The Spanish ambassador to France, Fernando Carderera Soler, has sweated blood in an interview with Franceinfo, trying to justify his criticism of the mayor of Perpignan, Jean-Marc Pujol, for wearing a yellow loop to a meeting with the president of Catalonia, Quim Torra. What was meant to be a defence of his position and that there is no diplomatic tension between the countries following the incident ended up revealing the Spanish state's fears about how the Catalan situation is being perceived internationally.
Yellow loops are a common symbol of support for the pro-independence Catalan leaders who have spent months in pretrial detention for their roles in last year's referendum.
"Everyone knows that Spain is a completely democratic country, respectful of human rights, with separation of powers, with independence of the judiciary and its judges," he insisted. "Spain is a democracy", he repeated a number of times.
The journalist turned the screws on the ambassador, asking him why the Spanish state wants to interfere in things happening in France by criticising a mayor. "The Spanish state doesn't interfere in what happens in French territory," argued Carderera. "But, with this letter, in a certain way, you're opining on...," replies the journalist. "Of course", responds the ambassador, "imagine that a Spanish mayor, let's say the mayor of Huesca, a pretty town in Spain, in Aragon, where my father was born, receives some French official, he sports a symbol which says he deplores the existence of political prisoners in France. Would this be perceived as a completely normal matter for a French ambassador?". The journalist said the mayor in question has responded that the question doesn't involve the Spanish embassy. The ambassador then threw in the towel: "Listen, I do my job as Spanish ambassador, he does his job as mayor of Perpignan".
At the start of the video, appearing to refer to prepared remarks, the ambassador says: "I've written a letter to the mayor of Perpignan because he wore a divisive symbol. Yellow loops transmit a false, manipulative message which aims to make European public opinion believe that Spain isn't a democracy. I have to emphasise again that relations between Spain and France are excellent. L'indépendant wrote a headline that there was a diplomatic incident between Spain and France. That's not the case. There was no diplomatic incident between the countries; relations are excellent. France has always expressed respect for the Spanish Constitution. Nonetheless, I deplore that Mr Pujol, as an elected official, should wear a divisive symbol which doesn't represent the majority of Catalans and which puts into question the democratic character of my country," he said.