"Citizens of Catalonia, hours are coming in which it will fall to all of us to maintain the pulse of the country, of our country, to maintain it in the land of peace, civility and dignity". With these words, the Catalan president, Carles Puigdemont, addressed the hundreds of town mayors and Parliament deputies filling the great staircase in the Catalan Parliament building just minutes after the passing of the declaration of independence.
The comments came in a short speech in which he wanted to, in his words, communicate with emotion the solemnity of the moment for the country. He had earlier met with members of his government in his office whilst outside waited deputies, mayors and a sea of cameras.
"It's in your hands to continue strengthening the bases that make Catalonia not only an ancient nation of Europe, which a language, culture and law that have lasted for centuries, but above all a society that has always responded peacefully and in a civilised manner to its great democratic challenges. As such, these challenges have later become democratic conquests. Let's be lucid and, above all, let's be responsible," he said.
The president was accompanied by the speaker of the Parliament, Carme Forcadell and the vice-president, Oriol Junqueras, as well as the rest of the members of the Catalan Government and the deputies of the JxSí (Together for Yes) and CUP (Popular Unity Candidacy) parties.
"Today, the Parliament of our country, a legitimate Parliament, has taken a long-awaited and long fought for step, the immense majority of legitimately elected political representatives have fulfilled a mandate validated at the ballot box," he said.
Puigdemont noted that its the institutions and the people that together construct a people and a society, and emphasised that today the deputies and mayors present embody this union and cooperation between the institutions and the citizenry. "That's what we have to do," he said.
The president ended his speech with a shout of "Visca Catalunya" (Long live Catalonia). Those gathered in the Parliament responded by singing 'Els Segadors', the Catalan anthem.
After finishing, Puigdemont left the Parliament, heading towards the Catalan government palace.
Official translation of Puigdemont's comments
Good afternoon to all, most honorable President of the Parliament, honorable vice-president, mayors, members of Parliament, people who want to accompany us live today, following us from any corner of the world through the media: Let me direct you a few words that can only come out of the heart, emotion, reason and legitimacy, but a few words that want to contribute to the greatness of this moment. Today the Parliament of our country, a legitimate parliament, a Parliament that emerged from the elections on September 27th, 2015, has taken a long awaited and long struggling step. The overwhelming majority of the legitimately elected political representatives have completed a validated ballot paper.
Citizens of Catalonia, there are times when it will be up to all of us to maintain the pulse of this country, our country, to maintain it in the field of peace, in the field of civility, and in the field of dignity. As has always happened, and as it will continue to happen without a doubt, it is the institutions, while the people, which together inseparably, build people, build society. A people can not be built by separating one of these two elements.
And today, mayors, MP’s, today you represent precisely in a very exemplary way this union, this coordination, this complicity, this solidarity between institutions and citizenship to be able to effectively build, build a country. That is, my friends, Catalans, that is what we have to do, it is in our hands to continue strengthening the foundations that make Catalonia not only an old European nation, and this fact alone would have been enough to understand the historical rights which have brought us here legitimately. Not only an old nation of Europe, with a language and a culture and a right that last centuries, but above all a society that has always responded peacefully and civically to its great democratic challenges. And that is why these challenges, because they have been settled peacefully and civically, have since become democratic conquests. Let us be aware and, above all, above all, be worthy.