Flemish nationalists hail Catalonia vote 'victory'
Flemish nationalists in Belgium on Monday hailed the "victory" of Catalan separatists in elections, calling for stronger ties between the Spanish region and their own Dutch-speaking area.
"I would like to congratulate my colleague Artur Mas for his victory and I am delighted to be able to reinforce relations between Flanders and Catalonia in coming years," said Flanders regional head Geert Bourgeois.
Bourgeois is a founder member of the nationalist New Flemish Alliance (N-VA) party which wants an independent homeland, even while it remains part of Belgium's current coalition government, led by French-speaking Prime Minister Charles Michel.
Flemish nationalists have been closely watching the situation in Spain, which has been plunged into uncertainty after groups that want to break Spain's richest region away as a new state in Europe won control of Catalonia's parliament on Sunday
"The Catalans have sent a clear signal which we cannot ignore - they have voted for a sovereign Catalonia," said Bart De Wever, the head of the N-VA.
"I hope that the Spanish and Catalan governments can collaborate unreservedly to find a political solution," he added.
Born in 1830 as an independent state to act as a buffer between France and Germany, Belgium is an uneasy mix of a Flemish-speaking, more conservative north and a French-speaking, poorer left-leaning south.
© 2015 AFP