Spanish Prime Minister Aznar questioned on Spanish border incident

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"Four MEPs demanded answers from Span's Premier, José María Aznar, on incidents that happened at the Portuguese and Spanish border on the 22 June, where Portuguese members of parliament and political groups were denied access to Spain where they wanted to attend a demonstration. Portuguese MEP Ilda Figueiredo described this incident as a "violation of fundamental human rights" and an "attack on democracy." During these incidents, Portuguese MPs and members from the Portuguese Communist Party suffered physical aggression.

Physical aggression suffered by Portuguese MPs

The incident happened on the 22 June, when Members of Parliament from the Bloco de Esquerda (Leftist Bloc), members from the Portuguese communist party, the Portuguese Communist youth and various other NGOs and journalists were blocked access to Spain from separate border points with Portugal. They were all going to attend a demonstration in Seville against "The Europe of Capitals." Due to the EU Seville summit, the Schengen agreement was suspended for security reasons.

However, it is being claimed that Spanish border guards denied their access to Spain even after that they showed an identification document. It is also being claimed that the border guards used aggressive measures and injured some of the people who insisted on their right to cross the border. A statement by Bloco de Esquerda reads: three members of the Parliament, Francisco Louçã, Isabel de Castro and Teixeira Lopes, suffered improper treatment, and Mr Louçã was also subjected to physical aggression just after showing his MP identification.

Portuguese Leftist Bloc wants issue to be taken to European Court of Justice

Both Bloco de Esquerda and the Portuguese Communist Party were dissatisfied with the response received from the Spanish Government. The PCP on the other hand expressed concern that such measures, which are taken in the name of security, restrained fundamental democratic rights and prevents just demonstrations of discontent and opposition to policies of the European Union. The Portuguese Communist Party also considers that the explanations given until now by the Spanish authorities are insufficient.

Bloco de Esquerda has made a complaint to the European Commission in order to be able to pursue this issue to the European Court of Justice.

MEPs demand clarification from Aznar

During a debate at the plenary session in Strasbourg on Tuesday, MEPs Ilda Figueiredo and Salvador Jové Peres from the Confederal Group of the European United Left, the President of the European Socialists, Enrique Barón Crespo, and the co-president of the Greens, Monica Frassoni, demanded a clarification of the incidents that happened at the Portuguese-Spanish border. The Spanish Premier, José María Aznar, however, failed to answer the questions posed by the MEPs."

Source: EUobserver 03.07.2002,

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