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Catalan Republican Left (ERC) secretary general Marta Rovira, who has been in exile in Geneva for almost 2 years, has been interviewed by Roger Escapa for Catalunya Ràdio programme El Suplement. Rovira is determined to dialogue with the Spanish government, but she has also stated that effective concessions are a fundamental condition for maintaining the PSOE-Podemos coalition government’s stability: "If the Spanish government want a budget, they must take steps forward at the dialogue table".

Commitment to dialogue, but without optimism

In the interview, Rovira said that pro-independence forces should not aim at holding dialogue on a new Statute of Autonomy or the budgets, but on the political conflict affecting Catalonia and Spain. She admitted that agreements will not be easy: "We must dialogue, even if it is with scepticism", because "this is a way to gain legitimacy", she explained. "We will not allow anyone to take the flag of dialogue and negotiation away from us", declared Rovira. However, she assured that they will not stay for long at the table if there is no progress: "there has to be a limit", she said, explaining that this limit should be less than one parliamentary term, although she did not want to set a date admitting the complexity of the issue.

The battle in Madrid

"If the dialogue table fails, ERC will have to do a democratic battle with the Spanish state again," said Rovira, adding: "We cannot live forever in a political denial, which is what the Spanish state has always given us. Any proposal that Catalonia makes is met with derision and contempt: we always get the same response". But in the face of this possibility, she warned that preparation and expansion of forces is necessary: "we need to strengthen affinities", she explained. Because according to ERC's secretary general: "we are not at a decisive moment". And she added that everyone agrees on this: "Now we are not prepared to do what we want", she warned over Carles Puigdemont's calls for the "final fight".

Against the election

Rovira has distinguished herself from Catalan President Quim Torra, pointing out that he should not have called the election: if pro-independence parties do not agree, we have to sit down and reach agreements. We are suffering an attack from the Spanish state". She affirms that from now on it is necessary to begin a new stage in Catalan politics, where pro-independence forces takes the leadership. She has also stated that after the election ERC will try to organise a government that guarantees self-determination and amnesty.

Too far from the sea

Rovira does not plan to return from Switzerland any time soon: "Going back home is not a priority for me. If I go back home and everything stays as it is, there's no point in going into exile. She recalls that she is still accused of rebellion even though it has been proved that there was no rebellion at all. Marta Rovira feels satisfied to have been able to preserve her family life in the face of an unjust accusation: "I'm in no hurry to go back home. Here, I have the people I love. I will go back sometime. I have not set a date, but I will go back". And she continues to denounce that "I am being persecuted because of my political position". Although she is determined to continue in exile, Marta Rovira is at the party's disposal to run for election to the Catalan Parliament even if she is not allowed to take up office. She states that it is necessary not to give in to repression and to make electoral lists with the necessary people even if they cannot take their seats afterwards. Rovira hopes that her stay in Geneva, a city with an intense diplomatic life, will serve to internationalise her political struggle. She says that in this country, where "people are very democratic," she feels listened to. Rovira explains that, in Switzerland, she keeps in touch with former CUP deputy Anna Gabriel, with whom she shares "some projects in the international field". Rovira is determined to stay in Geneva to fight for Catalan independence. But, despite being from an inland town, she misses the sea in Switzerland: she says she dreams of swimming in the sea.

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