Spain’s Ambassador to Finland has become embroiled in a spat with a Lapland MP over his vocal support for this weekend’s controversial Catalan independence vote.
Mikko Kärnä (Centre) has made no secret of his support for Catalonia’s right to decide on independence. He’s even changed his Twitter profile picture to feature a yellow-and-red- striped Catalan flag.
So he was surprised when the Spanish Ambassador to Finland, Manuel Cámara Hermoso, sent him an email saying “…if one day Finland has a security problem, and needs the solidarity of its EU partners it could go look for that solidarity to Catalonia.”
“I was totally surprised because this was like a mobster answer, that if you have security problems we’re not supporting you from Spain, if you support Catalonia” Kärnä tells News Now Finland.
“In Lapland we have a strong identity of our own. We are not separatists, we are staying with Finland. But we have to do strong regional politics and we have to know that we have different kinds of regions within the European Union and within Finland, and it is important that we give vocal support for those people in the [Catalan] region” he says.
Kärnä shared the Ambassador’s message on Twitter, and it soon racked up more than 5000 shares and more than 4000 ‘likes’ on the social media site.
There was also support from other Finnish politicians, like Left Alliance MEP Merja Kyllönen who tweeted: “Really crazy. We just want that Spain respect fundamental rights in response to Catalan referendum”.
Åland Islands MP Mats Löfström says he follows the situation in Catalonia because he’s been to Barcelona many times, and has friends there.
“I was very surprised to see the [Spanish Ambassador’s] answer, because from my perspective as a Member of Parliament it doesn’t matter which party you are from, you are sovereign, you are not representing anyone but yourself and your voters, you are not representing the Finnish official vote” Löfström tells News Now Finland.
“It was quite bold to say that Finland can’t expect any solidarity from Spain if Finland needs help. And one cannot professionally react like that to a Member of Parliament” he adds.
Barcelona-based Finn Janne Riitakorpi, who works for the Public Diplomacy Council of Catalonia, says that while Spain keeps watch on public comments about the situation in Catalonia, the Ambassador’s reaction seems atypical.
“Based on what I know, Spanish diplomats keep a very close eye on these statements of support from around the world just as the Catalan diplomacy does” says Riitakorpi.
“But I have never seen so aggressive response against an MP before”.
The Spanish Embassy in Helsinki didn’t make anyone available for comment about this story.