Following the announcement of the results from Sunday's presidential election in Belarus, the country's streets filled with protesters claiming that electoral fraud had taken place, ending with one death and more than 3,000 people arrested. The European Union condemned the police violence and Josep Borrell, current EU high representative for Foreign Affairs and former Spanish foreign minister, made his own statement on the events.
"Disproportionate and unacceptable state violence against peaceful protesters in Belarus must stop immediately and fundamental rights be respected," Borrell said on Twitter. The former Spanish Socialist minister called for votes to be "counted accurately" and for the results to reflect "people's choice", statements that sparked the indignation of many, including that of exiled Catalan president and current MEP, Carles Puigdemont.
Disproportionate & unacceptable state violence against peaceful protesters in #Belarus must stop immediately & fundamental rights be respected.— Josep Borrell Fontelles (@JosepBorrellF) August 10, 2020
Essential that #BelarusPresidentialElection votes are counted accurately and results reflect people's choice.https://t.co/DcH152YlPc
Puigdemont, like many of those who criticized Borrell, saw hypocrisy in his defence of the victims of police violence in Belarus, given that he had supported brutal police treatment of not just protesters but also voters in the 2017 Catalan independence referendum. "I'm very sorry, Mr Borrell, but you, your party and your king have given support to extreme violence against peaceful protests in Catalonia," said Puigdemont. For this reason, the Catalan MEP asserted that "he has no moral authority" to address "one of the most cruel regimes in Europe" and concluded that, for this reason, "the Catalan crisis is a European issue."
I'm very sorry Mr @JosepBorrellF but you, your party and your king have given support to extreme violence against peaceful protests in Catalonia. So you have no moral authority in front of one of the most cruel regimes in Europe. This is why the Catalan crisis is a European issue https://t.co/Z2mNqvgJGW— Carles Puigdemont (@KRLS) August 10, 2020
Torra denounces Borrell's "contemptible cynicism"
Current Catalan president Quim Torra also reacted to Borrell's statements, pointing out that although his tweet is "correct", it is also a "perfect example of contemptible cynicism by its author". Torra notes that the man who is now the EU leading diplomatic voice "applauded and defended the violence against Catalan voters on October 1st 2017".
Aquest tuit és correcte. El que el fa un exemple perfecte de cinisme menyspreable és el seu autor, que va aplaudir i defensar la violència contra els votants catalans el Primer d’Octubre. https://t.co/SE5LiF0Wbg— Quim Torra i Pla (@QuimTorraiPla) August 10, 2020