Wilders Looks for European Allies, Suggests Reuniting Flanders and Netherlands
From the desk of Paul Belien on Mon, 2008-05-12 13:52
Geert Wilders, the leader of the Dutch Freedom Party PVV and the maker of Fitna, a controversial movie about the Koran, is back in the Netherlands after a two-week vacation in Las Vegas. In an interview published today in the Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf, the largest newspaper in the Netherlands, Wilders said that his party will stand for election in the 2009 European elections and must consider allying itself with like-minded European parties. He also called for a reunification of Flanders, the Dutch-speaking northern part of Belgium, and the Netherlands.
Wilders went to Vegas, but not to gamble. The 44-year old politician told De Telegraaf he only spent 10 dollars in a casino. He asked the local police if he could join them on their patrols, and he did. Wilders is very impressed by the LVPD. Apparently, the feeling was reciprocal. The policemen had seen Fitna and liked it a lot. They told Wilders: “You should run for president here!”
The politician said he is happy with the way Fitna was received in the Netherlands. “I do not seek controversy, I want to foster debate. […] Nor was I looking for electoral gain. I knew the movie would lead to a lot of personal and political misery. But I have a mission! I felt I had to do this. […] A politician must lead. We are the most critical voice on immigration, Islam and integration issues [in the Netherlands}, we defend the average Dutchman.”
He told the paper that multiculturalism does not work. He referred to neighbouring Belgium as an example. Belgium is a country made up of 6 million Dutch-speaking Flemings in Flanders, the northern half of the country, and 4 million French-speaking Walloons in Wallonia, the southern half. Belgium was part of the Netherlands until 1830, when a revolution instigated by Walloons and French agents tore the country apart. The revolutionaries occupied Flanders, too. The Flemings have always been second-class citizens in Belgium and are still politically underrepresented. The current Belgian government has more French-speaking members of cabinet than Flemish. Wilders said he is in favour of reuniting Flanders and the Netherlands.
“Belgium has been in crisis for months,” Wilders said. “They have a government now but another crisis has erupted. It is a shambles. […] I would be very much in favour of trying to find out how Flanders and the Netherlands could merge. […] The momentum is there. […] We have more in common with the Flemings than the Flemings with the Walloons. It would only be logical to unite Flanders and the Netherlands. We have to put this before the Flemings and the Dutch in a referendum. I hope that [Dutch Prime Minister Jan-Peter] Balkenende will seriously consider this.”
Wilders emphasized that he has no contacts with the Vlaams Belang, the major party in the Flemish regional parliament. The VB wants to dissolve Belgium and establish an independent Flemish Republic, though some of its members favour reunification with the Netherlands. The VB is also the most outspoken anti-Islamisation party in Belgium.
“I have no contacts with Vlaams Belang,” Wilders said. “I have no contacts with foreign parties whatsoever. But we will have to establish them with regard to the European elections next year. […] We are trying to decide which European group to join. This is not an easy exercise. However, we want to have nothing to do with the Mussolinis and Le Pen and others like them.”
Wilders is opposed to the project of establishing the European Union as a super state. He said his party wants to stand for the European elections in order to help abolish the European Parliament from within.
Submitted by fred middleton on Mon, 2008-05-12 19:56.
Thanks for all your comments, I am still none the wiser!
@Mf: I should have been more specific
Submitted by Sagunto on Mon, 2008-05-12 18:40.
Instead of "Dutch politicians", I should have limited my remark to Geert Wilders (not to be pronounced af if it were some "gear"). On the other hand, it is self-evident that my remark is not about the other political figures in NL.
No other politicians in the Netherlands would suggest that Flanders would be welcome to reunite with the Netherlands.
The established Dutch politicians are indeed looking for "allies among like-minded 'forces' in Europe," like you say, but these are all EU-utopists, no supporters at all for Flanders' independence.
And of course there's the historical Q of exactly what would be united (presumably Dutch "Zeeuws Vlaanderen" with the rest of the old County of Flanders, and Dutch "Noord Brabant" with a large part of the old
duchy of Brabant , incl. Antwerp).
I didn't mean to ask for it, but since you mentioned the previous generation of Dutch politicians, making arrogant remarks about the "latin-infected" Flemish, I'm curious to know about these people. Know any names for instance?
All I've been able to witness, but then I'm not of that past generation, is how often commentators and indeed lots of politicians today are extremely favourable towards the people of Flanders, and should they mention "latin" influences at all it is always in a strikingly positive way (about knowing to live "the better life; Burgundian and all that, with lots of far better beer than the Dutch could ever brew, et cetera). The cliches I've heared were all of this kind.
Before any foreign commentator should think of some "calvinist" vs. a "catholic" thing, it should be mentioned that a very substantial part (30-40%) of the Northern Dutch population has always stayed true to their traditional Catholic faith, in spite of hundreds of years of harsh/mild suppression. The common misunderstanding about the Netherlands - espec. by Americans - is that Holland is a "calvinist" country. Of course this has never been the case and it sure isn't today, in spite of the fact that our Prime Dhimmister, Jan Peter Balkenende, exudes calvinism in every way possible. When some Flemish politicians recently made some derogatory remarks to that effect, the remarks themselves were applauded by most Dutch citizens, because they were right (I believe it was Karel de Gucht, and a few others, talking about "stijfburgerlijkheid" of JPB).
Submitted by Cogito on Mon, 2008-05-12 17:36.
Wiki knows it all.
Submitted by marcfrans on Mon, 2008-05-12 17:03.
You are right, of course, that it is up to the Flemish people to determine how they give concrete form to their own self-determination. At the same time, it does make sense for Dutch politicians to look across borders for seeking allies among like-minded 'forces' in Europe.
There is little doubt that an independent Flanders would be a better ally in Europe than Belgium could ever be, particularly in terms of helping to move Europe towards more restrictive and selective immigration policies and towards more competitive market-oriented economic policies. Also, those who remember history should easily recognise the commonality of interests between the southern and the northern 'Netherlands', as manifested by past benefits derived from a more open 'Atlantic' orientation as opposed to the statism (even nationalist-socialism and 'soft' communism) associated with past periods or trends towards European 'continentalism'.
In a previous generation it was quite common for Dutch commentators and even politicians to make disparaging remarks about Flanders and to indulge themselves at times in misguided arrogance towards the (latin-infected) 'southerners'. While this is no longer the case today, it has in the past magnified the internal Belgian difficulties of Flemish autonomy-seekers (translation: the 'left' has used it as an 'argument' against Flemish nationalism). So, from a Flemish perspective, it would be helpful if Dutch politicians and commentators could at least 'free' themselves from past arrogance and display a more welcoming attitude towards Flemish autonomy and/or independence. The wrong way would be to directly interfere in the internal political affairs of a neighboring state. But the right way would be to stress common interests, and to affirm the right to cultural self-determination of the Flemish people (assuming, of course, that Dutch politicians and commentators still care about their own cultural self-determination).
I think it would be wise for Dutch politicians..
Submitted by Sagunto on Mon, 2008-05-12 15:44.
.. to leave the question of the independence of Flanders up to the Flemish people. I see no need whatsoever for Dutch politicians to argue for or against a reunion with the Northern Netherlands. Of course close cooperation has always existed and will no doubt intensify as soon as Flanders has rid itself of the joke of an artificial State.
But now to more serious matters: the pronounciation of "Geert".
Difficult for a native English speaker, that's for sure.
The start in particular: the infamous Dutch G.
Pronounced by most English like the g in "ghost" or "good". Totally wrong. The Dutch G comes in two varieties: hard and soft. To manage the hard one, think of how Israeli pronounce the first name of late PM Rabin: Yitz-"ch"-ak. That "ch" sounds a bit like an espresso-machine in full gear. When you master that, you've nearly nailed it. The common mistake however, is to put this "ch" way too far at the back of the throat (guttural). That's plain wrong. You must place that same sound far more "downstream" at the mouth (where one make's the "e" sound like in "mother").
Now what you do next, is buy some sandpaper (rough) or a packet of medium size gravel and put it in your mouth. That should do the trick.
For the soft version: ask someone in Flanders or a native in the southern Dutch provinces (sounds somewhat like "zj" with a g-face).
Submitted by fred middleton on Mon, 2008-05-12 14:45.
Just one question, how do you pronouce Geert?