24 hours after King Felipe paved the way for the Spanish government to trigger Article 155 [of the Spanish Constitution] in Catalonia, the president of the Catalan government Carles Puigdemont decided to respond with an institutional address of his own. Puigdemont, who is to appear before Parliament on Monday to announce the results of the referendum and to declare independence, made a public statement from Government House. During his address, Puigdemont accused the king of renouncing the role of arbitrator granted him by the Constitution, in order to echo the discourse and policies of the Rajoy government, which have so far been "catastrophic for Catalonia".
Puigdemont accused Felipe VI of deliberately ignoring the millions of Catalans who do not think like him and those who have been "victims of a police violence that sent a shiver through the heart of Europe", decrying the fact that in yesterday’s speech the King missed the opportunity to "appeal to dialogue and harmony". Directly addressing King Felipe, Puigdemont went on to say: "This is not the way. With your decision yesterday, you disappointed many people in Catalonia who respect you and who have helped the monarchy in difficult times".
The Catalan president criticised the fact that yesterday the king "declined to adopt the moderating role granted him by the Constitution" adopting instead a hardline approach that “only seeks to prepare the ground for the decisions that the Spanish government took a long time ago in order to crush the Catalan people’s desire for sovereignty". Puigdemont stated that the Spanish authorities "ought to do a better job at explaining what is happening in Catalonia, and offer more moderate views".
In contrast to the king’s speech, Puigdemont thanked the "efforts of many" in Spain who wish to support the Catalan people and their demands. He declared the Catalans to be "one people, with no problem with identities. We are a society that is enormously united in diversity".
As a sign of such cohesion, Puigdemont referred to the number of Spanish flags that could be seen yesterday in the demonstrations held during the general strike to protest police violence. The president went on to praise the peaceful nature of the protests, ensuring they passed "without incident", a far cry from the "violence" that many wished to see.
Numerous offers to mediate
Puigdemont underlined the government's commitment to protect the Catalan people as a whole and to safeguard their rights "whatever their opinion", reiterating his willingness to engage in an international mediation process. After declaring that in recent days his government has received many proposals of this nature, the president warned that it would be "totally irresponsible not to respond to the hopes of people both inside and outside Catalonia that the issue is addressed politically and not by law enforcement".
Puigdemont declared Catalonia to be "closer than ever to its historical longing", while warning that Spain "will do everything in its power to stop our people from deciding their own future". He ended by calling for calm, while stressing that what Catalonia is doing is something that "other people have already done and others will do in the future".