"Those who want to get rid of us, should say so"

In his long-awaited New Year's speech, Bart De Wever, the leader of the Flemish nationalists of N-VA, has kept his cards close to his chest. However, he did launch an appeal for "clarity" to the other parties negotiating a state reform. "Those who want to get rid of us, should say so", Mr De Wever told his audience yesterday evening.

Mr De Wever repeated what the N-VA stands for: a major state reform with a maximum of autonomy for the regions, the necessary socio-economic changes, stricter asylum and migration policies and a more  convincing policy  in the area of justice matters. "That is what the N-VA wants. That is what it's been all about these past few months."

Mr De Wever showed understanding for the people who are to come out on the streets today to protest against the political standstill, but he fears that some will seize the opportunity "to keep the present status-quo and to turn the march into a pro-Belgian event and anti-N-VA demonstration."

In all, the speech was considered as "moderate", analysts say, pointing out that this means that Mr De Wever is still giving the ongoing talks a chance. However, Mr De Wever had a clear message for the other partners at the table: "Those who would like to continue without us, should speak their minds."

Flemish socialists: "Not without the N-VA"

Caroline Gennez, the leader of the Flemish socialists of SP.A, has reacted to Mr De Wever's words. "We do not want to form a government without the N-VA", she told her audience at the SP.A's New Year's reception today. The SP.A is one of the seven parties negotiating a state reform.