Nawijn and Dewinter set up think tank

20th June 2005, Comments 0 comments

20 June 2005AMSTERDAM — Hilbrand Nawijn, the former Dutch minister for immigration and integration, has launched a think tank on immigration with Filip Dewinter, the leader of Belgium's far-right Vlaams Belang party.

20 June 2005

AMSTERDAM — Hilbrand Nawijn, the former Dutch minister for immigration and integration, has launched a think tank on immigration with Filip Dewinter, the leader of Belgium's far-right Vlaams Belang party.

The pair's decision to hold the launch of the Dutch-centric 'Marnix van St. Aldegonde' in the Rotterdam home of murdered populist Pim Fortuyn has angered Nawijn's former colleagues in the Dutch LPF party.

The house has been preserved as a shrine to the populist politician who was assassinated on 6 May 2002. Nawijn was appointed as the first minister of immigration and integration after the 15 May 2002 Dutch election in which the LPF won 28 seats.

The LPF's coalition with the Christian Democrats (CDA) and Liberals (VVD) collapsed after 87 days. Nawijn and the rest of the Cabinet continued in a caretaker capacity until CDA Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende formed a new administration.

Although LPF founder Fortuyn had made a point of not associating himself with the Flemish party, Dewinter insisted on Monday they were of like minds. The Flemish people speak Dutch and sometimes see themselves as having more in common with the Netherlands than Wallonia, the French-speaking part of Belgium.

"Pim Fortuyn stood for the freedom of expression and sought dialogue. The house stands as a symbol for the exchange of views to see if you are in agreement," Dewinter said.

Brushing aside the criticism of the LPF, Dewinter added: "I come here to show my respect, nothing more".

He contradicted reports that he intended to set up a joint political party with Nawijn. "There won't be a Vlaams Belang branch in the Netherlands. We have to work in our respective countries," he said.

He did indicate that the pair plan to co-operate on writing and publishing a book.

Dewinter said the new think tank — named after a former mayor of Antwerp who fled to the Netherlands to escape persecution — was needed to emphasise the Dutch cultural heritage in Europe. The think tank will focus on issues relating to immigration and integration.

Philips van Marnix, heer van Sint-Aldegonde, is credited with writing 'Het Wilhelmus' around 1570. It became the Dutch national anthem in 1932.

[Copyright Expatica News + ANP 2005]

Subject: Dutch news + Belgian news

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