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Exiled Catalan president, Carles Puigdemont, has said in an interview with Swiss weekly Schweiz am Wochenende that Catalonia is beginning to win a de facto recognition as a country at international level, and that in that sense "independence is getting closer everyday" .

"Catalonia is not independent from an administrative point of view. But right now, it is recognized throughout the world as a country. People everywhere know who we are. And that awareness is a preliminary step to formal recognition. We are in a phase of transition. Before we can be obtain de jure recognition, we must achieve de facto recognition. It is a path. The question of when we will be formally independent does not arise. We are already independent, but not completely. The Catalan economy is increasingly less dependent on Spain's. Investment is increasing, the economy is growing. We are competitive at an international level. We are in a state of independence in movement," he said.

"Catalonia today is more independent than a year and a half ago, and within a year we will be even more independent," he predicted.

Asked whether it was sufficient for only around half of Catalans to want independence, Puigdemont replied that this was definitely an issue to be discussed: "If it were possible to sit down with the Spanish government this would be a matter that should be placed on the table. How do we organize a referendum?" "Montenegro set a minimum [yes vote] of 55%. That is acceptable. We were always prepared to discuss this. I suggested several times at the time to prime minister Rajoy. I asked him: 'What majority would be enough for Spain?'" commented the exiled Catalan leader.

The Puigdemont family

On the question of whether he would prefer to have his family with him in Brussels, Puigdemont explained that he has spoken about this to his wife and says: "We agree that we can't make any decision in this provisional situation" and commented that "if we are all acquitted, I will go back to Catalonia. We don't know what'll happen."

The president confessed that his daughters, 9 and 11 years old respectively, "are at an age where they hear everything, but still don't understand everything" and adds: "They know why I am in exile and why my colleagues are in prisons, but they don't understand it completely. That's normal, they are kids. They miss their father and they are scared. It's understandable."