Spain's foreign ministry has announced that it is holding a "pledge of allegiance" ceremony in Germany, inviting any Spanish citizen who wishes to attend and swear their allegiance to the Spanish flag. The patriotic ceremony is to be held on June 23rd in Kiel, capital of the Schleswig-Holstein land where exiled Catalan president Carles Puigdemont was arrested and then freed in 2018.
The ceremony is to take place as part of a broader institutional event, and coincides with a local festival, Kieler Woche. The solemn ceremony of pledging allegiance to the flag will take place in the port of Kiel at 12 noon, on board the Spanish Navy's sail training vessel Juan Sebastián Elcano. Prior to the central event, a 30-minute mass will be held. Participation in the swearing of allegiance is open to any Spanish citizen who sends a request in advance and is "duly accepted". As well, those who have sworn on the flag will be subsequently treated to a glass of Spanish wine. Finally, the text requests that those taking part in the pledge and their companions dress appropriately for the "solemnity of the occasion."
The name of Schleswig-Holstein became familiar to Spaniards, and especially to Catalans, in 2018 when Carles Puigdemont was stopped and held in the region by police, while on a road journey from Finland to Belgium. The Spanish authorities attempted to extradite the Catalan leader on charges related to the independence process. However, the Schleswig-Holstein court decided to extradite Puigdemont to Spain only on a charge of misuse of public funds, rejecting the crimes of rebellion in the extradition request. The Spanish justice system then abandoned the extradition attempt.
From June 19th to 24th, the sail training ship Juan Sebastián Elcano will also be open for visits, coinciding with the 500th anniversary of the first circumnavigation of the world made by the explorer Juan Sebastian Elcano between 1519 and 1522.
The Spanish vessel has been in the news before, after a cargo of 127kg of cocaine was transported from Colombia to Spain in its hold on a voyage in 2014. Responsibilities for this drug trafficking offence on a naval ship have never been resolved.
The announcement of the ceremony on June 23rd invites Spaniards resident in Kiel, and in the wider area of Germany served by the Consulate General of Spain in Hamburg, to "visit the facilities and swear allegiance to the flag".