By Deirdre Tynan •
Published: 28 Jun 2021 • 10:11
Sanchez and King Felipe in Barcelona on June 27.
Image: Pool Moncloa/Borja Puig de la Bellacasa
President Pedro Sanchez is due to meet the President of Catalonia, Pere Aragones, in Madrid tomorrow. Last night Aragones greeted both Sanchez and King Felipe at the relaunch of the Mobile World Congress (MWC) tech show in Barcelona.
THE glitzy event was hailed as the reopening of the Spanish economy and a return to a degree of normalcy for Barcelona.
On Saturday, 10,000 people were tested for Covid-19 ahead of attending the MWC show in a mammoth operation that officials say went smoothly.
“See you Tuesday,” Aragones is reported to have quipped to Sanchez.
They are due to hold talks in La Moncloa on June 29 in their first official meeting since the pardon of nine Catalan separatist leaders who were jailed in 2019 for their roles in a failed independence referendum in 2017.
Aragones has pledged to call for a new independence referendum. He said the pardons are “an acknowledgment that the sentences were unfair” but added that it is now time for “amnesty and the right for self-determination.”
“It is time to put an end to the repression and have an agreed referendum, it is time for amnesty and self-determination, for dialogue, politics and negotiations to find a democratic solution that respects the wishes of the majority of the people of Catalonia,” he said on June 23.
According to the government the meeting is to resume dialogue between Madrid and Barcelona.
At his inauguration on May 23, Aragones promised to make “self-determination inevitable.”
Earlier in May, Aragones told the regional parliament that he would “lead the social and economic reconstruction for the country” while continuing “the struggle for amnesty and self-determination.”
He was congratulated by the former Catalonian president, Carles Puigdemont, from his self-exile in Belgium after he declared the region’s independence following a referendum in 2017.
Aragones, 38, won 74 votes in the 135-seat regional assembly. His Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya party and the centre-right Junts agreed to maintain their coalition after months of political deadlock following inconclusive vote in regional elections held in February 2021.
The nine separatists who have received pardons and were released on June 23 are: former vice president Oriol Junqueras, former councillors Raul Romeva, Joaquim Forn, Jordi Turull, Josep Rull and Dolors Bassa; the former president of the Parliament Carme Forcadell; and Jordi Sanchez and Jordi Cuixart.
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Deirdre Tynan is an award-winning journalist who enjoys bringing the best in news reporting to Spain’s largest English-language newspaper, Euro Weekly News. She has previously worked at The Mirror, Ireland on Sunday and for news agencies, media outlets and international organisations in America, Europe and Asia. A huge fan of British politics and newspapers, Deirdre is equally fascinated by the political scene in Madrid and Sevilla. She moved to Spain in 2018 and is based in Jaen.
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