The Dutch city which shares the European Capital of Culture title with Valletta has decided to boycott any invitation by the V-18 Foundation following chairman Jason Micallef's derogatory comments against Daphne Caruana Galizia.
The Leeuwarden-Fryslân 2018 (LF2018) Foundation said it has decided not to send any official representatives to Valletta for as long as V18 does not distance itself from the "offensive tone" made in comments about the murdered journalist.
LF2018 will also not invite V18 to its activities.
"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 in a statement on its website.
In a reaction, Culture Minister Owen Bonnici said he had contacted the regional minister responsible for the Dutch European City of Culture and offered to clear up any misunderstandings. He said his request was well received.
Dr Bonnici stood by Mr Micallef and said he respected the principle of freedom of expression. However, the minister appealed for prudence in comments made by persons in public office (See video below).
The Dutch decision is yet another snub at V-18 and Mr Micallef.
In February, Mr Micallef had insisted he would, personally and as V-18 head, resist any plans for a permanent memorial to Daphne Caruana Galizia in Valletta's Great Siege Square.
Then he created a stir last month when he posted a picture of the big crowd for the St Patrick's Day celebration in St Julian's and in a twist of the last words written by Ms Caruana Galizia, wrote: "St Patrick's Day in Malta. The situation is desperate. There is happy people everywhere you look."
More than 100 local artists later signed a petition urging Mr Micallef to leave his post.
On April 16, a group of prominent global writers chastised Mr Micallef for his derogatory comments about Daphne Caruana Galizia, six months after her murder.
In a statement endorsed by the likes of author Salman Rushdie and screen writer Ian McEwan, PEN International expressed "profound concerns" with the behaviour of the management of Valletta 2018.
On April 19, 72 MEPs from across political groups described Jason Micallef's behaviour in the wake of Daphne Caruana Galizia's murder as undignified and unacceptable and called for his immediate removal from the post of chairman of Valletta 2018.
But Mr Micallef's immediate superior, Parliamentary Secretary Deo Debattista, said on Thursday that Mr Micalelf should stay in the saddle, citing his freedom of expression.
Independent journalism costs money. Support Times of Malta for the price of a coffee.Support Us