SOCHI, October 20. /TASS/. The Catalonia crisis threatens not only the territorial integrity of Spain but also the EU’s foundations, Chairman of the Russian State Duma (lower house of parliament) Committee for Foreign Affairs Leonid Slutsky told TASS on the sidelines of the World Festival of Youth and Students in Sochi.
"It is clear that the situation in Catalonia threatens not only the territorial integrity of Spain but also many positions of the European Union, which are considered to be its foundations," he said. According to the senior Russian lawmaker, many may try to claim independence now. "We can mention Belgium’s Flemish Region and Wallonia, as well as a number of other regions that pursued their right to self-determination over the past century," Slutsky noted.
According to him, the situation surrounding Catalonia is very challenging.
"I would like to refrain from making assessments and extrapolations, but I would also like to wish the brave residents of the region that they find a peaceful solution to the problem," Slutsky added.
On October 1, Catalonia held a referendum on seceding from Spain. A total of 90.18% of the voters, or more than two million people, said "yes" to Catalonia’s independence. Madrid said the referendum was illegal and refused to recognize its results.
On Thursday, Catalan president Carles Puigdemont sent a message to Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy threatening to hold a vote on independence in the regional parliament in case Madrid does not agree to dialogue. In response, the Spanish government said that it was activating Article 155 of the country’s Constitution, which allows Madrid to suspend Catalonia's autonomy.
Russia is hosting the 19th World Festival of Youth and Students on October 14-22. The Festival’s main events are being held in Sochi on October 15-22. The festival involves around 25,000 young people, including members of public organizations, teachers and politicians. Apart from Sochi, foreign participants will also visit 15 Russian regions.
TASS news agency is the general information partner and the official photohost agency of the festival.