Quim Torra was speaking alongside former President Carles Puigdemont who has returned to Belgium after being detained in Germany.

The new Spanish government must show its commitment to resolving the Catalan issue through actions, not just words, the region’s president Quim Torra said.

Torra said that he had begun a dialogue with Spanish Prime minister Pedro Sánchez earlier this month, but that the Spanish government needed to show more commitment to resolving the issue politically.

The president was speaking a press conference in Brussels flanked by the region’s former leader Carles Puigdemont who has returned to Belgium after spending a month in custody in Germany where he was detained under a European arrest warrant but subsequently released.

Puigdemont stepped up his criticism of the EU over Catalonia’s bid for independence and the referendum last October which was marred by criticism of heavy-handed policing of the vote. He said he was disappointed with the response from EU leaders.

“I was very disappointed by the reaction of [Commission President Jean-Claude] Juncker and other European leaders not because of their opinions about an independent Catalonia, but for their silence about that kind of violation of fundamental rights in part of the European Union,” the exiled politician said.

“I’m sure the point of view of the majority of European society about our problem or demands are clearly in favour of the fundamental values of democracy,” he added.

Torra told journalists it was a positive step that talks had begun with Madrid. “The idea is that we started a dialogue and imagine how far we have come. That is new,” said the Catalan president. “We think that in the 21st century that if you agree this is a political issue that should be solved politically then the only way to solve that is voting.”

He added that it is now up to the Spanish government to demonstrate its commitment to a dialogue with the Catalan government through action, not only words.

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