Catalonia’s foreign affairs chief has appealed for support from the EU before a disputed referendum calling for independence from Spain, AP reports. Raul Romeva, speaking Thursday in Brussels, said that EU institutions need to“understand that this is a big issue.” Romeva spoke a day after Catalan regional president Carles Puigdemont accused the EU of “turning its back” on Catalonia in its conflict with Spain’s central government. Romeva accused the Spanish government of a “brutal crackdown” on Catalan officials to try to prevent Sunday’s referendum, which Spain considers to be illegal, and that it’s “generated an unprecedented level of shock.” He doesn’t expect violence, because “it’s not in the Catalan DNA to use violence to solve political problems.”

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