Spain's foreign affairs minister, Josep Borrell, has said this Wednesday that the Spanish government will send "a diplomatic communication" to the Belgian executive to express its "displeasure" over the comments by that country's defence minister in support of the hunger strike undertaken by Jordi Sànchez, Jordi Turull, Josep Rull and Joaquim Forn.
"Naturally, that will be the subject of a diplomatic communication to express our displeasure at this kind of statement", the minister said during a press conference at a NATO meeting.
The contention is over the following Twitter post made by Belgian defence minister, Sander Loones, on December 1st:
Al meer dan jaar opgesloten.— Sander Loones (@SanderLoones) 1 de desembre de 2018
Zonder veroordeeld te zijn.
Spaanse rechter behandelt hun rechtszaak zelfs niet. Om te vermijden dat Hof Rechten van de Mens zich zou kunnen uitspreken.
Nu zien ze zich verplicht in hongerstaking te gaan.
Geen enkele democraat mag hierover zwijgen. https://t.co/uIDW0ARsod
Translation: "Imprisoned for more than a year. Without trial. The Spanish judge does not even deal with their lawsuit. To avoid the [European] Court of Human Rights being able to deliver [its verdict]. Now they are forced to go on hunger strike. No democrats may be silent about this."
Borrell had yesterday already made it clear that he found the comments "unacceptable" and that "they'll certainly receive a response" from Spain.
He said that his "services" are studying how to formalise the protest, "but it won't be a normal, ordinary diplomatic communication". He said that hasn't "even had time to mention it" to his "colleague and friend", the Belgian foreign minister Didier Reynders.
This isn't the first clash between Spanish diplomacy and pro-independence Flemish politicians. The most tense situation came in October, when the Spanish government revoked the diplomatic status of the Flemish government's delegate to Spain over comments made by their Parliament's speaker, Jan Peumans.
Peumans criticised the pretrial detention of Catalan pro-independence leaders over their roles in last year's referendum. He said that "Spanish government is incapable of meeting the conditions to form part of a democratic Europe".