Expatica news

Flemish politician apologies for ‘unfortunate’ Nazi insult

25 January 2005

BRUSSELS – Flemish MP Eric Van Rompuy has apologised for comparing a bid to redraw Brussels’ electoral borders to the Nazi policies which led to World War Two.

The Flemish Christian Democrat was widely criticised for saying francophone politicians who want to add French speaking districts to the Brussels region are supporting a policy as bad as Adolf Hitler’s 1938 “Anschluss” with Austria.

On Tuesday, the news agency Belga, among other media, reported that he had apologised for his “unfortunate comparison” during the Sunday TV debate.

He said it was partly due to the fact that his opponent Olivier Maingain, president of the Francophone Democratic Front, had used the term “annexation”.

Van Rompuy’s rhetoric did nothing to assuage tensions between Flemish and francophone politicians who cannot agree over the future of Brussels-Hal-Vilvorde (BHV).

A showdown looks likely on Wednesday since French-speaking parties are still saying they will walk out of a parliamentary debate on whether the commune should be handed to Flanders.

And on Monday evening, the commune Wezembeek-Oppem voted in favour of becoming part of the bilingual Brussels commune.

A motion put before the council was carried 16 votes to 4, with two abstentions.

Councillor Mechtild Von Aleman, former Liberal MEP, argued in favour of the motion.

“In the time I’ve lived in Wezembeek-Oppem, since 1997, I’ve noticed a progressive, continual and insidious deterioration for the francophone minority which represents more than 70 percent of the population,” she said.

She insisted that since Flemish residents of BHV wanted to be separated from Brussels it was an appropriate time to ask for her commune to join the capital.

“We are asking to be attached to Brussels, the only bilingual region of this country where equal rights are given to everyone, regardless of their language or culture,” she said.

However, opposition councillor Jan Walraet said that given the existing political climate the motion was “pure provocation.”

[Copyright Expatica 2005]

Subject: Belgian news