Thursday, July 21, 2005

Happy Birthday Belgium: 175/25 Today

A 175th birthday is to be congratulated, even if the blog deplores the rebellion of (some) Walloons and Flemish against the benevolent rule of Holland in 1830. The 25th anniversary, less excitingly, is for Belgium's existence as a federal state, a recognition of its linguistic divisions, the roots of which go back to Roman times.

Belgium remains famously divided: "Sire, il n'y a pas de Belges", said the socialist Jules Destrée in 1912. Socialist bilge, perhaps, but it hit a nerve and is still much quoted today, almost as if it were true. A sense of existential crisis still pervades the country, expressive of the problems attendant on creating a federal unity where no unity exists - and, as such, deeply instructive to today's Eurocrats in Brussels, who are busily drawing up the same construct, on an even broader canvas.

But the Belgians have somehow managed to create a splendid country - or whatever is the right term - out of this schizophrenia. This may be more apparent to an outsider than to the Belgians themselves. There is still a lot of bitterness between the French- and the Dutch-speakers. But 87% of Belgians still believe in the future of their country. So its component regions won't be subsumed into the EU superstate just yet. The blog raises a glass of Witbier to the plucky Belgians and wishes them, and the Rooie Duvels , well.

de Volkskrant - Jarig Belgi? takelt langzaam af

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