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The Minister-President of Flanders, Kris Peeters CD&V, and the Minister-President of Wallonia and the French Community, Rudy Demotte PS, are geared to engage in talks. “We have discussed and committed ourselves to consultation on various occasions, but have not managed to set a date due to issues surrounding Mittal Steel,” Peeters said last night. Members of their staff have meanwhile prepared the consultation between the two regions and their first meeting could take place within the next month. Even though it is only natural that both minister-presidents of regions like Flanders and Wallonia engage in talks, it remains quite exceptional in the federal state of Belgium. According to Peeters, the long-term socio-economic plans of both governments, i.e. the Walloon Marshall Plan and the Flemish VIA Flanders in Action, will top the agenda. Other dossiers that may be discussed could include the cultural agreement between Flanders and the French Community. The issue was raised in the Flemish Parliament yesterday. Peeters believes this agreement, which has been under discussion since the eighties, could be nearing its final version once he has ‘sorted out a number of technical issues’ and asked his parliament to take matters further behind the scenes. Flanders and Wallonia are engaged in cultural agreements ‘with the entire world’, but not with each other. In the past some or other reason for discord usually caused such an agreement to be postponed, but there were also more deep-seated reasons such as the French Community’s decision to ignore Flanders’ borders, demanding the right to add the six Flemish municipalities with facilities for the French speaking to Brussels and to take the administrative decisions in these municipalities. Flanders refused to sign any agreement as long as its borders were not acknowledged. The agreement on the splitting of the constituency Brussels-Halle-Vilvoorde in a bilingual Brussels and a Dutch speaking part Halle-Vilvoorde is supposed to have solved this thorny issue.
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