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Catalonia Puidgemont says Swiss model may offer alternative to independence

A picture of Charles Puigdemont

Puigdemont has been living in Belgium since last October and said he will not seek asylum in Switzerland.


Independence is not the only solution for solving the ongoing crisis between Catalonia and Spain, according to Carles Puigdemont, the ousted Catalan leader. The Swiss federal system is “perhaps the most attractive model” for the Spanish region, he told an audience in Geneva on Sunday.

Puigdemont attended the International Film Festival and Forum on Human Rights in the western Swiss city on Sunday evening to take part in a debate on self-determination, which was attended by 900 people.

The Catalan people’s wish for independence, which they expressed in a referendum last October, needed to be respected, he told the audience. But he added that other solutions could be possible, including the Swiss model, which was “perhaps the most effective and attractive” alternative for the region.

The ousted leader also commended Switzerland’s expertise in conflict mediation and said that all possibilities for resolving the ongoing crisis were welcome.

Puigdemont had been invited by the festival organisers. Meanwhile, the Geneva cantonal government had distanced itself from the visit.

No asylum in Switzerland

Puigdemont has been living in Belgium since last October but he says he is ready to go to prison if Belgium decides to extradite him. He will return to Belgium on Wednesday and “will not seek asylum in Switzerland”, he said. 

Former Federal Councillor Micheline Calmy-Rey also took part in the Geneva debate. She regretted that the European Union was not doing more to resolve the Catalan crisis and had not called for dialogue between the two parties.

Catalonia’s secession from Spain would not be a solution, declared Calmy-Rey, who works as a professor at Geneva University. Instead, a far-reaching autonomy should be granted to the region, she added.


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