The head of Geneva’s cantonal government has distanced himself from the visit of ousted Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont, who arrived in the city of Geneva this weekend.
Cantonal president François Longchamp said Puigdemont had been invited by a private film festival and so “the canton has nothing to do with it and takes no responsibility for his visit”, reports the NZZ am Sonntag newspaper.
Puigdemont is in Geneva mainly for the International Film Festival and Forum on Human Rightsexternal link. He fled Spain last November to avoid arrest by the Spanish authorities following a unilateral declaration of independence by the Catalan parliament. Currently he is living in Brussels.
Spanish authorities said on March 15 they were examining whether he could be arrested and extradited during the Geneva visit.
Longchamp said Puigdemont had no official function. “Switzerland’s and Geneva International’s only partner for dialogue is Spain,” he said, “not the representative of a separatist movement.”
“Of course he can speak his mind while he is here in Geneva,” the newspaper quotes Longchamp as saying. “Freedom of expression is one of the most important human rights.”
Longchamp also says that by visiting the Swiss city Puigdemont wants to “use Geneva’s reputation as the capital of human rights and diplomacy to give his cause an international touch”.