|A protester waves a Spanish flag as a taxi drives past, during a demonstration defending a united Spain on October 4 in Barcelona. Catalonia could declare independence on October 9, as a crisis escalates between Madrid and separatist leaders over an illegal independence referendum. - AFP/VNA PHOTO|Viet Nam News
BARCELONA — Spain’s government defiantly rejected calls for mediation Wednesday over Catalonia’s push for independence, which the country’s king warned was endangering national stability.
As the European Union urged dialogue to ease the standoff between separatists in the northeastern region and Madrid, Catalan leaders said they could unilaterally declare independence as early as October 9.
The tone of the crisis sharpened with Catalonia’s president denouncing the king’s intervention and Spain’s government rejecting any possible talks.
"The government will not negotiate over anything illegal and will not accept blackmail," said a statement from Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s office.
The dispute is Spain’s worst political crisis in decades and images of police beating unarmed Catalans taking part in Sunday’s banned independence vote sparked global concern.
Catalonia’s president Carles Puigdemont called the central government’s policies "disastrous" as the region’s leaders pushed on with its bid to break away from Spain, angering Madrid and raising the risk of further unrest.
Spain’s key IBEX 35 stock index plunged by more than three percent Wednesday in the ongoing turbulence, with some big Catalan banks down more than 5 per cent.
"Political risk is back on the agenda in Europe," NFS Macro analyst Nick Stamenkovic said. — AFP