Thursday, September 20, 2007

Brussels Sprouts

“We are two different nations, an artificial state created as a buffer between big powers, and we have nothing in common except a king, chocolate and beer”

Belgium? Something that does not exist'

Long-running crisis could lead to nation separating into Flanders and Wallonia
Political fault lines divide nation
Willy the florist has had enough of his kingdom. He is an unwilling subject of an unloved country. A middle-class father of 12-year-old twins running a thriving flower business in this small Dutch-speaking town on the eastern fringe of Brussels, Willy is reduced to obscene gesturing by the very mention of his country."Belgium?" he splutters. "That's something that doesn't exist. The national anthem? Nobody knows it. Nobody can sing it. The king? A parvenu. A dysfunctional family. We're not going to take it any more."
"There's no Belgian language. There's no Belgian nation. There's no Belgian anything."
"How can you divide a country of 10 million into two countries?
And what do you do about Brussels? It's the politicians
They've just decided it's better to split the country."The verbal abuse on both sides is turning nasty. Many Flemish disparage the Walloons as lazy spongers who are too stupid to learn Dutch. Historically, the French speakers were the Belgian elite, lording it over the Flemish whom they viewed as country bumpkins. Beyond Brussels, the French- and the Dutch-speakers inhabit parallel worlds that rarely intersect or integrate.,,2170606,00.html

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