IÑAKI PARDO TORREGROSA, BEATRIZ NAVARRO
BARCELONA / BRUSSELS
Puigdemont sees an “unprecedented stage” but warns that the agreement “in itself does not resolve anything”.
ON THE ROAD TO INVESTITURE
The former president, leader of JxCat, marks distances with Esquerra Republicana: “Let it be clear that to do the same thing that has been done and say the same thing that has been said, Junts is not necessary”.
The PSOE will have to earn the stability of the legislature “month by month” and “agreement by agreement”.
The agreement signed today between Junts and PSOE opens an “unprecedented stage” that could culminate in a “historic agreement” to resolve the Catalan political conflict, said Carles Puigdemont in an appearance without questions before the press in Brussels in which he did not hide the “historic distrust” towards his interlocutors (“we would not do anyone any favours by denying the evidence”) or the difficulties that await them along the way. Because the pact “in itself solves nothing”, Puigdemont warned his future parliamentary partners.
In this legislature, unlike the previous one, the PSOE will have to earn the stability of the government “agreement by agreement”. “The legislature is conditional on progress and not only on compliance”, Puigdemont stressed two hours after the PSOE presented the pact with Junts as a legislature agreement , not only for the investiture of Pedro Sánchez. “The [support] ‘in exchange for nothing’ has been consigned to the dustbin of history”. “Progress has to be justified month by month for each law that the PSOE brings to Congress,” he added.
The PSOE will have to earn stability “month by month” and “agreement by agreement”, warns Puigdemont.
To supervise this process of dialogue and negotiation, the pact foresees the creation of a “verification mechanism” that Puigdemont has presented in more personal terms, as a team made up of different personalities from the international sphere. “To be independent, it cannot be Spanish or Catalan, it must be international” and its work “cannot be carried out in the Spanish state”, Puigdemont stressed, announcing that the names of some of the people who will form this team have already been agreed. Their first meeting will take place at the end of November.
Puigdemont asked, “How far will this agreement allow us to go? “The route and ambition will depend on us. We have set ourselves no limit other than the will of the people of Catalonia”, he assured in an appearance without questions at the Brussels Press Club, a privately run organisation in the European quarter of Brussels, the same place where he held his first press conference just over six years ago when the president and several of his ministers secretly left Catalonia for Belgium.
The JxCat leader, who has controlled the talks with the Socialists at all times in recent weeks, since last August, has made it clear that the document they have signed is a “framework agreement to initiate a political negotiation to resolve the conflict” and not the end of the road. In his opinion, from now on there will be a “change of focus in the official narrative” that has been heard until now. This, he believes, will lead to the agreements that are reached being “irreversible”.
The speech, which lasted about twenty minutes, barely made any reference to the amnesty law negotiated with the PSOE and which must now be approved by the rest of the political groups that are willing to support Sánchez’s investiture, before it is presented as a legislative proposal in Congress. “There is a shared will not to leave out anyone who has suffered persecution” of an administrative, economic or any other kind for their “mere contribution” to the Catalan independence movement, said Puigdemont, who hopes that some episodes of the state’s “dirty war” will be cleared up, such as the spying on the mobile phones of some Catalan politicians.
Puigdemont also wanted to distance himself from Esquerra Republicana. In the first paragraph of the pact signed today, it is stressed that the “dynamics” of resolving the conflict will be “in different terms to those of the last legislature”. “It should be clear that Junts is not needed to do the same thing that has been done and say the same thing that has been said,” he stressed in an appearance that began at two o’clock in the afternoon and in which the now MEP was accompanied by personalities such as the party’s secretary general, Jordi Turull, Junts’ spokesperson in Congress, Miriam Nogueras, and former minister Toni Comín.
“I am happy to think that those conditions [those he set at a conference in September] inspired others who today share what until a few weeks ago they considered or saw as unnecessary,” said Puigdemont, alluding to ERC, while recalling that dissent with his former partners led his party to leave the Catalan government a year ago. “Surely this means that what we have been maintaining for years and which even forced us to leave the Government of Catalonia was not due to a lack of principle of reality, nor to any refusal to do politics, nor to any hyperventilation”, continued Puigdemont, who later also criticised the Republicans for the partial transfer of Rodalies that they agreed with the PSOE.
The aspects to be negotiated, Puigdemont listed, are the possibility of a referendum, a complete transfer of Rodalies, changes in financing and providing the Agència Tributària de Catalunya with tax collection powers, or powers in the area of immigration. “We have not had to ask for forgiveness and we maintain our position. From there we started negotiation and not mere dialogue”, concluded Puigdemont, in another dig at the Republicans, since before the pardons there was a renunciation of unilateralism on the part of Oriol Junqueras.