The vice president of the north west region of the Iberian country Oriol Junqueras made the declaration during a conference with economist and Columbia University professor Xavier Sala i Martin.
Mr Junqueras insisted that calling a referendum on Catalonia’s independence is one of the government’s main commitments and will honour it.
He said that the option of unilaterally declaring independence if the referendum is not allowed “is officially stated in the electoral programme, which is public, and has been explained openly, and represented graphically”.
Supporters of Catalan independence protest in Barcelona
According to Mr Martin, if the Spanish state blocks the referendum “using the police or by whatever means” Catalonia will have “the right” to act unilaterally and declare independence on the following day, according to the electoral mandate emerged from the elections on May 27, which led to a pro-independence majority in the Parliament.
Mr Junqueras agreed, explaining that this was indeed part of Junts Pel Sí's (Together for Yes, Catalonia’s independence coalition) official electoral programme.
Mr Junqueras added: “We are in favour of honouring our commitments.”
Oriol Junqueras (L) with Catalan President Carles Puigdemont
However he added that their first goal was to hold a referendum.
He said: “We are convinced that we will vote, that we will win, and that the Spanish State will try to reach an agreement since it is in its own interest to negotiate.”
He added: “Holding and winning the referendum will be our strongest leverage for all the negotiations that follow.”
Las Fallas Festival in pictures
Mon, March 20, 2017
Fireworks and the burning of colourful puppet-like sculptures wrapped up Valencia's Fallas festival on Sunday night after nearly week-long festivities in the Spanish Mediterranean city
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A ninot representing US President Donald Trump burns on the last night of the Fallas Festival in Valencia, Spain
The Catalan National Assembly (ANC), the grassroots association responsible for the main pro-independence mobilisations in Catalonia over the last five years, said it was unlikely that independence would be declared unilaterally without calling a referendum.
However, if the Spanish state blocks the vote “through force” this scenario can’t be dismissed.
The ANC’s President Jordi Sànchez said: “Our commitment is to prepare, call, and carry out a referendum but it's possible that the Spanish State might try to stop the aspirations of the majority of Catalans.”
Catalan independence supporters, including Artur Mas (C)
He said that Mr Junqueras’ statement “makes perfect sense”.
He announced that this possibility will be debated in ANC’s next general assembly, to take place on the 29th of April.
Mr Sànchez insisted on the ANC’s commitment to the pro-independence roadmap and called for those who are in favour of independence to come together and reinforce those common points rather than focusing on petty rivalries.
Catalan News Agency
Catalan Vice President Oriol Junqueras
The Spanish minister for foreign affairs, Alfonso Dastis, briefly commented on Mr Junqueras’ statement, before attending an event in Barcelona.
He said: "I don't see Mr Junqueras unilaterally declaring Catalonia's independence. That’s ridiculous."
Independence supporters in Barcelona
The independence movement was given a boost today when an All-Party Parliamentary Group in Westminster set up to look at the question of Catalonian independence debated the issue.
SNP MP George Kerevan said: “There is only one democratic solution and it is to let the people vote.”
He also criticised Madrid for banning the democratically-elected Artur Mas from holding political office.