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Catalan president in exile Carles Puigdemont and the dissident Chinese artist Ai Weiwei have this Wednesday in Brussels denounced Europe's double standard over the situation in Catalonia. Ai confessed to being "surprised" by Europe's reaction and its attitude "in general". "There cannot be double standards when it comes to human rights", he said in a conversation with Puigdemont organised by the Cinema for Peace-Foundation. For his part, the former president warned that the double standard is "one of the dangers for European democracy", a "real risk".

For close to an hour and a half, the two shared their personal experiences and agreed that freedom cannot be taken as "guaranteed" in the European Union.

"We mistakenly think that Europe guarantees certain values, but it's not like that, they have to be defended," Ai said.

Translation: President Carles Puigdemont in his debate with Chinese artist Ai Weiwei: "I'm free everywhere in the world except for Spain. I'm in exile to continue the fight for my ideas."

"On the Catalan crisis, the attitude of the Spanish state is clearly authoritatian", said Puigdemont, who asked rhetorically: "Is it not authoritarian to put political dissidents into pretrial detention for more than a year only for organising a referendum?". Answering his own question, he admitted that it's not "comfortable" to have to "fight" in this situation, but that it's his "obligation". "Freedom isn't guaranteed, you have to fight for it," he added.

Puigdemont and Ai met in Berlin whilst the leader of JxCat was waiting for a decision from the German courts over Spain's request for his extradition. Today's meeting in the Belgian capital was organised by Cinema for Peace. Based in Berlin, it's a charity aiming to "promote change through cinema" in the face of "injustice". One of the artists and activists who supports the foundation is Ai Weiwei himself, who has based himself in Germany since Chinese authorities returned his passport.

The event was attended by close to a hundred people, including the Catalan government's delegate to the EU, Meritxell Serret, minister Toni ComínTxell Bonet, the wife of the imprisoned Jordi Cuixart, and the rapper Valtònyc. A number of MEPs were also present, including Ivo Vajgl, spokesperson for the EU-Catalonia dialogue platform, Ramon Tremosa and Jordi Solé.

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