Tag Archives: Spain

Puigdemont attends Strasbourg Plenary

In spite of the arrest warrant issued in Madrid, on January 13 Catalan independence leader Carles Puigdemont attended Plenary session in Strasbourg in his right of a Member of the European Parliament (MEP), due to immunity guaranteed by the status.
The former Catalan president has been elected to the European Parliament upon the political programme aiming at independence referendum for Catalonia, legally exiting the Kingdom of Spain.

Upon his arrival to the court of the Europarliament, Puigdemont called for an immediate release from a Spanish jail of Oriol Junqueras, the fellow Catalan MEP

“Mr.Junqueras should be here with us. He has the same rights,” Puigdemont said, backed by the group with posters “Free Junqueras.”

Puigdemont arrived together with the other Catalan MEP, Toni Comín.
Both politicians are wanted in Spain for their role for the 2017 independence referendum, considered ‘illegal” by Madrid. They have narrowly escaped the arrest and persecution in Spain, by fleeing to Belgium, where they continued their activities, struggling for the interests of their electorate.

In a statement made in four languages Catalan, Spanish, French and English, Puigdemont underlined the problem of Catalan protracted argument with Madrid is not a regional, but “European affaire“, because in spite of being the EU member state, Spain does not respect fundamental rights and freedoms of citizens. He also mentioned the extraordinary resources behind the attempts of Spain to prevent him to enter his MEP office. Puigdemont added that he feels no fear in France, because his MEP immunity is respected there. He expressed hope that Spanish judiciary will also respect the decision of the European Court of Justice ruling on 19 December 2019, clearly stating that Junqueras had parliamentary immunity as he was an elected MEP and should have been released from prison.

Junqueras is currently serving a 13-year prison sentence after being convicted in Madrid of sedition and misuse of funds by Spain Supreme Court for his engagement in organising the October 2017 referendum, considered “illegal“. Furthermore he was accused for the subsequent unilateral declaration of independence passed in the Catalan parliament. At the time of the events in 2017, Junqueras was deputy regional president, while Puigdemont was president and Toni Comín a minister in the regional government.

EP President calls for Catalan MEP release

Catalan independence leader Oriol Junqueras(pictured)has been protected by the immunity as an Member of the European Parliament when he was jailed by the Spanish Supreme Court , and according the EU Court ruling should be fully restored in his rights, and subsequently given an opportunity to exercice his function.

“I call upon the competent Spanish authorities to align with the ruling. I have given a mandate to the services to evaluate its possible impact on the composition” the President of the European Parliament David Sassoli said.

Following the advice issued last month by Advocate General, Maciej Szpunar, the European Court of Justice said that Junqueras became an MEP from the moment the European election results were announced at the end of May and that he thus “enjoys the immunity guaranteed by Article 9 of the Protocol.

The ECJ also underlined that Junqueras also protected by “the immunity as regards travel” which applies “while they are travelling to the place of meeting of the European Parliament, including to that first sitting”.

Spanish courts prevented Junqueras to take an oath on the country’s constitution, which they say is necessary to become an MEP.

Junqueras, who had been in pre-trial detention since 2017 was elected to the EU Parliament in May 2019 for the Greens/European Free Alliance group.

Borrell’s undiplomatic offensive

European Commission has been confronted with questions of journalists over a Twitter micro blog embarrassing message, mounting up to “malfeasance in office” by its next EU top diplomat and incumbent Spanish Foreign Minister Josep Borrell, who posted a sensitive document from UK authorities on his feed.

The document, not meant for public release, related to a Spanish request for the arrest and extradition from Britain of a Catalan politician, Clara Ponsati, who is engaged as an academic at a Scottish university.

It contained a British query, made through an EU police cooperation database for the Schengen free movement area called SIRENE, asking for more information to support the Spanish warrant and revealed some of Ponsati’s personal data.

Borrell posted it to his Twitter account on Wednesday and later deleted it — but not before its was screengrabbed and triggered a complaint from a Catalan MEP, Diana Riber, who demanded Borrell be barred from taking up his job as the next EU High Representative for foreign affairs.

A spokeswoman for the European Commission told reporters Friday that “there are very clear rules in place regarding access to and use of the Schengen Information System… and we would expect that everyone shall respect the letter and spirit of these rules, notably any confidentiality requirements.”

The spokeswoman, Mina Andreeva, said it was a Spanish matter and should not affect Borrell’s future post in the Commission.

“This tweet was posted by Mr Borrell in his capacity as acting foreign minister. It is now for the national competent authorities to look into this matter,” she said, passing the buck to Madrid.

Claiming to be Catalan, Borrell, 72, is endorsed to become the EU’s top foreign policy official in the Ursula von der Leyen Commission.

That new team was scheduled to start working this month but has been delayed by at least a month because some of nominated commissioners failed to receive their consent. 

Spain’s European arrest warrant against Ponsati is part of Madrid’s crackdown on Catalan independence movement.

General Franco family abundant wealth

The late General Franco grandchildren control assets that include a palace, 22 homes, 195 garage spaces, 29 country estates, five commercial premises and three rural plots, Spain’s newspaper EL PAIS reports.

The Franco family has a 17% share in Dulcinea Nutrition S. L., which has a catering contract with La Moncloa (pictured), the seat of the Spanish government. Despite earning EUR3 million from public agencies between 2016 and 2019, the company staff has not been paid regularly, resulting in strikes. The Defense Staff, the Higher Council for Scientific Research (CSIC), the Labor Ministry and the city of Málaga have all contracted the services of this company, which is based in Puertollano (Ciudad Real).

The fact that Francisco Franco himself was earning a mere 50,000 pesetas (€300) per year as head of state in 1940 begs the question: where did all this money come from?

According to the Franco clan’s estate administrator, Luis Felipe Utrera-Molina, the inherited wealth had more to do with the dictator’s wife, Carmen Polo. “The Polo family was very rich,” says this lawyer who describes Francisco Franco as a moral man who could not be accused of greed.

The most powerful of Franco’s grandchildren Francis four companies are based in Hermanos Bécquer street. His net assets are worth €44.7 million and he controls 225 properties: 18 homes, one of which is a 349 square-meter house in the middle of Serrano Street, a 1,175 square-meter warehouse in Madrid and five commercial premises, including 259 square meters of office space on Ayala street in the Salamanca district, where a square meter is worth between €8,000 and €10,000. There are also two duplexes in Talavera de la Reina (Toledo) measuring 80 square meters and 109 square meters, respectively.

Josep Borrell faces MEPs scrutiny

Anna van Densky from Brussels The MEPS of Foreign Affairs Committee questioned Josep Borrell, Spanish candidate for High Representative/Vice-President for foreign affairs and security policy.

Political groups’ coordinators from the committee will meet within 24 hours to assess the performance of Josep Borrell, candidate EU top diplomat job.

During his introductory speech  Borrell stressed his intention to engage in reforms in the Western Balkans, support democracy and the integrity of Ukraine, address the challenges in the southern neighbourhood, develop a new strategy towards Africa, work on political relations with Asia, step up cooperation with Latin America and reinstate transatlantic relations (US-EU). “The world has changed for the worse…There are few agreements, more vetoes”, he said.

MEPs enquired how he intends to reach consensus among member states on decisions regarding e.g. Russia or generally related to security and defence. “We need shared strategic culture and empathy to understand the different points of view”, he replied. MEPs also asked about the role the EU could play in creating global security, when non-proliferation agreements are being breached. They also raised the issue of protecting EU maritime interests worldwide.

Asked about Kosovo-Serbia negotiations, Borrell replied that negotiations have lasted too long and Europe has to engage in helping Kosovo and Serbia out of the deadlock. His first visit as High Representative/Vice-President would be to Pristina, Commissioner-designate announced.

MEPs also asked how he intends to achieve a more strategic and coherent union, as announced in the Mission letter of the Commission President Borrell said that the EU has tools for foreign policy, such as a powerful common trade policy or diplomatic power. “The EU has to learn to use the language of power”, he stressed.

Prosecutor orders seizure of Open Arms vessel

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez (Socialist) has sent a vessel to escort Open Arms from the surroundings of Lampedusa to Palma, Mallorca. This gesture has been intended to end standoff between the Italian Minister of Interior Matteo Salvini (Lega), and the NGO, transporting migrants from Libyan coast to Italy.

Salvini vowed to upgrade the problem of the flows of illegal immigration from Africa to the level of the EU, pointing out that the Dublin regulation is not sustainable any more, and calling the other EU member-states to take their fair share participating in relocation plans for African migrants.

Meanwhile he prosecutor’s office of Agrigento (Sicily) rules the immediate landing of all persons on board of Open Arms vessel in the port of Lampedusa and the provisional seizure of the ship.
Finally, the nightmare is over and the 83 people on board will receive immediate assistance on land” wrote NGO for the Twitter micro blog.

However the Italian government expects the EU member-states, which made the pledges, to offer their hospitality to the migrants, allowing the relocation of some of the arrived Africans. All of them claiming asylum, and some of them have already declared themselves as minors to get ashore, but almost immediately Salvini revealed eight persons misled the authorities about their age, and in reality the “boys” were young men around 30.

Joining the international pressure on Italian government, the president of the European Parliament David Sassolidemanded to end the standoff, and allow the 83 African migrants to land in Lampedusa.

 

Open Arms refuses to navigate to Spain

The Mediterranean Open Arms migrant rescue vessel has firmly rejected an offer of a safe port in Spain, explaining that the six day journey to Algeciras would be too risky for the passengers, whose moods have been already critical.

Open Arms map

Today, ignoring the maritime border,  some of 107 migrants have been jumping off the vessel and attempting to swim towards Lampedusa in refusal to respect the concept of border as such, demonstrating their determination to enter Italy. The NGO Open Arms has been flexing mussels, signaling to Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini, that his orders don’t mean anything to them, while international players, supporting illegal migration are more powerful than a sovereign state.

In his turn Salvini has used social media to expose the Spanish offer to point out it was made to cast him as a “racist”. He accused those 27 migrants who were allowed to disembark on humanitarian grounds of lying about their age and their illnesses.

They told me from Lampedusa that out of the 27 immigrants for whom the landing was ordered are minors, 8 have already declared themselves older! We will see others …
After the “imaginary sick”, here are the “imaginary minors”!
While others give in, I don’t change my mind.” Salvini wrote.

We do not accept Spain as a port to go because we are in a state of extreme humanitarian emergency. What they need is to be disembarked now,” Open Arms NGO spokesperson said.

The migrants, most of whom are  from Sub-Saharan Africa, were collected off the coast of Libya by the Open Arms NGO vessel navigating under Spanish flag, , transported upon their own initiative to Italy, and from the moment of arrival to Lampedusa island. they have been waiting for the permission to disembark.

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