VALLETTA, April 26 (Xinhua) -- The Dutch city of Leeuwarden-Friesland announced on Thursday its decision not to send any official representatives to Valletta 2018 celebrations in light of comments passed by Valletta 2018 chairman Jason Micallef.
Leeuwarden-Friesland holds the title of 2018 European Capital of Culture, along with Valletta.
The LF2018 foundation said it would not send any more official invitations to Valletta 2018, unless it distanced itself from the offensive tone used by Micallef when speaking about the Caruana Galizia family.
Micallef has been a vocal critic of those still mourning Caruana Galizai and civil society activists demanding justice for the murdered journalist.
He has called for the clearing of the makeshift memorial in her honour set up in front of the law courts, and mocked Caruana Galizia's last printed words when commenting on the number of people attending last month's St Patrick's day celebrations.
"LF2018 believes that V18 representatives have put the values of a European Capital of Culture under pressure as a result of the way in which the V18 organisation has presented itself in the (social) media regarding the journalist," the Dutch foundation said.
Over the last weeks, more than 1150 local artists signed a petition demanding Micallef's resignation. And 72 MEPs and 2150 international authors that form part of PEN International have also voiced serious concerns about Micallef's behaviour.
When confronted by journalists, the minister responsible for V18, Maltese Minister for Justice, Culture and Local Government Owen Bonnici, said he had contacted the regional minister responsible for the Dutch European City of Culture and offered to clear up any misunderstandings, adding that his request had been well received.
Bonnici, however, insisted that Micallef had a right to his opinion, and that freedom of expression could not be applied selectively.