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Τρίτη, 24 Οκτωβρίου 2017
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Catalonia Referendum Violence Met with Mixed Reaction

European leaders’ reaction to Catalonia’s violence-marred independence referendum on October 1 was mixed. Some strongly condemned the force used by Spanish police ordered to prevent the vote. Others commented warily, mindful of separatist movements in their own countries or the EU.

In a statement released on October 2, the European Commission said the vote in Catalonia was not legal under Spain’s constitution and that the Commission considered it an internal matter for Spain.

“We call on all relevant players to now move very swiftly from confrontation to dialogue. Violence can never be an instrument in politics. We trust the leadership of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy to manage this difficult process in full respect of the Spanish Constitution and of the fundamental rights of citizens enshrined therein,” the Commission statement said.

European Council President Donald Tusk appealed to Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy on to seek ways to avoid escalation in Catalonia.

After speaking to Rajoy on October 2, Tusk tweeted: “Sharing his constitutional arguments, I appealed for finding ways to avoid further escalation and use of force.”

Also on October 2, German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel released a statement echoing the EU’s calls for dialogue. He said: “The images that reached us yesterday from Spain show how important it is to interrupt the spiral of escalation”.

As reported by Deutsche Welle (DW), Germany’s international broadcaster, the Greens co-leader Cem Özdemir, a potential coalition partner for Chancellor Angela Merkel and future senior minister, condemned the force used.

“Whether or not the referendum was legitimate, the violence by police against voters was disproportionate and harmful to such an important dialogue,” he wrote on Twitter.

In the UK, Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said it was a matter for the Spanish government and people and that it was important the Spanish constitution be respected and the rule of law upheld. Madrid had ruled Catalonia’s referendum illegal. He tweeted: “Spain is a close ally and a good friend, whose strength and unity matters to the UK”.

In Scotland, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon criticised the statement as “shamefully weak”. Sturgeon closely followed the events on her Twitter feed, saying she was increasingly concerned by the images coming from Catalonia.

“Regardless of views on independence, we should all condemn the scenes being witnessed,” said Sturgeon, who led Scotland’s 2014 independence referendum in which it voted to remain part of the UK.

Guy Verhofstadt , an EU lawmaker who is leading the European Parliament’s Brexit negotiations, called for de-escalation and a negotiated solution to the conflict. He tweeted: “It’s high time for de-escalation. Only a negotiated solution is the way forward”.

https://www.neweurope.eu/article/catalonia-referendum-violence-met-mixed-reaction/

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