Reactions from one extreme to the other to the dialogue table between Catalonia and the Spanish state after its third meeting in four years took place today. While pro-independence Catalan parties Junts and the CUP see the dialogue strategy as a mistaken direction which is not bringing the promised results, the senior partner in the pro-independence government, ERC, along with the PSC and their left wing allies the Comuns, have celebrated today's meeting and the progress made. The meeting ended this Wednesday with framework agreements signed on two issues: the de-judicialization of politics and the promotion of the use of the Catalan language; but in neither of these two expressed intentions do the documents signed give any specifics on how the resolution will be carried out.
The representatives in Catalonia of the parties of the Spanish government celebrated the agreements unanimously. In an appearance, PSC leader Salvador Illa considered that the meeting was "a very clear and obvious manifestation of useful politics, which seeks agreements and solves problems". As well, the leader of the Comuns, Jéssica Albiach, described the agreements reached as "great news for the country", and emphasized that the path of dialogue has proven to be "the most useful" for enabling Catalonia to move forward.
The reaction, however, was vastly different from the two pro-independence parties that reject ERC's dialogue strategy, Junts and the CUP. Former Junts leader Carles Puigdemont asserted in a tweet that the pacts announced could be a "very serious error", after the Spanish minister Félix Bolaños said after the meeting that thanks to what was agreed, one part of Catalonia would never again impose its vision on the other. The exiled Catalan leader responded that "the real problem is that one party, the one that wants independence, is denied the right to be able to implement its vision, while the other can do so without problems" - an opinion which the Junts party shared. The CUP also railed against the results of this meeting. On his Twitter profile, CUP deputy Carles Riera considered that the dialogue table has moved from the pro-independence parties' declared objectives of self-determination and amnesty to "we don't know what dejudicialization and that the Spanish government respects the laws approved by the Catalan Parliament". According to Riera, this is a "losing strategy for an independence movement that wants to - and can - win ".
The de-judicialization document presented this afternoon at the end of the meeting (English text below) publicly admits the difficulties in advancing the de-judicialization of the pro-independence process, and reiterates "the commitment to dialogue and negotiation" as a way to resolve the conflict. It does not point to any specific measure, nor does it include any direct reference to the offence of sedition or to a possible reform of the Penal Code. It does, however, conclude with a commitment that involves the parliamentary groups represented at the table, that is, the PSOE, Podemos and ERC, who assure that they will promote the legislative reforms that are agreed upon in Congress and that they will do so before the end of the next period of parliamentary sessions.
ERC welcomes the agreements
In its own reaction to these agreements, the Republican Left (ERC) issued a statement celebrating that the two government executives "are taking steps forward in the negotiation to end the repression and resolve the conflict". Thus, the party emphasized that these first agreements to move towards the end of the judicialization and its effects, will be a preliminary step that is "essential in order to be able to deal with the resolution of the underlying political conflict and to do so on equal terms between the parties represented at the table".
Below: the Catalan text of the accord document on dejudicialization released after today's meeting, followed by full English translation.
Accord to Overcome the Judicialization and Reinforce the Guarantees
The Government of Spain and the Government of the Generalitat de Catalunya have committed to move forward in dialogue and negotiation while overcoming and putting an end to the dynamics and effects of the judicialization of recent years, which has contributed to intensifying the political conflict, has affected political and institutional relations and polarized political and social positions.
Overcoming judicialization must guarantee a balanced process of dialogue and negotiation with guarantees, rejecting the criminalization of democratic political projects; it must reinforce the commitment to reach political solutions, always within the framework of legal certainty and attending to the democratic demands endorsed by a broad and transversal social majority according to the principles and the democratic order, and must be made tangible in measures representing progress that improves the starting situation and contributes to resolving the political conflict.
The Government of Spain and the Government of the Generalitat of Catalonia recognize the difficulties in agreeing on the optimal way to make dejudicialization effective. At the same time, they show the need and the will to advance in this area by encouraging the initiative and political commitment of both parties to reinforce the commitment to dialogue and negotiation as a way to resolve the political conflict and deepen the democracy.
To this end, both parties agree on the following principles to advance in overcoming the judicialization of political and institutional life:
- The reinforcement of fundamental rights, while ensuring that the public institutions preserve the general interest and adopt the maximum guarantees, especially when their action may have an effect on rights and freedoms or personal assets.
- The political and institutional commitment to legal certainty, order and democratic principles. The improvement of the institutions and their procedures entails the commitment of the parties to conduct political and institutional activity in accordance with the democratic institutions and procedures, also including the possible improvement based on the reform procedures established with the aim of facilitating the overcoming of the judicialization and the resolution of the political conflict.
- The commitment to gradual and specific advances on the basis of public accords that are representative of a broad and transversal majority in the social and parliamentary sphere. These advances must be made tangible in legislative, regulatory or other kinds of reforms to overcome the judicialization and its effects, taking, in addition, as a reference, the best European and international standards and recommendations.
When those accords that will require specific legislative modification for their materialization are reached, the parliamentary groups of reference in the Spanish Parliaments of both delegations of the Dialogue Table will be responsible for promoting them parliamentarily. Both parties express the desire that these legislative amendments be approved, if necessary, before the end of the next period of legislative sessions.