Flemish Nationalists have "fundamental remarks"

The Flemish nationalist N-VA, Belgium's biggest party has drawn up a list of "fundamental remarks" about the content and the scope of the state reform proposals drawn up by the Royal Mediator, Johan Vande Lanotte (Flemish socialist). The party is handing its remarks to the Royal Mediator and the six other parties involved in the state reform talks with a view to seeing if they are acceptable.

The Flemish nationalists believe that only in this way can it become clear whether further talks are meaningful.

The Flemish nationalists were the last of the seven parties to respond to the Royal Mediator's document. Mr Vande Lanotte had asked the seven to say whether they were prepared to continue talks on the basis of his proposals, though he stressed it was not a "take-it-or-leave-it" document. The N-VA's position is interpreted as a "No" to talks unless the party's "fundamental remarks" are dealt with. Earlier, the N-VA's closest ally, the Flemish Christian democrats of CD&V adopted a similar stance.

The five other parties including Mr Vande Lanotte's Flemish socialists all said "yes", though practically all parties have some remarks.

The Flemish nationalists underline that they have taken the time to examine the proposals thoroughly because they have considerable respect for "the Royal Mediator's hard work that deserves a thorough examination".

In a communiqué the N-VA says that the compromise document drawn up by its own leader Bart De Wever possessed "a sound balance" as far as state reforms were concerned. The party checked the Mediator's document by his ambition of seeking the "same substance".

The Flemish nationalists are handing the Mediator and the six other parties details of their "fundamental remarks", which are not being made public. The party says that in this way it will be possible to establish whether the remarks can be taken on board by the other parties: "In this way it will be possible to decide whether final negotiations are meaningful."