Spanish prime minister, Pedro Sánchez, did not address the Catalan conflict until late in the day at the State of Nation Address. Although he briefly mentioned the need to reunite pro-independence supporters and Spaniards in his initial speech, he did not tackle the subject until Gabriel Rufián's (ERC's leader in Madrid) reply, who reproached the head of the Spanish Executive for tiptoeing around the conflict, days before the meeting on Friday between Sánchez and Catalan president Pere Aragonès. "You dedicated one sentence to the political conflict", reproached the Republican leader to Sánchez, and reminded him that "whether he likes it or not", there is a pro-independence majority in the Catalan Parliament.
That is why Rufián reminded Sánchez that his formation is betting on dialogue, because solving the conflict "through beatings" (in reference to the October 1st referendum) does not work, but warned him that if it does not come to fruition, it will not be Oriol Junqueras' fault: "The failure of the negotiation path is not the failure of pro-independence supporters, nor of ERC. It would be a failure of the Spanish left, again," said Rufián, who reproached that Sánchez has "not learned anything from Zapatero", and warned him that history shows that every time they fail, the Catalan pro-independence movement rises. "How do you want to go down in history? As the one who solved the Catalan-Spanish political conflict or as just another socialist prime minister?"", challenged the leader of ERC, who warned that if he does not provide solutions to territories like Catalonia or the Basque Country, the right-wing extremists will pass them in the next general elections: "It all depends on you".
Sánchez calls for Junts per Catalunya
Sánchez, who initially did not devote time to the Catalan issue but rather announced measures to please government partners, replied by recalling the last meeting between the Catalan minister of the Presidency, Laura Vilagrà, and the Spanish minister of the Presidency, Félix Bolaños, which he said served to agree on a methodology for these meetings, which will resume this Friday with the meeting between Sánchez and President Pere Aragonès. The Spanish prime minister said his government is present at the table, and reproached that it is not the same on the Catalan side, as members of the Catalan government from Junts per Catalunya have not joined it: "I have always asked of Junts to bet on the dialogue table". Junts will respond to Sánchez's approach Wednesday morning, the first intervention of the day will be made by deputy Míriam Nogueras.
Besides this message, Sánchez also asked of Rufián that, in addition to demanding dialogue between Catalonia and Spain, ERC also maintain a dialogue between the Catalans, as requested actively and passively by opposition leader Salvador Illa. Prior to this request, Rufián made a conciliatory speech, where he said that "independence does not presuppose anything". "Being a pro-independence supporter does not make you a better Catalan. The ERC leader, who also defended the Catalan language from a broad perspective, said: "Spanish is not persecuted in Catalonia, nor is Catalan the exclusive patrimony of the pro-independence movement. Either we understand that or we will be doing a disservice to a language that deserves to be protected".