Spain’s Foreign Minister hails European Parliament’s decision

Barcelona, March 9 (AFP/APP): Spain’s foreign minister on Tuesday hailed the European Parliament’s decision to lift the immunity of three wanted Catalan MEPs, although the reaction was mixed on the streets of Catalonia.

The decision relates to former regional president Carles Puigdemont and two others who are wanted by Madrid over their role in the failed Catalan independence bid of 2017 which triggered Spain’s worst political crisis in decades. But the news sparked mixed reactions in Catalonia, the wealthy northeastern region which has long been divided over the thorny question of whether or not it should separate from Spain.

For the Spanish government, it was welcome news after several years of seeking their extradition, with Foreign Minister Arancha Gonzalez Laya saying the decision sent “a very clear signal that the problems of Catalonia will not be solved in Europe or by Europe”. “They have to be solved in Spain but (by) bringing all Catalan forces around the table,” she said in a statement in English. Puigdemont fled Spain for Belgium in late 2017 to escape prosecution following the failed secession bid.

He is wanted on sedition charges. The other two are the former Catalan health and education ministers, Clara Ponsati and Toni Comin, who are also wanted on sedition charges over the organisation of a banned October referendum on independence. Comin is also living in Belgium while Ponsati is based in Scotland.

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