Flemish coalition divided over N-VA’s Puigdemont invitation idea
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    Flemish coalition divided over N-VA’s Puigdemont invitation idea

    © Belga
    The N-VA wants to make sure that the Catalan side of the story is heard, although not necessarily through speaking to Puigdemont.
    © Belga

    The New Flemish Alliance (“N-VA”) wishes to invite the deposed President of Catalonia, Carles Puigdemont, to speak in the Flemish parliament. However its coalition partners, the Flemish Christian Democrats and the Open Vld, do not appear enthusiastic at the prospect. This was made clear on Wednesday by parliamentary sources.

    The N-VA formulated this proposal within the parliament’s Committee for External Relations. This was indicated by the leader of the party in the Flemish parliament, Matthias Diependaele, and the deputy, Karl Vanlouwe.

    They explained to the Belga press agency, “There was previously an issue around inviting the Spanish Ambassador (in Belgium) and on the Catalan side, Raul Romeva (the former Minister for International Relations of the Catalan government, editor’s note). However, in the meantime the latter was deposed by Madrid and could not leave Spain. As we want to hear both versions of events, we suggested inviting Mr Puigdemont.”

    However, the two other parties in the government coalition, the Flemish Christian Democrats and the Open Vld are hardly enthusiastic about the idea of Mr Puigdemont visiting parliament.

    An anonymous source said, “We will have to ensure that in inviting Puigdemont that we are not giving the impression that Flanders supports his separatist view. It is not the role of parliament to become involved in this interaction. “Diependaele stressed, “It is simply that we wish to hear both sides. This need not necessarily be Puigdemont, but the Catalan side must also be heard.”

    The leader of the N-VA added, “It is possibly a bit overlooked, but do not forget that politicians are still being detained in Catalonia because of their opinion.”

    No final decision has yet been taken, but the issue will be subject to further government discussions, to be worked through next week.

    Lars Andersen
    The Brussels Times