France and Germany Pressures Catalonia to Drop Independence Declaration

Полиция Испании подсчитала точное число присутствующих на митинге в Барселоне

Полиция Испании подсчитала точное число присутствующих на митинге в Барселоне

Secession-minded authorities in Catalonia have vowed to break away from Spain after claiming a pro-independence victory in a disputed referendum earlier this month.

"We have left the door open to mediation and we have said yes to so many mediation options that have been proposed", he told Catalan television channel TV3.

Madrid had also made it clear that they will respond immediately should Catalonia announce any unilateral declaration. "We have perhaps been silent too long", Alejandro Marcos, 44, told AFP.

Around 350,000 people attended, municipal police said, while organisers put turnout at between 930,000 and 950,000.

Spain's national government made it easier for firms to relocate on Friday, passing a law that removes some of the red tape required to shift a company's legal home.

Others called for dialogue.

Separatist leaders have warned that such a move would fuel support for independence.

Madrid has expressed concerns that the regional parliament may vote for a unilateral independence from Spain.

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Spain's Minister of Public Works, Inigo de la Serna, said in an interview in a local radio station that these moves are just "a first step of what could repeatedly happen" if there is a unilateral declaration of independence. "I would like this threat of a declaration of independence to be withdrawn as quickly as possible".

According to the Catalan government, a majority of those who took part in the illegal referendum voted for the separation of the region from Spain. But uncertainty still stalks the country as Catalan leaders have not backed off from plans to declare the region independent.

"Any attempt by the state to entirely disempower the regional government and regional parliament will probably be met by mass mobilizations and more unrest", wrote Federico Santi, an analyst at consultancy Eurasia Group.

But Rajoy assured Catalan leaders that there "is still time" to backtrack and avoid the imposition of direct rule from Madrid.

Catalonia, a northeastern region in Spain, has its own language and cultural traditions.

Catalonia accounts for almost a fifth of Spain's economy, and leads all regions in producing 25% of the country's exports, CNNMoney reports.

Spanish police violently cracked down on the referendum, using batons, shields and rubber bullets against peaceful voters and protesters.

"Escalation will not benefit anyone", she said, urging both sides to begin dialogue with each other and for Rajoy to "be responsible and listen to the people", and to roll back the police force that was dispatched to the region ahead of the vote. "I have worked my whole life to lift Catalonia up".

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