A heated discussion took place between journalist Tim Sebastian and Spanish Foreign Minister Josep Borrell as soon as the issue of Catalan independence and the trial against its leaders was raised, as well as more general Spanish constitutional reform.

“Why not have a debate about the constitution?” asked Sebastian, during a televised interview at Deutsche Welle’s “The Conflict Zone”. Referring to the fact that the Catalan declaration of independence is argued as illegal due to it being not allowed within the constitution, the journalist continues: “That could have touched on those provisions that outlaw independence for Spanish regions.”

“They could have done it” answers Borrell, “they could have gone to the Spanish parliament, and presented a proposal to reform the constitution… like the Basques did.” He concludes: “They haven’t done it.”

Constitutional reform

The journalist immediately asks Borrell: “Why didn’t you do it… are you not interested in reforming the constitution?” The Spanish Foreign Minister retorts: “Who is asking for it?” Sebastian then responds by beginning to cite that “seventy percent of Spaniards want constitutional reform” but halfway through his sentence, the minister cuts him off.

“No, no, no, no,” interjects Borrell, grimacing and holding up his hands as the journalist looks up from his notes. Sebastian finishes his sentence, clarifying that this is “according to the Center for Sociological Research,” while holding the politician’s gaze.

“Stop it!” exclaims Borrell, throwing up his hands. “You are continuously lying” he then accuses the reporter. Sebastian repeats the data, specifying while interrupted, that the reform in question is “of some kind.”

At this, the Spanish official demands the studio stop recording: “I don’t want to do that anymore” he proclaims, removing his microphone. Borrell then is known to have walked off the interview, and although he returned to set after consulting with his aides, the exchange between the two remained tense.

Biased questions?

Sebastian finished the segment asking about anti-bribery enforcement and what measures Spain’s executive takes. When the journalist says “you could do more”, Borrell immediately fires back: “Sure….you too. You could do your interviews better.”

The reporter pauses, but does not acknowledge this, and instead concludes by thanking the minister for being on the show. “Thank you to you” responds Borrell, as he leans forward and smiles, “but next time, I would appreciate if you could ask questions in a less biased way.”