"Flemish independence not in the 19th century meaning of the word"

The Flemish Prime Minister Geert Bourgeois has told the weeklies Knack and Le Vif L'Express that his view of an independent Flanders should not be taken as an independent Flanders in the 19th century sense of the word. Mr Bourgeois told journalists that in modern nations you never stand entirely alone.

The interview sheds light on the Flemish Prime Minister's expectations of any confederal reforms following the 2019 general election. Mr Bourgeois' Flemish nationalist party N-VA supports the idea of a confederal Belgium consisting of a union of two states.

The Flemish leader intimated that his Flemish nationalist party's strategy would be made clearer nearer the election date, but that the world "independence", which "occurs so prominently in our party statutes" should be understood in the correct way.

"My N-VA party doesn't see independence in the 19th century sense of the word. In modern nations you never stand entirely alone. In Belgium there is only one single solution: we must decide in favour of confederalism with a shared capital and maximum self-government and responsibility for Flanders and Wallonia."

Commentators note that this means that Mr Bourgeois has dropped the idea of confederalism as a stepping stone to independence, but that confederalism must be implemented as fully as possible within the Belgian context.

The interview is published hours after the N-VA removed lawmakers Vuye and Wouters from the leadership of the state reform think tank Objective V (V for Flanders) and at a time that the Flemish People's Movement has attacked the N-VA for dropping the formation of a Flemish state as a priority.