MADRID – Spain’s conservative Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy told separatists in Catalonia on Wednesday that there would not be any mediation on their independence aspirations in what was a harsh rebuke of the Catalan president’s offer to put secession on hold to allow for a discussion period with Madrid.
Rajoy, of the Popular Party, was addressing Spain’s lower chamber of parliament just hours after he formally requested Carles Puigdemont to clarify whether or not he had unilaterally declared independence during a landmark speech to Catalan lawmakers on Tuesday, in which he insisted Catalonia had won the right to secede but delayed an official announcement.
“It is impossible to accept the imposition of a unilateral point of view which we all know is impossible for one of the parties to accept under the guise of dialogue,” Rajoy told Spain’s Parliament in Madrid.
Speaking to United States broadcaster earlier, Puigdemont called for negotiations to be held with Spain under the pretense that there were no preconditions.
“We are at a point where the most important thing is that there is no previous condition to sit down and talk, to accept that we have to talk, we need to talk in the right conditions,” he said.
But Spain’s government has consistently ruled out negotiations with Catalan separatists on the basis that the Constitutional Court, the most powerful rung of Spanish judiciary, has ruled the referendum, and the locally-passed laws underpinning it, illegal.
In the Congress, Rajoy said that the way in which the Catalan government had staged its Oct. 1 referendum would not be taken seriously by any country in the world, adding further scorn when he suggested it would not stand up to the most simple test for transparency or neutrality.
Following its emergency cabinet meeting, the minority PP government was awaiting Puigdemont’s response to their formal requirement for clarification before analyzing its next steps, which could include the activation of Article 155 of the Constitution, a mechanism that would allow Madrid to impose direct rule over the devolved institutions of Catalonia.