Catalan imprisoned leader Junqueras to ex-PM Felipe González: “I’d love to get out and debate with you”

Depicts independentism as "peaceful, deeply rooted in democracy and essentially republican"

“Until they are found guilty and convicted, I’d rather these political leaders, who have broken the law, remained free”. Those were the words of former Spanish Prime Minister Felipe González on the subject of the Catalan political prisoners who are in custody. In an interview with Salvados (a Spanish tv programme) González added that he believes there is a legal basis to press charges of “sedition” against them rather than rebellion. The programme’s presenter, Jordi Évole, conveyed a message from Catalan vice president Oriol Junqueras —who is being held in the Spanish prison of Estremera— to the former Spanish leader. In his message the Catalan VP emphasised the need for dialogue. “We don’t know each other personally and, despite our political differences, I’d love to get out of here and debate with you and so many others, as it is only through dialogue that we may solve issues and progress as a society”, was Junqueras’ message, as read by the presenter.

The former socialist MP replied that he “agreed completely”. “I am willing to talk to him and remind him that a basic principle in any democracy is to abide by the rules of the game”. Felipe González urged Junqueras to form a government in Catalonia: “I’d like to be able to persuade him that it is his responsibility to try and ensure that Catalonia has an effective government that abides by the Spanish Constitution and the Catalan Statute, asap, to initiate a clear process of dialogue”.

Junqueras also thanked González for “having the courage to say that we should be released, as we haven’t even been tried yet”. In his message, the Catalan VP asks the former Spanish leader to work with him on the principle that “nothing makes sense unless it is to foster living together, to do good onto others and build a better present and future for our people, and that it is our right (and perhaps our duty) to right the wrongs and improve society and our well-being, to transform reality civically, peacefully and democratically”.

In the same interview Felipe González slammed TV3, the Catalan public broadcaster. He believes that “direct rule should allow us to find a democratic balance in a TV network that we all pay for”. The former Spanish PM admitted that TVE, the Spanish public TV station, also lacks “a democratic balance” but he claimed that “it is not as biased as TV3”. He went on to explain that he had been asked to appear on TV3 but he turned down the invitation because he didn’t want “to provide a veneer of impartiality”.

Junqueras’ full message to Felipe González:

“Our movement is peaceful, deeply rooted in democracy and essentially republican. I believe that us democrats have much in common and we understand each other perfectly. We don’t know each other personally and, despite our political differences, I’d love to get out of here and debate with you and so many others, as it is only through dialogue that we may solve issues and progress as a society, as you did.

I am grateful for the chance I have been offered to send you this message and thank you for the courage you have shown when you said that we should be released, as we haven’t even been tried yet.

I’d like to think that, above all, we both share the idea that nothing makes sense unless it is to foster living together, to do good onto others and build a better present and future for our people, and that it is our right (and perhaps our duty) to right the wrongs and improve society and our well-being, to transform reality civically, peacefully and democratically. It is what I have always done, following my own Christian principles, and what I wish to continue doing”.

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