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The meeting between Catalan president Pere Aragonès and Spanish prime minister Pedro Sánchez this Friday at La Moncloa palace ended with the announcement of a new meeting of the dialogue table, to be held the last week of July in Madrid. This was announced simultaneously by the two governments, which did not specify the date but advanced it will be a working meeting without the Aragonès or Sánchez. In his appearance at the delegation of the Catalan government, Aragonès stressed that the objective of this new meeting is addressing the end of repression and advancing in the dejudicialization of the politics of the independence process with some "first partial agreements".

The last meeting between Aragonès and Sànchez took place on September 15th last year at the Palau de la Generalitat, coinciding with the first convening of the dialogue table. They have not met again since, although there was a commitment to do so at the beginning of the year. At the end of April, moreover, the Pegasus scandal broke out, revealing the Spanish State was spying on pro-independence leaders, including Aragonès himself, which led to a freezing of the relations between the two executives.

Once the Andalusian elections were over and in view of the PSOE's interest in rebuilding the parliamentary majority that supports the government, of which ERC is an essential part, relations have been reactivated. In fact, Sánchez reiterated in recent weeks the calls to reconvene the dialogue table and appeals to Junts to join.

Repression and dejudicialization

In his appearance, Aragonès stressed that in order to give credibility to the dialogue table it is necessary to promote "short-term negotiation", that will focus on the end of repression and the dejudicialization of the politics of the independence process and that in the next meeting the "first partial agreements" must begin to materialize. He did not specify what these agreements may consist of, although the reform of the crime of sedition is one of the recurring points in this debate. Sánchez warned this week in Congress that there is not a "sufficient majority" for this reform.

Aragonès insisted that these will be only the first steps because the two governments are far from agreement, and then the rest of the basic demands of the independence movement must be addressed. "As long as the citizenship does not have the possibility of freely deciding the political future of the country, we are far from resolving the conflict" he added.

Important meeting

The Catalan president, who informed Junts before participating in the press conference, begun the appearance assuring that the meeting was "important". He did not want to talk about the normalization of relations, but showed his willingness to overcome the situation that led to the rupture between the two executives, invoking "institutional responsibility"; he explained that in the meeting they ratified the agreement on the methodology of dialogue that Catalan minister of the presidency Laura Vilagrà and her Spanish counterpart minister Félix Bolaños agreed on last week in order to specify the guarantees demanded by the Catalan government, and advanced that Sánchez and Aragonès will not participate in the meeting, they will only intervene if "more political insistence" is necessary.

Return to normality

Spanish spokesperson, Isabel Rodríguez, was the first to appear and gave an account of the result of the meeting. She spoke of a "return to normality" in the relations between the two executives, of a positive meeting, in which the work methodology that was announced last week was ratified.

However, she admitted the two governments are in "very different positions, with enormous differences" and that the Spanish government "defends the autonomous state and Part VIII of the Spanish Constitution (concerning the territorial organization of the State), but we know that the only way to move forward is through dialogue". The minister, as Sánchez himself did in recent days, called for Junts to join the dialogue table, but insisted that the components of this forum must all be members of the respective governments.

Aragonès arrived at noon at La Moncloa palace and Sánchez received him at the door, where they shook hands as usual. The meeting was held at the sofa of the Spanish prime minister's office, in a room presided over by a Spanish and a Catalan flag.

The meeting, which was preceded by two meetings between minister Laura Vilagrà with minister Félix Bolaños, takes place the same week the general policy debate was held, in which the absence of the debate on Catalonia in the state policy was notable.