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The two main representatives of the Catalan pro-independence parties in Madrid, Gabriel Rufián and Laura Borràs, have once again revealed the apparent discrepancies between Together for Catalonia (JxCat) and the Republican Left (ERC) on whether or not to demand the presence of a mediator at the Spain-Catalonia dialogue table. The proposal for a neutral mediator, not included in the initial ERC-PSOE agreement which paved the way for the dialogue table, has been repeatedly ruled out by the Sánchez government in recent days. "All of Spain will be witness to these talks" goes the Spanish government argument, "and therefore a mediator is unnecessary to guarantee that agreements are kept."

Now, the disagreement has been transferred to the two parties that form the Catalan government, with both Borràs and Rufián speaking on the issue this Tuesday from the Congress of Deputies.

First came Laura Borràs, who, in the same line as Catalan president Torra, warned that "having a rapporteur is not a question of what JxCat wants" but rather that "it is an obligation". The former Catalan minister recalled that "the Spanish government had already accepted this idea when it last abandoned the dialogue table", referring to the incipient proposal for Spain-Catalonia talks which broke down in early 2019. Borràs recalled the vote taken in the Catalan Parliament two weeks ago, when the pro-independence majority passed a motion stating that "because of the background and in order to give guarantees, dialogue requires international mediation." The JxCat leader in Madrid concluded that the incorporation "of a third party" to monitor the fulfillment of agreements by the two sides "is not an obstacle but a duty".

In contrast, for the Republican Left, Rufián followed the line set down by his party's leadership in recent days. "It would be counterproductive to put more pressure on a dialogue table which already - for obvious reasons - will be under a lot of pressure." ERC's leader in Madrid avoided getting into a dispute with Borràs and expressed "full respect for the [JxCat] space and its internal debate". At the same time, he appealed for hope. "All I want is for it to go well and that we leave behind the dark times when ideas are judicially pursued."

What the two do agree on is their confidence that the first meeting of the dialogue space between the Catalan and Spanish governments to tackle the political conflict will be held, as Torra and Sánchez promised, before the end of February.

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