Row Madrid-Brussels: "This is an unfriendly act"

The Flemish leader Geert Bourgeois (Flemish nationalist party) says that Spain's decision to break off diplomatic ties with Flanders is highly peculiar.  Last night the Madrid government made it clear it would no longer recognise the Flemish government's representative in its country.

Flemish Prime Minister Geert Bourgeois points to freedom of speech issues and the separation of powers (between the legislative, executive and judicial powers) in Belgium.

"This is an unfriendly act vis-a-vis another EU member state.  It's unprecedented.  It's worth noting that it happens on the basis of words spoken by the Speaker of the Flemish Parliament.  The Flemish executive power is being tackled following actions by the legislative power. Spain should learn that there is a separation of powers."

Mr Bourgeois has invited the Spanish chargé d'affaires in Brussels to meet him on Friday to pursue a dialogue. The Flemish PM has also asked the federal foreign minister to call in Spain's representative.  Mr Bourgeois says this is a major incident that requires clarification.  He hopes the Belgian foreign minister will explain to Spain's representative concepts including the separation of powers and freedom of speech.