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European Commission has “nothing” to say on jailed Catalan ministers

Brussels reiterates “full respect for constitution” but other European leaders speak out and condemn dismissed Catalan ministers’ imprisonment 

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03 November 2017 03:33 PM

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ACN | Barcelona

The European Commission reiterated that it has "nothing" to say on the imprisonment of eight ministers of the government of Carles Puigdemont. At the daily press conference of the EC in Brussels, Spokeswoman Annika Breidthardt said that the possible European arrest warrant against the dismissed Catalan president is a matter for “judicial authorities”.

"We respect judicial authorities’ independence," stated the spokeswoman of the president of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker. She added that the EC cannot “interfere” or mediate in the conflict. 

Breidthardt avoided responding about why Brussels condemns arrests in countries such as Venezuela or Turkey and not in Spain. Juncker's spokeswoman also didn't respond about whether the EC considers itself part of the solution or the problem regarding the Catalan question. Breidthardt reiterated that the EC “fully respects” the Spanish Constitution.

“Jailing of elected leaders should be condemned by all democrats”

Scotland's first minister, Nicola Sturgeon, condemned the imprisonment of the dismissed Catalan vice president, Oriol Junqueras, and eight ministers. Sturgeon called for a political solution for the Catalan crisis.

“Regardless of opinion on Catalonia, the jailing of elected leaders is wrong and should be condemned by all democrats,” wrote the first minister on Twitter. According to Sturgeon, "the disagreement on Catalonia’s future is a political issue and it should be solved democratically, not by jailing political opponents.”

  • “Regardless of opinion on Catalonia, the jailing of elected leaders is wrong and should be condemned by all democrats”

    Nicola Sturgeon · Scotland's first minister 

“Imprisonment doesn‘t solve anything, only escalates”

The Green/ALE co-chair in the European Parliament, Ska Keller, stated on Twitter that the "imprisonment [of dismissed Catalan ministers and vice president] doesn’t solve anything, only escalates." "When will Rajoy understand that this is a political crisis, not a judiciary one?," asked Keller.

“EU can no longer remain silent”

The president of the European Free Alliance, François Alfonsi, said that "Catalonia deserves freedom" and called on the EU not to remain “silent.” "If the EU doesn’t protect European values, European democracy will decay", warned Alfonsi. "Are we ready to risk European democracy, European values, and human rights through loyalty to a Francoist party?,” asked the former MEP.

In this regard, the president of the European Free Alliance called on "all democrats of Europe” and "all political groups" to act "now". In the same statement, he also expressed his solidarity with the dismissed Catalan ministers and vice president who were sent to prison. Alfonsi made a special mention of Raül Romeva and Oriol Junqueras, who are former MEPs. "I consider you my friends," he stated.

“It must be solved politically”

The minister of the environment in Belgium, Christine Marghem, said in an interview that the Catalan crisis "must be solved politically and not judicially". In addition, Marghem stated that Belgium would not have encouraged those kinds of measures to solve “issues related to cultural and linguistic claims” because the "added value" of the country is its commitment to "political dialogue".

Nevertheless, Marghem said that the "legal context" of the dismissed Catalan president Carles Puigdemont is “based on elements of the Spanish democratic law", which must be "respected." "We must not intervene in the national sovereignty of a country and we must respect its constitution," she said.

“Democratic dialogue should be the way”

Venezuela's Foreign Affairs Minister Jorge Arreaza has called for the release of Catalan "political prisoners" and for "democratic dialogue" between Catalonia and Spain. Arreaza also expressed his "solidarity with the people of Catalonia" and asked the Spanish government "to respect the human and political rights of prisoners of conscience.” “Democratic dialogue should be the way, not repression," said Venezuela's foreign minister.

"We demand that the Spanish authorities release the political prisoners," said Arreza on Twitter. "We express our solidarity with the people of Catalonia. We understand the anguish and the pain it is suffering in these difficult times," he added.

Jailing elected politicians is "reprehensible"

The deputy head of the D66 party in the Dutch Parliament also condemned the imprisonment of the dismissed Catalan ministers. Kees Verhoeven said that jailing elected politicians is "reprehensible". “Whatever you think of Catalan independence, democratically elected politicians in cells is reprehensible,” Verhoeven wrote on Twitter. 

Imprisonment is “going too far”

The minister-president of Flanders, Geert Bourgeois, said that the imprisonment of the eight Catalan ministers and vice president is "going too far". Bourgeois pointed out that the Catalan crisis is a political problem and therefore it requires "political solutions", such as "dialogue and elections."

Bourgeois is a member of the New Flemish Alliance (N-VA), the party that governs in coalition in Belgium's federal government.

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  • Annika Breidthardt, spokesperson of the European Commission (by EBS)

  • Annika Breidthardt, spokesperson of the European Commission (by EBS)

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