MEPs across political spectrum condemn Spain for having 'political prisoners'
Asking citizens is necessary, says European People's Party representative Franc Bogovic
Spain’s imprisonment of Catalan vice-president Oriol Junqueras, and seven other elected ministers, as well as pro-independence civil leaders Jordi Sànchez and Jordi Cuixart, has been condemned as “unacceptable” by MEPs from across the political spectrum speaking to the Catalan News Agency (ACN).
MEP of the European People’s Party (EPP), and former Slovenian minister of agriculture, Franc Bogovic stated “it is unacceptable that political leaders are in jail.”
“The solution must be in the political sphere, not in prison,” he said, recalling that Junqueras and the other imprisoned Catalan ministers had taken “political actions.” The December 21 elections “will not be normal” if they remain behind bars, he added.
Imprisonment of ministers is 'unfortunate,' Socialist MEP
Spain’s imprisonment of the Catalan officials has been called “unfortunate” by Portuguese Socialist MEP, Ana Gomes. “I hope they are released soon,” she said.
Despite differences between both parties, with regard to their standing on the political spectrum, common ground was found between some members when it came to the situation in Catalonia.
Although Spain’s decision to incarcerate members of the Catalan government, as well as the presidents of ANC and Òmnium Cultural, was not formally debated in the European parliament, members of the ranks of each major party criticized the decisions of Spain’s high court judges, demanding that the state adopt a new strategy.
"The solution must be in the political sphere, not in prison"
Franc Bogovic · Slovenian EPP MEP
Bogovic, whose party is headed by president of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker, called for communication between both sides. “It is necessary to stop this path of non-dialogue,” he said. For him, the solution is that Catalan are able to vote about their future as the Slovenes did. “Asking the citizens is necessary,” he added. Ana Gomes also emphasized that dialogue is the key to find a way out. “I hope they are released soon and that the question is sorted with negotiation and not with these kind of measures which disgrace Spain’s name,” she claimed.
'The imprisonment is not a solution, we have to find another one,' says ALDE MEP
Some MEPs of the Liberal group in the European Parliament also rejected the incarcerations. “The imprisonment is not a solution. We have to find another one, the political dialogue,” said the Croatian Ivan Jakovcic. “Madrid and Barcelona needed more dialogue, more exchange and less threats and imprisonments,” said Petras Austrevicius, from Lithuania.
Greens/EFA and GUE-NGL also oppose imprisonments
The group Greens/EFA has also expressed opposition to the precautionary measures including jail imposed by the Spanish justice to the Catalan ministers. “It is certainly a bad idea, a bad precedent and I do not think that it can contribute at all to find a reasonable and political solution,” stated the Hungarian Tamás Meszerics. His colleague Indrek Tarand, from Estonia, had a similar viewpoint. “I do not think that putting them behind bars is something normal in the 21st century.” In fact, he said that this measure has no room in a “democratic society.”
The European United Left-Nordic Green Left (GUE-NGL) group is also skeptical about how Spain is facing the Catalan issue. The Portuguese MEP Marisa Matias branded the imprisonments as “unacceptable.” “We are talking about political prisoners, and not prisoners who are politicians, which is very different,” she added. “It is very serious for democracy in the EU,” claimed Matias. Indeed, she said that Brussels would have reacted with emergency resolutions if the same situation had happened in a country outside the Union.
'Unthinkable,' says British Tory MEP
Some members of European Conservatives and Reformists group have also criticized Madrid recently for the incarcerations. Mark Demesmaeker, from Belgium, said some days ago also to ACN that what is at stake is “the fundamental principles of the European Union, the democratic values and rights and civil freedoms.” In the BBC, the British Tory MEP David Hannan branded the current situation as “unthinkable.” He also asked citizens to imagine London arresting former Scottish prime minister Alex Salmond some years ago instead of sitting at the same table and agreeing on a referendum.