European Greens top candidate: Catalan trial 'politicized' and 'open dialogue' needed
Dutch MEP Bas Eickhout claims prosecution of pro-independence leaders harms Spain's image abroad
One of the two top candidates for the Greens in the upcoming European election, Bas Eickhout, says the trial of Catalan independence leaders in the Supreme Court is "politicized" and is harming Spain's image abroad.
In an interview with Catalan News, Eickhout called for a "fair trial" for the pro-independence leaders.
He also said his group will continue to work with the European Free Alliance, for whom jailed former vice president Oriol Junqueras is a candidate to head the European Commission.
Spain "suppressing issues" for dialogue
The MEP, who is also standing for the post, thinks that the Catalan conflict can only be resolved through talks, and he said Spain "has made a mistake in not allowing the possibility for open dialogue."
Eickhout also argued in the interview that "suppressing issues" will only raise tensions and will make it impossible to find a solution to the political crisis.
"We are in Europe, and Puigdemont is a free person"
Speaking before the court ruling allowing Carles Puigdemont to stand in the European elections, Eickhout described the electoral authority's decision to bar the former president as "not smart."
"[Puigdemont] should be allowed to stand," said the Dutch MEP. "We are in Europe, and he is a free person," he said, adding that it is up to the voters to decide.
Potential talks with People's Party
While admitting that "it will probably be necessary" for the Greens to talk to the European People's Party, Eickhout warned the conservatives that moving further to the right "will only make them smaller," and, in that case, they would not reach to agreements with EPP.
Referring to the elections at the end of the month, the Dutch MEP said the Greens are prioritizing "a Europe that is as progressive as possible," and he completely ruled out any talks with the far-right groups in the European Parliament.
Climate debate and Fridays for Future in Catalonia
Asked about why the climate debate is not a hot topic in Catalan and Spanish politics, Eickhout said that this "is changing, and in some countries it goes faster than in others."
Of its 54 MEPs in the European Parliament, Spain is only expected to contribute one representative –a Catalan– to the European Greens group.
Nor is the Fridays for Future initiative hitting the headlines in Catalonia either, and there are no mass weekly demonstrations. Yet Eickhout foresees a change in the near future.
"There will be another big action again on May 24, that's the Friday before the elections, and then we expect again a very big European action and as far as we know it will also be big in Spain," he told Catalan News.