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12 October 2017, 12:49 | Terri Saunders
Catalonia Suspends Declaration of Independence for Talks with Madrid
The central government in Madrid has given little indication it is willing to talk, saying it did not accept the declaration and did not consider the referendum or its results to be valid.
European Union President Donald Tusk has made an emotive appeal to the Catalonia's pro-independence leader to step back from declaring independence, warning that it would lead to conflict with Spain and make dialogue impossible.
The prime minister's carefully worded statement was responding to Catalan President Carles Puigdemont's announcement late on Tuesday that he had a mandate to push for independence but would hold off while seeking talks with the Spanish government over the future of his region.
Spain's Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has vowed to do everything in his power to prevent Catalan independence following a banned referendum in the region, which remains deeply divided over splitting from Spain. Earlier on Wednesday he proposed during an interview with CNN that a mediator be named to settle the crisis.
Thus Catalonia finds itself in constitutional limbo, as the Spanish Government announces it has requested clarification on whether or not the Catalan Government has actually declared independence.
On Tuesday, Puigdemont read out "Declaration of the representatives of Catalonia" at a plenary session of Catalan MPs. "We are normal people who ask to be allowed to vote and who have been ready for all the dialogue necessary to achieve it in an agreed way".
Catalonia pressed ahead with an independence referendum on October 1 that the central government said breached Spain's constitution.
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Spain's political establishment rounded on Puigdemont following the declaration, and support among separatists in Catalonia was mixed.
"There is no mediation possible between democratic law and disobedience, illegality", he told parliament. The document voices the region's call to the states and global organizations "to recognize the Catalan Republic as an independent and sovereign state".
He accused Mr Puigdemont of having created "deliberate confusion" and said he wanted to restore "certainty".
He said the Catalan government's response would be crucial in deciding "events over the coming days".
It is unclear how Puidgemont's play for time will be received in Madrid, which has consistently said independence is not up for discussion.
Demands for independence in Catalonia, one of Spain's 17 semi-autonomous regions which has its own language and cultural traditions, date back centuries.
Catalonia is relatively wealthy, and the loss of the region would be a blow to the Spanish economy.
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