Catalan President Carles Puigdemont started his address in the parliament today after an hour's delay, by talking about the referendum on October 1.
"We are living an exceptional moment, a historic moment," Puigdemont said. "The consequences and effects go well beyond our country. It goes beyond a domestic affair...Catalonia is a European affair."
Puigdemont called for calm, and spoke directly to those who demonstrated demanding dialogue. He said that his speech would not include threats, blackmail, or insults, but a way forward for peace and democracy. "In those things that we agree and disagree, we are all one people," Puigdemont said.
He spoke about the integrity of the referendum, thanking those who helped ensure the vote went ahead, and condemning the violence which marred it. "The government of Catalonia will not move away from the commitment of democracy, tolerance, respect, and the will for dialogue," Puigdemont said. "I will always take into account the 7.5 million citizens of Catalonia."
The Catalan President said the referendum was “the first time in [the] history of democracy in Europe” that an election had witnessed such a level of police violence. “We all saw it. The world saw it. And everyone was terrified by the images,” he said.
Puigdemont then switched from Catalan to Spanish to announce that Catalonia had won the right to independence. "Catalonia has earned the right to be an independent state and the right to be heard," Puigdemont said. "The ballots boxes said yes to independence, and this is the only language we understand. I assume the mandate for Catalonia to become an independent State in the form of a republic," he added, to a lengthy round of applause from the chamber.
Puigdemont said any declaration of independence would be suspended until a solution could be agreed. No definite date was given, but he called for several weeks of dialogue.