"Rightly indignant about Poland and Hungary, but what about Spain?"

Jan Peumans, the Speaker of the Flemish Parliament, says that he is disappointed after he learned that Belgian foreign minister Reynders will not be calling in the Spanish foreign minister to give account of the Spanish government's actions.  Flemish leaders are upset after Madrid decided no longer to recognise the Flemish government's representative in Spain as its interlocutor.

It was on Monday that the Flemish Prime Minister Geert Bourgeois urged Mr Reynders to seek an explanation for the Spanish government's bizarre behaviour.

Mr Peumans insists that Mr Reynders should assume his responsibilities and feels he has the support of all parties in the Flemish Parliament.

During Wednesday's session in parliament all parties backed the parliamentary speaker, a member of the Flemish nationalist party.  Mr Peumans was clearly moved: "I will seize every opportunity to say you mustn't lock people up because of their political conviction."

Mr Peumans mentioned Carme Forcadell, the former Speaker of the Catalan Parliament, locked up for organising debates on Catalonian independence.

Jan Peumans: "I am disappointed.  If we are rightly indignant about what happens in Poland and Hungary, this should also go for Spain.  I will not be taking any further steps.  It's not my job to tell Mr Reynders what to do."

Speaking on nationwide TV Mr Peumans again insisted he had never compared Spain to Bosnia in the Nineties, but was keen to launch a new simile between Poland, Hungary and Spain.

It was a journalist reporting on the opening of an exhibition at the Flemish Parliament devoted to Catalonia's efforts to secure its freedom who attributed the comparison between Spain and Bosnia in the Nineties to Mr Peumans.

Jan Peumans: "This is a journalist who acted in bad faith.  I was speaking about an exhibition we organised earlier, a project about children traumatised by the war in Bosnia."

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