Puigdemont arrived in Geneva on the weekend to attend a human rights film festival. The Swiss authorities said that Bern would not prevent the politician from visiting the country despite his active Spanish arrest warrant.
"I would respond with great pleasure to any proposals for dialogue or attempts to create a space for discussion. The current conflict can be resolved only this way, rather than a prison term of 25 or 30 years, expulsion or humiliation… My return would be good news for democracy. It would become a symptom of the normalization of politics," Puigdemont told Le Temps newspaper in an interview.
The politician noted that he did not consider himself to be the former head of Catalonia, and even appealed to the authorities of Spain to allow the Catalan parliament to elect the head of the government. Madrid has, however, hindered this in every possible way.
Spanish authorities have opened a criminal case against about 30 Catalan politicians and officials and arrested four of them. Puigdemont, as well as several advisers of the dissolved Catalan government, fled Spain before the trial.
Their trials are connected with the independence vote Catalonia held on October 1, the results of which Madrid does not recognize. On October 27, the Catalan parliament adopted a declaration of independence, but the Spanish Senate swiftly approved the imposition of Madrid's direct governance over Catalonia. The regional parliament and the government were dissolved, and a snap election was held on December 21.