Broken Belgium celebrates 'linguistic exchanges'

23rd April 2010, Comments 0 comments

In true surrealist manner, broken Belgium on Friday celebrated the opening of its 33rd "Festival of the Languages", with its government in limbo amid a rift between Flemish and francophone parts.

Whereas organisers hope weekend events will promote "cultural encounters and linguistic exchanges between Belgium's different communities", King Albert II was still buying time on Friday after serial quitter Yves Leterme offered his resignation for a third time as prime minister.

The Belgian parliament will see Dutch-speaking Flemish children singing in French during a public opening, and vice versa, although going by media reaction to the walk-out of a key Flemish element in Leterme's shaky coalition on Thursday, what kind of Belgium these children will mature in remains to be seen.

"Bye, Bye Belgium" and "Is there still a reason for this country?" were just two of the front pages of Belgian newspapers on Friday after rows over special voting rights for French speakers in three Flemish districts on the outskirts of Brussels reached breaking point.

© 2010 AFP

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