BHV spat keeps PM from Moscow celebrations
9 May 2005
BRUSSELS – Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt pulled out of Russia’s World War Two celebrations on Monday as the crisis in Belgium between the francophone and Flemish communities deepened.
World leaders, including George W.Bush, Jacques Chirac and Gerhard Schroeder, joined Russian president Vladimir Putin at Moscow’s Red Square to mark the 60th anniversary of the victory of the allied forces over the Nazis.
Verhofstadt had been scheduled to join them to watch a military parade to mark the anniversary.
However, on Sunday, Verhofstadt’s spokesman Didier Seeuws announced that the speaker of the Belgian parliament, Herman De Croo, would go in place of the prime minister.
The move came as the deadline expires for Verhofstadt’s centre-left coalition to find a solution to the controversial question of the electoral division of Brussels-Hal-Vilvorde.
Last Tuesday, parliament agreed to again postpone a decision for another week.
Flemish parties are determined that BHV – which has more Dutch-speaking Belgians than francophones – should be made a part of Flanders.
Francophone parties are prepared to agree to the change if six communes on the edge of Brussels, containing a large number of French speakers, are made a part of bilingual Brussels. However, Flemish parties do not seem ready to agree to such a deal.
If both communities cannot strike a deal, Verhofstadt might be forced to resign. The issue could even precipitate elections to settle the issue.
[Copyright Expatica 2005]
Subject: Belgian news