Spain wins backing in Catalonia crisis

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Spain wins backing in Catalonia crisis

Paris (AFP) - Spain has plunged deeper into crisis after Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy on Wednesday threatened to impose direct rule on Catalonia following its disputed independence referendum.

Rajoy has called on Catalan separatist leader Carles Puigdemont to clarify whether or not he declared independence on Tuesday.

The move by Rajoy is a step towards suspending Catalonia's autonomy, which would involve activating Article 155 of the constitution.

Here is some of the reaction to the latest developments:

- EU: 'Respect constitution' -

The EU has reiterated its call for "full respect of the Spanish constitutional order", reaffirming its commitment to back Madrid in the crisis.

European Commission vice-president Valdis Dombrovskis said the commission, the executive arm of the 28-nation European Union, trusted Rajoy "and all political forces who are working towards a solution within the framework of the Spanish constitution".

- Germany: 'Unilateral independence irresponsible' -

German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel said a unilateral declaration of independence in Catalonia would be "irresponsible".

"Our common European experience shows that Europe's strength lies in its unity and peace, which has been achieved by European unification," he said.

Gabriel urged a solution to the crisis through talks "based on the rule of law and within the framework of the Spanish constitution".

- France: 'No recognition' -

France said it will not recognise Catalonia if the regional government makes a unilateral declaration of independence from Spain.

The foreign ministry has said a unilateral declaration "would be illegal and would not be recognised".

"All solutions to this internal crisis must be found in the framework of the Spanish constitution," it added.

- Italy: 'Unjustified and dangerous' -

Italy has called for dialogue to avoid an "unjustified and dangerous" escalation of the crisis in Catalonia.

"We underline the need to respect the constitutional framework and Spanish laws," said Paolo Gentiloni, head of the Italian government, in a statement while urging a framework for talks.

- Russia: Ensure rights of all

Russia has urged the crisis to be resolved through dialogue "strictly in line with Spanish law".

The Russian foreign ministry called for the dispute to be solved "in the interest of a united and prosperous Spain" that ensures the rights of all.

- Portugal: 'Responsible dialogue' -

Portugal has called for "responsible political dialogue" to resolve the crisis.

"Portugal respects the sovereignty of Spain," the government said in a statement while emphasising it wants a solution that preserves the unity of its neighbour.

- Cyprus: 'Violates constitution' -

Cyprus has said it does not recognise the unilateral declaration of independence for Catalonia which it describes as a "violation" of the Spanish Constitution.

"Cyprus strongly reaffirms its unwavering support to the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Spain," a statement from the presidency said.

Cyprus itself has been divided since 1974 when Turkey invaded the north in response to a Greek-backed military coup.

- Morocco: 'Source of instability' -

Morocco has called the uniliteral push for independence in Catalonia "irresponsible" and says it backs the territorial integrity of Spain.

"The unilateral decision... is a source of instability and division not only in Spain, but throughout Europe," said a foreign ministry statement.

The Spanish enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla are based on Morocco's northern coast, forming the European Union's only land borders with Africa.