Spain's King Felipe presides over a military parade to mark the country's National Day, next to Queen Letizia and Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, in Madrid, Spain, October 12, 2021. REUTERS/Javier Barbancho SPAIN-NATIONAL DAY/ | JAVIER BARBANCHO


Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez urged unity today as the country marked its national day with a military parade in Madrid attended by more than 2,000 troops in a sigh Spain's COVID-19 situation has improved.

His remarks in a tweet come as his government entered talks with the pro-independence Catalan regional authorities to solve Spain's territorial crisis.

Sanchez, who was booed by a section of the crowd at the parade who appeared to be against his left-wing government, is opposed to a referendum on independence for Catalonia. Pere Aragonès, the Catalan president who stayed away from the parade in Madrid, has demanded a vote on secession from Spain.

"This October 12 let's reaffirm what unites us, what makes us great as a society, what makes Spain a welcoming, open, diverse country. Let's celebrate our commitment, solidarity, cooperation, multilateralism. Let's celebrate who we are," Sanchez said in the tweet.

King Felipe and Queen Letizia attended the traditional parade to cheers accompanied by members of the government, opposition politicians and members of Spain's Olympic team.
Spain's coronavirus incidence dropped below 50 cases per 100,000 people on Oct. 7, reaching the threshold considered "low risk" by the health ministry for the first time in over a year.

Some 2,656 soldiers took part in a march past along with 115 military vehicles while air force planes took part in a fly past as well as a parachutist with a giant Spanish flag.

Last year, the parade was cancelled because of COVID-19 restrictions but in 2019 some 4,000 soldiers took part in the traditional military march.