Latvian MEPs criticise Spanish Government expulsion of Counsellor
Latvian MEPs from different parties have criticised the Spanish Government’s withdrawal of accreditation from the Honorary Counsellor of Latvia, Xavier Vinyals. “It's not serious (accusing Vinyals of having displayed a pro-independence flag)", "it is a very funny reason to expel a counsellor", remarked the Social Democrat Andrejs Mamikins to the Catalan News Agency. The Conservative Roberts Zile also criticised the Spanish Minister of Foreign Affairs, José-Manuel García Margallo, for his "wrong attitude, clearly inadequate for the democratic standards of the 21st century". "It's a horrible decision", lamented the Green Tatjana Ždanoka. The Latvian Government and Latvian MEPs from the European People’s Party (PPE) refused to comment on the decision of Margallo.
Brussels (CNA).- The Spanish Ministry for Foreign Affairs declared the Honorary Counsellor of Latvia in Barcelona, Xavier Vinyals, a "non-acceptable person for the performance of consular functions" after last 11th of September, coinciding with the Catalan National Day, when Vinyals allegedly displayed a Catalan pro-independence flag on the facade of the consulate. From next Thursday the 27th of October, the Catalan will no longer perform the functions of the Honorary Consulate of Latvia. The measure has been strongly criticised by Latvian MEPs form different parties. “It's not serious (accusing Vinyals of having displayed a pro-independence flag)", "it is a very funny reason to expel a counsellor", remarked the Social Democrat Andrejs Mamikins to the Catalan News Agency. “It's a horrible decision", added the Green MEP Tatjana Ždanoka.
Vinyals will no longer perform the functions of the Honorary Consulate of Latvia in Barcelona, after almost ten years, because the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs has unilaterally withdrawn from him the accreditation with exequatur status, which allowed Vinyals to exercise consular functions in the state. Margallo accused the Catalan of violating the Vienna Convention by exhibiting a Catalan pro-independence flag last Catalan National Day. Vinyals denies this accusation, while admitting that he “has never hidden" his "beliefs".
The decision of the Ministry was communicated last September through a verbal note to the Ambassador of Latvia in Spain, Argita Daudze. In the note, it was recalled that the consulate is entitled to exhibit at the door or the building of the consular post any state flag, but no flags from third parties nor unofficial flags symbolising support for an illegal disconnection process of a region of Spain.
Latvian MEPs interviewed by the CNA defended and praised the Counsellor’s "excellent work to create friendly relations between Spain and Latvia", in the words of Mamikins. "He's a very prominent person in Latvia, he even participated in the Baltic Chain" in 1989 "to assert independence", added the Social Democrat, who does not believe that the alleged display of a pro-independence flag is "the real reason” behind the measure. “I know this is only a demagogical statement”, the politician said. "I would love that he could continue to represent Latvia", stated Ždanoka, who was an international observer during the 9-N symbolic vote.
The Conservative Roberts Zile, also former Latvian Minister of Finance, warned the Spanish Government that "it is wrong to brutally fight" and "criminalise a nation wanting to be independent" and "it is worse that this even harms diplomatic relations". "I am old enough to remember that the flag of my country was illegal and its exhibition was harshly punished", recalled Zile. "The Catalan separatists are not few and their concerns should be taken into account", he insisted.
Mamikins and Ždanoka remember the "enormous pressure" that the former Latvian Prime Minister, Valdis Dombrovskis, now Vice-President of the European Commission, received for having suggested in 2013 that Latvia would recognise the independence of Catalonia. "If there is legitimacy in the process I would, theoretically speaking, why not?”, Dombrovskis said in an interview with the CNA. The Socialist and the Green MEPs criticise the EU’s "double standards on the right to self-determination", which gave "support" to the independence of Latvia and Kosovo. "You cannot agree with the independence of a nation and deny the independence of others", argued Ždanoka, who sees as "inevitable" the secession of Catalonia.