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Europe’s supporting separatism in some states triggered Catalan events — Putin

Putin reiterated that Russia sees the situation around Catalonia an internal affair of Spain

SOCHI, October 19./TASS/. Support by Europe for the break-up of some countries and Kosovo’s separation triggered a growth in separatist tendencies which has resulted in the situation with Catalonia, Russian President Vladimir Putin told a session of the Valdai International Discussion Club.

"In the situation with Catalonia, we have seen unanimous condemnation of independence supporters by the European Union and a number of other states. You know, I cannot but note in this connection - you should have thought about it earlier," Putin stressed.

"Why, was everybody unaware of contradictions inside Europe itself lingering for centuries? They knew it, right? Yes, they knew it," Putin stressed.

He noted that in due time, Europe practically welcomed the break-up of a number of states on the continent "without concealing its joy over that".

"Why should they have acted so thoughtlessly, proceeding from the political situation and a bid to please Big Brother from Washington, I’ll put it baldly, to unequivocally support Kosovo’s separation and thus to trigger similar processes in other regions of Europe, and in the world?" Putin asked.

At the same time, when Crimea declared its independence and then became part of Russia following a referendum, this was condemned. "And now, here you are - we have Catalonia and Kurdistan in one more region," the president went on. "This list is may be far from complete, and the question emerges then - what are we going to do and what will be our reaction to this?" he asked.

Some foreign colleagues believe "there are right fighters for independence and freedom, but also there are separatists who cannot defend their rights even with the help of democratic mechanisms," he summed up. "Such double standards are fraught with serious danger for a stable development of Europe and other continents, for the development of integration processes in the world," he stated.

Russian position on Catalonia

Putin reiterated that Russia sees the situation around Catalonia an internal affair of Spain. "All that is going on is an internal affair of Spain and must be settled within the framework of Spanish legislation in line with democratic traditions. We know that the country’s leadership is making steps in this direction," he 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 October 10, Catalan president Carles Puigdemont said that his government would not step away from its obligations to implement the Catalan referendum law, which formally stipulates a unilateral declaration of independence from Spain. At the same time, he pointed out that Barcelona expected reasonable dialogue with Madrid, and suspended the formal process of declaring independence. After that, Puigdemont and other Catalan leaders signed a document on declaring the region’s independence from Spain but it has not taken effect yet.

On Thursday, 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.