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Merkel Discusses Catalan Crisis With Rajoy, EC’s Juncker

Merkel Discusses Catalan Crisis With Rajoy, EC’s Juncker   Merkel Discusses Catalan Crisis With Rajoy, EC’s Juncker

German Chancellor Angela Merkel spoke to Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy to discuss the Catalan crisis and stressed her support for the unity of Spain while encouraging more dialogue, her spokesman said on Monday.

Merkel also discussed the Catalan situation with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, Reuters reported.

“She spoke with both about the current situation in Spain and, in the talks with Prime Minister Rajoy in particular, she affirmed her support for the unity of Spain,” the German government spokesman told a regular news conference.

Catalonia, which has its own language and culture and is led by a pro-independence regional government, held a referendum on Oct. 1 over secession in defiance of Spain’s constitutional court, which had declared the vote illegal.

Merkel also discussed ways to strengthen internal dialogue within Spain as far as the constitution allows, he said.

Concern is mounting in Europe over a possible declaration of independence by the Catalan regional parliament and the reaction of the Spanish government, which could exacerbate what is already Spain’s worst political crisis for decades.

Merkel will host European Council President Donald Tusk for informal talks in Berlin on Wednesday, her spokesman said, but declined to speculate whether they would discuss the Catalan crisis.

  France Won’t Recognize Unilateral Declaration

France will not recognize Catalonia if the Spanish region unilaterally declares independence, European affairs minister Nathalie Loiseau said on Monday.

“If there were to be a declaration of independence, it would be unilateral, and it would not be recognized,” Loiseau said on CNews television.

 “Catalonia cannot be defined by the vote organized by the independence movement just over a week ago,” the French junior minister said. “This crisis needs to be resolved through dialogue at all levels of Spanish politics.”

“If independence were to be recognized —which is not something that’s being discussed— the most immediate consequence would be that (Catalonia) automatically left the European Union.”

  Under Pressure to Drop Independence

Catalonia’s secessionist leader came under intense pressure on Monday to abandon plans to declare independence from Spain after hundreds of thousands of unionists took to the streets at the weekend to protest against the region breaking away.

Spain fears the Catalan parliament will vote for independence on Tuesday, when Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont is due to address the assembly.

Under Catalonia’s referendum law, deemed unconstitutional by Madrid, a vote for independence on Tuesday would start a six-month process that would envisage divorce talks with Spain before regional elections and a final act of separation.

But the Spanish government, buoyed by Sunday’s protests in Barcelona, the Catalan capital, made it clear on Monday it would respond immediately to any such vote.

“I‘m calling on the sensible people in the Catalan government...don’t jump off the edge because you’ll take the people with you,” Spanish Deputy Prime Minister Soraya Saenz de Santamar?a said in an interview with COPE radio station.

“If there is a unilateral declaration of independence there will be decisions made to restore law and democracy.”

 

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