Declarations by the Belgian PM, Charles Michel, on Catalonia, in which he condemned the political violence perpetrated by the Spanish government on 1-O and demanded dialogue, have displeased Spanish diplomats. According to articles published in various Belgian media, the Spanish government took the statements by the PM as an “unacceptable attack” which could affect bilateral relations. It is said that Spain is considering withdrawing support for Catherine De Bolle, the Belgian candidate for the directorship of Europol.
Here you can see the front page of De Morgen from today: “Spanish Fury against Michel”
According to the Belgian press, Michel’s statements were made public, the Spanish government summoned Belgium’s ambassador to an urgent meeting in Madrid. “We do not understand how an allied country can make this kind of statement which could seriously endanger our bilateral relations,” said the Spanish representative, in a threatening tone. said, He added that Brussels could not treat the Moncloa and the Generalitat on an equal footing. “We have not yet seen a statement of the government by calling on the Generalitat to submit to the law, only verbal attacks against the government of Spain”.
It is not known if the government will carry out its threats, but today the Spanish president, Mariano Rajoy, and the Belgian Prime Minister, Charles Michel, will meet at the European Council meeting in Brussels. However, the Flemish newspaper De Standaard went a step further and today asserted that the Belgian government does not fear threats from the Moncloa.
Deputy Prime Minister, Alexander De Croo (Flemish Liberals and Democrats Party), closed ranks with Michel and voiced a strong message: ‘Ordering police violence against peaceful civilians in order to prevent them voting makes you guilty. Full stop.” In addition, he asserted the need for a reduction in political tension in order to produce conditions for dialogue. Responding on whether or not Belgium should have the right to comment on the internal affairs of Spain, he asserted “when it comes to fundamental rights, Europe is also our country’.
— Alexander De Croo (@alexanderdecroo) October 19, 2017
Other political reactions
Karl Vanlouwe, senator of the New Flemish Alliance, the main party of the Belgian coalition government, responded critically to the Spanish threats: “Intimidation, repression and violence. And meanwhile, they brandish the constitution.”
Intimidatie, repressie en geweld. Maar ondertussen wel met de grondwet zwaaien… https://t.co/lEb3V7KdHM
— Karl Vanlouwe (@KarlVanlouwe) October 19, 2017
Helga Stevens, a MEP from the same party, also focused on the threats: “My God! That explains so much. Why don’t we hear [Frans Timmermans] or [Jean-Claude Juncker] on this? They are not very consistent. Sick of double standards.”
— Helga Stevens (@StevensHelga) October 19, 2017