Spain blasts Catalonia over independence declaration response: 'It's not hard to say yes or no'

Carles Puigdemont offers Mariano Rajoy two months to initiate independence dialogue

The Catalan leader announced a temporary suspension of the independence mandate to open discussions with Madrid

Monday, October 16, 2017

Spain has blasted Catalonia over the region's apparent failure to clarify whether it declared independence last week.

The national government in Madrid had asked Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont to clarify whether he declared independence in a statement last Tuesday (October 10), which critics suggested was vague and inconclusive.

Puigdemont has sent a letter to Madrid in response to the government's request, but ministers say it doesn't clarify the Catalan government's stance.

Deputy Prime Minister Soraya Saenz de Santamaria said of the response: "It wasn't that difficult to say yes or no."

In his letter, Puigdemont invited the Spanish Government to open a two-month period of discussion on the idea of Catalan independence. 

The Catalan politician said his objective - as well as that of his representatives - was to get dialogue flowing between the two governments over the possibility, and urged Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy to end the "repression" of his region.

However it is reported that the Spanish government has no intention of holding such talks, and is in fact ready to trigger article 155 - which empowers the national administration to take full control of Catalonia's institutions - within days.

Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has given Catalonia until Thursday to give a definitive answer on whether Puigdemont has formally declared secession, warning that article 155 will be triggered if this timeframe is not met.

Spain is still weathering the political impacts of the vote for independence on October 1. The national government maintains the vote was illegal, but 2.2 million people turned out to participate - and returned a majority of 90% in favour of separation.g.