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Suspended for a year and a half, negotiations between Madrid and very divided Catalan separatists resumed yesterday in an attempt to find a solution to the crisis in this shaken region in 2017 by an attempt at secession.
Socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, who made appeasement in Catalonia, one of his main priorities since coming to power in 2018, was to meet in Barcelona the separatist regional president Pere Aragonès before their teams meet . “I am going to these negotiations with the best intentions”, assured Mr. Sanchez yesterday, attacked from all sides by the right-wing opposition who accuses him of discussing with “putschists”.
The prospects for an agreement are however minimal both the positions of the government and of the regional executive of the moderate Pere Aragonès are opposed.
Madrid thus swept aside the main demands of the separatists: an agreement on the organization of a self-determination referendum. The only possible option, according to the government, would be a vote by the Catalans on granting new powers to the region, which already has its own police force in particular.
And the discussions are expected to be very long. “In order to avoid any frustration, we are not going to set a deadline. Because we are not going to solve in two, three or four years, everything that has happened in ten years”, insisted Mr. Sanchez , in reference to the rise of independence since the beginning of the years 2010.
The attempt of secession, in October 2017, of this region in the north-east of the country, populated by 7.8 million inhabitants, was one of the worst crises experienced by Spain since the end of the Franco dictatorship in 1975. Despite the ban on justice, the regional government of Carles Puigdemont had organized a self-determination referendum, punctuated by police violence and followed, a few weeks later, by a stillborn declaration of independence.