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Just a day after the statements by ERC deputy Gabriel Rufián attacking Catalan president in exile Carles Puigdemont over the alleged Russian connections to the independence process had provoked a new crisis between ERC and Junts, the president of Catalonia, Pere Aragonès, advised the pro-independence parties to stop navel gazing and dedicate themselves to explaining their project for the country. The president, however, was not responding to the umpteenth conflict between the two partners in the pro-independence government, but to the survey published today by the CEO polling agency which shows that only 38.8% of Catalans want Catalonia to be an independent state, while those opposed to independence stand at 53.5%.

According to the Catalan president, the loss of support for independence which the survey findings assert is a result of the continued repression and the failure to achieve the goals set in October 2017, but as well, the political tensions between the parties. "Catalan independentism, when it speaks positively, moves progress. When it explains the project and doesn't spend time navel gazing, but rather, speaks to society as a whole and explains a positive country project, that's when we move forward", he assured from Berlin, where he is on an official trip.

Support to dialogue 

For this reason, the president advised that if the independence movement wants to regain ground "it must talk less about itself and more about the country and the project it offers." Moreover, he assured that this is what he is trying to do, although the previous day he limited himself to dodging the controversy of the flare-up caused by Rufián's words and, in fact, he even fed into the doubts about the contacts of Puigdemont's circle, by warning that the independence movement must use Europe and the democratic countries as its key references.

The president asserted that the vast majority of Catalans consider that, as the ERC politician defends, the negotiation and self-determination referendum are the path forward and this is "the most important thing". "Transforming movements make progress when they direct themselves to the whole country and talk about the benefits of their project for the country and not when they talk about their internal issues," he said.

Torra and the teachers' strike

Aragonès, who made these remarks after visiting a Ukrainian refugee reception centre in central Berlin, also referred to president Quim Torra's decision not to appear before the judge who today heard his second case for disobedience. The president expressed "full support" for Torra's decision and for the repression he is undergoing.

Regarding the education sector strike and the demand of the teachers' unions for him to act as interlocutor on behalf of the government, Aragonès insisted that the minister, Josep González-Cambray, has the full support of the government to conduct the dialogue, and reiterated that Cambray has the expertise, knowledge and confidence to reach the necessary agreements with the educational community. In fact, according to the president, the support that the CEO survey shows for bringing forward the start of the school year shows that it is a good measure.