Belgian king: We must invent new ways to live together

Last week the monarch appointed a group of wise men to help bring about talks on power-sharing between the feuding linguistic communities.

Belgian king: We must invent new ways to live together
Belgium's King Albert issued a plea for unity on Sunday in a televised message on the eve of the country's national day as political leaders seek a solution to a crisis dividing Dutch- and French-speaking regions.

"We must invent new ways to live together in our country," the monarch said in a broadcast speech before Monday's holiday.

"As you well know, our country is going through serious political difficulties, but I would like to observe that difficulties and crises are also a time to rally and rebound," he said.

Last week the monarch rejected Prime Minister Yves Leterme's resignation, submitted after less than four months in office, and appointed a group of wise men to help bring about talks on power-sharing between the feuding linguistic communities.

Leterme had failed to broker a deal between the two regions by a mid-July deadline, plunging the 177-year old country into a fresh political crisis and renewing speculation it may split.

Leterme's Flemish Christian Democrats were the clear winners of the federal election in June 2007 on a pledge to transfer some federal powers to regions. Six in 10 Belgians are Flemish.

More prosperous Dutch-speaking Flanders wants more regional control over taxation and welfare spending. The poorer French-speaking region of Wallonia objects to more devolution, fearing it would lose funding.

The monarch asked two French-speaking politicians and the head of Belgium's tiny German-speaking community to think about ways to open reform talks and they will report at month's end.

Reuters
Last Mod: 21 Temmuz 2008, 08:53
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