Catalan government partner Together for Catalonia (Junts) has accused the Spanish government of vetoing its representatives at the dialogue table. The general secretary of Junts, Jordi Sànchez, stated this afternoon in a press conference that the party will not change the names it proposed to make up its delegation after the Catalan president, Pere Aragonès, made it clear this morning that he would not accept them, arguing that the members of the Catalan side must be part of the government.
Junts had notified Aragonès this morning that its representatives for this Wednesday's meeting of the table would be, in addition to the vice-president, Jordi Puigneró, the party vice-president, Jordi Turull, its spokesperson in Congress, Míriam Nogueras, and Jordi Sànchez himself.
Differences on this issue forced the suspension of today's Catalan cabinet meeting in order for ERC and Junts ministers to hold separate meetings to assess the situation. The end result was that the government approved a delegation in which only the names proposed by ERC were ratified, that is, Aragonès and ministers Laura Vilagrà and Roger Torrent.
"We don't leave empty chairs"
"We do not leave empty chairs, in any case we have not been allowed to enter," asserted Sànchez, pointing out during the press conference he offered this afternoon that if Junts is not part of the government delegation it is because it has been vetoed.
The Junts leader tried to relieve Aragonès of the responsibility, denying that the leadership of the Catalan president is being questioned, however, he admitted that it is "bad sign that this censorship has been accepted".
Although Aragonès publicly called on his government partners to make a proposal for names consisting of members of the government, Sànchez asserted that his party will not amend its proposal because "it would be poor practice to accept the conditions and demands imposed by the Spanish government".
"We will be out of the meeting until they open the door for us again. They don't want us there because we make them uncomfortable," he said, adding ironically that they won't be "like the Marx brothers - 'if you don't like our proposal we have another one'".
Sànchez reiterated the demands the party had made before announcing the names of its representatives, such as knowing the dialogue table's agenda; he complained that they did not even know the day when the meeting would be held until Pedro Sánchez announced it yesterday in a Spanish television interview; he recalled that they had asked to be told whether the Spanish PM would attend the meeting - "and we still don't know on what basis he will attend, if he will come to roll up his sleeves and negotiate or to have a picture taken", he added, again criticising the speculative statements from the Spanish government itself in the last few days over the PM's presence.
This, he said, was the context for the decision by Junts not to reveal its names until they were told the terms and attendees of the meeting, which, he asserted, had been decided for weeks
Won't affect the Catalan executive
Despite the tension experienced by the Catalan government and the president's appeal to the loyalty of his partners, Sànchez predicted that this situation will not have repercussions on the understanding within the executive.
However, he did wish to make one comment on the words of Pere Aragonès. He reiterated that the agreement signed by ERC and Junts does not specify that the members of the dialogue table should be part of the cabinet, as claimed by the president; that it was left to each organization to decide its representatives; and he pointed out that despite the preferences expressed by Aragonès in the sense of limiting it to figures within the government, his party had made it clear that they did not agree. “There was no verbal agreement, I don’t want to contradict the president, but there was no verbal agreement,” he pointed out on the matter.
In fact, he recalled that in March, ERC leaders had proposed the president of their party, Oriol Junqueras, as a member of the dialogue delegation and that the Spanish government's refusal on the presence of the Republican leader has led to a veto on the Junts proposal to place Jordi Sànchez and Jordi Turull in the negotiation.