Europe

In Christmas Eve speech, king urges Spaniards to stay united

In his Christmas Eve speech, King Felipe VI of Spain urges respect for the rule of law and calls on Spaniards to remain united.

The separatist government of Spain's Catalonia region has announced plans for an independence referendum in 2017 despite a constitutional ban on such a vote and fierce opposition from the central government.

In his TV address, the king didn't mention Catalonia but clearly referred to the region when he criticized attitudes that "violate the rules guaranteeing our democracy and freedom." He said they "lead to tensions and fruitless confrontations."

In Felipe's words: "Progress, modernization and wellbeing always require of democratic coexistence that is based on respect to the law and a will of building instead of destroying, becoming bigger rather than smaller, stronger and not weaker."