The Catalan president in exile, Carles Puigdemont, has today said, in an interview with German-language Danish newspaper Nordschleswiger, that over the last 12 months he's "learnt a lot". Speaking to Basque journalist Martxelo Otamendi, who asks him what he's learnt specifically, the president's simple is short and to the point: "That Spain deceived us".
"The Spanish government has neglected to act responsibly in the Catalan crisis and to take the matter seriously. It acted undemocratically. We had assumed that the state would act democratically, given the time the constitution has been in effect for and the year's Spain has been part of the EU. We've seen that there are still people in power who want to solve constitutional crises with authoritarian methods and with violence. Next time, we know that Spanish politicians are not credible. The solution to the Catalan question will have to be found through international mediation," he says.
Puigdemont, who is self-critical in the interview, admits that they made "mistakes" a year ago but that they got more things right: "the positive things outweigh the negatives by far". "The 1st October 2017 (day of the independence referendum in Catalonia) and 27th October 2017 (proclamation of the independent Catalan republic) are two key moments that are still in effect and remain inseparable from one another. We've set in motion a process that has not yet been implemented in this way anywhere". As such, he argues, it's too early for a final evaluation, "we're in the middle of a historic process".
He does, however, cite two positives he sees as having come from the process so far: "Catalonia is today a political player. The Catalonia question is on the European agenda and is well-known around the world. That wasn't the case before. We made the Catalan revolution compatible with the modern world. It's not the child of the last century's nationalism".
Puigdemont also discusses his departure from Catalonia, denying reports he flew to Brussels from Marseilles. He also emphasises that "we didn't leave Catalonia illegally: we still hadn't received any summons to testify before the court".
Finally, he explains the Council for the Republic. "It's a promise that was made a long time ago and which was delayed by my detention in Germany. The Council won't be a public institution and will do things outside of the country that can't be said or done in Catalonia to achieve independence. In a first phase, only members of the Parliament will be part of the Council. We'll present the second phase on 8th December at a broad meeting of elected representatives in Belgium and explain it in detail.
According to Puigdemont, the Council will become fully active "as soon as it has the backing of a million people". It will consist of 100 people: 25 will be members of Parliament, 25 will be representatives of towns and communities, 25 will be provided by social organisations and 25 will be citizens from around the world.