Latvian MEPs from various parties slam Spanish government for excluding consul

Conservative, socialist and green MEPs call minister Margallo’s decision “horrible”, “ludicrous” and “clearly out of tune with the 20th century’s democratic standards”

Catalan News Agency
2 min
El cònsol honorari de Letònia, Xavier Vinyals, en una imatge recent.

BrusselsSpeaking for the Catalan News Agency (ACN), several Latvian MEPs criticised the Spanish government for stripping Xavier Vinyals of his credentials as Latvia’s honorary consul in Barcelona. “It is ludicrous”, one of them said. Accusing Vinyals of hanging a Catalan separatist flag “is a very funny reason to exclude a consul”, cried out social democrat MEP Andrejs Mamikins. In the same vein, Roberts Zile —a conservative representative— criticised the Spanish Foreign Minister for having “the wrong attitude, one that is clearly out of tune with the 20th century’s democratic standards”. “It is a horrible decision”, lamented green MEP Tatjana Zdanoka. The government of Latvia and Latvia’s conservative MEPs declined to comment on the decision by José Manuel García-Margallo.

On Thursday October 27, after nearly ten years in office, Xavier Vinyals will cease to be Latvia’s honorary consul in Barcelona because the Spanish Foreign Ministry has unilaterally decided to take away the exequatur credentials which allowed him to hold this office in Spain. Minister Margallo accused him of violating the Vienna Convention by displaying a Catalan separatist flag on September 11th this year, Catalonia’s National Day. Vinyals denies it, but admits that he has “never been coy” about his “convictions”.

The Latvian MEPs interviewed by ACN spoke highly of Vinyals and Mamikins praised the consul’s “outstanding efforts to foster good relations between Spain and Latvia”. “He is a prominent figure in Latvia and he even took part in the pro-independence 1989 Baltic Way”, remarked the social democrat MEP, who does not believe that the alleged display of a separatist flag is “the true reason” for Vinyals’ exclusion and he called Margallo’s accusation “demagogic”. Zdanoka, who was an international observer for the non-binding independence referendum on November 9 in Catalonia, insisted that she “would very much like for Vinyals to continue representing Latvia”.

Conservative MEP Roberts Zile —also a former Latvian cabinet minister— warned the Spanish government that “it is a mistake to fight brutally” and “criminalise a nation because it wishes to become an independent country” and “it’s even worse when that is detrimental to diplomatic relations”. I am old enough to remember when my country’s flag was illegal and displaying it carried a severe penalty”, recalled Zile. “Catalan separatists are not few and their concerns should be heard”, he insisted.

Both Mamikins and Zdanoka recalled the “huge pressure” put on former Latvian prime minister Valdis Dombrovski (currently the vice president of the European Commission) when in 2013 he hinted that his country would recognise Catalonia’s independence. “I’d say that if the process is legitimate, in theory, why not?”, he stated in an interview for ACN. The social democrat and green MEPs slammed the “double speak on self-determination” by the EU, which “supported” the independence of Latvia and even Kosovo. “You cannot support the independence of some nations while you prohibit others”, argued Zdanoka, who sees Catalonia’s secession as “inevitable”.