LA PAZ – The Spanish government on Monday presented to Bolivia a note apologizing for the July 2 incident involving President Evo Morales’ plane and expressed confidence that the issue had been put to rest and that bilateral relations will remain on an even keel.
The note was delivered to the Bolivian Foreign Ministry by Spain’s ambassador to La Paz, Angel Vazquez, who expressed regret for the role played in the episode by the Spanish envoy to Austria, Alberto Carnero.
The Bolivian presidential aircraft spent 13 hours on the ground in Vienna as Austrian officials searched the plane for former U.S. intelligence contractor Edward Snowden, who exposed Washington’s pervasive electronic surveillance and has been stuck in the transit area of Moscow’s Sheremetyevo International Airport since June 23.
Morales, who was on his way back to Bolivia after attending a conference in Moscow, said Carnero also tried to board the plane.
Portugal, France and Italy had earlier barred the Bolivian aircraft from their airspace, apparently on the suspicion that Snowden was aboard.
Once back in La Paz, Morales conveyed formal protests to Lisbon, Paris, Rome and Madrid.
Spain was included in the Bolivian protest due to Carnero’s involvement, which outraged Morales, the Bolivian president himself said.
“I have to acknowledge that perhaps the procedures used at the Vienna airport on the part of our representative were not the most efficacious,” said Vazquez on Monday in La Paz.
“Spain and Bolivia have relations that go far beyond any incident, any circumstance like the one we’ve now experienced and I hope and I’m sure that the Bolivian authorities understand them in the same way,” he added.
The note Vazquez delivered presents Spain’s apology to Bolivia for what occurred, but it also explains in detail the actions taken by Madrid, Vazquez said.
He also said that Spanish airspace “was always open to the (Bolivian) presidential aircraft.” EFE