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Michel first head of state to condemn violence in Spain

14:24 02/10/2017

Charles Michel (pictured) became the first head of an EU nation to officially condemn the violence perpetrated by the Spanish state against the citizens of Catalonia yesterday when he sent an English-language message out via Twitter.

“Violence can never be the answer! We condemn all forms of violence and reaffirm our call for a political dialogue. #CatalanReferendum #Spain,” Michel tweeted.

Following an overwhelming silence at the European level, Belgium’s security and home affairs minister Jan Jambon took to Radio 1 this morning to condemn both the police violence against voters during the independence referendum and the lack of condemnation from EU leaders, most notably Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker.

“Over the last few days, the Spanish government had given signals and taken action that I already found inappropriate,” said Jambon, “but yesterday’s escalated violence is something I can’t get my head around. If you ask me, the Spanish government has done the opposite of what it wanted: The solidarity of the Catalans has only gotten stronger.”

‘Disproportionate’ response

The referendum for independence from Spain was put to voters in the autonomous community in the northeast of the country, but the state government in Madrid has always said that it would not recognise it and that holding such a vote was illegal.

Riot police stormed voting stations, particularly in Barcelona, injuring more than 800 people. Two are considered seriously injured. In the end, 90% voted to declare independence from Spain.

“Disproportionate and shocking,” is how Flemish minister-president Geert Bourgeois described the police action. “The only real solution is a dialogue between the Spanish and Catalan governments – without international interference.”

Jambon and Bourgeois are both members of N-VA, a political party that has found overwhelming success with the independence of Flanders as its central goal. Over the last few years, however, the party’s politics have shifted to mobility issues and being tough on migration.

Written by Lisa Bradshaw