Minister Predicts Break Up of Belgium

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“People must get ready for the break-up of Belgium,” Onkelinx is reported as saying in several media oulets. “Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that because if we split, it will be the weakest who will pay the heaviest price.”

She did acknowledge that the Flemish half of the country was happier to consider a split than the generally poorer Francophone Walloon community.

“We can no longer ignore that among a large part of the Flemish population, it’s their wish,” warned Onkelinx.

The crisis follows the three month-long efforts of the primateur fellow Socialist politician Elio di Rupo (also pictured) to create a grand coalition between  Flemish and Wallon parties failing over the weekend.

The King has now asked,  the leaders of the Upper and Lower House of the Belgian Parliament, Socialist Andre Flahaut and Danny Pieters of the separatist New Flemish Alliance (NVA) to mediate in any new negotiations.

International reaction has been muted so far, as Belgium has been without a government for periods of time in the past three years. The country holds the six-month rotating EU Presidency at the moment, but so far domestic political troubles have not stopped Belgium pushing through several initiatives at the international level including a political agreement on the long outstanding Patent Directive.