Madrid is annoyed by tweets from new Belgian Defence Minister Sander Loones (New Flemish Alliance, N-VA) on the Catalan issue, and this could become a diplomatic incident, De Tijd reported on Thursday. What sparked the displeasure of the Spanish Government was a series of messages posted on Twitter by the N-VA Minister last weekend on a hunger strike announced by two imprisoned Catalan politicians.
“Imprisoned for over a year without being convicted. Spanish judge does not even try their case so as to avoid a ruling by the European Court of Human Rights,” Loones tweeted on 1 December. “Now they are forced to go on hunger strike. No democrat can be silent on this.”
The remarks did not go unnoticed. “The Belgian minister has made statements that we find inadmissible,” Spanish Foreign Minister Josep Borrell told El Pais newspaper on the margins of a NATO meeting.
The tensions between Spain and Belgium had already risen in October, when Borrell decided to revoke the diplomatic status of the Flemish representative in Madrid following “negative” statements by the Speaker of the Flemish Parliament, Jan Peumans (N-VA).