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Catalan President Carles Puigdemont has said that the results of "self-determination referendum" on October 1 were a "yes" to independence.
In his first address after the historic referendum in Catalonia that saw over 90 percent of voters backing region’s independence from Spain, Puigdemont said that millions of Catalonians believe that the region should become a sovereign state. However, he said it was important to reduce tensions amid the vote.
However, he said it was important to reduce tensions surrounding the vote and proposed to suspend the effect of the independence declaration to continue talks with Madrid.
"I want to follow the people’s will for Catalonia to become an independent state," Puigdemont said.
Speaking for approximately 20-minutes, the Catalan leader condemned the violence that was observed at the referendum as well as the actions of Spanish law enforcement.
He said that he would like to reduce tensions, saying that Spaniards and Catalans are part of one community and should act together. He noted that the only way to move toward independence is through peace and democracy.
Puigdemont also said international mediation is needed to resolve the mounting high tensions between Madrid and Barcelona.
As the Catalan leader was delivering his speech that was postponed by an hour, media reports emerged that Spanish authorities were boosting security across the country.
More than 90 percent of Catalans voted for sovereignty at a referendum which the Spanish government declared illegitimate. Spain's King Felipe Vi described the vote as an attempt to "break the unity of Spain and national sovereignty, which is the right of all the Spanish people to decide democratically." The European Commission referred to the matter as an internal issue between Madrid and Barcelona.
Pulling back from announcing separation from Spain, Catalan President Carles Puigdemont said on Tuesday that while he supports an independence declaration, one should be held off “for a few weeks” to allow for dialogue and mediation.
“I assume the mandate of the people that Catalonia be converted into an independent state in the form of a republic,” he told the Catalan parliament.
He added: “We are suspending the declaration of independence for a few weeks, as we want a reasonable dialogue, mediation with the Spanish state.”
“We have to continue working together… the way to advance cannot be any other way than through democracy and peace,” he said.
The original speech had been delayed for an hour. Catalan government spokesperson Joan Maria Pique told Anadolu Agency that the Catalan leader had delayed the speech in light of a last-minute contact regarding “international mediation.”
This dramatic speech followed pleas from Europe and countries around the world requesting dialogue and compromise between the Catalan and Spanish governments.
“I appeal to Puigdemont not to announce a decision that would make dialogue impossible. Let's always look for what unites us,” tweeted Donald Tusk, president of the European Council, on Tuesday.
Thousands of separatists were amassed outside of the Catalan parliament during Puigdemont’s speech. While parts of the speech were met by applause, many were likely disappointed by his putting off any declaration.
Today’s announcement comes just over a week since the Catalan government held a controversial independence referendum marked by police violence, a poll illegal under Spanish law.
Although turnout was only 43 percent, 90 percent of Catalan voters said Yes to an independent Catalan Republic, leading Catalan’s government to announce that the region had won the right to become an independent state.
“The Spanish government will defend democracy,” said Deputy Prime Minister Soraya Saenz de Santamaria around an hour before Puigdemont planned to speak.
Throughout this unprecedented political crisis, the Spanish government has insisted that it will not negotiate with the separatists until they start obeying the law.
2017.10.10 / 23:10