The President of the European Parliament on Friday slammed those he said were “sowing discord by deliberately ignoring laws” – comments clearly aimed at Catalonia’s separatist leaders.
Antonio Tajani was in Oviedo, northern Spain, receiving the Princess of Asturias Award for Concord 2017 on behalf of the EU.
In his speech, he criticised “narrow nationalist self-interests” and said:
“All too often in the past the prospect of redrawing borders has been presented as a heavenly panacea that has resulted in a hellish mess.”
Tajani told Euronews:
“Catalonia is a region. If it does not respect the Spanish Constitution and is outside the constitutional framework, it is a problem for Catalonia. There are not two countries, not two parliaments. Catalonia is a region of Spain, a region with autonomy, but it is not an autonomous country. No one is going to recognise Catalonia in Europe as an independent country. It is a region of Spain.
“We are in favour of dialogue but what happened is totally illegal.”
“No, there is no European mediation,” Tajani said, rejecting criticism that Brussels has failed to intervene, particularly following the violent police crackdown on Catalonia’s October 1 independence referendum, deemed illegal by Madrid.
“The Catalan problem is a Spanish problem. We advocate dialogue, but it is a problem for Spain. The government will seek a solution within the Spanish constitutional framework. It is not a problem for the European Union.”
His message was music to the ears of Spain’s King Felipe who also spoke out in a strong defence of Spanish unity, at the ceremony.
Marta Gil, Euronews correspondent in Oviedo, said:
“The President of the European Parliament, Antonio Tajani, has always denied any interference by EU policy in the Catalan conflict. The events of recent days however show that there are concerns both within Spanish borders and beyond.”