Catalonia Postpones Independence Plans

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Jacob Bojesson Foreign Correspondent
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Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont slammed the Spanish government but stopped short of declaring independence during a Tuesday address to the regional parliament.

The government claims a 90-percent majority backed independence in an Oct. 1 referendum. The Spanish government and constitutional court have deemed the results illegal.

Puigdemont said he was “not planning any threats or any insults” and that he aims to “de-escalate” tension with Spain.

“Today I assume the mandate for Catalonia to become an independent state in the form of a republic,” Puigdemont said. “We’re suspending the declaration of independence for a few weeks, because we want a reasonable dialogue, a mediation with the Spanish state.”

The Spanish government will likely trigger Article 155 of the Spanish Constitution to suspend Catalonia’s status as an autonomous region if it moves to declare independence in the future. The Catalan government would then have between 24 and 48 hours to reverse its course. If it chooses to not comply, Spain could enact direct rule over Catalonia.

“Article 155 allows for many possibilities, with the limit being a total suspension of autonomy,” Josep Maria Castellà, a constitutional law professor at the University of Barcelona, told BBC. “Other options include the suspension of certain competencies, such as security. The important thing for the state will be to ensure control of ports, airports, communication centers and borders by forces of the Spanish state.”

The international community has largely been quiet on the issue. France announced that it will not recognize Catalonia as an independent state Monday, while the Scottish government has backed Catalonia’s right to decide its own future.

“If there were to be a declaration of independence, it would be unilateral, and it would not be recognized,” France’s European affairs minister Nathalie Loiseau said.

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