Expatica news

Belgian and Dutch ministers get on ‘splendidly’

6 September 2005

AMSTERDAM — The relationship between the Dutch and Belgian governments is ‘splendid’, spokespersons for The Hague and Brussels emphasised on Tuesday.

Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende and eight of his ministers visited Brussels on Monday evening for a dinner with their Belgian counterparts.

They also viewed an exhibition at the Museum Paleis voor Schone Kunsten. Entitled ‘From Ensor to Bosch’, it features painting celebrating the 175 years of Belgium’s existence since winning independence from the Netherlands.

This is the second time ministers from the two countries have met in an informal way without having a set agenda.  The first time was two years ago on a pleasure boat in Rotterdam.

“The ministers spoke in a constructive and good atmosphere about issues that impact both countries,” a spokesperson for the Dutch government said. It was not disclosed what the topics were.

Dutch news agency ANP surmised however that the ‘Harry Potter-incident’ was not a subject raised at the dinner table.

Earlier this year Belgian Foreign Minister Karel De Gucht created a stir when he referred to Balkenende as “Harry Potter without a trace of charisma” when he criticised the The Hague’s failed campaign to win public backing for the European Constitution.

A spokesperson for Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt  described the mood of the meeting as “splendid” but refused to reveal the content of the two prime ministers’ conversations.

[Copyright Expatica News + ANP 2005]

Subject: Belgian news