The mayor of Geneva, Rémy Pagani, has offered his city, and Switzerland as a whole, to act as mediators between Catalonia and Spain with the aim of "finding an agreement" and a "political" solution through "dialogue" to the current conflict. He made the announcement after meeting the Catalan Parliament's speaker, Roger Torrent, in his office in Geneva.
Pagani said he will communicate the same proposal to the Spanish ambassador to Switzerland and hopes that the idea bears fruit. For his part, Torrent congratulated the offer and described it as evidence that the Catalan issue is a European matter. Moreover, he explained that he hopes his trip to Geneva will lead to an "undeniable [defence] of fundamental rights in Catalonia" at an international level.
The meeting, which lasted just over half an hour, has been one of the few Torrent has been able to reveal and discuss normally. The majority of his meetings have been secret or at least discrete. Not secret, however, is that he will conclude his trip to the Swiss city meeting with the UN Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly.
"Switzerland, and Geneva in particular, remain at the disposition of the two parties to try to reach an agreement because, in any case, whatever happens, some day they will have to sit down at a table to find a solution", Pagani said in comments to the media after his meeting with Torrent. Despite being aware that he will receive criticism for the proposal, he believes that it's time to "make available a platform here for there to be true dialogue" between Catalonia and Spain. "There are solutions. Here in Switzerland, we have four languages, we have twenty-six cantons and we manage to live all together properly, more than properly. I don't know why Spain couldn't do the same," he said.
Torrent takes up the gauntlet
The mayor said that he has repeatedly made public his position to representatives of Spanish diplomacy. Moreover, he said that next week he will meet Spain's ambassador to Switzerland and has promised to give him "the same messages for the representatives of the Madrid government".
For his part, Roger Torrent took up the gauntlet and celebrated the mayor's offer. The speaker said the offer "needs working on", but is a positive step. "We're very thankful for the mayor's offer, we appreciate it a lot. It's a very important political position. We will work on this. We understand the offer to be very valuable because it's what we're looking for, Europe's political implication," he said. For Torrent, it demonstrates that the Catalan conflict is "a challenge for the whole of Europe". "As such we call for the situation to be monitored. At a European level the principles which are at risk in the [Spanish] state have to be defended. It's not an internal question for Catalonia or the Spanish state, it's European. And for that reason we call for involvement."
Finally, the speaker gave a more than positive evaluation of his trip. He said it has been an opportunity to "open dialogue and contact channels". "In this trip, nothing ends, everything begins. We will certainly continue on this path and we will make the most of it. We hope for monitoring of what is happening in Catalonia, we ask for it to be followed, and we hope that that turns into an undeniable defence of rights and freedoms in Catalonia," he ended.