Tuesday, December 4, 2007

The Balkanization of Belgium

Belgium is heading for a record 150 days with no government unless the Christian Democrat and Liberal election winners resolve a spat blocking their bid to form a coalition. [From The Independent].

Since the creation of the Belgian State there have been differences and disagreements between the Dutch speaking region of Flanders and the French speaking Walloon. Flemish separatists continue to talk of a Partition of Belgium. To draw attention to this dilemma, and spark debate, a Walloon TV station recently broadcast a "fake news" report about a Flemish declaration of independence, causing some consternation.

However, this is not the first such hoax. On April Fool's Day, 1992, the London Times reported that the nation had split. The Flanders region would join The Netherlands, and the Wallonia would join France. [From the Museum of Hoaxes] This report allegedely even fooled the British Foreign Office.

I have no opinion on what is right for Belgium. One separatist organization calls Belgium "the last artificial state in Europe". This is no doubt in reference to the unification of Germany, the division of Czechoslovakia, the dissolution of Yugoslavia and the break-up of the Soviet Union, all along ethnic lines. The Basque and Catalan of Spain may disagree with that statement (among others).

Your comments are welcome.



At Sunday, December 16, 2007 , Anonymous Pedro Iñaki said...

All states are artificial: there isn't any "natural" nation. Even the concept of "natural borders" was used only by expansionist leaders who wanted to show a sort of legitimation to their conquests.
Being a Basque citicen of the World, I've found lots of pretended historical explanations for anything:
indepencence, federalism, centralism ...
Sorry but I became quite sceptical of all of them. The future will go where the most powerful side wants to lead it: explanations and justifications will come later.

At Sunday, December 16, 2007 , Blogger Cartophiliac said...

What do you think, as a Basque (or any other Europeans), about the future of the European Union and local self determination? As the economies of European nations become inextricably interwinded, will it make it more likely that the Basque, the Catalan, the Walloons and Flemish, Laplanders, the Scots, etc., will have their own separate identity within that union?
The artificial concept of borders based on ethnicity, or linguistic-cultural cohesion has been the ideal (in theory if not practice) since the Great War.


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