Spanish prime minister José Luis Zapatero today rejected comparisons to Mugabe of Zimbabwe, after UKIP MEP Marta Andreasen
brought him to task over his government's inaction on the demolition of coastal homes in Spain.
"You have exercised the EU rotating presidency in the same way you govern your country, Spain - that is, with your back to your citizens," Ms Andreasen told Mr Zapatero, who was in Strasbourg for the parliamentary debate to review the Spanish presidency after its six-month rotating period ended in June.
"Today I'm coming back here to remind you of the infamous Spanish land grab, a matter which I first brought to your attention in January. You have done nothing to resolve the menace affecting hundreds of thousands of people across Spain who face confiscation and demolition of their houses," Ms Andreasen continued.
"My Constituents regularly ask, 'who is running Spain?'
"Mr Westerdale writes that he fears he's facing a situation similar to that experienced by British subjects at the hands of President Mugabe in Zimbabwe, and wonders why he is receiving this treatment in a friendly European country. This is why he feels that the European Union is not capable of protecting British citizens," Ms Andreasen said.
She added that Andalusia's planning inspectorate head had acknowleded that 300,000 houses are affected in that region alone. "This is not the handful of British citizens that some want us to believe," Ms Andreasen said.
Reacting to Ms Andreasen's speech later in the debate, Mr Zapatero denied any similarity to Mugabe. This is "something that came from a specific policial group here from the UK, that was raised here in this House," Mr Zapatero said, adding: "and they mentioned Zimbabwe and I'm sorry I cannot accept that. It's unacceptable and I totally reject that."
Mr Zapatero said that the Courts are responsible for the application of law. "We stand shoulder to shoulder with those people, in this case British citizens, who, maybe, have had wool pulled over their eyes in the property sector."
"But we are working with the parliamentary groups in the European Parliament. We are doing everything possible," Mr Zapatero said, claiming that this parliament had itself asked Spain to protect its coast and so environmental laws have to be observed.
Speaking afterwards outside the Plenary, Mrs Andreasen said she was worried that she "might get phonecalls from Robert Mugabe complaining about likening him to the Spanish prime minister. Mr Zapatero also talked about the law and the courts, but the dogs in the street know that Spain has the most highly politicised judiciary in Europe."