Hendrik Bogaert: ‘They are political prisoners and Europe should intervene’

  • Interview with Flemish politician and member of the Belgian Federal Parliament for the Christian Democratic and Flemish Party (CD&V)

Martí Estruch Axmacher
21.03.2018 - 09:00
Actualització: 21.03.2018 - 10:05

A few days ago, Hendrik Bogaert mentioned Catalonia in an article published in a Flemish digital newspaper, referring to the political prisoners and the position of the European Union. He is a Christian Democrat and thus belongs to the same ideological family as the Spanish Popular Party, which is why he probably avoids criticising them directly, but being a Flemish makes it easier for him to understand the Catalan case. In any case, as Scottish Conservative Ian Duncan often says, being a democrat goes before being conservative.

-In a recent article at Doorbraak you clearly said that Catalan political prisoners should be released. Why?
-I think that in 2018 there should be no political prisoners. One of the main philosophers of the enlightenment, John Stuart Mill, rightfully said that there should be both freedom of opinion and of opinion voicing.

-You also wrote that the EU should not remain silent and look away. Is it easier for the EU to criticise Turkey than Spain?
-The EU should not only be a customs zone or a free market. It is not only an economic union but also a moral union. If Europe wants to be a union of values, then it is a moral area, not just an economic area. This European moral area needs to be respected and protected.

-Political prisoners, exile, judicial prosecution against webages, rapsingers and even puppetiers… How far does it have to go before international political leaders stop considering it an internal affair and raise their voices?
-The prisoners are political prisoners since if they were not dealing with politics, they would not have organised the referendum. Therefore, they are political prisoners and Europe should intervene.

-Why do you think Mr Rajoy and his government are dealing with the Catalan issue in such a different manner as Mr Cameron did with Scotland?
-This is difficult for me to comment…

-Is it easier to understand Catalonia from Flanders?
-Through knowing the situation in Flanders, I believe the following: I think that respect for the law should be supplemented by respect for the opinion of the people. Subsidiarity is also a Christian-Democratic principle. If government can be close to the people, it is preferable to being more distant from the people.

-Any solution at sight?
-Spain and Catalonia should negotiate and through mutual concessions come to a lot more autonomy for Catalonia. To be a real democrat, one should also take into account the opinion and interest of the minority. Otherwise, one ends up in the case of the dictatorship of the majority. In this case, both could end up in the majority or minority. Yet another reason to negotiate.


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