Crisis in Belgium: If Flanders Secedes Wallonia Disintegrates
From the desk of Paul Belien on Sun, 2007-09-09 10:52
On Monday afternoon Herman Van Rompuy, the veteran politician appointed by Belgian King Albert II as his royal “scout,” will report to the King about possible ways out of Belgium’s government crisis. The crisis has arisen as a result of the inability of the Belgian politicians to form a government. There is growing talk of a secession of Flanders, the Dutch-speaking northern half of Belgium. If that happens what to do with Brussels, a French-speaking enclave within Flanders? And what about Wallonia, the French-speaking southern half of Belgium?
If Belgium breaks up it is likely that Wallonia will break up as well, with part of it preferring to go to Germany, part of it to the Grand Duchy of Luxemburg (GDL) and part of it to France.
Belgium is an artificial state of 10.5 million inhabitants. The country was put together in 1830-31 by the international powers as a political compromise and an experiment in building one state out of two nationalities. It consists of 6 million Dutch-speakers in Flanders, its northern half bordering the Netherlands, 3 million French-speakers in Wallonia, its southern half bordering France, and 1 million people in its capital Brussels, which is also the capital of the European Union. Throughout its entire history Brussels was a Dutch-speaking town, until the middle of the last century, when the deliberate “frenchification” policy of the Belgian authorities succeeded in turning it into a predominantly French-speaking city.
Many doubt whether, without Brussels, Wallonia will be viable as an independent state. Uniting Brussels and Wallonia is, however, impossible because this would require that Flanders relinquishes part of its territory to Wallonia in order to create a “corridor” linking Brussels to the rest of French-speaking Belgium.
Until 1830 Belgium belonged to the Netherlands. Historically contemporary Belgium (the name of the country is derived from Belgica, which is Latin for the Netherlands) is made up of the Southern Netherlands and of the Prince-Bishopric of Liege. Liege never was a part of the Netherlands and greatly resented being incorporated into it. Liege, the largest city in Wallonia, would have preferred to join France. The Belgian revolution of 1830 was the work of French republican and napoleonist exiles living in Brussels, and rebels from Liege. Together they succeeded in driving the Dutch army from Wallonia and subjugating Flanders by force. Though the revolutionaries wanted the annexation of Belgium by France, this was vetoed by Britain and the country became an independent state run by an establishment of French immigrants and Liegeois. They eradicated the decentralised Netherlandish political traditions of the country and ran Belgium as a centralised copy of France. If Belgium had been established as a second Netherlandish state, it could probably have become a viable entity. As it was, however, the project to turn it into a second France was doomed from the beginning.
While the Flemings consider themselves to be a nation, the Walloons do not. Some of them feel French, but others do not. This explains why a breaking up of Belgium would likely lead to a fragmentation of Wallonia. After the First World War, Belgium annexed a number of German municipalities (GM) where, despite a frenchification policy, German is still the dominant language. These municipalities will neither want to join an independent Wallonia nor become a part of France. They could either return to Germany or opt for annexation by the Grand Duchy of Luxemburg (GDL).
Luxemburg, moreover, is a problem of its own. Historically Luxemburg , like Flanders and unlike Liege, was part of the Southern Netherlands. When Belgium was established in 1831, many Luxemburgians preferred to remain loyal to King William of the Netherlands. By way of compromise Luxemburg was split up in 1839. The eastern part of Luxemburg, the present GDL, became an independent state with the Dutch King as its monarch. This personal union lasted until 1890 when, upon extinction of the male line of the House of Orange-Nassau, the Netherlands passed to the female line of that house and Luxemburg to the House of Nassau-Weilburg. The western part of Luxemburg, however, was given to Belgium and is currently the Belgian province of Luxemburg. Many (Belgian or West) Luxemburgians would want to reunite with the GDL.
The same may also be true for the inhabitants of the Belgian province of Namur. Like Luxemburg, Namur is a rural province. Unlike the rest of Wallonia, the provinces of Namur and Luxemburg are conservative and Catholic. Both provinces belong to the diocese of Namur. If Namur and Luxemburg secede from Wallonia to join the GDL – which would be likely – this would leave Wallonia proper with only the provinces of Hainaut and Liege, two strongholds of the Parti Socialiste – the party which is responsible for the current disastrous economic condition of Wallonia (and Belgium).
Although the majority of its people speak Dutch, Belgium has throughout its history been dominated by a French-speaking establishment. When in the early 20th century the country gradually began to democratise, this establishment feared that the Flemings would become the rulers of the state. Hence, Belgium was federalised giving Wallonia a constitutionally guaranteed veto over all major decisions and a guaranteed share of half the seats in government and major administrations. The conservative, free-market oriented Flemings have been complaining for decades that they are forced to subsidize the Socialist south, while no improvement of the economic situation of the Walloons has been visible. On the contrary, Wallonia has become one of the most corrupt regions in Europe with hardly any economic growth.
Every attempt to liberalise the Belgian economy and to reform the generous Belgian welfare system has been vetoed by the Walloon Socialists. This has led to increasing Flemish frustration, resulting in the growth of the Flemish-secessionist movement. Flanders is no longer prepared to finance the ever increasing amount of Flemish subsidies which are flowing to the south each year (4 billion euros in 1990; 10 billion euros at present). It wants to cut loose its ties with Wallonia. It simply has no other option if it does not want to go down with Wallonia.
Though Wallonia has 33% of Belgium’s population, it has 46% of its unemployed and it accounts for only 24% of Belgian GDP and 13% of its exports. 20% of the Walloons are unemployed and 40% work for the government. The only regions of Wallonia where there is an entrepreneurial spirit are the regions bordering Flanders just south of Brussels, the provinces of Namur and Luxemburg and the German municipalities (GM).
If the Flemings secede from Belgium the question what to do with Wallonia will cause the international community a bigger headache than what to do with Brussels. Brussels is not viable on its own either. Almost half its population are non-European Muslim immigrants – “eurabianisation” has already progressed considerably – and the Brussels region also receives large flows of Flemish subsidies. Flanders would be happy to let the European Union have Brussels, provided Europe finances Brussels and relieves Flanders of that burden. However, since Flanders for obvious historical reasons feels responsible for this erstwhile Flemish town, an independent Flemish state would be willing to incorporate Brussels within its territory, granting it a multilingual status and recognizing the linguistic rights of Brussels’ French-speakers.
Indeed, the international community can expect Flanders to bail out Brussels, but it cannot expect the Flemings to continue to finance Wallonia and to mortgage the future of their own children for it.
In Belgium there are two communities. One are called Walloons and they speak French, the others are called Flemings and they speak a kind of low Dutch. They can't live together. After the war, we should make two states, one known as Walloonia and one as Flamingia, and we should amalgamate Luxembourg with Flamingia. What do you say to that?
US President Franklin D. Roosevelt to Oliver Lyttelton (Lord Chandos) of the British War Cabinet, 1942
On the current crisis in Belgium, see also:
McKinsey CEO Calls for End of Belgium, Resigns, 13 December 2005
King Warns for Dissolution of Belgium, 1 February 2006
Flanders and France Vote for the Right. But Flanders Will Not Get What It Is Entitled To, 11 June 2007
The Influence of the Immigrant Vote on Belgian Politics, 26 June 2007
EU: The Model is Collapsing. Brussels Calls upon King for Help, 18 August 2007
After Belgium: Will Flanders and the Netherlands Reunite? 23 August 2007
King Summons Unelected Councillors to Solve Crisis. Will France Annex Wallonia? 28 August 2007
Royal Scout Keeps a Low Profile, Brussels Recalls Ambassador in Paris, 31 August 2007
Could Sarkozy Solve Belgium’s Crisis? 3 September 2007
Even Flemish Muslims Want to Separate from the Walloons, 6 September 2007
Background articles explaining Belgium:
A City Without Water Is A City Without A Soul, 28 June 2005
How Flanders Helped Shape Freedom in America, 11 July 2005
The Dark Roots of the EU, 5 December 2005
Nations Under Construction: Defining Artificial States, 13 June 2006
Why Is the Vlaams Belang So Popular? 13 February 2007
Belgium, the EU’s Destiny. The End of Nothingness, 25 August 2007
Why Belgium Is an Artificial State. And the United Kingdom, Switzerland (and Even Austria-Hungary) Are Not, 27 August 2007
|A Throne in Brussels
Author: Paul Belien
Submitted by drugan on Fri, 2008-01-18 09:39.
Excellent piece. The point about federal political parties is
especially relevant. Yet Belgium is an artificial creation - Talleyrand
did as much as anyone to promote it - to curb the power of the Dutch
who were, in effect, partitioned. There is scope for a PhD thesis (if
one hasn't already been written) on the lines of 'Partition: - a
disease of elder statesmen.'
The fact that Belgium has survived for 177 years only shows that nothing endures like the temporary.
Submitted by Geraldo on Wed, 2007-09-12 11:41.
How do you call Dhimmi Thiefman calling wallon KGB troups to grab flemish people?
I hope you look to the video.
Submitted by USAntigoon on Tue, 2007-09-11 17:23.
I don't believe you "feel" Flemish at all.. You seem to represent the "typical" European leftist elite..
Anyway, my thanks to "marcfrans" for the "Analysis" comments.. very well written I might add...
Submitted by marcfrans on Tue, 2007-09-11 17:15.
Of course the view that Wallonia would fragment (assuming or following Flemish secession) is "speculative". It pre-supposes FIRST Flemish secession. It is therefore also very unlikely to happen in the near future (assuming no dramatic 'new' geopolitical events).
A careful reading of Belien's article, however, should leave no doubt that he does NOT think that such fragmentation would last. Rather, he expect the different bits to join neigbouring states. From a European perspective, that would mean less 'fragmentation'.
Submitted by marcfrans on Tue, 2007-09-11 17:14.
Thank you for expounding on your "point of view".
1) On the language issue.
-- I do not doubt that you want to be a "democrat", but I do doubt that you are fully cognisant of the cultural underpinnings of democracy. I certainly do not mean to say that one has to speak a particular language to be democratic. But I do claim that the maintenance of 'democracy' requires a certain amount of self-respect, including cultural self-respect. People who allow themselves to be trampled - disrespected really - by others, are unlikely to bring forth the necessary commitment and involvement to maintain their 'democracy'. Why? Because such behavior is indicative of absence of genuine 'rule of law'. This applies as much to tolerance of large-scale illegal immigration (as in the US, for example) as for Flemish tolerance of violations of the letter - and certainly the spirit - of the Belgian language laws. The latter were based on a 'democratic' compromise between two different peoples (or linguistic communites, if you will) in Belgium. You cannot simply claim that "language is a private matter" and that is that. That is the equivalent of saying that "taxes are a private matter", and then allow individuals to pay whatever amount of taxes they feel like paying! Yes, people can speak whatever language they want, certainly in private and (in my opinion) even in public, but they have to respect the laws, including the Belgian compromise (between Flemish and francophones) that is contained in the language laws. Just like people have to respect the Belgian compromise (between political parties) on the tax laws.
-- You make ths same mistake w.r.t. the language issue as you do w.r.t. the immigration issue. You adhere to this (widespread) mistaken notion that one can buy 'love' from aggressive people or, in your words, these people should not be "pushed to a hostile position" . That is ludicrous, and against much empirical evidence. People who manifestly show that they do not respect your culture, and they certainly do that by violating important laws of your 'democratic' country, already have a "hostile position". Your weakness will not gain respect. On the contrary, it will gain you pity. And it does!! Very few muslims would tolerate large numbers of your type of 'secularist' to immigrate to muslim countries, and very few francophones would tolerate 'special facilities for Flemish' in Wallonia (not even in Brussels any more). If you want to see how the typical francophone reacts to disrespect from 'outsiders' to their culture, take a careful look at France's policies of cultural self-respect, or even better look at what French Canadians have done and do.
2) Your comments on the economic issue show signs of both realism and ignorance.
-- You are aware that Wallonia is "addicted" to Flemish money, but you seem unable to grasp that institutional change is necessary to remove that addiction. Addicts rarely do give up their addiction voluntarily. They must be forced to, and not with 'love'.
-- You keep talking about a "cost" of dissolving the Belgian state structures. But you never explain what these costs are. I am not asking for specific numbers, I am asking for a description of the nature of these costs. What are they? Large countries, and many small ones too, have frequently engaged in structural institutional reforms. Sometimes there are minor and temporary netto costs associated with 'reform', but they do it for substantial long-term gains. The 'opening' of the Indian subcontinent to external competition in the early 1990's, after 4 decades of stifling 'socialism and nationalism', now that was a real institutional change of substance. Compared with that, the fiscal 'responsabilisation' of the 3 Belgian 'regions' is truly peanuts!
-- You are very wrong that it is "we" (the Flemish) who "have made the Walloons addictive to our money in the first place" by "buying language privileges". That is absurd, that is truly turning the world on its head.
The fundamental problem is that you do not (yet) understand human nature. When are western naive-lefties going to stop blaming 'themselves' for the misdeeds, aggression, and disrespective behavior of others!
Who wants a Wallonian parasite?
Submitted by Amsterdamsky on Tue, 2007-09-11 15:01.
spray " The prospect of a fragmentation of Wallonia in case of the splitting of Belgium is purely speculative."
Who the hell would want it? A useless french speaking territory that only votes communist where only 40% of the population actually contributes to the economy and can only survive on massive subsidies? Flanders may leave but I don't see Wallonia going anywhere.
@amsterdamsky, and co
Submitted by spraynasal on Wed, 2007-09-12 01:22.
I am a walloon expat. So thank you for the wallonian parasite.
Should I suppose that in your view of an independent Flanders, the walloons would have to wear a red rooster on the chest? To be branded as parasites like the star of David branded the jews as parasite in Nazi Germany?
At least you show your true colors, you don't use half lies but full lies. Where is the walloon communist party if not in your dreams? Where are the "massive" subsidies when Brabant Wallon is actually the richest area of Belgium?
I return the compliment: Who wants to be branded as a racist scum?
Submitted by USAntigoon on Wed, 2007-09-12 05:45.
You seem to be quite emotional.. Just continue to be Walloon and try to be a proud one.. The Flanders will take care of itself... don't you worry...
As far as "racist scum" is concerned..Don't get confused between realism and racism..
What goes on in "La Belgique" now is "realism"...
I can understand your use of the word "scum"...things are becoming "desperate" ain't it....!!!
@ peter vanderheyden
Submitted by USAntigoon on Tue, 2007-09-11 03:14.
You keep on attacking Paul Belien... What is your view, what are your solutions..Keep on singing the "Brabaconne" or do you prefer to sing the "Vlaamse Leeuw".. All your posts here in English and Flemish are very confusing to me..
Your "theme" seems to reflect too much what I read in "De Morgen" the "GVA" and "De Standaard"...
Its about time that the Flemish people stand up and face reality...
My point of view
Submitted by peter vanderheyden on Tue, 2007-09-11 11:27.
On the language issue:
I’m a democrat. I think the language somebody uses, is his private matter. And as a democrat, I also think that if the majority in a town wishes to use French as the language to communicate with the local authorities, it’s their full right. This doesn’t mean that large minorities shouldn’t be protected. I also think that a culture should start from its strength rather then its weaknesses. The “pestwetten” (laws made to make life difficult for Francophone people in the periphery) are typical for a culture that feels vulnerable. Not only they are of no use (I don’t believe these laws have ever made any person leave to Wallonia or Brussels), they are contra productive, because they push Francophone people towards a hostile position against the Flemish culture. Yet the Flemish culture isn’t week anymore. Together with the economical rise of Flanders the language has become beyond any doubt the most important of the country.
I don’t see any need to divide. I think we should unite, and propagate proudly our language in an open and frank mind.
On the economical issue:
No doubt Flemish people have a point. Flanders is doing much better then Wallonia and Wallonia is addicted to the money coming from Flanders. The non-PS Walloons are the first to agree on this.. (We shouldn’t be fooled, though. The economic line isn’t the same as the language line. The richest province of Belgium is “Brabant Wallon”.) Yet separation is not the answer to this problem.
Firstly, it will be an enormous waste of time, at a moment the world around us is changing rapidly, an tough measures and responses are needed. (The aging of the population, the integration of foreigners, terrorism,..)
But most importantly, the economy of Flanders is very much entangled with Brussels. There is no way Brussels locals will accept to become a kind of protectorate of Flanders, as many Flemish nationalist politicians like to believe. The untangling of Brussels and Flanders will cost a lot, especially in the region where I live. Of course, on the long run, Flanders is perfectly capable of becoming a viable state on his own. But is it worth the cost? I doubt it. I’m a European, and I do believe in the EU. I think we should try to evaporate the Belgium state, like De Wever tends to say, by transferring the responsibilities of the Belgium state towards the 3 regions and the EU. This should be an organic process, however. A lot more cost effective and beneficial for everybody. Meanwhile, we should try to alter the economic situation in Wallonia for the better. If Flanders did not always use all it’s maneuvering rules on language issues like BHV, we could have gained a lot of money. Don’t forget that by buying all are language privileges, we made the Walloons addictive to are money in the first place.
I like very much the views
Submitted by spraynasal on Tue, 2007-09-11 12:24.
I like very much the views of Mr Vanderheyden and share most of them. The prospect of a fragmentation of Wallonia in case of the splitting of Belgium is purely speculative.
@Pvdh & spraynasal
Submitted by traveller on Fri, 2008-01-18 13:21.
Yesterday there was a late night "debate" on France 3: Should Wallonia join France?
With participation of 5 walloons, 1 french-speaking African and Jean-Marie Dedecker, Flemish "nationalist republican" politician.
One walloon was open and honest and "tried" to explain the Flemish position while attacking the walloon PS-state. This was practically impossible with the constant unsubstantiated emotional puberal outbursts of the other walloons.
JMDD was the only one trying to give concrete information but was constantly attacked as fascist, anti-union, anti-solidarity etc. etc.
One walloon regretted that the king had no royal prerogatives and power anymore (he probably wanted him to issue some "lettres de cachet"). In short, even the most idiotic moron had to see the difference in aproach between the 2 sides.
Anyway no French individual came forward to take over Wallonia, they obviously have already enough problems.
As far as costs and Brussels is concerned, the solution is extremely simple: the Flemish should leave Brussels alone with no financial support and limited to their 19 "communes". Brussels will go down the drain with their PS system and Europe will finally leave, they cannot run that islamic city. If Europe leaves, the Brussels sattraps will come begging the Flemish to take it over. Then Flanders can simply dictate the law, take it or leave it.
No agreements, no big discussions before and definitely no financial support.
We finally will have some low-priced office space in Brussels and some very good low-priced villa's and appartments.
The cost factor will be very intresting.
Submitted by Maxime on Tue, 2007-09-11 01:43.
It was a sarcastic notion.
Submitted by Nataraja on Mon, 2007-09-10 19:52.
Belgium: Time to call it a day
Sep 6th 2007
From The Economist print edition
Sometimes it is right for a country to recognise that its job is done
A RECENT glance at the Low Countries revealed that, nearly three months after its latest general election, Belgium was still without a new government. It may have acquired one by now. But, if so, will anyone notice? And, if not, will anyone mind? Even the Belgians appear indifferent. And what they think of the government they may well think of the country. If Belgium did not already exist, would anyone nowadays take the trouble to invent it?
Such questions could be asked of many countries. Belgium's problem, if such it is, is that they are being asked by the inhabitants themselves. True, in opinion polls most Belgians say they want to keep the show on the road. But when they vote, as they did on June 10th, they do so along linguistic lines, the French-speaking Walloons in the south for French-speaking parties, the Dutch-speaking Flemings in the north for Dutch-speaking parties. The two groups do not get onBƒFhence the inability to form a government. They lead parallel lives, largely in ignorance of each other. They do, however, think they know themselves: when a French-language television programme was interrupted last December with a spoof news flash announcing that the Flemish parliament had declared independence, the king had fled and Belgium had dissolved, it was widely believed.
No wonder. The prime minister designate thinks Belgians have nothing in common except B[the king, the football team, some beersBƒA, and he describes their country as an B[accident of historyBƒA. In truth, it isn't. When it was created in 1831, it served more than one purpose. It relieved its people of various discriminatory practices imposed on them by their Dutch rulers. And it suited Britain and France to have a new, neutral state rather than a source of instability that might, so soon after the Napoleonic wars, set off more turbulence in Europe.
The upshot was neither an unmitigated success nor an unmitigated failure. Belgium industrialised fast; grabbed a large part of Africa and ruled it particularly rapaciously; was itself invaded and occupied by Germany, not once but twice; and then cleverly secured the headquarters of what is now the European Union. Along the way it produced Magritte, Simenon, Tintin, the saxophone and a lot of chocolate. Also frites. No doubt more good things can come out of the swathe of territory once occupied by a tribe known to the Romans as the Belgae. For that, though, they do not need Belgium: they can emerge just as readily from two or three new mini-states, or perhaps from an enlarged France and Netherlands.
Brussels can devote itself to becoming the bureaucratic capital of Europe. It no longer enjoys the heady atmosphere of liberty that swirled outside its opera house in 1830, intoxicating the demonstrators whose protests set the Belgians on the road to independence. The air today is more fetid. With freedom now taken for granted, the old animosities are ill suppressed. Rancour is ever-present and the country has become a freak of nature, a state in which power is so devolved that government is an abhorred vacuum. In short, Belgium has served its purpose. A praline divorce is in order.
Belgians need not feel too sad. Countries come and go. And perhaps a way can be found to keep the king, if he is still wanted. Since he has never had a countryBƒFhe has always just been king of the BelgiansBƒFhe will not miss Belgium. Maybe he can rule a new-old country called Gaul. But king of the Gauloises doesn't sound quite right, does it?
Bob # 2
Submitted by marcfrans on Mon, 2007-09-10 17:19.
I think you are being unfair to Mr Belien. He was outlining a hypothetical case - "If the Flemish secede" - about what would happen to (different parts of) Wallonia. You are old enough to know that there can be a big difference between what people SAY (under certain circumstances) and what they actually will DO when circumstances change. I am not impressed by what contemporary francophones say in the forums of le Soir and La Libre Belgique. Because all that small talk is taking place in the absence of any Flemish actual moves towards genuine sovereignty.
If the hypothetical case were to become a reality, i.e. actual Flemish secession, I wouldn't be so sure (as you seem to be) about what francophones would actually do. In that case, the historical factors that Mr Belien refers to might well re-assert themselves PLUS pure considerations of self-interest among the disparate French-speakers in Belgium.
But I grant you, that the hypothetical case will likely remain.....hypothetical. Your own writings confirm that there are too many Flemish lefties today, that are willing to 'collaborate' with people who do not have the best interests of the Flemish people at heart. And they justify that collaboration by illusory pc ideology in the face of manifest empirical evidence to the contrary. Eurabia is more likely to be the end result, instead of Flemish independance or the reconstitution of the historical 'Netherlands'.
P.S. The notion that Charleroi should be "proud" for being the biggest town in Wallonia today is truly a silly one. I know, it was not your notion, but another example of silly small talk by a francophone lady reader of the TBJ.
And you thought Communism was dead....
Submitted by Amsterdamsky on Mon, 2007-09-10 14:59.
"20% of the Walloons are unemployed and 40% work for the government. "
BWAHAHAHAHA!!!! Ain't Fwench Socialism great? Total retards. Maybe if they could communicate with people outside of their overdubbed froggy delusional "culture" they could actually export something. Not sure what that would be....
Hallucinations and wishful thinking !
Submitted by Schaveiger on Mon, 2007-09-10 13:33.
Paul, you should lower your drugs intake.
Dope-control should also be performed on journalists before AND after their writings !
Liege vs. Charleroi
Submitted by Maxime on Mon, 2007-09-10 12:40.
"Liege isn’t the biggest town of Wallonia, it’s Charleroi."
They can be proud of it!
Submitted by Atlanticist911 on Mon, 2007-09-10 10:19.
Good mourning,EU,are you still there?Damn,I thought so...
@ Kapitein Andre
Submitted by Geraldo on Mon, 2007-09-10 09:40.
" Flemings intend to ethnically cleanse the city"
Why only flemings? It can also be the "newcomers" to ethnically cleanse to city.
Giving what we saw in former yugoslavia wich ones would be allowed to do so and wich ones would be forbid by NATO to do that?
Submitted by Bob Doney on Mon, 2007-09-10 09:12.
Good morning, Belgium. Are you still there?
Submitted by peter vanderheyden on Mon, 2007-09-10 10:44.
"Good morning, Belgium. Are you still there?"
Yes, we are. Alive and kicking actually. “Ja wadde” is what they say in my town, after reading this article. What an enormous amount of colored half-true’s and plain lies! I’m used to a lot in the BJ but this is one of the max. I guess paul doesn’t know what to do with in his spare time. Do some of you understand French? I can recommend you the forums of “Le Soir” and “La Libre Belgique” for the real aspirations of the French speaking part of Belgium. And I can assure you, If Flanders will secede, Brussels and Wallonia will stay together as an independent nation. It’s not the small barrier of 7 km (all forest land) between Wallonia and Brussels that will prevent that from happening. Besides the town to which the strip of wood belongs may geographically be part of Flanders, it has a vast majority of Francophone inhabitants.
Brussels within Flanders? What a laugh. We will end up with a country where 18% of the population speaks French! Meaning that everything will be in two languages again! All laws, education, parliament discussions and so on. In other words, we will create a mini-Belgium with the same problems as before.
And by the way: Liege isn’t the biggest town of Wallonia, it’s Charleroi. But we can’t expect this kind of basic knowledge from somebody who tries to force reality into his own imaginary world.
Liege, largest town
Submitted by Paul Belien on Mon, 2007-09-10 12:51.
In 1830-31, at the time of the Belgian revolution, Liege was the largest town in Wallonia. That is exactly what my article says. Moreover, it was the only city of any significance in Wallonia at the time, and it wanted to join France.
On Re-engineering the Low Countries
Submitted by Kapitein Andre on Mon, 2007-09-10 07:23.
Paul Belien: If Belgium breaks up it is likely that Wallonia will break up as well, with part of it preferring to go to Germany, part of it to the Grand Duchy of Luxemburg (GDL) and part of it to France...Luxemburg, moreover, is a problem of its own. Historically Luxemburg , like Flanders and unlike Liege, was part of the Southern Netherlands. When Belgium was established in 1831, many Luxemburgians preferred to remain loyal to King William of the Netherlands. By way of compromise Luxemburg was split up in 1839. The eastern part of Luxemburg, the present GDL, became an independent state with the Dutch King as its monarch. This personal union lasted until 1890 when, upon extinction of the male line of the House of Orange-Nassau, the Netherlands passed to the female line of that house and Luxemburg to the House of Nassau-Weilburg. The western part of Luxemburg, however, was given to Belgium and is currently the Belgian province of Luxemburg. Many (Belgian or West) Luxemburgians would want to reunite with the GDL...The same may also be true for the inhabitants of the Belgian province of Namur. Like Luxemburg, Namur is a rural province. Unlike the rest of Wallonia, the provinces of Namur and Luxemburg are conservative and Catholic. Both provinces belong to the diocese of Namur. If Namur and Luxemburg secede from Wallonia to join the GDL – which would be likely – this would leave Wallonia proper with only the provinces of Hainaut and Liege, two strongholds of the Parti Socialiste – the party which is responsible for the current disastrous economic condition of Wallonia (and Belgium).
I think the problem is that Belgium lies on the fault-line between the Germanic and Gallo-Roman* peoples and cultures, and is a remnant of Lotharingia.
If one is going to readjust current state boundaries to reflect national and/or cultural ones, Flanders is only the beginning. Flanders, the Netherlands, Western Germany and Luxembourg (mainly of Celto-Germanic stock) should form a Swiss-style confederation possibly including England, although geography might not allow for that. The Bretons, Basques and Mediterranean French (e.g. Occitania) should each achieve sovereign statehood. More importantly, Southern Germany, Switzerland, Austria and Northern Italy (mainly of Germano-Alpine stock) should form a similar confederation. Due to environmental and human activity, it was virtually impossible to provide the major peoples of Europe their own states or nations; however, given the expansion of supranational and sub-national political organisation and the possibilities afforded by decentralised government, it is possible to better conform state boundaries to national ones.
*Gallo-Roman does not of course distinguish Mediterranean French from Celtic French e.g. Bretons
Paul Belien: Brussels is not viable on its own either. Almost half its population are non-European Muslim immigrants – “eurabianisation” has already progressed considerably – and the Brussels region also receives large flows of Flemish subsidies. Flanders would be happy to let the European Union have Brussels, provided Europe finances Brussels and relieves Flanders of that burden. However, since Flanders for obvious historical reasons feels responsible for this erstwhile Flemish town, an independent Flemish state would be willing to incorporate Brussels within its territory, granting it a multilingual status and recognizing the linguistic rights of Brussels’ French-speakers.
Brussels could become a "free city," given that non-Europeans are the majority there, unless the Flemings intend to ethnically cleanse the city.
Submitted by DavidE on Mon, 2007-09-10 01:49.
This story is completely ignored in the U.S. press. But what you have to look at is if the experiment in Belgium was a failure, then what does that mean for other nation states that were created out of different nationalities? Are many doomed to a similar fate?
Baarle - Hertog?
Submitted by Cogito on Sun, 2007-09-09 19:26.
Wat will the Belgian enclave in the Netherlands, Baarle - Hertog, want? Will the resolve into the Netherlands, or will they remain a piece of an independent Flanders?
Submitted by Atlanticist911 on Sun, 2007-09-09 15:35.
"What to do about Brussels,a French-speaking enclave within Flanders?"
Brussels isn't Europe's "Cooch-Behar",nor is it the Capital city of John Lennon's imaginery Nutopia.Flemings,stop floundering,and just get on with it!