27 Oct 2017 21:43

Spain's "game of nerves" begins with unpredictable outcome, use-of-force scenario possible - Kosachyov

MOSCOW. Oct 27 (Interfax) - Developments around Catalonia could lead to a use of force, so the parties have no choice but to negotiate, according to Konstantin Kosachyov, head of the Federation Council Foreign Affairs Committee.

"Apparently a game of nerves has begun, with an unpredictable outcome, including a possible return to use-of-force scenarios. One would think that both sides made mistakes, and now their readiness to negotiate is significantly lower that it was just a week or so ago when the conditions were right for reaching agreement," Kosachyov wrote on his Facebook page.

"There is no option but to negotiate," he said.

The declaration of independence by the Catalonian parliament is, most likely, no more than a continuation of the game of upping the stakes between Madrid and Barcelona, the Russian senator said.

"From the formal standpoint, the parties are acting within their current mandates: the Catalonian parliament considers the independence referendum as such; the Spanish senate feels equally obligated to comply with Article 155 of the Spanish Constitution, regarding the country's territorial integrity, which involves cases where one of the country's 17 autonomous regions "is not fulfilling its constitutional obligations and damages the interests of the state," Kosachyov said.

Back on October 21, the Spanish government resolved to strip Catalonian government of its powers, and this resolution could take effect on October 28, he said.

"Senators voted for parliamentary elections to be held in Catalonia over the next six months, but the Catalonian leader [Carles] Puigdemont called these decisions demeaning for Catalonians, and rejected elections citing the absence of guarantees from Madrid that there would be no direct rule over Catalonia from the Spanish capital," Kosachyov said.

Puigdemont and his parliament are being pressured by the "street" and the referendum results; Madrid, by its constitutional duty, he said.

"Again, two principles of international law have collided: the sovereignty and the right of nations to self-determination, and here the world has never worked out a common approach, and Kosovo-like precedents only stimulate such activity," Kosachyov said.

Earlier on Friday, the Catalonian parliament voted for independence from Spain.

Spain's Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy urged Spanish citizens to remain calm. He took to Twitter to vow that "the power of law will restore law and order in Catalonia," and called an emergency Cabinet meeting.

For its part, the Spanish senate voted to trigger Article 155 of the Constitution, allowing Madrid to introduce direct rule over Catalonia.

The Spanish government's decision to trigger Article 155 was made at an emergency meeting on October 21. The government needed senate approval for the article to apply.

Under this article, the entire government of Catalonia could be removed from power, and the governing powers in this autonomous region of Spain will be exercised by a Madrid-appointed representative until Catalonia holds early parliamentary elections.