Spain 'our only interlocutor' after Catalan declaration: EU's Tusk

 27 Oct 2017 - 17:53

Spain 'our only interlocutor' after Catalan declaration: EU's Tusk
European Council President Donald Tusk delivers a speech during a plenary session at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, eastern France, on October 24, 2017. AFP / Patrick Hertzog

AFP

Brussels:  EU President Donald Tusk said Friday that Madrid "remains our only interlocutor" after Catalan lawmakers voted to declare independence from Spain in a crisis threatening the stability of a key member of the bloc.

The European Union and its member states have stood firmly behind Madrid in the escalating standoff triggered by Catalonia's hotly contested October 1 referendum on splitting from Spain.

As the situation escalated sharply, with Catalonia's regional parliament voting to declare independence and Madrid vowing in turn to quash the bid for secession, Tusk appealed for calm.

"For EU nothing changes. Spain remains our only interlocutor. I hope the Spanish government favours force of argument, not argument of force," he tweeted.

Earlier a top EU official said resolving the crisis in Catalonia was crucial to the whole of Europe, while reiterating the bloc's staunch support for the government of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy.

"We have to respect the constitution and that's extremely important for Europe -- so it's not a question of Spain, it's a question of Europe," Carlos Moedas, the European Commissioner for research, science and innovation, told reporters.

"We, as a European Union, have to be on the defence of the constitutional order of Spain."

Brussels has for weeks insisted the standoff in Catalonia is an internal matter for key EU member Spain, resisting Catalan efforts to internationalise the issue and backing Madrid's position that the referendum was illegal.