a document that they called a declaration of independence from Spain.

Mariano Rajoy, addressing Spain's parliament, said "there's no constitution in the world that recognizes the right to self-determination."

Catalan president Carles Puigdemont gave a speech Tuesday night in Catalonia's parliament announcing that he was proceeding with a declaration of independence from Spain following the disputed secession referendum Catalonia held on Oct. 1 referendum.

But Puigdemont then suspended the move from taking effect for several weeks to facilitate negotiations.

Spain has given Puigdemont a Monday deadline to clarify whether he declared independence. Rajoy announced the measure Wednesday in a veiled threat to trigger a constitutional article that could end with the suspension of Catalonia's autonomous powers.
------
6:55 p.m.
Spain's leader says that it's important for Catalonia's leader to get his answer right on whether he declared independence or not.

Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, addressing Spain's parliament, says that that Catalan president Carles Puigdemont "just needs to say he didn't declare independence."

Puigdemont gave a speech Tuesday night in Catalonia's parliament announcing that he was proceeding with a declaration of independence from Spain following the disputed secession referendum Catalonia held on Oct. 1 referendum.

But Puigdemont then suspended the move from taking effect for several weeks to facilitate negotiations. Later that evening, he signed a document that Catalan officials referred to as a declaration of independence.

Spain has given Puigdemont a Monday deadline to clarify whether he declared independence. Rajoy announced the measure Wednesday in a veiled threat to trigger a constitutional article that could end with the suspension of Catalonia's autonomous powers.
------
6:35 p.m.
Spain's prime minister says the central government has given Catalonia's leader a deadline of Monday to clarify whether he declared independence from Spain.

Mariano Rajoy says that if Catalan president Carles Puigdemont's response is that he indeed formally proclaimed independence, he will have a few more days to drop the implementation of the declaration.
Both deadlines have been included in a formal demand sent to the Catalan government.

Rajoy announced the measure earlier on Wednesday in a veiled threat to trigger a constitutional article that could end with the suspension of Catalonia's autonomous powers.
------
5:10 p.m.
Catalonia's pro-independence leader has told CNN his regional government is prepared to have talks on independence without preconditions with Spain.

To date, Carles Puigdemont has repeatedly said that the right to self-determination must be on the table in any talks. Spain, in turn, says it can't discuss an independence referendum as it goes against the constitution.

Puigdemont said Wednesday that Spain and Catalonia should "have no prior conditions to sit down and talk."

Puigdemont's interview came before Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy demanded that the Catalan leader clarify whether he had declared independence in a speech Tuesday. Puigdemont wasn't asked in the CNN interview whether he indeed had proclaimed independence.
------
4:45 p.m.
Spain's prime minister has rejected offers of mediation in the Catalonia crisis, and called for respect of Spanish law.

Mariano Rajoy, while thankful for the approaches, said that "there is no possible mediation between democratic law and disobedience and unlawfulness."

Rajoy made the comments while addressing Spain's parliament a day after Catalan officials signed what they called a declaration of independence from Spain.

Catalan regional president Carles Puigdemont said the previous day that he would proceed with the secession but was suspending it for a few weeks to facilitate negotiations.

Rajoy finished his address to parliament on Wednesday calling for all Spaniards to "put an end to this division and to do it with serenity, prudence and the final goal of recovering coexistence."
------
4:30 p.m.
Spain's prime minister says that this month's referendum in Catalonia was part of a strategy "to impose independence that few want and is good for nobody."

Mariano Rajoy is addressing parliament a day after Catalan officials, including the regional president, signed what they called a declaration of independence from Spain. Rajoy has described the crisis as "one of the most difficult times in our recent history."

Rajoy said that Catalan authorities broke the law by holding the Oct. 1 referendum and incited street protests to give an appearance of legitimacy to the vote. He also said that nobody should be proud of Catalonia's referendum or the image it gave, and that not a single country supports Catalonia's push for secession.
------
2:40 p.m.
Spanish news reports say the National Court is summoning for further questioning two senior officers of Catalonia's regional police force and the leaders of two pro-independence civic groups in connection with the referendum.

The private news agency Europa Press and other media outlets say the four are to appear Oct. 16 before investigative magistrate Carmen Lamela at the court in Madrid on suspicion of sedition.

The summons could not be immediately confirmed by the court.

The four were released after questioning last Friday but the court said they would be recalled once it reviewed new police evidence relating to the banned Oct. 1 referendum on Catalonia's independence from Spain.
------
2 p.m.
The European Union's executive body says it remains firmly behind Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy in his handling of the contested independence vote in the northern Catalonia region.

European Commission Vice-President Valdis Dombrovskis says that "the Commission is following closely the situation in Spain, and reiterates its earlier call for full respect of the Spanish constitutional order."

He said EU commissioners on Wednesday briefly discussed developments in Spain. Catalonia's separatist authorities have appealed to the Commission to help mediate with Madrid but Rajoy has not sought EU help.

Dombrovskis said: "We are supporting the efforts to overcome division and fragmentation, to ensure unity and respect of the Spanish constitution."
------
1:50 p.m.
Spain's opposition leader says that the country's two main parties have agreed to renegotiate laws governing autonomy amid Catalonia's independence bid.

Socialist leader Pedro Sanchez says that a deal was reached with Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy to open talks in six months on reforming the constitution that would allow changes to current setup governing Spain's 17 regions, including Catalonia.

Sanchez said that his party wanted the constitutional reform to "allow for Catalonia to remain a part of Spain."

Sanchez says his party is backing Rajoy, who leads the ruling Popular Party, in pursuing clarification from the Catalan regional leader over whether independence for the northeastern prosperous region was declared Tuesday.

Sanchez said that Catalan president Carles Puigdemont needs to put it in "black and white" what his plans are.
------
1:20 p.m.
A spokeswoman for German Chancellor Angela Merkel says a declaration of independence by Catalonia "would be illegal and would not receive any recognition" from Germany.

Spokeswoman Ulrike Demmer, when asked if Germany would help negotiate between Spain and Catalonia, also told reporters in Berlin on Wednesday the German government considers Catalonia's independence efforts an internal issue for Spain and Germany would not get involved.

Demmer added it's important that Spain's unity be maintained and that the rights of all Spaniards will be guaranteed.

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy formally demanded the Catalan leader clarify whether independence has been declared following an announcement Tuesday from the head of the wealthy Catalonia region that he was proceeding with a declaration of independence but was suspending it for several weeks to facilitate negotiations.
------
12:20 p.m.
Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has formally demanded the Catalan leader clarify whether independence has been declared, saying that is needed before he can decide what steps to take.

In a veiled threat, Rajoy said the clarity was required by the constitutional article that would allow Spain to intervene and take control of some or all of Catalonia's regional powers.

Rajoy issued the demand Wednesday following a special Cabinet meeting to respond to an announcement from the head of the wealthy Catalonia region that he was proceeding with a declaration of independence but was suspending it for several weeks to facilitate negotiations.
------
12 p.m.
A Greek anarchist group has ended a brief, peaceful demonstration at Spain's embassy in Athens to protest against the Spanish police crackdown on Catalonia's independence referendum.

Police say 18 people were detained for questioning after they voluntarily left the embassy building in Athens city center.

No damage was reported during the two-hour protest.

The anarchist group Rubicon said that Wednesday's protest was prompted by the Spanish government's "violence and repression," but it was not in support of Catalan independence.
------
11:45 a.m.
Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy is to deliver a statement at noon (1000GMT) Wednesday expected to focus on the response to a Catalan declaration of independence that separatists put on hold while calling for mediation efforts.

Rajoy chaired the closed-doors meeting at the government's headquarters in the Moncloa Palace, on the outskirts of Madrid.

Catalan regional president Carles Puigdemont said late Tuesday that he would proceed with the secession but would suspend it for a few weeks to facilitate negotiations. But the government has given little indication it is willing to talk.
------
10:55 a.m.
Police say a Greek anarchist group is staging a sit-in protest at the Spanish embassy in Athens.

In a posting on a left-wing website, the Rubicon group said Wednesday's protest was held to protest the Spanish police crackdown on the Catalan independence referendum. The group added, however, that it does not support Catalan independence.

The group has staged a series of brief, peaceful invasions at the offices of state institutions, political parties and private corporations to protest policies it disagrees with.

Greek left-wing groups have expressed support for Catalonia's independence drive, holding a peaceful protest at the Spanish embassy last week.
------
10:30 a.m.
Cyprus has rejected a unilateral declaration of independence by Catalonia's leader, saying it violates Spain's constitution.

The ethnically divided island nation said Wednesday that it fully backs Spain's territorial integrity and sovereignty and pledged solidarity with the country and its people.

Cyprus said the best way to resolve the crisis is through peaceful dialogue in line with the Spanish constitution.

Catalan regional president Carles Puigdemont said Tuesday he would proceed with secession from Spain but was suspending it for a few weeks to facilitate negotiations.

Cyprus faces its own problem with breakaway Turkish Cypriots who declared independence in 1983, nine years after the island was split when Turkey invaded following a coup by supporters of union with Greece.

Only Turkey recognizes the island's breakaway Turkish Cypriot north.
------
10:25 a.m.
Catalonia's government spokesman says that if the Spanish government decides to intervene over the region's autonomous powers, it will be seen that there is no willingness to talk and Catalonia will be obliged to press ahead with its commitment to independence.

Jordi Turull told Catalunya Radio that Wednesday's events would show if the possibility of dialogue exists for the Spanish government, and "the international community will see."

He said the Catalan government has not changed its plans but wants to talk.

Catalan government leader Carles Puigdemont said Tuesday he would proceed with the secession but would suspend it for a few weeks to facilitate negotiations.

But the Spanish government, which is meeting Wednesday to discuss its response, said the declaration was inadmissible.

One of Spain's options could be to apply Article 155 of the Constitution, which allows the central government to take some or total control of any of its 17 regions if they don't comply with their legal obligations
------
9:45 a.m.
German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel says a unilateral declaration of independence by Catalonia would be "irresponsible."

Gabriel said in a written statement Wednesday, "Europe's strength lies in its unity and the peace that was brought by the European unity."

He said that "a solution can only be successful through talks based on the rule of law and within the frame of the Spanish constitution."

Catalan regional president Carles Puigdemont said Tuesday he would proceed with secession from Spain but was suspending it for a few weeks to facilitate negotiations.

The Spanish government is holding an urgent meeting Wednesday to discuss its next steps.
------
9:15 a.m.
The Spanish government has started an urgent meeting to discuss its next steps to halt the northeastern region of Catalonia from proceeding with a declaration of independence.

Spanish national television showed images of the ministers gathered around a table as the meeting, chaired by Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, got underway.

Wednesday's meeting is taking place after Catalan regional president Carles Puigdemont said the previous day that he will proceed with the secession but is suspending it for a few weeks to facilitate negotiations in what is Spain's most serious political crisis in decades.

Rajoy is to address parliament later Wednesday.
------
8:45 a.m.
The Spanish government is to hold an urgent meeting to discuss its next steps to halt the northeastern region of Catalonia from proceeding with a declaration of independence.

Wednesday's meeting is taking place after Catalan regional president Carles Puigdemont said the previous day that he would proceed with the secession but was suspending it for a few weeks to facilitate negotiations.

Spain responded by saying the declaration was inadmissible, adding that it was based on an invalid independence referendum.

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy is to appear before parliament later Wednesday to discuss the referendum and what he plans to do next.

------

BARCELONA, Spain (AP) -- The Latest on Catalan authorities' bid for independence (all times local):

7:45 p.m.
Catalan president Carles Puigdemont says he has a mandate to declare independence for the northeastern region, but proposes waiting "a few weeks" in order to facilitate a dialogue.

Puigdemont tells the Catalan parliament that a landslide victory in the region's disputed Oct. 1 referendum on independence gives his government grounds to implement its long-held desire to break century-old ties with Spain. But he is suggesting holding off.

Puigdemont's speech was highly critical of the Spanish government's response to the referendum, but he said Catalans have nothing against Spain or Spaniards, and that they want to understand each other better.

At the end of his speech, Puigdemont was applauded by standing separatist lawmakers.
------
7:10 p.m.
Catalonia's parliament has opened a highly anticipated session that could spell the birth of a new republic, marking a critical point in a decade-long standoff between Catalan separatists and Spain's central authorities.

Security is tight in Barcelona and police cordoned off a park surrounding the legislative building, where Catalan President Carles Puigdemont is expected to walk a fine line during an address to regional lawmakers.

The speech will need to appease the most radical separatist-minded supporters of his ruling coalition -- but Puigdemont could shut down any possibility of negotiating with Spain if he adopts a hard line.

The Catalan leader hasn't revealed the precise message he will deliver, but separatist lawmakers and activists have said they won't be satisfied with anything short of an independence declaration.
------
6:15 p.m.
A key speech by Catalonia's president on independence from Spain has been delayed by an hour.

Carles Puigdemont has requested the delay because a parliamentary group needs to hold a meeting on opposition lawmakers' request to cancel the session.

The highly anticipated speech will address the region's bid to secede from Spain, but it's not known exactly what Puigdemont will say.

The speech will likely set up a clash with the Spanish government, which has said any independence declaration would be illegal and void.
------
5:45 p.m.
Scotland's pro-independence leader says she hopes "dialogue will replace confrontation" between authorities in Catalonia and the Spanish government.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said Tuesday that "it is time for the Spanish government to sit down with the government of Catalonia."

She said "it is time for them to talk and to find a way forward" that respects both the rule of law and "the right of the people of Catalonia to determine their own future."

Scotland held a 2014 referendum on whether to break away from the U.K. that was won by the "no" side. Sturgeon's Scottish National Party says it will push for another vote when the time is right.

Unlike the Catalan independence vote, Scotland's referendum was held with the approval of the British government.

Sturgeon also says the European Union should have "spoken up loudly" to condemn police violence against voters in the contested referendum.
------
5:05 p.m.
Catalonia's president has arrived at the regional parliament less than an hour before he is due to give a key speech on independence from Spain.

Carles Puigdemont smiled at journalists as he walked into the building.

Puigdemont will address the regional parliament at 6 p.m. (1600 GMT) in a session during which a declaration of independence could be made based on the results of a disputed Oct. 1 independence referendum opposed by Spanish central authorities.
------
5 p.m.
Catalonia's president has left the government palace and is heading to parliament for a key speech on independence from Spain.

Carles Puigdemont left in a small motorcade escorted by police.

Puigdemont will address the regional parliament at 6 p.m. (1600 GMT) in a session during which a declaration of independence could be made based on the results of a disputed Oct. 1 independence referendum opposed by Spanish central authorities.
------
4:25 p.m.
The foreign ministers of Italy and Slovenia have called for the respect of the Spanish constitution and laws in the crisis over Catalonia's secession bid.

Slovenia's official STA news agency quoted Italian minister Angelino Alfano as saying that "we deeply respect Spain's constitutional unity and we hope that it will not be thrown into question, because respecting the Spanish constitution is necessary for preserving the rule of law."

The report says Alfano, on a trip to Slovenia, also has urged dialogue, saying Europe needs unity most of all.

STA says Slovenia minister Karl Erjavec noted his country's declaration of independence from the former Yugoslavia in 1991 was made in line with then-Yugoslav law. Erjavec adds "we count on dialogue and reason."

Slovenia was the first to leave the ex-Yugoslav federation whose breakup triggered ethnic bloodshed.
------
3:55 p.m.
A senior European Union official has pleaded with the Catalan leadership to step away from the brink of a divisive call for independence and resort to dialogue with Spain's government instead.

European Council President Donald Tusk addressed Catalonia's president directly, hours before Carles Puigdemont is expected to make an announcement on the region's bid for secession.

Tusk said in Brussels that "I ask you to respect in your intentions the constitutional order and not to announce a decision that would make such a dialogue impossible."

Tusk added that "diversity should not and need not lead to conflict whose consequences would obviously be bad for the Catalans, for Spain and for the whole of Europe."

Before a meeting of the EU's Committee of the Regions, Tusk said that "let us always look for what unites us and not for what divides us. This is what will decide the future of our continent."
------
3:35 p.m.
Around two dozen tractors flying secessionist flags have paraded near Catalonia's regional parliament before a highly anticipated session that could include a declaration of independence from Spain.

The tractors rode in a circle around Barcelona's Arc de Triomf outside a park surrounding the Catalan parliament that has been closed to the public by a large police deployment.

A small and growing group of separatists were gathering in the promenade next to the Arc de Triomf, where the movement's main grassroots group has called for a rally when Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont is scheduled to address the parliament at 6 p.m. (1400 GMT).

Xavier Turo, a 45-year-old electrician, traveled from the village of Sentmenat with his wife to Barcelona for what they hope will be a historic day for the prosperous northeastern region.

Turo says "we are nervous, but happy. We have been waiting a long time for this. Our government is risking their necks for us. I am sure they will declare independence."
------
2:20 p.m.
Catalonia's government spokesman Jordi Turull has declined to give away any details of what regional president Carles Puigdemont will say ahead of a highly anticipated address to parliament Tuesday.

Some expect Puigdemont to declare independence from Spain in his speech to lawmakers but he has not revealed what the message would be.
"These are very intense and passionate moments," Turull said during a weekly briefing to reporters.

Spanish authorities have legally challenged every step of the Catalan government's move to secede and sent in police to try to stop a highly disputed independence referendum last week. Catalan authorities say the majority of those who voted favored independence from Spain.
------
2 p.m.
The spokesman for the Catalan government says the regional economy is sound despite the exodus of companies moving their corporate addresses to other Spanish territories.

Dozens of companies have made the move in order to remain under Spanish and European laws if Catalonia manages to secede. The moves so far do not affect jobs or investments but don't send a message of confidence in the secessionist-minded officials governing Catalonia.

"Those who want to create a sense of alarm are wrong," said Jordi Turull, underscoring that foreign investment and trade figures support the regional government's confidence in the economy.

Turull added that the regional economy is "'much more than a few landmark companies."

He also said: "The same way they have left, they will come back soon."
------
11:40 a.m.
An official at the Catalan parliament says its governing board has "taken notice" of the results in last week's disputed independence referendum -- but that it won't put the results through normal parliamentary procedures, at least for now.

The pro-secession Catalan government has said the results of the Oct. 1 referendum -- showing a 90 percent victory for those favoring independence with a turnout of 43 percent of eligible voters -- are valid.

The Spanish government says the vote was illegal.

The parliamentary official, who was speaking on condition of anonymity, said parliament's governing board will not take any action beyond acknowledging the vote results submitted last Friday by the regional government.
------
11:10 a.m.
Catalans are awaiting a Tuesday evening appearance by their regional leader in parliament with expectations divided between those who want to see the birth of a new republic and others opposed to such a move or fearing a backlash from the Spanish central authorities.

"I am thrilled," said Maria Redon, a 51-year-old office worker during Tuesday's busy commute in central Barcelona. "I've been waiting for this all my life. We have fought a lot to see an independence Catalonia."

Catalan president Carles Puigdemont hasn't revealed the precise message he will deliver in a 6 p.m. (1600GMT) session in the region's parliament, but separatist politicians have said they expect a declaration based on the results of the disputed Oct. 1 independence referendum.

"Impossible. He won't do it. By doing so he would be diving into an empty pool," said Carlos Gabriel, a 36-year-old waiter. "These people know it's just a dream. Something very complicated. Something that will carry many negative consequences for all of us."
------
10:55 a.m.
Spanish Economy Minister Luis de Guindos says that he hopes "common sense" prevails and that Catalan separatist leaders refrain from making a declaration of independence later on Tuesday.

Catalonia's president Carles Puigdemont is to address the regional Catalan parliament at 6 p.m. (1600GMT) in a session during which a declaration of independence could be made based on the results of a disputed Oct. 1 independence referendum opposed by Spanish central authorities.

Speaking ahead of a meeting of European economy and finance ministers in Luxembourg, de Guindos blamed Puigdemont's "radical" and "irresponsible" government for the current standoff and said that his European counterparts have expressed support for the Spanish government position.

"This is not about independence yes or no. This is about a rebellion against the rule of law. And the rule of law is the foundation of coexistence, not only in Spain but in Europe," de Guindos told reporters.
------
9:15 a.m.
Police are guarding public buildings and closing off a park surrounding the regional Catalan parliament in Barcelona where a declaration of independence on Tuesday evening is likely to be met with a harsh response from Spanish central authorities.

Catalan president Carles Puigdemont hasn't revealed the precise message he will deliver in a 6 p.m. (1600GMT) plenary session, but separatist politicians have said they expect a declaration based on the results of the disputed Oct. 1 independence referendum.

The separatists have declared valid the pro-independence victory in the vote, which was followed by mass protests of Catalans angered by heavy-handed police tactics.

There have also been large-scale rallies by people committed to national unity.

How the declaration will be enforced and what the Spanish government's response will be are the key questions.