King Albert: "I wish you the courage to be a bringer of peace"

King Albert has addressed the nation on the occasion of Christmas. He spoke at length about the impact of Belgium's six months as EU President, but also focused on the grand reforms of the Belgian state now planned, the need for compromise and for the courage to reach a deal. Unlike in previous years he did not wish us a “Merry Christmas”.

The king kicked off with a positive message. Belgium's European partners believe that our six months in the European driving seat were "exceptionally successful". The monarch continued: "Considerable progress was made in many diverse fields." He pointed to Europe's economic strategy, measures to avoid a repeat of the financial crisis and progress in the fields of trade and diplomacy in Europe's relations with Asia.

King Albert told his people that unprompted many European leaders had raised the matter with him. The monarch said that this success was a feature of Belgium’s talent to bring positions closer together and work out compromises.

The king continued: "At home, the art of making a compromise has been lost in recent years. This is why I am concerned and want to appeal to all those in responsibility and to all citizens."

The king said that Belgium was now getting an opportunity to introduce reform to respond to people’s wishes and meet the challenges of the future. After six months of talks all the elements needed for a root-and-branch reform are present. An important transfer of powers to the regions and communities is planned. They will get greater autonomy and financial responsibility, also in tax matters. At the same time, solidarity between the various parts of our country will be maintained. Moreover, the federal state will be given sustainable funding so that it can continue to guarantee that its powers can be exerted and meet its commitments to all Belgians, Europe and the world.

King Albert said that the challenge was to find balanced compromises that took account of the legitimate concerns of every one of us: "There must be no losers as part of such agreements. We must find solutions that make everybody a winner."

The sovereign insisted that in order to reach a reasonable agreement everybody would have to compromise and be responsible. The king said that when such an agreement was reached, Belgium could form a new government. In addition the federated entities will be able to take the measures needed to safeguard the well-being of our people and restore confidence.

"If successful, ..., Belgium will once again be able to stand as an example of good understanding and form a factor of unity in a world that is in need of this."

King Albert said that his appeal in favour of compromise was first and foremost directed at those with political responsibility, but should also be heard by economic and social leaders and people in the world of the arts and the media.

King Albert concluded by saying that we should all have the courage to bring peace and that on the occasion of Christmas and the New Year he, the queen and his whole family wished us the courage to fulfil this ambition.