The president of Catalonia, Quim Torra, has in the last week confirmed before Parliament his 'no' to supporting the budget of Pedro Sánchez's Spanish government, following the announcement by public prosecutors of the sentences demanded for the pro-independence leaders: a total of 214 years jail. For Torra, this jail demand is the state's response to his proposal for a negotiated solution for the conflict with Catalonia. He asserts that these months of the Sánchez government have changed nothing and the response by Spain is still the same as ever. "They can't expect any support from us", he warns, in the second part of this El Nacional interview.
This is an operation of all the powers of the State. It has involved everybody, from the judicial powers through to the king
When Spanish prosecutors' indictments for the Catalan referendum case were announced on 2nd November, you interpreted that as the Spanish state's response to your demand for a proposal on self-determination. Did it surprise you?
It's what we were fearing, but there comes a time when you end up confirming it. We have to understand that this is an operation by all the powers of the state. It has involved everybody, from the judicial powers through to the monarch - which, ever since Juan Carlos was designated as successor by the dictator Franco in 1969, has been working for and preserving the legitimation of a designation made by Franco. This is not only about executive power. You have to understand this operation of state against the Catalan independence movement, in which, if the involvement of the police has been needed, the police have been involved, if the involvement of Spanish intelligence agents has been needed, intelligence agents have been involved, if the involvement of the king has been needed, some calls have been made... Therefore, we had to make a strong response.
They will have to figure out how they'll do it: extend the current budget, or reach a budget agreement with the PP and Cs... In any case, they can't expect any support from us.
For the time being, however, the first practical conclusion of this decision was to withdraw support for the governing PSOE and announce that you will not give them the votes that need to pass their budget...
However, the PSOE says that it is still going ahead with the budget. It seems they just don't believe you...
They will have to figure out how they'll do it: if they intend to extend the current budget, if they want to reach a budget agreement with the Popular Party and Ciudadanos... In any case, they can't expect any support from us.
We would never ever do a deal with our dignity or our democracy or our freedom... for money
Did you talk to both the governing pro-independence parties, the Republican Left (ERC) and the Catalan European Democratic Party (PDeCAT), before making this announcement?
On this issue we fully agree. It cannot be any other way. We would never ever do a deal with our dignity or our democracy or our freedom..., for money or for some specific solution. There are many other ways to benefit the public. The thing is, that the PSOE has up till now simply continued doing the same as the PP government did before. So, as we have not seen any kind of change - we wouldn't have voted for the PP budget - we won't vote for the PSOE budget.
But the argument that the pro-independence groups will not let the government fall is also used by the PSOE itself...
It is not an issue that we worry about nor one that we cease worrying about. What has to worry Mr Sánchez is that he has not yet made a clear and specific proposal on how the right to self-determination can be exercised, and also, of course, the fact that we still have political prisoners and exiles. In this situation I don't know who you could imagine might ever support the PSOE government budget.
Since you have said this has anybody from the Madrid government been in touch with you?
However, in Madrid, they insisted on the relationship between the Catalan and Spanish governments being fluid, that there are many meetings between Catalan government representatives and Spanish government representatives...
We will never give up bilateral dialogue. This is important and we have always said this. What we also have to consider is what sense there is in taking part in other meetings. But a bilateral approach and dialogue are a space in which the Spanish government will always find us, just as a place where the international community, to whom we appeal, will also find us.
I am expecting an intense and in-depth meeting with Sánchez, not to have a coffee together taking advantage of the fact that he is in Barcelona and has five minutes free
As well, the Spanish government now says that, yes, Pedro Sanchez is willing to meet the Catalan president, taking advantage of the fact he will be holding a meeting of his cabinet in Barcelona...
We only know this information from what has appeared in the press. I am pleased to meet Pedro Sánchez, for several months we have been expecting him at the Palau de la Generalitat. However, I am expecting Pedro Sánchez in order to have an intense meeting, with an agenda in which questions are examined in depth, and I wonder if is appropriate or if it is the meeting that I am imagining we will have, when it's taking advantage of the fact that I am in Barcelona to hold a cabinet meeting, now that I have five minutes free for a coffee I'll go and see the president of Catalonia. Goodness, it doesn't seem to me that this is the best way to set up a meeting as transcendental as this. Look, we can have days throughout the year. Well, I am asking the president for this reflection. When we receive it... Because this is like that invitation that we were going to receive from [speaker of Spanish congress] Ana Pastor to go to the Congress, which never arrived. Now we don't know if whether it's like that or something else.
Does anybody think that in this situation it's possible to negotiate a budget? Then they should go and talk to Marta Rovira
Moreover, the government spokesperson came out and said that this meeting was to talk about the budget...
We'll always speak about everything and we're open to dialogue, but we have to resolve three questions in this country: the freedom of the political prisoners, the return of the exiles and the right to self-determination. On Friday, [exiled ERC party secretary general] Marta Rovira, in statements to Catalunya Ràdio, left it very clear by asking one question that addresses all of us: "How many budgetary games does my return home cost?" That is, does anybody think that in this situation it is possible to negotiate a budget? If they do, they can go and talk to Marta Rovira.
On Friday, Sánchez attacked the referendum and the independence process, saying that democracy is not only voting, but also the rule of law...
It doesn't surprise me, Pedro Sánchez attacks, Josep Borrell attacks, Carmen Calvo attacks - she, who has described the alleged acts [in the referendum case] as crimes, in violation of all international treaties... We have had all these months with this government and what has changed with respect to the PP? Sincerely, nothing has changed and the Spain's response is still the same.
Part One of the interview is here.