TODAY’S Catalan National Day, La Diada, must mark a turning point in Catalonia’s quest for independence, according to its president.

Writing exclusively for The National, Quim Torra said Catalonia is at a “historic crossroads”, with sentences expected on the political and cultural leaders who have been in jail for two years and tried for their role in the 2017 independence referendum.

“For nearly two years now, honourable people have been in prison or in exile for having given voice to the citizens of Catalonia in a referendum on self-determination held on 1 October 2017, which the Spanish state tried to repress through violence,” said Torra.

“Together they face 177 years in prison, prison sentences that are being demanded simply for listening to citizens who, both then and now, call for the right to decide on the country’s political future.”

However, he added that Europe and other parts of the world were watching with interest, because, “there can be no doubt that the verdict will mark a key moment in our country’s history, as well as that of Spain, showing the world the true quality of its democracy”.

Torra said “objective independence” was the rallying cry for La Diada as Catalans move from a period of reacting to repression to a more proactive stance.

“It is the moment to recover our self-confidence, stop playing defensively and once again regain the initiative to mark out a clear route that ends in independence.”

READ MORE: Quim Torra: ‘Objective independence’ is Catalan rallying cry today