Spain’s King Felipe calls on Catalan leaders to avoid confrontation in Christmas message

Spain‘s King Felipe VI used his traditional Christmas Eve address to call on Catalonia‘s newly elected parliament to renounce further moves towards secession, after pro-independence parties claimed a narrow victory in last week’s regional election. 

“The way forward cannot once again lead to confrontation or exclusion that, as we now know, only generates discord, uncertainty, anguish,” the Spanish monarch said in a televised speech. 

The king gave the address four days after regional parliamentary elections resulted in separatist parties being voted back into power.

Spain’s prime minister, Mariano Rajoy, had dissolved the previous parliament after it voted in October to declare Catalonia an independent republic, but saw his hopes dashed that separatists would not regain a majority of seats. 

“2017 for Spain has been, without a doubt, a difficult year for our commonwealth, a year marked, above all, by the situation in Catalonia,” Felipe said. “(Catalonia’s) leaders must face the problems that affect all Catalans, respecting their diversity and thinking responsibly in the common good.” 

Carles Puigdemont gives a thumbs up after the Catalonia Regional Election results (Rex)

The king’s last televised address was on 3 October, two days after Catalonia’s regional government disobeyed a court injunction and held a referendum on secession. The king harshly criticised the Catalan government as disloyal. 

Catalonia elections see pro-Independence parties gain overall majority in rebuke to Spain

His tone was more conciliatory on Sunday, when he recognised that while Spain had grown into a fully integrated member of the European Union, “not everything was a success” in recent decades. 

He insisted on recovering the “harmonious coexistence at the heart of Catalan society, in all its diversity,. so that ideas don’t divide or separate families and friends.” 

AP


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