Catalan president Quim Torra wanted to send a “very clear” message to King Felipe after it transpired last Monday that the Spanish monarch might be willing to meet Catalonia’s pro-independence leaders. In an interview with CNA, president Torra recalled the King’s deeds and words about Catalonia since last October and he emphasised that “it is never too late to apologise to the Catalans”. Nevertheless, Torra was adamant that “Felipe is no longer King of the Catalans”, even if “he now says he concurs with the Spanish government” and agrees to open up a dialogue. “I approve of his gesture, although it remains to be seen what will come out of it, but our position on the king is very clear”, said Torra. He insisted that the Catalan government will not invite Felipe to any official event held by Torra’s administration and “no representatives of the Catalan government will accept invitations” from Spain’s royal household.
Still, the Catalan president believes that it was a good idea to request an interview with the monarch just before the Mediterranean Games held in Tarragona. In fact, Torra insisted that he would “ask again and would be glad to meet him, if he wished to come to Palau de la Generalitat”. “I would like him to meet me so that I could explain to him the extremely serious situation we have in Catalonia, with political prisoners, exiles, thousands of Catalans who being prosecuted and the right to self-determination being criminalised. I would like to tell him all that, but I haven’t been given a chance”, he remarked during the interview. Quim Torra insisted that he is “willing to explain the extremely serious situation we have in Catalonia to anybody, even to the King of Spain”.
Giving the king the same welcome Arrimadas had in Tortosa
On the controversy over the hypothetical presence of King Felipe at the events to commemorate the terrorist attacks in Barcelona and Cambrils on August 17 and 18 last year, the Catalan leader stated that “this is a relatively important issue”. While he admitted that it is “not for me to tell the public what to do” if the king eventually visits Catalonia, he did hint that Catalans who are upset about the royal visit ought to ignore him altogether. “To be honest, the other day someone visited the city of Tortosa and people set an example. I felt what the people of Tortosa did was brilliant when [Ciudadanos leader] Inés Arrimada visited the city and I would suggest that this might be an avenue that is worth pursuing”. Torra implied that it would be a good idea to give the Spanish king the same cold-shoulder welcome that opposition leader Inés Arrimadas got in Tortosa from local independence supporters.
Nevertheless, Torra remarked that “freedom of expression must prevail” and he is convinced that “the Catalan people will find a way to honour the victims and pay tribute to the first respondents who acted in such a professional manner on those days. It should be a day of mourning, reflection and hope for having pulled through”.