On 30 October 2017, Carles Puigdemont, former President of the Generalitat of Catalogne, arrived in Brussels. He had been welcomed there by members of the New Flemish Alliance (the Nieuw-Vlaamse Alliantie or the NVA) and resided at the headquarters of the European Free Alliance (“Alliance libre européenne”).
The NVA is a Flemish regional party participating in the current Belgian government. A few of its leaders are known for their links with the extreme right.
The European Free Alliance is a federation of regionalist, autonomist and separatist parties that sits with the Greens in the European Parliament. Its president is the Frenchman François Alfonsi (Party of the Corsican Nation, “Partie de la Nation corse”). Carles Puigdemont’s Catalan European Democratic Party is not a member of it.
Carles Puigdemont immediately hired a lawyer specializing in asylum claims (Paul Bekaert Esq) and has made progress through NVA ministers. However, the Belgian Prime Minister, Charles Michel, made it known that he would be against political asylum being granted and has refused access to the Residence Palace, so that a press conference could be held there.
On 31 October, Carles Puigdemont went on to give a press conference to the Press Club. Of course he denied that he wanted to stay in Belgium, since this option had been closed off to him. He declared that he would respect the result of the elections called by the Spanish Prime Minister on 21 December.