Catalan President Carles Puigdemont on Monday defied demands from Spain’s central government to give a clear sign if his administration had declared independence or not.
Puigdemont submitted a letter just two hours before Monday’s 10 a.m. (0800GMT) deadline imposed by Madrid, which required the pro-separatist leader to clearly specify if he considers the northeastern region of Spain to be an independent country.
Yet, instead of clarifying Catalonia’s independence status, the Catalan leader called for dialogue, negotiation and a meeting “as soon as possible”.
In a communique published later on Monday, Rajoy said he "deeply laments" Puigdemont's lack of clarity and told the Catalan leader he has until Thursday to make a final declaration.
If he fails to do so, Rajoy warned Puigdemont, "you will be the only one responsible" for the consequences.
"I remind you that we are all subject to the law" Rajoy added, saying no dialogue is possible until the Catalan government clearly restores constitutional order in the region.
This official response marks the first steps in the Spanish government’s activation of Article 155 of Spain’s constitution, which allows the central government to fully suspend Catalonia’s autonomy.
‘We want to talk’
“We want to talk… about the issue raised by the majority of the Catalan people, who want to begin the journey towards becoming an independent country within the European framework,” wrote Puigdemont in his letter to Rajoy.
The letter also claimed both the Oct. 1 independence referendum and Catalonia’s regional elections in 2015 give the secessionist regional government a democratic mandate to “declare independence,” without specifically confirming or denying if there had already been a unilateral declaration of separation from Spain.
Monday’s letter echoes the same sentiment as Puigdemont’s speech last Tuesday, in which he called for dialogue and suspended the anticipated declaration of independence.
However, last week’s speech was too ambiguous for Spain’s central government, which is why it gave Catalonia an ultimatum last week: clarify independence or else Madrid will revoke the region’s autonomy.
Source: Anadolu Agency