Flemish party N-VA has turned down a meeting with Spain’s ambassador to Belgium, Beatriz Larrotcha, and call for “open and transparent” debate in the Flemish Parliament about the situation in Catalonia. The Spanish embassy confirmed that it had received a letter of “complaint” from three Flemish MPs, which led Larrotcha to invite them to a private breakfast meeting in order to discuss the Catalan affair.
However, one of the three MPs, Karl Vanlouwe, says that the N-VA alliance “will not participate in any informal meeting” until the representative of the Spanish state addresses the Catalan crisis in the Flemish chamber. “Ambassadors from other countries have come to the Flemish Parliament, but unfortunately not the Spanish ambassador,” said Vanlouwe.
Vanlouwe was one of the MPs behind the resolution that passed unanimously in the Flemish Parliament, condemning the Supreme Court’s sentencing Catalan independence leaders to jail terms of between 9 and 13 years, in October.
Tension between Spain and Flanders.
It is not the first incident of diplomatic tension between Spain and Flanders. Last year, the Flemish parliament speaker, Jan Peumans, openly criticized Spain for having “political prisoners,”referring to the Catalan leaders who at the time were in pre-trial detention.
Peumans’ comments led Spanish foreign minister, Josep Borrell, to retaliate by withdrawing the diplomatic credentials of the Flemish government’s delegate to Spain at the time, André Hebbelinck.