Uncertainty ahead as Catalonia’s parliament declared independence from Spain on Friday, a historic vote that set the breakaway region on a collision course with the central government and courted international isolation.
As Reaction from world governments slowly trickles in, officials in Britain, Germany and the U.S. have quickly announced their support of a unified Spain.
“Catalonia is an integral part of Spain, and the United States supports the Spanish government’s constitutional rights to keep Spain strong and united,” said State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert.
Spain’s prime minister pleaded for calm and vowed to “restore legality”.”I ask all Spaniards to remain calm. The rule of law will restore legality in Catalonia,”
German Chancellor Angela Merkel and British Prime Minister Theresa May both expressed their opposition to the independence of the region that includes Barcelona.
The world leaders were joined later by the head of the European Union’s legislature, who blasted the Catalonia vote as “a breach of the rule of law.”
The Spanish Senate wasted no time in giving its Madrid-based central government new powers allowing authorities to seize control of Catalonia.
Spain’s top prosecutor also intends to seek charges of rebellion against those responsible for the decision.
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“We have won the freedom to build a new country,” said Catalonia regional vice president Oriol Junqueras.
Pro-independence Catalans packed the Barcelona central square to celebrate the birth of their new republic.
With tensions running high, calls came quickly for a diplomatic resolution to the situation.
“I hope the Spanish government favors force of argument, not argument of force,” tweeted European Council President Donald Tusk.
Catalan President Charles Puigdemont urged citizens of the region to remain peaceful when the expected Spanish backlash comes against the independence movement.
“In the days ahead, we must keep to our values of pacifism and dignity,” the president announced. “It is in our, it is in your hands to build the republic.”
The crowd had earlier cheered Puigdemont’s announcement of the vote for independence, joyfully singing the Catalan anthem “The Reapers.”
Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy urged all Spaniards “to remain calm. The rule of law will restore legality to Catalonia.”