COPENHAGEN, Denmark — Former Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont said Tuesday that he is working to return home to be re-elected as the regional president, but stopped short of saying when and how.
Puigdemont, who faces almost-certain arrest if he returns to Spain’s Catalonia region, spoke after meeting a small group of lawmakers at the Danish Parliament.
“My return (to) Barcelona will not be only good news for Catalan people who support our cause but also for Spanish people and for Spanish democracy,” Puigdemont told reporters after the hour-long meeting.
“It is my goal. I’m working for that. I’m working for that. I’m working to be there,” he added.
Puigdemont has the backing of a slim majority of Catalan lawmakers to be reinstalled as the region’s president, although his re-election faces legal challenges and a fierce political opposition. He is expected to meet Wednesday in Brussels with the president of the Catalan parliament, Roger Torrent.
Puigdemont said he aims to discuss “how we can start this path in order to restore the democratic situation.”
Puigdemont’s trip to Denmark, which started Monday, comes nearly three months after he was removed from office and fled to Belgium. A warrant for his arrest remains open in Spain, but a judge in Spain rejected a Spanish prosecutor’s request to have him arrested in the Scandinavian country.
Spanish authorities are investigating him and other Catalan officials for possible rebellion and sedition charges related to the regional parliament’s Oct. 27 declaration of independence.
Spain’s interior minister said Tuesday that surveillance will be stepped up to ensure that Puigdemont can’t re-enter the country undetected.
Asked whether the government feared Puigdemont re-emerging in the regional parliament later this month, Spanish Interior Minister Juan Ignacio Zoido said: “We are very worried, because we don’t know what a person with this behavior might do.”
Zoido told broadcaster Antena 3 that security forces face a difficult challenge given the many possible ways to enter Catalonia. “We are analyzing all the possibilities,” he said. “We are going to make sure that he can’t even enter in the trunk of a car.”
Puigdemont was welcomed to the Danish Parliament by a Faeroese lawmaker who had invited him for the unofficial meeting with politicians.
Magni Arge, a member of the left-wing Republican Party from the Faeroe Islands, a semi-autonomous Danish territory, criticized the Danish government and opposition lawmakers for rejecting invitations to meet Puigdemont.
“One can start to understand each other by talking together, not by ignoring each other,” he said.
Denmark has two semi-autonomous territories, the Faeroe Islands in the North Atlantic and the huge Arctic island of Greenland, that for years have sought more say in own affairs.
The Faeroe Islands and Greenland have both referred to themselves as nations and floated the idea of full independence. Denmark has been supportive but efforts have stopped short because of economic considerations.
The Faeroes plan a referendum on a new constitution April 25 which Faeroese Premier Aksel V. Johannesen has said must reflect “our identity as a nation” and “our right to self-determination.”
Aritz Parra in Madrid contributed to this report.
An earlier version of this story was corrected to show that it was Spain’s interior minister, not justice minister, who said the country will step up surveillance to ensure that Puigdemont can’t re-enter the country undetected.