Belgian prince enters Vlaams Belang fray
1 December 2004, BRUSSELS - Belgium's crown prince Philippe has sparked a political row after publicly criticising Flanders' far right political party the Vlaams Belang.
1 December 2004
BRUSSELS - Belgium's crown prince Philippe has sparked a political row after publicly criticising Flanders' far right political party the Vlaams Belang.
In an interview with Flemish magazine Story, the eldest son of King Albert II accused the party - previously known as Vlaams Blok - of "trying to destroy our country."
"In our country there are people, parties such as the Vlaams Belang, which are against Belgium, and want to destroy. I can assure you that they will have to deal with me," he said, according to Belgian media reports.
His remarks prompted a rapid rebuke from Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt, who reminded the prince that his constitutional role was not to get involved in the country's politics.
"Even if I can imagine the prince is against certain parties that want to split the country, that does not correspond to the current and above all future constitutional role of the prince in our country," he said in a statement.
"This role requires a certain reserve in comments, particularly about political parties, even if these parties do not want good for the future of our country," he continued.
Prince Philippe made his comments to a Story journalist on a recent trip to China.
The Vlaams Blok party was forced to change its name to Vlaams Belang last month after a court verdict outlawed the party for being racist.
The party's popularity has surged in recent months, rising to second poll position in Dutch-speaking Flanders.
[Copyright Expatica 2004]
Subject: Belgian news