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EU reiterates its remark calling Catalan referendum as not legal

EU REITERATES ITS REMARK CALLING CATALAN REFERENDUM AS NOT LEGAL

European Commission has described Catalan referendum in Spain as not legal via an official statement which says that violence can never be an instrument in politics", and adding that it fully trusts the leadership of Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy to manage this difficult situation.

Sunday's independence referendum in Catalonia, marked by police violence and civil disobedience, was not legal, said an official statement from the European Commission on Monday.

Despite the chaos, 2.26 million ballots were counted Sunday and of those, 90 percent were cast in favor of an independent Catalan Republic, according to the Catalan government. The total population of Catalonia is around 7.5 million.

After the vote, Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont appealed to the international community for recognition.

"The citizens of Catalonia have won the right to an independent state," he said in a televised address on Sunday night, insinuating a unilateral declaration of independence could be soon to come.

Yet, despite his appeals and the images of police violence, the European Commission appears to have taken the Spanish government's side.

While the Commission said "violence can never be an instrument in politics", it added that it fully trusts the leadership of Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy "to manage this difficult situation".

"The EU Commission must encourage international mediation. It cannot look the other way any longer," said Puigdemont in a news conference Monday in response to the commission's statement. He also demanded the withdrawal of Spanish police forces deployed in Catalonia.

During the vote, in which anti-riot police stormed several voting centers to stop the independence referendum, more than 800 were injured and hundreds of voting centers were forcibly closed, according to the Catalan government.

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The referendum had been suspended by Spain's constitutional court and Spain's central government had warned Catalan leaders and voters of consequences for disobeying the law.

Several international political leaders reacted strongly to images of police repression that began circulating in the media on Sunday.

Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the Labour Party in the U.K., criticized Spain's actions on Twitter Sunday while Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon wrote they were "wrong and damaging".

"Police violence against the citizens in #Catalonia is shocking. The Spanish government must act to end it now," wrote Corbyn.

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein said: "I am very disturbed by the violence in Catalonia on Sunday... I firmly believe that the current situation should be resolved through political dialogue, with full respect for human freedoms."

Germany has urged Spanish and Catalan authorities on Monday to engage in an urgent dialogue to find a politically sustainable solution to the crisis.

"The images that arrived from Spain yesterday show how important it is now to break the spiral of escalation," German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel said in a written statement.

"It is important to remain calm and act in accordance with the principles of rule of law and the Spanish Constitution," he said.

The European Commission is also calling for dialogue, but with the rift between the governments in Madrid and Barcelona at historic levels, neither looks ready to negotiate.

"There has been no contact with the Spanish government. This is regretful. We have a political problem, not one for police," said Puigdemont on Monday.

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