US President Donald Trump and Spain’s Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy have both voiced opposition to an independence referendum in Spain’s Catalonia which the separatist region has scheduled this weekend.
Rajoy arrived in the United States Monday for a visit aimed at deepening ties with a country that is “a friend and an ally” of Spain.
During a joint press conference the two leaders criticised the holding of the vote.
“Spain Is a great country and it should remain united. We are dealing with a great great country and it should remain united. I’ve been watching that unfold but it’s actually been unfolding for centuries and I think that nobody knows if they are gonna have a vote. The President would say they are not going to have a vote. But I think that the people would be very much opposed to that,” Trump told journalists.
Prime Minister Rajoy added his comments:
“The decision of unilaterally declaring independence doesn’t depend on me. It’s a decision that can’t be taken by the Parliament of Catalonia. I honestly think it is a mistake. . What will not happen is a valid and democratic referendum with any guarantees.”
In modern times the Catalonian region of Spain has been calling for independence since 2012.
The Spanish government however views Sunday’s referendum as illegal and in violation of the Spanish constitution. In a bid to prevent the vote Madrid has reportedly seized millions of ballot papers and fined top Catalan officials.
During the press conference at the White House President Trump repeatedly called the prime minister of Spain, Mariano Rajoy, “president”.
The confusion may come from Rajoy’s official title — “president of the government” — although it is commonly accepted that the head of Spain’s government is known as “prime minister”.