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Belgian monarch calls for unity after political crisis

Belgian monarch calls for unity after political crisis

King Albert II used his Christmas message to the nation Monday to urge Belgium's French- and Dutch-speakers to overcome differences that plunged the country into a bitter political crisis for much of 2007.
"We sometimes have the impression that our relations with foreign countries are better organized and better structured than those within our own country," the monarch complained.
He welcomed the "very Belgian qualities" of "creativity, common sense and the sprit of compromise" which led to the formation of an interim government last week to end six months of political deadlock which had sparked fears the country could split apart.
King Albert said the country had to learn the lessons of a crisis marked by bitter exchanges between Flemish politicians seeking greater autonomy for their richer northern region and Francophones who feared that would cut their funding and destroy Belgian unity.
"It is indispensable to develop and strengthen contacts and exchanges between officials in all areas from the different communities and regions," he monarch said.
"It seems to me, that it's possible in a working Europe to become an example of a society where diverse cultures can live harmoniously together," he added. "That's not an impossible dream."
The king urged a greater effort to ensure that young Belgians learn to speak both French and Dutch and suggested that Flemings and Francophones unite behind a drive to tackle poverty at home and in Africa.
Liberal Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt won a confidence vote in parliament Sunday for his five-party interim administration ending a stalemate which had paralyzed government since general elections June 10.
Verhofstadt is scheduled to hand over power in March to the Flemish Christian Democrats _ the big winners in the election _ if an agreement can be found on a new balance of power between the Dutch- and French-speakers.
The interim government includes the Liberal and Christian Democrat ministers from both sides of Belgium's linguistic divide, plus the French-speaking Socialists.


Updated : 2021-05-15 02:13 GMT+08:00