Spain Apologizes To Bolivia Over President Evo Morales’ Plane; Spanish Ambassador In La Paz Says ‘Spain Was Involved Against Its Will’

 @PReyMallen
on July 16 2013 11:11 AM

After weeks of international pressure and anger from Latin America, Spain apologized to Bolivia for the July 2 incident involving the detention of President Evo Morales’ plane. The Spanish ambassador in La Paz, Ángel Vázquez, hand-delivered a letter to the Bolivian authorities in which the government expressed regret over the affront Morales suffered when he was flying back from Moscow.

Spain saw itself drawn into the situation as several European nations refused overflight rights to Morales' airplane on suspicion that it was carrying NSA leaker and accused spy Edward Snowden, who is wanted by U.S. authorities. The plane had to land in Vienna and was able to leave only after authorities searched it and determined Snowden was not on board. 

“We regret dearly the incident President Morales went through, the uncomfortable situation he lived [through] and [that] he has expressed,” said Vázquez in a press conference with local journalists. The contents of the letter have not been made public.

The ambassador said the Bolivian plane always had permission to fly over its airspace. “Spain was involved in this situation against its will,” said the ambassador. “Nevertheless, we present our apologies, since our behavior was an inadequate way to treat a president.”

Spain is the first of the four European countries involved to offer an apology to Bolivia. Portugal, which denied the plane entry into its airspace, and Austria, which held the plane on the ground for more than 15 hours, have not done so. France has not offered public apologies, but Bolivian paper La Razón reported that the spokesman for the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Philippe Lalliot, conveyed an apology to Bolivia.

“It is the French government's intention to get over the misunderstandings, and it is its wish to continue with the dialogue and cooperation both with Bolivia and the rest of Mercosur,” said Lalliot.

French media group BFMTV reported that French Minister for Foreign Affairs Laurent Fabius personally called his Bolivian counterpart, David Choquehuanca: "President Morales' plane is always welcome in France's airspace," he said.

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