THE Speaker of the Catalan Parliament has expressed his support for the “Scottish way” to achieve independence in a bid to take the heat off President Quim Torra, who faced criticism over remarks about following the Slovenian model to becoming an independent republic.

Roger Torrent, a member of the pro-independence Republican Left of Catalonia (ERC), spoke to journalists at Lledoners prison after visiting the political prisoners who are taking part in a hunger strike.

READ MORE: Catalan President Quim Torra fasts in support of hunger striking prisoners

Opposition parties had criticised Torra after he praised Slovenians for their declaration of independence in 1991, which sparked a 10-day war between Slovenia and what was then Yugoslavia.

The National:

“Slovenians were clear about it, they decided to insist on their self-determination, and move forward with all the consequences, until achieving their aims, let’s do the same as them,” said Torra in Brussels. “We are ready for what it takes to live free.”

Opposition Citizens Party leader, Inés Arrimadas, described Torra and his government as “a danger to democracy and coexistence”, and accused him of advocating “violence and a civil conflict”.

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She urged the Spanish government to take the first steps towards suspending Catalonia’s self-rule.

Josep Borrell, Spain’s Socialist foreign minister, who is Catalan, said yesterday the reference to Slovenia was “a way to express what seems to be a call for an uprising”.

However, Torrent avoided directly commenting on Torra’s words, saying simply: “We have always defended and we will continue to defend the Scottish road, which is the correct one and what we think will win us, because it connects with 80% of the population of that country and provides a democratic solution to the conflict.

“We collect the best of the other processes that have been and reject those processes that have had violence.”

ERC spokesperson, Marta Vilalta, also avoided any comment on Slovenia. She said: “We cannot compare ourselves with other countries, they are different contexts.”

Torrent yesterday met Jordi Turull and Jordi Sanchez, who have not taken food for 10 days, and Quim Forn and Josep Rull, who have been on hunger strike for a week. He said that despite their action, they remained “strong and firm”.

Meanwhile, academics from around the world have signed open letters in support of their Catalan colleagues who acted as expert observers in the October 2017 referendum and who are under threat of imprisonment.

READ MORE: Spanish court to hear Catalan political prisoners' appeals

The Catalan Parliament appointed four such experts as members of the electoral commission to monitor the poll, but they later resigned after being threatened with fines of €12,000 (£10,850) per person for every day they remained in position.

However, they still face prosecution and could face more than two years in prison.

One of the petition organisers, Monica Clua-Losada, from the Department of Political Science at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, told The National they had gathered support from around the world.

“In this case it’s a bit personal because two of them are political scientists,” she said. “The support has been overwhelming with more than 400 international signatures, over 700 Catalan and Spanish-based universities, including the Basques.

“What has been very interesting is the major political science associations in the world, including the British, Canadian, Quebecois and American, have all said they should be released.”