• Spain's news in English
Finally Spanish PM meets with Catalan separatist leader
Photo: AFP

Finally Spanish PM meets with Catalan separatist leader

AFP · 21 Apr 2016, 09:07

Published: 21 Apr 2016 09:07 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Rajoy gave Carles Puigdemont, who has led the semi-autonomous region of Catalonia for three months, a copy of revered Spanish author Miguel de Cervantes' masterpiece "Don Quixote" before they began their closed-door talks at his official residence in Madrid.

Puigdemont was elected president of Catalonia's government in January with the task of fast-tracking the Spanish region towards independence from Madrid.

"I'm going with good will, but with reasonable scepticism too," Puigdemont told reporters before heading the meeting.

There is little likelihood that anything will come of the meeting in Madrid as Puigdemont's position is radically opposed to that of Rajoy, who wants Catalonia to remain Spanish and refuses to allow a Scotland-style referendum on the issue.

Spain is also mired in political uncertainty as parties are unable to agree on a coalition government four months after inconclusive general elections, and Rajoy is currently only acting prime minister.

But the talks are still significant as the last meeting at this level dates back to July 2014 when then Catalonian president Artur Mas had asked for an independence referendum and more investment in the region.

Far from bringing them closer, though, the meeting at the time had triggered higher tensions between Madrid and Barcelona, the regional capital.

In November of that year, Catalonia's government went ahead and organized a symbolic poll in which 80 percent of the 2.3 million who cast their ballot in the 7.5-million-strong region voted for independence.

Then last September, a pro-independence faction won regional parliamentary elections, giving them an absolute majority.

Separatist lawmakers subsequently passed a motion in parliament calling for complete independence, although this was ruled illegal by Spain's Constitutional Court.

One of Spain's 17 semi-autonomous regions with its own language and customs, Catalonia already enjoys a large degree of freedom in education, health and policing.

Story continues below…

But fed up after years of demands for greater autonomy on the taxation front - complaining it pays more to Madrid than it gets back - the region veered towards separatism.

Puigdemont is expected to ask Rajoy for more investment in Catalonia, greater leeway in the management of his heavily indebted region's deficit, and a referendum.

"The 16 times we have asked him will not stop us asking a 17th time," he said on Wednesday in front of the regional parliament, before travelling to Madrid.

For more news from Spain, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Two-headed shark born in Spanish laboratory
Scientists are studying the rare find. Photo: IBIMA / University of Malaga

Scientists at the University of Malaga found the embryo of a shark with two heads and just one body.

Spain under pressure to stop refuel of Russian warships
Russian aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov is due to arrive in Ceuta. Photo: Mil Ru / Wikimedia

Spain is facing international pressure to refuse permission for a Russian warship flotilla to refuel in Ceuta en route to continuing airstrikes against the Syrian city of Aleppo.

Most wanted: Fugitive rapist arrested in Tenerife
Mohammed Jahangir Alam was arrested n Tenerife. Photo: Crimestoppers.

Mohammed Jahangir Alam, one of Britain's most wanted fugitives, who fled the country in 2008 after allegedly raping a woman, was found working in Tenerife.

Spain's Rajoy says king has tasked him with forming govt
Photo: AFP

Spain's king on Tuesday tasked Mariano Rajoy with forming a government, taking the acting conservative prime minister a step closer to power again after a 10-month political deadlock.

Two imams arrested in Ibiza resort over 'Isis support'
The men were arrested in the resort of Sant Antoni de Portmany. Photo: Jose A / Flickr

Two Moroccan imams at a mosque on the Spanish resort island of Ibiza were arrested Tuesday on suspicion of backing the Islamic State group and inciting jihad.

Balearic Islands choose to keep summertime forever
The islands will have longer evenings during winter. Photo: AFP

The Balearic Islands want to keep summertime when the rest of Spain turns the clocks back on Sunday.

  Brazilian had 'uncontrollable desire to kill': Spain police
Francois Patrick Nogueira Gouveia has been charged with murdering his uncle, his wife and their two children. Photo: Guardia Civil.

A Brazilian teenager accused of dismembering his uncle and aunt and killing their two young sons in a grisly crime that shocked Spain had an "uncontrollable desire to kill", police said on Monday.

Man rescued from bin after climbing in to find old clothes
Photo: Policía Local Murcia

Police were called after passersby reported hearing a man calling for help from within a rubbish bin in the Vistabella neighbourhood of Murcia, southern Spain.

Spain faces crucial week as conservatives re-take power
Mariano Rajoy hopes to form a government this week. Photo: AFP

Spain entered a crucial week as acting conservative PM Mariano Rajoy prepared to re-take power, ending ten rollercoaster months without government marked by hope and disillusion.

Eight very creepy Halloween costumes ideas from Spain
Photo: Pan's Labyrinth

Forget flamenco dancers and bullfighters, The Local counts down the freakiest alternative costume ideas to dress up in this Halloween.

Analysis & Opinion
Out of the dark: Five years on from Eta ceasefire
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Spanish 'La Mafia' restaurants banned after Italian complaint
Spain's top court overturns bullfighting ban in Catalonia
Hunt launched for ten most wanted Brit fugitives hiding out in Spain
Napflix: Spaniards launch very boring TV channel for siestas
Madrid parish church faces fine over 'too noisy' bells
Celebrate expat life at Madrid’s THRIVE convention
Fury after kids told to bring their own loo roll to school
Disney announces plans for Don Quixote action movie
Activist tells 8-yr-old matador wannabe with cancer 'just die'
King to make last minute push to avoid third vote in Spain
Amazing photos of Catalonia's 'human tower' contest
What's on in Spain: October 2016
'No way, Jose! You'll never get your hands on our Rock'
Recipe: How to make a classic Spanish tortilla de patatas
Chorizo in paella? Go back to cooking school Jamie Oliver
Spain in eye of a perfect storm after 10 months without govt
Thousands share clips of life for 'Spain in a Day' film
Ten incredible Spain locations for Game of Thrones season 7
Analysis & Opinion
Why moving to Spain could be the best decision of your life
Seven reasons why autumn is the very best season in Spain
Spanish study finds four types of personality. Which are you?
New search underway for civil war grave of poet Lorca
jobs available