The deadlock. That is the single item on the agenda of a meeting that has been called for tomorrow between the Catalan presidency minister, Laura Vilagrà, and her Spanish counterpart, Félix Bolaños. Catalan government spokesperson Patrícia Plaja explained today that the meeting will "address the deadlock between the two governments following the Pegasus case and an accumulation of disloyal actions towards Catalans that have damaged relations and trust between the two governments." The meeting will be held after several weeks of frigidity between the two executives and after the setback that the Andalusian elections on Sunday represent for Pedro Sánchez's PSOE. The two officials will meet at 4pm tomorrow in Madrid, and afterwards, each will appear before the press separately, Bolaños at the Spanish ministry and Vilagrà at the Catalan government's delegation in Madrid.
"This meeting is under no circumstances a return to normality. Relations are frozen and remain frozen," the Catalan executive spokesperson stressed at a press conference following today's Catalan cabinet meeting. Plaja pointed out, however, that in the face of this crisis between the two governments, "immobility is not an option", that the situation is "getting worse" and that "it is not normal for Catalans not to be able to address any issue with the Spanish government"; that the explanations given so far by Pedro Sánchez's executive for Catalangate, the massive espionage against the independence movement, have been insufficient and have not satisfied the Catalan government in the slightest and that, as a result of all this, relations are "greatly damaged".
The same pair of interlocutors, Vilagrà and Bolaños, met on April 24th at the Palau de la Generalitat in Barcelona after the scandal over the Pegasus espionage broke out, and the Catalan government's assessment of that meeting was very negative, as the Sánchez executive paid no heed to its demands. This time, however, the Catalans have specifically avoided stating what their demands will be during the meeting, and the spokesperson limited herself today to saying that the minister will ask for "guarantees that the same thing will not happen again". The Catalan government is avoiding any talk about taking responsibility, although the president, Pere Aragonès, has publicly demanded the head of the Spanish defence minister, Margarita Robles.
Although, from Madrid, the spin put on the meeting is that the desire is to be able to decide details of a future leaders' meeting between Aragonés and Pedro Sánchez, the government in Barcelona would not enter into this question nor whether Sánchez's trip to Barcelona next Monday to take part in a Cecot employers' association dinner could facilitate such a meeting. As for the dialogue table between the two governments to address a negotiated solution to the independence process, Plaja insisted that today the conditions necessary for this table to be able to meet "do not exist". "We will see what comes out of tomorrow's meeting," she added.
During the press conference, Plaja did not specify who took the initiative to call the meeting, and limited herself to saying that it was the result of a "joint initiative" and many exchanges. She also avoided linking the calendar of the meeting with the Andalusian elections held on Sunday. However, she admitted that the electoral setback the PSOE had suffered in its former political heartland "obviously does not help the Socialist Party as a whole or Pedro Sánchez as president, to come out strengthened".
In relation to the decision by the Spanish Olympic Committee (COE) to abandon its plan to make a bid for the 2030 Winter Games, Plaja said that "anti-Catalanism has won" since, "the real hurdle was that the president of Aragón had to reach an understanding with Catalonia and his whole attitude was affected by that", and this attitude, she said, "was consented". Aragón's president Lambán "did not want to work together with Catalonia at any time and the Spanish government permitted him" to take this position, she said, and "they ended up bowing to his demands."
Plaja reiterated that Catalonia still has a project for the Winter Games and that it will be the COE who must rule on the matter and decide which route to take. "The reality is that the party who made the most outbursts, who was the protagonist of all these episodes on his own, made it impossible for this Games candidacy to have been able to move forward," she said, referring to president Lambán.