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Verhofstadt hits out over Philippe row

3 December 2004
BRUSSELS — Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt has berated far-right party Vlaams Belang for its heated reaction to comments made by crown prince Philippe despite his belief that Philippe acted outside his constitutional rights.
The controversy was prompted by remarks Philippe made to Flemish newspaper Story earlier this week that the party, previously called Vlaams Blok, was “trying to destroy our country”.
In response to questions from Vlaams Belang party members in Parliament, the prime minister repeated his claim that the prince violated his constitutional rights in voicing the remarks.
“It is understandable that members of the royal family voice their opinions about the big issues concerning the future of our country or the themes of society or in defense of our democratic values,” Verhofstadt said.
However, he criticised the party for its “virulent” reaction to the prince’s remarks, saying that what the party really wants is a “disintegration of our country and a demolition of our institutions”.
Verhofstadt warned that the government and the majority parties in parliament would not let that happen.
[Copyright Expatica 2004]

Subject: Belgian news