Amadeu Altafaj, the permanent representative of the Catalan government to the EU, poses for a picture on September 13, 2016 in Brussels. (Photo by AFP)
A Catalan official has called on Brussels to urge the Spanish government to get talks started on Catalonia’s independence.
The EU must apply “gentle, constructive pressure … [on Spain] to find ways to open a political dialog” over the region’s future, Amadeu Altafaj, Catalan’s permanent representative to the European Union, said on Thursday.
Altafaj criticized the Spanish government for "systematically refusing" the right of the Catalan people to determine the political future of their country through dialog. 
He called on Spanish authorities to show "rationality and goodwill" and treat the issue of Catalonia’s independence "without any red lines.”
The national Catalan independence movement supports the independence of Catalonia from Spain.
On January 23, 2013, Catalonia’s parliament approved a declaration of sovereignty signaling a referendum to separate the northern region from Spain.
“In accordance with the will democratically expressed by the majority of the people of Catalonia, the Parliament of Catalonia agrees to initiate the process to exercise the right to decide so that the citizens of Catalonia may decide their collective political future,” the declaration  states. 
People pose with the president of the Catalan regional government, Carles Puigdemont, (C) during a pro-independence demonstration on September 11, 2016, in Barcelona.(Photo by AFP)
However, Catalonia’s independence bid has been met with the Spanish government’s resistance.
In November 2015, Spain’s acting Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy threatened to suspend key political figures in Catalonia who took part in the region's independence movement.
Nevertheless, the region’s President Carles Puigdemont has announced his unshakable determination to press ahead with the region's independence bid.
An independence vote has been scheduled for the summer of 2017.
The resource-rich Catalonia region has a population of 7.5 million people and its own separate language. A part of the region is located in French territory.

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