Italy rejects Catalonia's declaration of independence - top diplomat

Italy rejects Catalonia's declaration of independence — top diplomat

The Spanish government has given Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont five days to say whether he declared independence or not, Spanish news agency Efe said on Wednesday. Earlier, Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy rejected any mediation to resolve the crisis over Catalonia's independence push.

"In recent weeks, we have repeatedly called on the Catalan government to engage in a constructive dialogue with Madrid in line with the principle of preserving the unity of the state and with respect to the principles of autonomy, as envisaged by the Spanish constitution", Alfano was quoted as saying by his press service. "Some aspects of territorial coexistence must be updated", he said, announcing that he had reached an agreement with Rajoy to reform the Spanish constitution.

"We call on worldwide states and organisations to recognise the Catalan republic as an independent and sovereign state", he said.

Spain has been in turmoil since the separatist government held a disputed referendum in Catalonia on 1 October which was declared invalid by the country's Constitutional Court.

This formal requirement is needed to trigger the article 155 though the Constitution does not establish any specific time frame for the answer. Triggering Article 155 would allow Rajoy to suspend Catalonia's devolved government and take over control from Madrid.

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At stake is the future of a region of 7.5 million people deeply divided over Independence, one of Spain's economic powerhouses, whose drive to break away has raised concern for stability in the European Union.

On the same day that Catalonia's president called for negotiations with Spain to secure independence for his state, the White House signaled it favored talks between Catalonia and the Madrid government and "them moving forward".

Spain's Deputy Prime Minister Soraya Saenz de Santamaria described Puigdemont as someone "who does not know where he is, where he's going".

Addressing the Catalan Parliament in Barcelona on Tuesday evening, Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont said: "We call on worldwide states and organisations to recognise the Catalan republic as an independent and sovereign state". Spanish police cracked down on the polls, beating some voters as they closed down polling stations.

Ahead of Puigdemont's address on Tuesday, influential figures including Barcelona's Mayor Ada Colau and European Council President Donald Tusk had urged him to step back from declaring independence.

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