World Bulletin/News Desk
German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Friday expressed her support for the Spanish government which is trying to block a Catalan vote on independence, adding that there was a difference between giving regions autonomy and allowing a country to break up.
Catalan President Artur Mas says people in the northeastern region have the right to decide on breaking away from Spain and he is forging ahead with plans for a Nov. 9 referendum that Madrid vows to block on constitutional grounds.
"We're in favour of the territorial integrity of all states but that's completely different to regions becoming independent and organising themselves," Merkel told a news conference in Berlin, responding to a question from a Spanish journalist.
She pointed to the federal system in Germany, saying it gave states and municipalities a lot of scope to go their own way but added that this was "completely different to overall territorial integrity".
"So I share the opinion of the Spanish government, and other than that I won't get involved in domestic Spanish matters," Merkel said.
Catalonia, which accounts for around a fifth of Spanish economic output and 16 percent of its population, has its own language and a long history of fighting for greater autonomy.
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