24 January 2005
BRUSSELS – A Flemish politician has shocked the Belgian media by branding as “Nazi” the position of certain French-speaking counterparts on the question of whether a bi-lingual Brussels commune should become part of Flanders.
Eric Van Rompuy, a Flemish Christian Democrat MP in the Flanders parliament, was on RTL-TVi’s programme De Zevende Dag on Sunday afternoon to debate the question of whether Brussels’ electoral boundaries should be redrawn.
Flemish politicians want to see Brussels-Halle-Vilvorde (BHV) become a part of Flanders, with French-speaking politicians denied the right to stand in elections there.
French-speaking politicians have said they will only give up the commune if other communes with large French-speaking populations are incorporated within the Brussels Region.
That, argued Van Rompuy, was a policy that could have come from the Nazi regime.
The proposition, he added, was tantamount to, “Hitler’s Anschluss”.
Van Rompuy said French-speaking politicians should give up BHV – where there are more Flemish speakers than French but also a large foreign population – in return for financial compensation for Brussels.
The President of the Francophone Democratic Front, Olivier Maingain, though, said doing that would be like accepting “Judas’ silver”.
Francophone Belgians “would not abandon their elementary rights for cash”, he said.
Van Rompuy also warned that if French-speaking politicians refused to debate the issue of BHV in parliament on Wednesday, Flemish politicians would institute a constitutional crisis.
“If you don’t want the end of Belgium, agree to the debate in Parliament,” he said.
“If the francophone parties leave the commission, there will be a political crisis, a major crisis.”
He said his party and the New Flemish Alliance (N-VA) would place a motion before the Flanders parliament that would put the Flemish government in danger, finishing in a crisis in the country.
Hitler’s Anschluss, or union with, Austria in 1938 was part of a chain of events that led to the Second World War, a conflict that left between 55 and 60 million people dead.
In the week when Belgium prepares to remember one of the most harrowing experiences of that war – the liberation of the Auschwitz death camp in Poland – some analysts have suggested Van Rompuy’s efforts to compare a small Belgian local government dispute with what was arguably the most terrible period of death and carnage that the planet has ever known were in rather poor taste.
[Copyright Expatica 2005]
Subject: Belgian news