Photo: Torra inaugurates the Catalan Palace of Sports in Tarragona, together with the mayor of Tarragona, Josep Felix Ballesteros, 2 days before the start of the Mediterranean Games in Tarragona. (Credit: Tjerk Van Der Meulen)
The president of the Catalan Government (Generalitat), Quim Torra, will, in the end, attend the inauguration of the Mediterranean Games where he will meet with King Philip VI. “The monarch can not exclude the president of the Generalitat” from the event in Catalonia, he said. “Today I will be there. We will be there because it is our house. The presence of the King of Spain will not condition the presence of our institutions,” he said. In the meeting with the monarch, Torra announced that he will send him the reports by the Catalan Ombudsman on the violations of rights and freedoms in Catalonia since September last year.
Despite stressing the “abnormal” situation regarding prisoners and exiles, the president insisted that Tarragona and the Games deserve the presence of the head of the executive of Catalonia. Having said this, he has announced that neither the president of the Generalitat nor any counsellors will attend any event organized by the monarchy and he himself resigned from the position of vice president of the Princess of Girona Foundation awards. The Generalitat will not invite the monarch to any institutional events. In fact, the Tarragona ANC (Catalan National Assembly: a non-partisan pro-independence organisation) has announced that the president will take part in the meeting convened today at 6:30 p.m. by ANC and Òmnium (Non-partisan pro-independence organisation), to demonstrate “Tarrgona citizens’ rejection of the presence of the Spanish monarch.”
Ens complau comunicar-vos que el MHP @quimtorraipla participarà a la concentració convocada (avui a les 18.30 h) per ANC i Òmnium, per manifestar el rebuig de la ciutadania tarragonina a la presència del monarca espanyol.#TarragonaRepublicana pic.twitter.com/PVCTavaSXn
— ANC Tarragona (@ANCTarragona) June 22, 2018
Although early in the morning, as RAC1 reported and sources from the presidency confirmed in the newspaper ARA, the president had opted to skip it, hours later, the same sources said that “all the scenarios were open”.
In the institutional statement, Torra insisted that Catalonia is experiencing an “exceptional situation” due to the existence of prisoners and exiles. “There is no normality in Catalonia,” he said. “It seems unreal, but the ideas of freedom are pursued in Spain,” he said. The president regretted that King Philip VI did not accept the proposal he made via letter to take advantage of the event in Tarragona and meet with the ex-presidents Carles Puigdemont and Artur Mas while they were both in Tarragona. He also expressed regret that he did not get involved in the dialogue that the Generalitat wishes to open to address the conflict between the State and the independence parliamentary majority.
Torra recalled the King’s speech on October 3, in which he did not condemn the violence against voters and endorsed the application of article 155. “Given all this, the King of Spain has not asked for forgiveness He supported the police violence that caused a thousand injured people,” he recalled. “He has not expressed a word of support either to them or to their families,” he added.
“We want dignity and respect for the will of the elections,” he said. “We are not subjects, we are citizens,” he reiterated.
After several days of debate, the team had different opinions, Torra made a decision a few weeks before the meeting with the president of the Spanish government, Pedro Sánchez, on July 9 in La Moncloa (the presidential residence of the Spanish president). Sources from the leadership of the Catalan Republican Left (ERC) tell ARA that the president asked their opinion – they recommended attending the event – but they left it in their hands.
Thus, this evening in Tarragona the king of Spain, the Spanish president and the president of the Generalitat coincide for the first time since the protest against the attacks in Barcelona and Cambrils in August last year.
Meeting with Puigdemont
Yesterday, the president of the Generalitat, after the meeting he held with former President Carles Puigdemont in Berlin, who was in favor of standing the king up, regretted that “since October 3 there has been no apology nor excuses from the Spanish monarch “.
Photo: The president of the Generalitat, Quim Torra, and former president Carles Puigdemont met yesterday at a hotel in Berlin to address the political situation in Catalonia, with the main point of interest being the imminent meeting between Torra and the Spanish president, Pedro Sánchez. (Credit: Markus Heine / EFE)
Torra communicated by letter on Wednesday, jointly with ex-presidents Puigdemont and Artur Mas, their desire to hold a meeting in Tarragona. In the text he asked him to recognize the repression and become involved in a negotiation stage to resolve the conflict between the institutions of the State and the independentist majority in the Parliament of Catalonia. In the end, he suggested taking advantage of the Mediterranean Games to open a new phase of relations.
However, the Zarzuela (Royal family) passed the decision to Pedro Sánchez’s Spanish government, who ruled out the meeting. Yesterday, Government sources considered the attitude of the Crown to be “shocking”, given that in the speech on October 3 also acted as a “drive belt” for the then executive of the Popular Party led by Mariano Rajoy. “The king refuses to perform his role as an arbitrator,” they complained yesterday.
The doubts of Torra and the “respect” of Ballesteros
According to sources at the Presidency, Torra was reluctant to go to the meeting to not present an image of normality with the king after the role he had in the process and the existence of prisoners and exiles. However, he also took into account that the Mediterranean Games is a key event for Catalonia and, above all, for Tarragona Stadium, where the absence of the President of the Generalitat could also be misunderstood at the inauguration.
In fact, the Generalitat has invested 32 million euros in this event and has facilitated the Palace of Sports of Catalonia, opened by Torra on Wednesday evening with the mayor of the city, Fèlix Ballesteros.
The Socialist mayor, in declarations to RAC1 this Friday, has assured that he would like Torra to go to the inauguration but also said that “he respectes” the decision that he takes.“>