President Trump urged Spain to stay united on Tuesday ahead of a vote in Catalonia over whether the province should declare independence.
Speaking at a Rose Garden press conference with Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, Trump took a position on the biggest political matter in Spain at the moment.
“I can say, speaking only for myself, I would like to see Spain continue to be united,” Trump said, noting that the issue has been “unfolding for centuries.”
“I think the people of Catalonia have been talking about this for a long time. I bet you, if you had accurate numbers and accurate polling, you would find they love their country,” Trump said.
“They love Spain. And they wouldn't leave. So I'm for a united Spain. I speak as the president of the United States, as somebody that has great respect for your president, and also has great, really great respect for your country. I really think the people of Catalonia would stay with Spain. I think it would be foolish not to. You're talking about staying with a truly great, beautiful and very historic country.”
The Spanish government has said the vote — which is scheduled for Sunday — is illegal and the outcome would be nonbinding. Still, if it achieved majority support it could provoke the Catalonian government to unilaterally declare independence, which would create a political crisis in Spain.
Rajoy on Tuesday sought to cast doubt on the outcome, saying there are no ballots or people manning the polling stations.
“It is just crazy,” he said. “All this will lead to is noise. But certainly, there can be a valid democratic referendum with guarantees, with minimum guarantees. I think what would make sense in a situation such as this is to go back to common sense and put an end to this whole story. The only thing it's doing is generating division, tensions, and it is not contributing in any way to the citizen’s situation. I want this to be resolved as soon as possible. And I want this to go into a new stage where the rule of law and common sense prevail.”