Financial Times 

Don’t waste this chance for progress on Catalonia

From Douglas Chapman MP, Vice-chair, All-Party Parliamentary Group on Catalonia

Your editorial “ A glimmer of hope for the future of Catalonia” (July 16) welcomes recent more positive talks between the governments in Madrid and Barcelona. To an international observer to the referendum last October, where we witnessed Spanish police violence towards, and intimidation of, voters as they decided on the future democratic direction of Catalonia, these talks are indeed a breakthrough.

 At the time, it was clear that Mariano Rajoy’s government did not have the flexibility of thought to open discussions. With a new government in Madrid, the creation of a commission to look at enhancing the powers of the Catalan parliament is a step in the right direction, and could well help restore some of the respect and trust required to take further steps to progress. If it is to be used as some sort of blocking device or delaying tactic, then any good faith achieved will disappear as quickly as it has been created.

 In addition, we cannot forget that nine Catalan leaders languish in a Spanish jail, and another seven live in exile awaiting potential extradition, for following the democratic will of the Catalan people in organising October’s referendum. The unconditional release of these prisoners and the safe return of those exiled would go a long way to building confidence in the process and we hope that becomes part of the new, more positive, approach of Pedro Sánchez and his government in Madrid.

 Douglas Chapman MP
Vice-chair, All-Party Parliamentary Group on Catalonia