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A vice-president of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats group in the European Parliament, Tanja Fajon, has called for the release of the Catalan "political prisoners" and expressed her regret over the attitude of Mariano Rajoy's Spanish government. In an interview with Catalan news agency ACN, the head of the group's Slovenian delegation admits that "it's difficult" to accept that there are "members of a government that tried by peaceful means to express their will" in prison in the EU.

The MEP urges the European institutions to become involved and to help start dialogue between the two sides. "I don't think that belongs to the Europe of today", she says, referring to the imprisonment of politicians, saying that it's a "European issue" and a question of "human rights, fundamental rights". According to Fajon, if someone is to "blame" for the Catalan crisis, it is Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoy and his government, who she says "could do much better, especially if they would engage in dialogue".

"Many steps were unfortunate or led to the decision of Catalan people today. So, the Spanish government, some would say, with the repression, with the lack of dialogue, also with political arrests is certainly not executing some democratic way of behaving," she said.

Right to self-determination

"In Slovenia, we [believe] that each nation has a right to self-determination, no one can deny this right," said the MEP. Fajon clarified that she wasn't questioning the "legality" of the Spanish Constitution, but that she has "sympathies" with every nation having the right to decide on the "future they would like to see". She also said that she believes fundamental and human rights to be "above the Constitution".

"I hope that both sides will try to engage in dialogue and also that the [European] institutions will support [them] with some sort of mediation or with other tools," said Fajon, who continued that she doesn't want to see a "destabilised" Spain.

Asked about the role of PSOE (Spanish Socialist Workers' Party), also in S&D, and their support for applying article 155 of the Spanish Constitution and intervening in Catalonia's autonomy, Fajon said that she supports the actions taken in Spain but at the same time encourages Spanish politicians, "whichever party they're from", to act in a "more responsible" manner. "I have a lot of sympathy for [the] Catalan people, I also have a lot of understanding for my Spanish socialist colleagues", she added, recognising that the situation is "very difficult".