French speakers 'incapable' of learning Dutch
17 August 2006, BRUSSELS — Flemish Premier Yves Leterme has lashed out at the French-speaking residents living along the linguistic border, accusing them of being too dumb to learn Dutch, Belgium's 'other' language.
17 August 2006
BRUSSELS — Flemish Premier Yves Leterme has lashed out at the French-speaking residents living along the linguistic border, accusing them of being too dumb to learn Dutch, Belgium's 'other' language.
The comment was made as the Christian Democrat CD&V leader said he was opposed to a review of the linguistic border between the French and Dutch-speaking regions and the area around Brussels.
Leterme said the fact that more French-speaking people than Dutch speakers live in the municipalities with linguistic facilities is no reason to change the linguistic border.
He said in an interview with French newspaper 'Libération' that French-speaking residents along the border either don't want to or simply can't learn to speak Dutch.
"Initially, the idea was that many French speakers would adjust to the new linguistic reality. But apparently the French speakers are intellectually not capable of learning Dutch," Leterme said.
In a telephone interview with Flemish commercial broadcaster VTM, Leterme explained further that the reality is evidence of "ill will" or a "lack of knowledge and insight".
The statements from the Flemish premier sparked outraged in Belgium's Francophone region as Wallonian Premier Elio Di Rupo said he was "indignant" about the remarks.
But Di Rupo said he did not believe the premier of a respectable region such as Flanders could be so insulting, suggesting perhaps that his remarks were badly translated or were due to poor use of the French language.
In regards the linguistic border and the linguistic facilities set up to assist French and Dutch speakers learn the other's language, Di Rupo said both of issues were inextricably linked.
"Raising doubt about the facilities means also placing the linguistic border in doubt, due primarily to the expansion of the Brussels Capital City Region," the Socialist PS leader said.
Di Rupo said scrapping the linguistic parity within the federal government — a threat made by Leterme in the event that the linguistic border is tinkered with — can only be implemented if Francophone Belgium and Flanders take turns in appointing the nation's prime minister.
In addition, Di Rupo would also demand limiting the number of Flemish ministers in the Brussels government to 10 percent, equal to the percentage of Flemish people living in the capital region.
[Copyright Expatica News 2006]
Subject: Belgian news