Belgian political crisis: country’s unity at stake
French- and Dutch-speaking parties have been in talks since the elections last summer, but have made little progress. Many experts see secession ahead – and not just in Belgium, but across the EU.
Northern Flemings and southern Walloons clash on the streets.
Fed up with subsidizing its poor southern neighbour, the north wants an end to the situation. But the Walloons object, leaving the country without a government for nine months now, which is a world record.
Born to French parents in Flanders, Arnaud Deckers is at home in both cultures. So as Belgium breaks in two, he fears for his children’s future.
”If they split it will be much more difficult than now, because all these museums should be split, all these libraries will be split,” he told RT.
Schools already teach Walloon children on the ground floor, Flemish kids upstairs, which means de facto segregation.
The man behind the clashes, head of Flemish Interest Party Bruno Valkeniers, says that Belgium’s breakup will spark a wave of secession through the European Union.
“It will not end in Belgium. It will not end in Flanders,” he said. “Indeed, other countries like Great Britain, like Spain, like France – they will follow.”
Growing ethnic divides are fuelling separatist movements across the EU. From the shaky ceasefire after terrorist attacks in Basque Spain, to bombings in French Corsica.
“In Britain it is considered, at least if you believe the editorials, that it would be acceptable that Scotland secedes if there is a majority in a referendum,” said Bruno Coppieters, author of Just War Theory and the Ethics of Secession. “Such an attitude is not obvious or present in other European countries.”
Splits of a less harmonious kind could mean trouble ahead.
“You cannot saw off the southern part of the country and hope it can float away,” said Giles Merritt from Security and Defense Agenda think tank. “You are stuck with a poorer neighbour.”
The EU seems unable to stop rising inequalities between its people. In the 21st century some see ten new states forming in Europe.
As ethnic tensions across the EU reaches a boiling point, separatists see light at the end of the tunnel. But that threatens the very integration concept of the European Union.