Brussels [Belgium], October 11: European Union President Donald Tusk has made an emotive appeal to the Catalonia’s pro-independence leader to step back from declaring independence, warning that it would lead to conflict with Spain and make dialogue impossible.
Tusk made a direct appeal to Catalonia’s pro-independence leader Carles Puigdemont, who was scheduled to address the Catalan Parliament over the independence referendum.
Tusk stated, “I appeal to you not only as the President of the European Council, but also as a strong believer in the motto of the EU: “United in diversity”, as a member of an ethnic minority and a regionalist and as a man who knows what it feels like to be hit by a police baton.”
Tusk, a former prime minister of Poland, who fought for his country’s independence from the Soviet Union, said he understood and felt the “emotions and arguments” of all sides.
Tusk stressed that a couple of days ago, he asked Spain’s Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy to look for a solution to the problem without the use of force as the force of arguments is always better than the argument of force and today he appealed Catalonia’s leader Puidgemont to step back from announcing the independence.
Tusk said, “A few days ago, I asked [Spain’s] Prime Minister [Mariano] Rajoy to look for a solution to the problem without the use of force. To look for dialogue. Because the force of arguments is always better than the argument of force.”
“Today I ask you [Puidgemont] to respect – in your intentions – the constitutional order and not to announce a decision that would make such a dialogue impossible.”
“Diversity should not, and need not, lead to conflict, whose consequences would obviously be bad: for the Catalans, for Spain and for the whole of Europe. Let us always look for what unites us and not for what divides us. This is what will decide the future of our continent,” he added.
The EU has taken a tough line on the referendum, calling it illegal, and defending the Spanish Government’s right to uphold the rule of law.
Catalan regional president Puigdemont says the October 1 referendum – in which a majority of those who voted were in favor of separating from Spain, but the turnout was only 42 percent of the region’s electorate – gave him the mandate to carry out the separation.