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Birthday celebrations divide Belgium

Published on 17/02/2005

17 February 2005

BRUSSELS – Belgium is divided over the importance of the country’s 175th birthday celebrations.

The majority of Flemish, 52 percent, judge the party to be “unimportant” while 69 percent of French-speaking Walloons and 79 percent of Brussels-dwellers believe the opposite.

A large majority of Walloons and people in Brussels think of themselves principally as Belgian and European, while 38 percent of those who live in Flanders believe they are first and foremost Flemish.

Despite the uncertainty surrounding the Belgian identity, the birthday party was officially launched on Thursday at the Palais des Beaux Arts.

Belgium is celebrating not only 175 years of existing, but also 25 years of federalism.

According to the Prime Minister’s press director Olivier Alsteens, the celebrations will focus on three themes.

We will be looking to the future, to young people and to the revival of merrymaking, he said.

Events, added Alsteens, would also celebrate Belgium’s great historical achievements, the structure of the state, its creativity and taste for initiative.

At the same time the “175-25” celebrations are aimed at forging intergenerational and intercultural relations.

It is hoped the commemoration will help develop the Belgian image on an international level as a country distinguished by its modernity and dynamism.

As well as bringing together the Belgian regional and federal leaders, the celebrations will also be endorsed by a number of Belgian personalities, yet to be revealed.

Following today’s official opening, the commemoration will reach a grand climax when the Belgian royals and government leaders visit the “Belgian visionary” exhibition.

This will be open to the public from 4 March.

An academic event and a concert by the Royal Wallonian Chamber Orchestra will also form part of the opening celebrations.

[Copyright Expatica 2005]

Subject: Belgian news