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Ousted Catalan leader has no plans to request political asylum in Belgium

According to the former Catalan leader, he has come to Brussels "to talk to Europe"

BRUSSELS, October 31. /TASS/. Former Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont has said he does not plan to apply for political asylum in Belgium, where he arrived on October 30.

"I don’t plan to apply for political asylum," Puigdemont said addressing a press conference in Brussels.

According to him, he has come to Brussels "to talk to Europe." "As the legitimate head of Catalonia, I intend to talk to Europe and the world on what is going on in Catalonia," he said. "Madrid is driven not by the pursuit of justice but by revenge," Puigdemont added.

Puigdemont said that the Catalan government tried to use every possible tool to build dialogue with Madrid but after realizing that it was impossible, it had to declare independence.

"On Friday we accepted the fact that dialogue and talks, which we always welcomed as a way out of the crisis, had proved impossible," he said.

"I would like to reiterate that before the referendum [on independence], we remained opened for dialogue, we reached the limit and proposed that we suspend the declaration of independence in return for an honest dialogue," Puigdemont noted, adding that Madrid had rejected the proposal.

The Catalan government relieved of its duties by the government in Madrid agrees with the decision to hold early elections to the autonomous region’s parliament scheduled for December 21, will accept any results of the vote and demands the same from the Spanish authorities, Puigdemont said.

"We accept the elections convened by the Spanish government [on December 21] as a democratic challenge," he said at a news conference in Brussels broadcast live by Catalonia’s 3/24 TV channel.

Puigdemont stressed that the parties supporting Catalonia’s independence, which were part of the Together for Yes ruling coalition in the dissolved parliament, would take part in these elections and agree with any results of the vote. "We will respect the outcome of the elections scheduled for December 21 whatever it is," the politician said.

He noted that, at the same time, Catalan politicians want to hear the same firm commitments from Madrid. "I demand the Spanish government’s clear commitment to honor the results of the December 21 vote, if the forces advocating independence win," Puigdemont said.

Catalonia crisis

On Friday, the Catalan parliament passed a resolution declaring a republic independent of Spain. The Spanish Senate, in turn, approved the government’s request for activating Article 155 of the country’s Constitution, which allows Madrid to suspend Catalonia’s autonomy.

After that, Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy announced the dissolution of the Catalan parliament and dismissed Puigdemont, as well as members of his government. Madrid also called a regional election for December 21. Meanwhile, the Spanish attorney general filed a lawsuit against Puigdemont, citing rebellion, sedition and embezzlement. If found guilty, the former Catalan leader could be sent to jail for 30 years.

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.