There's growing diplomatic tension between Spain and Belgium. The speaker of the Flemish Parliament, Jan Peumans, has told the Spanish government that his letter (link in Catalan) to former speaker of the Catalan Parliament Carme Forcadell is "legitimate".
It started with a letter from Peumans, describing imprisoning politicians as a "wicked act". The Spanish foreign minister, Josep Borrell, then complained to Belgium. Then the MP insisted that he sticks by his opinion: "it's unacceptable that there should be politicians imprisoned".
Borrell had this Wednesday summonsed the Belgian ambassador to Madrid, Marc Calcoen, after the contents of the letter were revealed. The chargé d'affaires of the Spanish embassy to Belgium, Jorge Notivol, wrote a letter to Peumans in protest, calling the original letter a "frankly hostile" gesture. Carme Forcadell, currently in Mas d'Enric prison, has been held in pretrial detention for months over her role in last year's Catalan independence process.
Flemish Parliament resolution
In response to Madrid, Peumans remarked that although he sent the letter "in a personal capacity", it was based on a resolution in the Flemish Parliament passed on 4th October 2017. The Flemish MPs then called "unanimously" for "dialogue between Catalan and Spanish authorities".
The speaker of the Flemish chamber also announced the letter of complaint he had received and accused Spain of "not respecting the separation of powers".
Peumans responded that "a German court has already judged that the accusations of rebellion and disturbing the peace are not applicable in this case". As such, he believes it to be "unacceptable that there should be politicians imprisoned for almost a year on the basis of this accusation".
The speaker has repeatedly expressed his support for and solidarity with the Catalan political prisoners and exiles. President Carles Puigdemont and ministers Toni Comín, Meritxell Serret and Lluís Puig are in exile in Belgium. Last December, Peumans took part in the rally in Brussels which saw thousands of Catalans travel to the Belgian capital.