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    Catalonia's President Artur Mas attends a conference in Barcelona, assessing the situation after a symbolic vote on the region's independence from Spain, November 25, 2014

    Catalan Head Praises King's Mentioning of Region in Christmas Speech

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    Catalan President Artur Mas stated Thursday that the mentioning of Catalonia independence issue in Felipe VI's Christmas address to the nation could become the first step toward efforts to resolve it.

    MADRID, December 25 (Sputnik) – The Christmas speech by Spanish King Felipe VI, where he mentioned Catalonia, could become the first step toward efforts to resolve the Catalan issue, Catalan President Artur Mas said Thursday.

    In his Christmas address to the nation Felipe VI touched upon the subject of Catalonia's quest for independence. He emphasized the necessity of understanding and respecting differences between the nations living in Spain, as well as upholding the country's constitution, which is a guarantee of free and peaceful coexistence.

    "There is a problem between Catalonia and the Spanish government, not so much between Catalonia and Spain. The acknowledgment of this problem is the first condition needed to try to solve it, which means giving Catalonia with the respect it deserves," Mas was quoted as saying by the El Pais newspaper.

    He went on to say that at first the Spanish authorities did not take the region's move to gain independence seriously, but the mention of Catalonia in the Spanish King's speech signified that the government acknowledged the existence of the issue with the region.

    "No one should be forced to live in a way the way they don't want to. The day when it is understood and when Catalonia's right for a free and democratic choice is respected will be the day when the nations will have respect for each other, which they need. This day has not yet come," the Catalan leader said.

    On November 9, Catalonia held an independence vote, which resulted in more than 80 percent of voters speaking in favor of the region's full independence. More than 2.3 million people out of 5.4 million eligible voters cast their vote in the poll.

    The Spanish government dismissed the vote as unconstitutional, filing complaints with the country's Constitutional Court.

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    independence, independence referendum, Artur Mas, Felipe VI, Catalonia, Spain
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