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Constitutional reform talks under

Eighteen representatives from no fewer than eight political parties got round the table to discuss constitutional reform on Tuesday. The first meeting of the so-called Octopus Group was held in the Belgian Senate.

Speaking ahead of Tuesday afternoon’s meeting, the man chairing the talks Deputy Minister Yves Leterme (Flemish Christian democrat) told journalists that an agreement must be reached.

"Failure would be very easy. Anyone of us could make sure of that. It wouldn’t
require any courage but it would be a choice devoid of vision"

However, the negotiators don’t have a great deal of time. The Flemish Christian democrats will leave the talks if no agreement is reached by the 23 March.

Yves Leterme: “We are determined. The past few months have shown that it can be tough, but in the interest of the country and its people we must take this step now. If we are successful, it will have been a team effort. That’s exactly I want to do all I can".

Nevertheless, the applause at the opening meeting was somewhat lukewarm.

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