- Carles Puigdemont appeared on Russian state TV on Thursday.
- He was on “The Alex Salmond Show,” hosted by the former First Minister of Scotland.
- He described an abstract force “calling me” to “build a new society.”
- Spain officially cancelled Catalonia’s declaration of independence last week.
Catalonia’s deposed president has credited an unknown force for encouraging him to “build a new society” by declaring independence – an effort that has ultimately plunged Spanish politics into crisis.
Carles Puigdemont gave the interview in a segment on RT, a TV channel funded by Russia, as the first major guest of Alex Salmond, the former First Minister of Scotland and a noted separatist himself.
Puigdemont said that when he was about 13 years old he felt the world “calling me” to make a political difference, a call which ultimately ended in his leading Catalonia to thus-far unsuccessful attempt to secede from Spain.
Appearing on “The Alex Salmond Show”, Puigdemont, who was born under Spain’s authoritarian General Franco, said: “After Franco’s death [in 1975], there was a huge democratic movement.
“I felt that that the world that started at this moment, it’s calling me. It’s something about me and my future. I was engaged to build a new society.”
Watch Puigdemont’s interview, which starts around 14 minutes into the video below:
In Thursday’s interview, Puigdemont also said Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy opposed Catalan independence because he viewed Spanish unity “like a religion.”
He said: “The mentality of the Spanish State, particularly from Mr Rajoy, looks at the unity of Spain like a religion. It is not a political matter, it is a spiritual or religion question about faith.
“So, there is an incapability, an intellectual incapacity, to admitthe possibility, the real possibility, that Spain could bedifferent in future.”
In the interview, Salmond referred to Puigdemont as the “president of a country” and to Catalonia as a “brave new republic,” despite the fact that Catalonia is now being run directly by the Madrid government.
The former First Minister, who organised Scotland’s failed independence bid in 2014, told Business Insider last week that he started the show because “I know how to get people comfortable and once you get people comfortable they’ll have something very interesting to tell you.”
The UK political establishment has largely shunned Salmond since RT’s involvement in his show became clear.
- Yves Herman/Reuters
Hours after Catalonia issued a unilateral declaration of independence last month, Spain dissolved the Catalan parliament, fired Puigdemont and his deputies, and called fresh elections in December, using constitutional powers which allow Madrid to take back control from the autonomous region.
Shortly after that, Puigdemont fled to Brussels, where he said he where he said he would run the Catalan government “in exile.” (His interview with Salmond was “filmed in a secret location in Brussels,” according to an Alex Salmond Show press release sent to BI.)
Meanwhile, Spain’s two highest courts overruled Catalonia’s declaration of independence and remanded into custody eight senior members of the Catalan government earlier this month. The ministers face charges including rebellion, sedition, and embezzlement.
Carme Forcadell, the speaker of the Catalan parliament – who counted the votes to declare independence – also told the Spanish Supreme Court last week that the parliament’s vote for declaration was “declarative and symbolic,” and “did not have judicial validity,” The Times newspaper reported.
Puigdemont, however, appeared unnerved by these recent developments.
He told Salmond: “Did you see the march in Barcelona last week? Full of people demanding freedom. No one demands freedom for criminals. We are not criminals.”