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The president of Catalonia, Quim Torra, has sent a "very clear" message to the Spanish king, Felipe VI, after it was claimed this Monday that he is now favourable towards dialogue with independence supporters. In an interview with Catalan news agency ACN, Torra referred to the monarch's actions and speeches with respect to Catalonia since last October, commenting that "it's never too late to apologise".

Nonetheless, he said bluntly that "Felipe VI is no longer the king of the Catalan people" even if he now "says he agrees with the Spanish government's thesis" and gives his approval to a dialogue process. "It seems great to me that he wants to make this gesture, although we'll see what form it ends up taking, but our position on the king is very clear," said Torra. He also said that his government will maintain its policy of not inviting the king to its events, nor attending any events they might be invited to by the royals.

That said, Torra believes it was a good idea to ask, just before the Mediterranean Games in Tarragona, for a meeting with the king. Indeed, he "would ask him again, and even, if he would like to come to the government palace", he would be pleased to receive him.

"I'd like him to come to explain to him the very serious political situation the country is going through, with political prisoners, exiles, thousands of Catalans indicted and the right to self-determination criminalised. I would like to explain all of that to him and I haven't had the opportunity," he said. He added that he was willing to explain the situation "to whoever, even the king of Spain".

How to receive the king

17th and 18th August will mark the first anniversary of the attacks in Barcelona and Cambrils and the possibility of the king taking part in commemorations has sparked a certain controversy. Torra said that the importance of the issue is "very relative".

He suggested that, although he says he is "nobody to tell the public what to do", if the monarch comes, Catalans could simply ignore his presence. "Sincerely, another visit made to Tortosa the other day seems to me to mark the path very well. It seemed great to me what the people of Tortosa did with the visit of Mrs Inés Arrimadas, and I would suggest that this is a good path to explore," he said. When Arrimadas, the leader in Catalonia of pro-union party Ciutadans, visited the town of Tortosa recently (link in Catalan), she received little if any attention from residents, positive or negative.

Torra believes that "freedom of expression is above everything" and he's sure that "the people of Catalonia will be able to find the way to express a day of remembrance for the victims and a homage to those who reacted with extraordinary professionalism, a day of pain, reflection and hope for having come out the other side".