Spanish government withdraws diplomatic status to Flanders delegate in Spain
Foreign ministry in Madrid argues criticism by Flemish parliament speaker over Catalan “political prisoners” is “unacceptable”
The Spanish government has withdrawn the diplomatic status to the Flanders delegate in Spain, André Hebbelinck, due to the recent Flemish parliament speaker comments including that the nine Catalan jailed leaders are “political prisoners.”
The chamber president, Jan Peumans, also said that Spain “is incapable of complying with the conditions to be part of a democratic Europe.”
According to the Spanish foreign minister, Josep Borrell, his remarks were “unacceptable” and “inappropriate” for an “ally country such as Belgium.”
Borrell’s office said in a statement that the withdrawal of the diplomatic status of Hebbelinck means that he can still continue working as a delegate in Spain, but without the privileges and immunities of a diplomatic agent. And if he is replaced, the person taking over his post would not have diplomatic status either.
Unlike Spain does with Catalonia, Belgium grants the possibility for their Flemish representatives to have diplomatic status around the world – as long as it is accepted by the country where the delegation is opened.
The Spanish authorities had held several meetings with Belgian officials to make official complaints about Peumans, who sent a letter to Carme Forcadell, currently incarcerated for her role last year in the independence roadmap as parliament president.