Ousted Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont has said Catalans should decide if they still want to remain part of the European Union if independence is achieved, and slammed the bloc for ignoring abuses to democracy.
Mr. Puigdemont defined the EU as a “club of decadent, obsolescent countries, commanded by a very few who are closely linked to increasingly debatable economic interests”, in an interview with programme Zman Emet, of the Israeli channel Canal 1 Kan.
Arguing against the EU officials who have said there would be no place for an independent Catalonia in the union, Puigdemont said: “Maybe not many people want to be part of this EU – that of Mr. Juncker and Tajani – [which is]… so insensitive to the abuse of human rights, of the democratic rights of the people of a territory.”
The Catalan politician, otherwise a supporter of the EU and the euro, said the question of continued membership for an independent Catalonia “must also be taken by the people of Catalonia”, according to a preview of the interview in Spanish newspaper La Vanguardia.
“The Spaniards and the Europeans are constantly telling us that we are going to be outside the EU [if we leave Spain], but the citizens of Catalonia should make that decision.”
Farage Slams ‘Antidemocratic’ EU Silence over Brutalised Catalan Voters
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) October 3, 2017
“We can not take it for granted that because it is in the best interests of the EU […] that we belong to the EU, and that the population will accept this without any criticism,” Puigdemont said.
Leader of the pro-union Ciudadanos party Albert Rivera compared Puigdemont to French populist leader of the Front National Marine Le Pen, saying: “All populisms are the same, they want to destroy the EU.”
The former Catalan leader also accused the Spanish government of ‘Francoist’ intentions to keep the region within Spain, recalling: “We know the will of the State to use violence to avoid [Catalan] independence.”
Dealing with Spain’s own ‘Project Fear’, a tactic by Remain campaigners during the UK’s 2016 referendum on membership of the EU which incorrectly predicted economic collapse following a Brexit vote, Puigdemont called the exodus of companies from Catalonia a “political strategy of economic fear”.
BREAKING: Catalan prez declares "soft independence" but postpones to engage in dialogue with Spanish governmenthttps://t.co/zpF9E4u26Y
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) October 10, 2017
Six regional parliamentary members and the leaders of the two main pro-independence grassroots organisations were jailed awaiting trial at the High Court on charges of rebellion and sedition for the roles they played in Catalonia’s independence vote.
A European arrest warrant is out for Puigdemont on the same charges, and Spain is seeking the former leader’s extradition from Belgium – to which he fled for “freedom and safety”.
The ousted president is running for the region’s highest office after a snap election was called for December 21st and will campaign from Brussels.
Spain’s Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy hopes the election will lead to a unionist majority in the regional parliament, but a win for the deposed president may be perceived as affirmation of the Catalan people’s wish to secede from the nation.