Mattarella on Catalonia (4)

Head of State calls for dialogue

(ANSA) - Cagliari, October 2 - Italian President Sergio Mattarella called for dialogue on Monday, commenting on the violence that ensued Sunday as Catalonia sought to hold an independence referendum that the central government in Madrid opposed. "In all of Europe in recent days, yesterday in particular, we saw once again that, when confrontation and the intensification of positions prevail, positive solutions move further away," the head of State said during a visit to the Sardinia city of Cagliari. "Any positive position becomes more difficult and culture can provide support for dialogue and discussion that makes it possible to reach shared solutions".
    The European Union has made a "tragic error" by allegedly washing its hands of the Catalonia referendum issue, Lombardy Governor Roberto Maroni said Monday.
    "The EU is acting like Pontius Pilate and trying to ignore a very important issue," said Maroni, a leading member of the once-secessionist Northern League.
    Maroni said the League's October 22 illegal informal consultative referendum on the independence of Lombardy and the neighbouring Veneto region would be a "very different matter indeed".
    After abandoning secessionist platform, the League under young leader Matteo Salvini has successful shifted to an anti-euro, anti-migrant 'patriotic' and sovereignty-linked stance which is increasingly wooing supporters all across Italy, including the poorer south which had been traditionally hostile to the League's message.
    Earlier Monday, European Union spokesman Margaritis Schinas said "violence can never be an instrument in politics", talking about Catalonia. Schinas stressed the confidence of European institutions in the leadership of Spanish Premier Mariano Rajoy to manage the process, calling for a solution of the issue "in the full respect of the Spanish Constitution and fundamental human rights".
    He refused to elaborate on the statement after reporters repeatedly asked for a clarification and whether the statement implied that the European Commission condemned violence in the aftermath of clashes during Catalonia's controversial independence referendum.
    After several requests for an outright 'condemnation', the spokesman said he left it to the "interpretation of journalists".
    Italian Premier Paolo Gentiloni, for his part, urged dialogue and respect for the law on the Catalonia referendum. Speaking at an Italo-Spanish forum in Rome, he said "in total respect for the laws, of the rule by law and Spanish unitary Constitution, I hope there is a chance for dialogue, that a spiral of violence is averted and space be given to politics for a solution of the problems". On the one hand, he said, Europe must see itself in the Spanish Constitution and on the other, it must foster a search for political solutions, "as friends do".