Catalonia Suspends Declaration of Independence for Talks with Madrid


Puigdemont's proposal to suspend the declaration of independence to allow for negotiations pulled the region back from the brink of an unprecedented showdown with Madrid but drew criticism from both the Spanish government and the leader of the opposition in the Catalan Parliament.

"The cabinet has agreed to require formally to the Catalan government to confirm whether it has declared or not independence", Rajoy said in a televised address on Wednesday as cited by Reuters.

Puigdemont said on Tuesday that he had accepted "the mandate of the people for Cataloniato become an independent republic" following a banned referendum earlier this month.

Prime Minister Rajoy doesn't know, either.

Catalonian President Carles Fulgedemont subsequently hinted he would unveil an American-style declaration of independence, but on Tuesday backed down and instead endorsed negotiations.

"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".

The ongoing stand-off between Catalonia and the Spanish government in Madrid is complicated.

Spain's political establishment rounded on Puigdemont following the declaration, and support among separatists in Catalonia was mixed.

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"Yesterday I tried to send a message of calmness and to remind people that we are facing a political problem that we need to solve with politics and not with police", he said.Hundreds of people were injured in Catalonia on October 1 as Spanish national police sought to prevent the referendum going ahead.

"There is no mediation possible between democratic law and disobedience, illegality", he told parliament.

Rajoy said that he was asking for clarification from President Puigdemont, who he accused of creating "deliberate confusion".

He said the Catalan government's response would be crucial in deciding "events over the coming days".

Catalonia's president declared independence - but then immediately made overtures to talk. That gave Rajoy the upper hand, enabling him to ask Puigdemont whether he was declaring independence or not.

It is unclear how Puidgemont's play for time will be received in Madrid, which has consistently said independence is not up for discussion.

The crisis has caused deep uncertainty for businesses in one of the wealthiest regions in the eurozone's fourth-largest economy. He was referring to several big companies which have moved their headquarters outside of Catalonia in recent days.