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Catalan president Pere Aragonès will take part in the summit that Spain and France are to hold at Barcelona's National Art Museum of Catalonia (MNAC) on January 19th, which will be attended by Pedro Sánchez and Emmanuel Macron. The spokesperson for the Catalan executive, Patrícia Plaja, affirmed that the government is in talks with the Spanish government on this issue, that the "institutional representation that it is entitled to must be taken up" and that, therefore, "the president, as most senior institutional figure of Catalonia, will be there." As well, the executive will not participate in the unitary mobilization called by the major pro-independence bodies, although sovereignist political parties, including the governing ERC, will take part in the protest.

The spokesperson emphasized in the press conference after the weekly cabinet meeting this Tuesday that the summit and the mobilizations "are two different events" and that the government of the Generalitat will not be at the mobilizations because "it belongs at the institutional event". "Independentism must not give away the spaces that belong to it. Independentism must be everywhere. The Catalan government will be at this summit, and the parties and social movements will be in the streets", she replied, referring to the protests called by the Council of the Republic, the ANC and Òmnium.

Plaja avoided specifying what role she believes Aragonès will play, limiting herself to assuring that he will assume "the appropriate participation for the president of the Generalitat", which "is to be defined" and is being finalized with the Moncloa palace. Nor did she specify whether other members of the government will accompany him.

"A provocation"

Given that the Spanish executive admitted that the aim of calling the summit in Barcelona was to show that the political situation in Catalonia had been normalized, Plaja criticized that "the Spanish government is using this summit for partisan purposes" and to cover up controversies such as that caused by the reform of the Spanish Penal Code. The spokesperson considered the statements by Sánchez or minister Félix Bolaños to be a "provocation", in their suggestion that the independence process is over, and she warned that it is natural that after such statements there are protest mobilizations to show that "the movement is alive."

On the other hand, Plaja warned that the protests against the summit cannot interfere with the negotiation of the Catalan budget​, in which the government and the Catalan Socialists are continuing and that, as she affirmed, key meetings were to be held today. This afternoon a new meeting with Junts is also scheduled, the first with this group since December 20th.



Plaja once again put pressure on the parties, saying that the negotiations for the new budget "can't be extended too much longer", because "now it's a day or two away" and "budgets are needed as soon as possible".

However, the government avoided talking about the possibility, which they mentioned at their last press conference, that the project will be presented in Parliament even without the support of the other parties. In fact, Aragonès added a nuance to these words the day afterwards, after the Socialists showed their discomfort with the pressure. "It is not a realistic scenario for an agreement not to be reached. We believe that it is feasible and can be achieved. This is the scenario that we are considering, that they can be presented to the government with the support of the different parliamentary groups", said the spokesperson when asked about this change in positioning.

Likewise, she separated the summit from any possible meeting between Sánchez and Aragonès, after the Catalan government had already ruled out holding the latest meeting of the dialogue table that the leaders maintained was to have been held at the end of last year.