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Spain moves towards activating 'nuclear option' on Catalonia crisis

12 October 2017, 12:53 | Darnell Patrick

Spain moves towards activating 'nuclear option' on Catalonia crisis

Spain moves towards activating 'nuclear option' on Catalonia crisis

English edition of Asharq Al-Awsat - the world's premier pan-Arab daily.

But in a parliamentary speech Puigdemont immediately called for independence to be suspended to allow for negotiations with the central government.

"The cabinet agreed this morning to formally ask the Catalan government to confirm whether it declared Catalan independence", he said in a televised statement.

In a press conference after a party meeting, Sanchez explained that "we share Rajoy's (Spanish Prime Minister) decision so that Puigdemont (president of Catalonia) clarifies what he said yesterday".

Expectations before Catalan president Carles Puigdemont's appearance in the regional parliament on Tuesday were enormous, and he has faced severe pressure in recent days.

"We aren't criminals, nor insane, nor coup plotters, nor abducted", he said.

But Spain's political establishment rounded on Puigdemont following his declaration, and support among separatists in Catalonia was mixed.

Tusk said, "A few days ago, I asked [Spain's] Prime Minister [Mariano] Rajoy to look for a solution to the problem without the use of force".

But the speech pleased financial markets, boosting the euro on hopes that his gesture would mark a de-escalation of Spain's worst political crisis since an attempted military coup in 1981. The article allows Madrid to strip Catalonia of its broad autonomy and take control of some or all of its powers.

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There is no suggestion that the crisis could degenerate into an armed conflict but it could damage the region and Spain as a whole economically, bringing new instability to the eurozone.

The European Union called on the regional and central authorities to abstain from violence and solve the issue through dialogue.

One EU official said Puigdemont "seems to have listened to advice not to do something irreversible".

But in discussing the controversy now raging over Catalonian independence, Press Secretary Sarah Sanders also made clear Tuesday that the administration stood by the president's remarks September 26 that "Spain is a great country and it should be united".

It is unclear how Puidgemont's play for time will be received in Madrid, which has consistently said independence is not up for discussion.

The Catalan parliament approved an independence referendum which went ahead on 1 October despite being suspended by Spain's Constitutional Court.

Nearly 90% of voters backed independence with a turnout of 43%, Catalan officials say.

Demands for independence in Catalonia, which has its own language and cultural traditions, date back centuries.



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