Oriol Junqueras has asked the new Spanish primer minister, Pedro Sánchez, to “respect” the Catalan government and the demands they might make when they engage in talks with them in the coming days. Speaking for Catalonia’s public broadcaster, Catalunya Ràdio, Junqueras said that “Pedro Sánchez will have to choose between making superficial changes, like [former PM] José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero did, or being a statesman. In other words, he can stick his neck out or stick to progressive posturing. We will see”.
In line with the new Catalan government’s position, Junqueras insisted that their Spanish counterpart should sit down for talks, but he warned that Catalans will never “surrender” their “democratic goals”. “The best way will always be the broadest path, the road that brings together the most people. This might not necessarily be the straightest or the narrowest”, argued the former vice president. Even though he remains firmly committed to dialogue, Junqueras warned that “our will as a nation takes first place”.
At any rate, the ERC leader was skeptical about the Spanish government’s predisposition to discuss Catalonia’s self-determination: “I wish they would”, he said. Junqueras admitted that he does not want to come across as “naive” or “start a countdown for such significant objectives”. Therefore, he stressed the need to “persevere”: “We must work to make it possible, work on it until it becomes unstoppable and many more of us are willing to support it”. On this point, Junqueras also warned that it is not ERC’s job to “prop up the PSOE”, but that his party’s goal is to “promote dialogue and find a democratic solution where the will of the people is respected”.
Oriol Junqueras has been held in Spain’s Estremera prison for seven months. However, he claims that his “convictions” remain “unshakeable”, even though he admitted that the situation is hard on his family. “Being locked up is tough, but it is worse for my family; the punishment meted on them is so unfair that that I cannot abide it”, he complained. “This is worse than revenge: it is vicious spite. They want to punish us and they do so by making the people who are close to use suffer: our children and young infants”, he remarked. Junqueras mentioned that he has “not seen any signs” that the new socialist government in Madrid might want to resolve the situation.
On the subject of the footage [of himself and other Catalan leaders] taken inside the Estremera prison and published by this newspaper, Junqueras stated that it was taken without his permission: “We were oblivious to it”, he noted. However, he admitted that the pictures “are not degrading”. The former Catalan vice president criticised the fact that they could be videoed inside the prison itself. “Once you endorse the idea that you might be filmed anywhere and in any way, you are obviously allowing an intrusion into your privacy”.
“Everybody has their own reasons”
Junqueras refused to comment on his relationship with Carles Puigdemont. “This is not the time for criticism”, he said, and he stated that “everybody has their own reasons” to make their decisions. He chose not to discuss whether Puigdemont had been in touch with him since he was taken into custody. The former vice president wished “the best of luck” to the new Catalan president, Quim Torra, and did not question his decision to aim to reinstate former president Carles Puigdemont.