• October 23, 2017

The Belgian Prime Minister, Charles Michel, provoked an angry reaction from his Spanish counterpart following his comments about the situation in Catalunya, as reported in a Belgian newspaper last Thursday (19th October).
The daily Belgian newspaper ‘Le Soir’ (a Walloon and Brussels paper and reported in Het Laatste Nieuws on 19th October) reported that Prime Minister (PM) Michel had commented that it was high time that both governments (Catalan and Spanish) should stop their war and go into dialogue to sort out the precarious situation in Catalunya following the referendum. PM Michael commented that it is a political crisis that has put fundamental liberties and rights at risk.
This comment, that the newspaper described as not particularly controversial, was enough to provoke a direct and angry reaction by PM Rajoy. Apparently an email sent by the Spanish head of European Affairs, Alvaro Renedo, on behalf of Rajoy, to the Belgian Government said:
“We (Spanish government) are flabbergasted by what Michel dared to say. We do not understand how a partner state can express such statements and endanger seriously the bilateral connections between our countries. We find it totally unacceptable that the Belgian government puts a regional government, which has breached blatantly the jurisdiction of a member state (of the EU), on the same level as the government of this country (Spain). We have not seen as yet any statements by the Belgian government that appeal to the Catalonian government to follow the law; up to now it has only been attacks against the Spanish government.”
Moreover, in a bizarre petty twist and as a consequence of PM Michael’s comments, PM Rajoy decided to refer directly to the Belgian candidate Catherine de Bolle, who is applying for the job of head of Europol (and is considered to be a very strong candidate). PM Rajoy is reported to have commented that:” It is unthinkable that she [de Bolle] will get the support of our country, after what Michel said. This row will have serious consequences when it comes to her chances”.

(Translation provided by Helen McDermott)
Rhisiart Tal-e-bot
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