Puigdemont doesn’t rule out return to Spain
Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont took his seat as a member of the European Parliament on Monday, despite facing an arrest warrant against him in Spain. Speaking in Strasbourg, he demanded the release from a Spanish jail of another Catalan leader who was elected to the European Parliament, former Catalonia vice president Oriol Junqueras. “What is a threat for Catalan citizens or for Catalan MPs like (former Catalonia vice president) Oriol Junqueras, tomorrow could be a threat for all political dissidents in all of Europe,” Puigdemont said. Puigdemont arrived at parliament with fellow EU legislator and former Catalan minister Toni Comín. The two are wanted in Spain for their role in an illegal 2017 secession bid by the Catalan government and separatist lawmakers. The former Catalan president and new EU legislator is bent on using the parliament as a bully pulpit to continue his political fight for an a independent Catalonia breaking away from Spain. His parliamentary position also gives him immunity, which he said he felt sure would allow him to return to Spain. “I would not rule out going to Spain as I am quite sure that Spain will act a fully-fledges member of the European Union,” he said. Puigdemont’s ability to have such exposure at the heart of the European Union to decry such issues as imprisonment in Spain is somewhat of a blow to the central authorities in Madrid, who have steadfastly sought to blunt the drive to give the wealthy northeastern region independence.