By Faruk Zorlu
ANKARA (AA) -Turkey's Foreign Ministry issued a warning late Friday for its citizens traveling to the Spanish region of Catalonia due to security concerns in its capital, Barcelona.
Considering the developments in Catalonia, it is recommended that Turkish citizens who live in the region or plan to travel there stay away from crowds, follow the latest developments and review their travel plans in this context, the ministry said in a statement.
The ministry said that in particular, it should be noted that demonstrations at Barcelona's El Prat airport have disrupted its operation and led to delays and cancellations of certain flights and train services.
It will be useful for Turkish citizens to closely follow the social media accounts of the Turkish embassy in Madrid and the Consulate General in Barcelona, it noted.
Since Monday, hundreds of thousands of Catalan protestors have taken to the streets to express their outrage over the Supreme Court’s sentencing of pro-independence leaders to prison terms of nine to 13 years.
Since Monday, more than 100 people have been arrested, and authorities estimate that the physical damage to Barcelona alone will cost €1.5 million ($1.6 million).
Carles Puigdemont, the former president of Catalonia who fled to Belgium in 2017 before being captured in Spain, voluntarily turned himself over to Belgian authorities Friday after a European arrest warrant was reactivated. He was subsequently released by a judge.
When Puigdemont was president of Catalonia, he spearheaded an illegal independence referendum in October 2017 and later declared independence from Spain. It is for these activities that the other nine leaders, who did not flee, were sentenced to a combined total of nearly 100 years in prison.
Spanish authorities are bracing for Friday night, when the protests this week are expected to reach their peak.