Belgium Press Review: 7 November 2008

7th November 2008, Comments 0 comments

Highlights of the latest news in the Belgian press.... Three-year old girl in coma in Nivelles, De Crem: 'You are on the side of Osama bin Laden', De Boeck to lead Fortis Holding.

Three-year old girl in coma
Le Soir Online; Thursday 06 November 2008
(in French)

A three and half year old girl has been in a coma since Wednesday having ingested the “rave” drug GHB.

The events took place in her mother’s apartment.  Three visitors arrived, two adults and an adolescent, one of whom brought a bottle of GHB for them to share. Somehow the girl managed to drink from the bottle and fell ill.

The mother and her guest left the apartment and later claimed that the girl has fallen off a slide. A case has been opened against the threesome for possession of an illegal substance, lack of supervision of a minor and failure to render assistance to a person in danger.

De Crem: 'You are on the side of Osama bin Laden'
Het Nieuwsblad /Leuven-Hageland ; Thursday 06 November 2008 ; p.14
Currently there are around five hundred active Belgian military staff in Afghanistan, and on Monday the core cabinet decided that 70 instructors will join them. In the Chamber Committee for Defence the SP.A opposition leader Dirk Vander Maelen reproached the Minister of Defence, De Crem (CD&V), claiming that he is pulling Belgium along in an expensive war with no end and is with the US plan for Afghanistan. He called De Crem's party colleague Van der Auwera the Sarah Palin of the CD&V. De Crem did not taking it lying down and said that the US policy on Afghanistan will not change under Obama. He then compared Vander Maelen to a follower of Al Qaida. “You are on the side of Osama bin Laden and his friends, the bomb planters and rapists. You are an objective partner of the bomb planters and of those who cut off the ears of little girls who dare to attend school,' he added angrily.

Vander Maelen appeared shocked and compared the statements to those of extreme right Italian politician Gasparri. “Anyone who does not agree with De Crem or Gasparri is labeled as being friends with Al Qaida.' Vander Maelen will not leave the matter there and intends reporting it to the Chambers chairman Herman Van Rompuy (CD&V).

De Boeck to lead Fortis Holding
De Tijd ; Thursday 06 November 2008 ; p.6
At last Fortis Holding has found someone to take control of what is left of the largest ever financial services group in the Benelux. He is Karel De Boeck, who knows Fortis well, having served as a member of the Fortis’ executive committee from 2000 to 2007
His nomination will be submitted for approval at the shareholders' meeting at the beginning of December.

The takeover of Fortis Insurance Belgium, for which BNP Paribas has paid EUR 5.7 billion in cash, will also take place at the beginning of December.

De Gucht sees three international challenges for Obama
De Tijd ; Thursday 06 November 2008 ; p.4
Barack Obama’s election victory has created expectation throughout the world, especially when it comes to US foreign policy after eight difficult years of Bush administration. Obama's victory could mean a new start in the relations between the United States and Europe, the Minister of Foreign Affairs Karel De Gucht (Open VLD) said. The minister expects that the relationship with Europe will deepen, but as a consequence that the US will expect more from Europe regarding “military cooperation” and that it “had been easier to say no to Bush than the case will be with Obama”. On the international stage Obama is facing three challenges, according to De Gucht: a political solution for terrorism, US cooperation in the climate plan and solving the economic crisis.


sources: Le Soir Online,

(Expatica November 2008)

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