Borrell leaves an interview on a German television when asked about Catalonia
The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Josep Borrell

Borrell leaves an interview on a German television when asked about Catalonia

Minister of Foreign Affairs accuses journalist Tim Sebastian of both lying and asking biased questions all the time


Bitter pill to swallow for Josep Borrell on the German public television Deutsche Welle. The Minister of Foreign Affairs was the guest of journalist Tim Sebastian in the Conflict Zone interview program. In just 25 minutes, Borrell got angry with Sebastian, accused him of both  lying and making biased questions, threatened to leave the interview and ended up doing so... to return after a few minutes.

The first clash came at the fourth minute of the interview, when Sebastian was asking Borrell about the remand situation of Parliament's former president, Carme Forcadell.

Both then started a discussion about remand prisoners and the presumption of innocence, until Borrell said enough.

Josep Borrell: Stop. If you keep going forward like this, I will put an end to this interview. Did you understand? If you keep going this way I will stop this. You are not questioning me, you are interviewing me.

Tim Sebastian: I‘m just trying to...

JB: You are interviewing me. You are not a policeman. I am not under any investigation on your behalf.

TS: Understood. Understood.

JB: Ask me the right questions and let me talk.

TS: Absolutely.

JB: Let's start all over again.



The interview went on for six more minutes, as if nothing happened, until Borrell exploded when Sebastian asked him about the reform of the Constitution and accused the journalist of telling lies.

Tim Sebastian: Have you no interest in reforming the Constitution?

Josep Borrell: Who asks for it?

TS: 70 percent of Spaniards ...

JB: No, no ...

TS: ... they want some kind of constitutional reform, according to the CIS (the Spanish centre for sociological research). 70 percent.

JB: Stop right there. You are lying all the time.

TS: The CIS states that 70 percent of Spaniards want some type of constitutional reform.

JB: Over what?

TS: Of some sort.

JB: Over what exactly?

TS: Somehow, of some sort.

JB: Stop recording. Stop recording.

TS: Why?

JB: It's over.

TS: Why?

JB: No. It's over. I don't want to continue.

The program stopped for a moment while a message on the screen read that, after a few minutes, and after having spoken to his assistants, Borrell would return to finish the interview.

After this interruption, Borrell went back to his place, smiling, and the interview continued.

They then stopped speaking about Catalonia, and questions arose on the writing by the Commissioner for Human Rights of the European Council, Dunja Mijatovic, the gag rule and the –unfulfilled- commitment of Pedro Sáchez to reform it.

Here Borrell clashed back with Sebastian, and accused him of being partial.

"I see that you have a very biased approach to the situation in Spain."

Borrell also advocated the argument that the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has amended Spain less than other European countries.

Sebastian argued that Borrell represented Spain, not other countries, and immediately introduced another issue: the sale of weapons to Saudi Arabia.

Here they both got into it once again, when Borrell, after defending that the socialist government simply complied with the commitment made by the Rajoy government, stated that the bombs sold by Spain cause fewer civilian casualties and again accused Sebastian of being biased.

"If you make a somewhat more honest approach to the problem, you would understand that a precision bomb causes less collateral damage than any regular bomb."

The clash worsened when Sebastian introduced the issue of sovereignty over Gibraltar. Here, Borrell firmly accused Sebastian of being an ignorant and a liar:

Tim Sebastian: Do you think you can use the negotiations on the Brexit to put pressure on [the shared sovereignty of] Gibraltar?

Josep Borrell: I am really surprised to see how badly informed you are.

TS: Really?

JB: Yes. You really don't know what you're talking about. Oh my god!

TS: What do I don't know?

JB: You don't know what you are talking about. We have said very clearly that we won't use the talks on the Brexit to put the question of sovereignty on the table. Are you a liar or just an ignorant?

TS: And have you not heard your prime minister saying in November that the question of sovereignty would again be on the table?

JB: It will be back on the table, but not during the Brexit negotiations. It's amazing how ignorant you are. It's incredible.

TS: What do you say about trading negotiations? If a free trade agreement between the United Kingdom and Spain is about to happen, would you not press on Gibraltar again?

JB: Why do you say these things? I am really surprised. You don't have the slightest idea on what you are saying.

The interview ends with another reproach from Borrell to the journalist. Sebastian cites a Transparency International report that ensured that European Union countries could do more to fight corruption, fraud and money laundering.

Josep Borrell: We do everything we can.

Tim Sebastian: But you could do more.

JB: Most certainly. You could do much better interviews too.

TS: Minister, it was nice to have you in Conflict Zone. Thanks.

JB: Thanks to you. But next time I would appreciate it if you asked me less biased questions.

TS: I'm not here to ask the questions you want.

This is not the first time that Tim Sebastian clashes with a guest.



The host of @dw_conflictzone makes it clear to the Spanish minister that the questions are not put by the interviewee. Tim Sebastian is a veteran who hosted @BBCHARDtalk previously. Three years ago he also pushed the ultrapatriotic populist and leader of the AFD, Frauke Petry against the ropes.


The interview was conducted in Madrid.



By the way, the interview of @dw_conflictzone to J.Borrell was conducted in Madrid. The motto of the program is "confronting the powerful". The head of the Spanish diplomacy apparently went to the interview without knowing it.

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