Catalonia Urges ‘Permanent Dialogue’ on Independence

Catalonia Urges ‘Permanent Dialogue’ on IndependenceCatalonia Urges ‘Permanent Dialogue’ on Independence

The head of Catalonia’s regional government Artur Mas proposed on Tuesday that Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy establish a permanent dialogue over Catalan independence and raft of measures to boost its economy.

His proposal came after close to 2 million Catalans voted on Sunday in favor of breaking away from Spain in a symbolic consultation organized after the Spanish state blocked in courts a more formal - albeit still non-binding - referendum.

“I sent today a letter to Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy. Its first objective is to invite the Spanish government to establish the conditions of a permanent dialogue,” Mas told a televised news conference following a meeting of his regional government, according to Reuters.

Mas added the dialogue should focus on discussing how a proper referendum on independence could be held in the northeastern region, which accounts for about one fifth of Spain’s economic output and population.

He also said he hoped Rajoy could respond favorably to a list of 23 steps he invited the central government in July to take in order to increase Catalonia’s share of Spanish finances.

If the central government failed to address Catalonia’s concerns, Mas said, then he would likely seek to bring forward next regional elections due in late 2016 and use them as a proxy for a referendum on independence.