Jorge Fernández Díaz, Spain's Interior Minister, responded to critics by stating that tribute ceremonies like the one held on May 11th to honour an ex-combatant of Hitler's Blue Division "have taken place since 2003."
Online journal infoLibre reported that the minister's statement was made in answer to Jordi Xuclà of Catalonia's separatist CiU party, who asked for his opinion on the ceremony conducted in Barcelona by María de los Llanos de Luna, a representative of Spain's ruling PP (Popular Party) in the Catalan parliament.
Llanos de Luna has been defended by party bosses in recent weeks against those demanding her resignation for participating in the ceremony.
Xuclà replied to the Minister by stating that the government should apologize for the ceremony, remove Llanos de Luna from her post and more closely monitor the activities of its representatives.
The minister responded by saying that in light of the fact that ceremonies of this type have taken place since 2003, those opposed to them should have previously demanded the resignation of all delegates who have taken part.
He reiterated that the National Brotherhood of Veterans of the Blue Division, for whom the ceremony was held, and the other institutions involved were all "fully legal and duly registered with the relevant state and regional agencies, and based on historical context not ideology."
Fernandéz Díaz went on to say that that the institutions had been set up by family members in the spirit of "historic reconciliation" that he claimed the opposing CiU politician did not want to understand.
Xuclà in turn replied by pointing out that it was inconceivable that any democratic government in France or Germany today would present an award to someone dressed in a Nazi uniform.
He said that the Minister should behave in a way that is "comparable with any of his European right wing counterparts" and described the acts as "deeply regrettable" before criticizing the "unbearable trivialization of Nazism and the Holocaust."