Felix Bolanos has met with Laura Vilagra for the second time in two months, since the outbreak of the so-called pegasus case. The appointment has not served for more than two things. First and foremost, to announce that there will be a summit “as soon as possible” between Pedro Sanchez Y Pere Aragones. This appointment will take place if the teams of both leaders manage to agree on a date, before August 2when the last Council of Ministers of the course is held.
That meeting will be preamble to a new dialogue table with Catalonia that, without a doubt, is left for after summer. But before that, there will be another meeting between Bolaños and Vilagrà. All very preparatory. as if almost three years of legislature had not already passedTable meetings, bilateral summits, pardons…
And this shows that, far from what the Minister said in her press conference at the Blanquerna Library – headquarters of the Generalitat in Madrid – this meeting with Bolaños it has served to “thaw relations”. Furthermore, it has established calendars and this shows that, although “still no trust”there is a shared will to recover it.
The second piece of news that comes out of the meeting is that the Table for Dialogue, Negotiation and Agreement, so far, has not had a concrete work plan. Because the minister explained that one of the few meeting points with Vilagrà has been to get to work on a methodology for the next meetings of this forum for political dialogue between the two governments.
The truth is that, while the head of the Presidency left satisfied at a press conference in Moncloa, his Catalan counterpart appeared in Blanquerna completely dissatisfied, explaining that “everything is still locked” and that “The explanations of the State Government on Pegasus are not satisfactory”.
Was it the same meeting that you both attended? “Yes,” said Bolaños, smiling. “It is true that there are discrepancies and very distant positionsbut this government is committed to dialogue, especially to deal with discrepancies”.
The truth is that, in view of what Vilagrà said, there is a lot of dialogue ahead, because the confrontation is obvious. Not to mention there was no talk of the return of ERC to the so-called “investiture majority” in Congress. And that is key to the stability of the Government of Pedro Sánchez in the remaining stretch of the legislature, which promises to be very bumpy.
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Even so, Bolaños said that the meeting with the Catalan minister was “cordial, sincere and fruitful.” In it, he said, it has been possible to recover “institutional stabilitythe political dialogue, which was broken, and a new time is opening that looks to the future”. How far away? “For the coming months or years”said the minister cryptically.
Bolaños announced this new “work methodology” for the table with Catalonia as “a framework agreement that establishes a roadmap.” Interestingly, some terms very similar to those used in the resumption of relations with Moroccothree months ago.
But the reality is that the first meeting of the Bureau took place in February 2020. there has been time that it be endowed with a work structure. “It’s about reinforcing it,” Moncloa sources explained after the press conference.
It is true that there has only been one other appointment, in September. And that the one that was scheduled for January was suspended due to the interest of Moncloa, before the elections in Castilla y León. “Now we resume the dialogue for the normalization of relations. We want the reunion with Catalonia and between Catalans. We want to unite what was separated during a time“. Doesn’t all that sound like the reset is a return to the starting point?
Dialogue between Catalans
Bolaños insisted that “We must never return to the situation of tension that existed in Catalonia in 2017” and he repeated, at least twice, that the objective of Moncloa is not only dialogue with Catalonia, but also “between Catalans”.
In one of those times that he named him, the minister made it clear that this had been one of his messages to the Catalan counselor. It is not trivial, for Moncloa (and for the PSC of Salvador Island) this is an essential condition for true “normalization” in the region.
The minister concluded by explaining that, in his opinion, the appointment with Vilagrà could be summed up in three pillars. The first, “the staunch defense of dialogue, negotiation, agreements and trust.” That’s his method, he said: “First talk and then resolve differences”.
The second, that “Catalonia and Spain need political solutions and agreements. Both between their governments and among the Catalan representatives themselves“. This means, he added, that “we need good politics, not judicialize politics.”
And the third, the “full respect for all approaches and political positions“. Bolaños found that these are still “very distant, but in a democracy all ideas are possible and respectable.”
On the issue of lack of trust, which Gabriel Rufian had brought up in the control session of Congress in the morning, Bolaños pulled figures to demonstrate the commitment of the Sánchez Executive with the Autonomous Community. “This year, the rate of investment has increased by 36%”, referring to the State investment in Catalonia. “And the region has received 40% more resources with this president than those he received with Rajoy in Moncloa”.
In fact, the minister recalled that they have already arrived in Catalonia 2,217 million euros from the Recovery Funds and others 1,706 of the ReactEU Plan “to strengthen the welfare state, to improve public services and shield the economy.”
In short, that Moncloa breathed with a certain relief and satisfaction after the two long hours of meeting between the minister and the Catalan counselor. “This is what society is asking for, to find solutions and not make conflicts chronic” with a region that “has some political, economic, social and political challenges that are the same as those of the rest of Spain“.