MADRID, September 19 (RIA Novosti) – The leader of the Spanish region of Catalonia Artur Mas said Friday that the Scottish referendum on September 18 taught a lesson to other regions of the world in how to resolve their independence claims.
"[Catalonia] was encouraged by the UK's lesson in democracy," Mas said, adding that Catalonia will continue its course toward sovereignty.
"I was not upset by the results [of the Scottish referendum]. It is the choice the of the Scottish people. They chose political integrity. If a Yes vote had prevailed, the whole world would have recognized the results. What happened in Scotland is not a step back for Catalonia, because Catalonia really wants to vote," Mas said at a press conference in Barcelona.
"Voting brings together, rather than drives apart," he said, emphasizing that prohibiting the November 9 referendum in Catalonia would be a mistake, as Madrid has stated that the referendum in one of the country's regions contradicts the constitution.
"Madrid needs to understand that blocking a public referendum in Catalonia will not work. The only solution would be to hold negotiations and discuss the referendum," the Catalan president said.
"It is hurtful for the Spanish government to be compared to the British one that allowed the referendum. I would have more respect for Spanish authorities if they campaigned against [Catalan independence during a referendum]," he said.
A referendum on the Spanish region's independence has been set for November 9. Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy and the Constitutional Court of Spain have repeatedly stressed that they would not recognize the results of the vote, which they consider illegal.
Mas has expressed his determination to go ahead with the referendum, regardless of what the Spanish government may do to hamper it. Should the Spanish authorities attempt to hinder the referendum, Mas is ready to call new elections by 2016 at the latest, which will become a referendum on independence.
Earlier on Friday, the Catalan parliament approved a bill on referendums, which, according to local authorities, would pave the way for conducting public surveys without Madrid's consent. The Rajoy government has already announced it would appeal the motion.