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The Future of Belgium

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Al Jassas View Drop Down
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    Posted: 26 Apr 2010 at 21:12
Hello to you all
 
Of all the historical anomilies that currently exist Belgium is probably the luckiest one of them all.
 
This country was created (first as a part of neutral Netherlands then as a neutral independent Catholic nation) to be a buffer zone between the British Germany (Hanover) on one side and France on the other from two totally distinct nationalities (Germans are less han 1% so thy don't count) survived nearly all the most terrible events that followed, events that distroyed empires yet only strengthened Belgium more and more.
 
The 1848 revolutions, Republican and then 3rd empire France, european nationalism and the rise of the Netherlands, WWI, WWII and communism and the cold war. All these had their effects on Belgium yet Belgium always survived as a unified strong country that even had its own colonial adventure.
 
However it seems that the luck of the Belgians has finally ran out. Ever since the Cold war ended the rift within the Belgian society, a rift that always existed but was dormant, began to widen. The Waloon region began to suffer a long decline due to the changing economic winds while the Flemish region prospered like never before.
 
And to add fuel into the fire the current rise in neo-nationalism and neo-fascism just made everyting worse with Flemish nationalists gaining more and more representation and the traditional cross ethnic parties dying out or becoming exclusively French.
 
According to most polls only a small minority want the breakup between Flanders and Waloonia to happen yet those same people who oppose the breakup support the same policies that actually is causing much of the crisis currently.
 
So what is the future of Belgium? And how will this affect the EU in general and the neighbours in particular? Will Waloonia join France and Flanders the Netherlands or will they both become independent? And most importantly will this accelerate the demand for independence in similar regions in europe like the Basque country and Catalunia?
 
Al-Jassas


Edited by Al Jassas - 26 Apr 2010 at 21:18
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Flipper Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12 Jun 2010 at 21:54
My unawareness of Al Jassas thread, made me post another "Future of Belgium"-thread, where I said the following:

Originally posted by Flipper Flipper wrote:


Guys, lately I'm randomly reading predictions about the future of Belgium as a country. I remember 5-6 years ago, when a French speaking model appeared on tv, in front of a Flemish crowd and was booed for speaking French. It stroked me to be honest! Now, after some years I read that there's a lot of tension between the different ethnic backgrounds of Belgium. Unfortunately, I used the word "ethnic" since my understanding is that the Belgium "ethnic" consciousness is falling apart.

Now, excuse any ignorance of mine, but If I didn't really care I wouldn't be writing this. What is your view about the current situation? Is there any future for Belgium? Is there any future for multi-ethnic countries to stay united (e.g Swiss).


Lets keep this thread and tell us what you think.


Edited by Flipper - 12 Jun 2010 at 22:22
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Flipper Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12 Jun 2010 at 21:57
I'm terribly sceptic to the divisions of countries and the true background of it, but in this case it is obvious what is happening.

On the other side, Belgium has the capital of the EU. How would a split effect the European economies?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Flipper Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12 Jun 2010 at 22:21
Originally posted by Parnell Parnell wrote:


Maybe this would be a case where the clear geographic areas, with distinct lingual peoples, would be happier living apart than together.


It is not always like that. Of course, the lack of communication is an issue. Even, when it is not, there are other reasons keeping people apart from each other. Take for example Norway - Sweden, Finland - Estonia and Romania - Moldova. I mean, in the case of Norwegian and Swedish, from a linguistic perspective it is the same language because less that 10-14% (depending on the case) of the words are different. The only reason you speak of 2 languages is because they are dialect groups of currently 2 countries. When I was going to Swedish school in Athens, there was a Norwegian student in the class. She was more easy to understand than my south Swedish countrymen. However, I was a Swede and she was Norwegian.

On the other hand see the case of Sweden and Finland. Two completely different languages but two very similar cultures co-existing for centuries.

So, how can we summarize the reasons that lead to the division of nations?

So far we have to consider the following:

- Language
- Culture
- Politics


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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Al Jassas Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14 Jun 2010 at 09:56
Hello to you all
 
Well the results of the elections have come and speartists won the plurarity in Parliament but it seems that in order to form a government they need Waloon parties which makes separtism a bit harder:
 
Another BBC piece sheds an interesting light. It seems that only a few people actually want independence (roughly 10%) and actually want more autonomy. Yet the people who are gaining more popularity in elections are the guys who want independence:
 
What do the EU and other countries think about this especially the Netherlands and France?
 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Parnell Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14 Jun 2010 at 13:26
How would seperation work exactly? Would an entirely new state be created in the North? (Flanders) with the French and German speaking parts going to the respective nations? What about Brussels and the National Debt? What would happen the Belgian football team?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Mixcoatl Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 15 Jun 2010 at 17:51
Originally posted by Parnell Parnell wrote:

How would seperation work exactly? Would an entirely new state be created in the North? (Flanders) with the French and German speaking parts going to the respective nations? What about Brussels and the National Debt? What would happen the Belgian football team?

For Brussels probably some solution can be worked out, like becoming some kind of European capital district. IIRC opinion polls in Wallonia show that most Walloons would support Wallonia joining France if Belgium splits up. There are some minor parties that already advocate that (rattachism, actually a misnomer because Wallonia has never been part of France for a significant amount of time - and ironically in the Middle Ages the County of Flanders was a fief of France, the rest of Belgium of the Holy Roman Ampire), but they rarely get 1% of the vote. Perhaps what will happen to the German speaking community will be the most interesting. Germany expanding it's territory, now that will be a sensitive issue. Of all Belgians in any case the German speaking community are the most staunchly pro-Belgian ones. They're often called the 'only real Belgians' and 'the best protected minority of Europe'. They wouldn't like to take the risk of losing their status by becoming part of France of or and independent Wallonia.

But perhaps the most important thing, and often overlooked in this kind of independence speculations, is that it won't actually solve much. If Belgium splits there will still be lots of French speaking people in Flemish territory around Brussels, so they will still have to work out some kind of compromise - ethnic cleansing won't be a really attractive solution.

In any case my opinion is that the Flemish nationalists should stop being such crybabies. It doesn't have anything to do with defending their own language and culture any but instead with harrassing French speakers. People migrate and like to speak their own languages, stop whining and live with it. Nobody is going to be significantly worse of if people in Flemish Brabant are allowed to receive speeding tickets in French.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote gcle2003 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 15 Jun 2010 at 20:44
Just for the record, it would make some kind of (historical and contemporary) sense for French and German speaking parts of Belgium to become associated with Luxembourg. Much of Wallonia used to be in Luxembourg anyway.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Flipper Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 15 Jun 2010 at 21:43
On the other side, how can we talk about EU, if a small area like Belgium is gonna get partitioned? I'm not against EU or so, but this thing is more or less against the basis of it. Lets say, opposite direction or something.

Edited by Flipper - 15 Jun 2010 at 21:43
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Mixcoatl Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 15 Jun 2010 at 22:30
Originally posted by gcle2003 gcle2003 wrote:

Just for the record, it would make some kind of (historical and contemporary) sense for French and German speaking parts of Belgium to become associated with Luxembourg. Much of Wallonia used to be in Luxembourg anyway.

Do you know if any people in the province of Luxembourg speak German or Luxembourgish? I remember when I was a kid we used to have and old atlas (1950s or so) with a linguistic map of Belgium that depicted the area around <s>Aarlen</s> Arlon as German speaking, but currently it is (officially) completely Francophone, even without municipalities with linguistics facilities.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Kevin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22 Jun 2010 at 04:22
I would think that Belgium would eventually get over this internal issue.

However, if the country were to split I would have to think that both Flanders and Wallonia would become independent states.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote drgonzaga Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22 Jun 2010 at 17:09
Ha...the Belgians would declare themselves the heart of the EU and the entire country become the "federal territory of the European Union"...Tongue failing that they could always request a return to the Spanish monarchy!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Flipper Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22 Jun 2010 at 22:03
Originally posted by Kevin Kevin wrote:


However, if the country were to split I would have to think that both Flanders and Wallonia would become independent states.


What are the grounds for such a scenario? How is the ethnic feeling of these partitions?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Zagros Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22 Jun 2010 at 23:22
I think China or Russia should use its intelligence service to conduct false flag operations against both groups so that they blame one another and retaliate, escalating the issue to the brink of a civil war... at which point, they could bring calm to the region by sending "peacekeepers" in and saving the unruly and savage western Europeans from themselves.  Then proceed to set up massive military bases, radar sites and missile silos.

Excellent idea.


Edited by Zagros - 22 Jun 2010 at 23:25
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Kevin Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23 Jun 2010 at 02:31
Originally posted by Flipper Flipper wrote:

Originally posted by Kevin Kevin wrote:


However, if the country were to split I would have to think that both Flanders and Wallonia would become independent states.


What are the grounds for such a scenario? How is the ethnic feeling of these partitions?


I'm not entirely familiar with Belgian politics.

Although, that's just the feeling I get as I can't really see France o the Netherlands taking on these two regions since both Wallonia and Flanders respectively do have their differences to an extent from the national and regional politics of those two countries, as well as somewhat culturally different as well.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Mixcoatl Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23 Jun 2010 at 06:23
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Although, that's just the feeling I get as I can't really see France o the Netherlands taking on these two regions since both Wallonia and Flanders respectively do have their differences to an extent from the national and regional politics of those two countries, as well as somewhat culturally different as well.

For some reason pan-Neerlandism is stronger in Flanders than in the Netherlands. Most Dutch are moderately negetive or at best indifferent toward a Dutch-Flemish union. In any case you can count me in the indifferent camp.

On the other hand, the religious argument against a (re)-union, Flanders being Catholic, the Netherlands (predominantly) Protestant, does not seem to be much of an issue any more. In Flanders 'we have been ruled by foreigners for most of our history anyway' seems to be a popular sentiment. In any case it's pretty hard to give a clear answer to the question if Flemish and Dutch want to become one country. Various polls tend to give differing results and of course the hypothetical question 'would you support a union of the Netherlands and Flanders?' is a different different than 'should Flanders join the Netherlands?' when it has actually become independent.

Then there's also the problem that many supporters of Flemish independence are republicans, while a merger with the Netherlands will mean they'll change the Belgian monarchy for the Dutch monarchy.

Wallonian nationalism is not really strong, a huge majority of Walloons are in favor of keeping Belgium together, but IIRC opinion polls show that a majority of both French and Walloons would want Wallonia to join with France in case Belgium splits in two.

Now, if the international community will be happy with a Belgium splitup, let alone an annexation of (parts of) Belgium by their neighbors is a different question altogether.

Edited by Mixcoatl - 23 Jun 2010 at 06:25
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote willyrobinson Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11 Feb 2011 at 10:23
Flanders and Holland joining isn't seen as positive because of political questions. Flanders is more 'right-wing' Holland being more libertine at least in its dominating metropolis.

Flanders would make a fine nation - most of the wealth is produced from that area, most of the population of Belgium is Flemish, the capital is in their territory so on and so on.

Wallonia is a different question though. It would be a meager country in comparison with its previous lot. They probably wouldn't want to be united with France, but on the other hand they'd much rather keep the benefits of the Flemish a part of their lives.

Now this question is moot when it concerns the EU. Wallonia would do just fine there. However, we're looking at the very minimum a restructuring of the EU around the German economy - which equates to German political power over those who are dependent. Right now this is Greece, Spain, Portugal, possibly Italy & Ireland. So if this doesn't happen (and I'm putting my bets on it) Germany could withdraw and the EU collapses like a house of cards. What you'll probably see is Germany threaten to leave and then get all the power of an invading army over these less productive nations without firing a shot.

Methinks this was in the cards for a long time coming.

As with many events concerning Europe, Russia, and some elsewhere I say look to Germany. In the case of the Belgian question look to Germany b/c the fate of the EU is going to tie directly into the fate of this outdated model of a state.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote gcle2003 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11 Feb 2011 at 16:59
Originally posted by willyrobinson willyrobinson wrote:

Now this question is moot when it concerns the EU. Wallonia would do just fine there. However, we're looking at the very minimum a restructuring of the EU around the German economy - which equates to German political power over those who are dependent. Right now this is Greece, Spain, Portugal, possibly Italy & Ireland. So if this doesn't happen (and I'm putting my bets on it) Germany could withdraw and the EU collapses like a house of cards. What you'll probably see is Germany threaten to leave and then get all the power of an invading army over these less productive nations without firing a shot.
Nonsense. Germans generally aren't idiots. If a burnt child dreads the fire one who has been twice burned dreads it even more.
 
This kind of boombastic macho braggadocio in politics is pretty much just an American preserve nowadays. (And not luckily all that widespread there.)
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Woofer Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06 Sep 2013 at 08:38
Long term I think it is pretty much on the cards that Flanders becomes independent, Brussels becomes a Special European area and Wallonia joins France.

There is more than just a linguistic difference. The Flemish are essentially conservative liberals and the Walloons are Social democrats. Given the appalling treatment that Walloons doled out  to the Flemish for most of the existence of Belgium it is hardly surprising that wealthier Flanders no longer wants to subsidise the less efficient Wallonia.
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