Geert Bourgeois "I am jealous of the Catalans”

The Flemish Prime Minister Geert Bourgeois (nationalist) has said in a radio interview that he is jealous of the Catalans. Speaking on VRT Radio 1, Mr Bourgeois pointed to the way in which a sense of Catalan identity is carried by a wide cross section of the population in Catalonia.

Mr Bourgeois added that Politicians on the left and on the right of the political spectrum, the world of culture and the unions all support greater Catalan autonomy. This is something that is missing here in Flanders.

Two days after the Catalan referendum it remains uncertain what the next step will be. It remains to be seen whether a Catalonia that had declared UDI would be recognized by the EU member states. Mr Bourgeois says that he doesn’t wish to put the cart before the horse.

"We should see how the situation evolves. N-VA (the Flemish nationalists) are for self-determination, but there is still a long way to go”.

The Flemish nationalists are also in the Federal Government. It will be Belgium’s Federal Government that will decide whether or not an independent Catalonia would be given recognition. Mr Bourgeois says that the question of whether or not the question of recognising an independent Catalan state would be a political crisis with Belgium’s Federal Government is not on the agenda.

"Everyone is always asking what N-VA will do. However, it is clear what N-VA is and that is a nationalist party. We are jealous of the Catalans.”

"The world of sport, the world of sport, football club Barça, the world of culture, the unions…they all support it. There are Catalan flags everywhere”.

"Flemings should be more proud of their identity"

Pride in Flemish identity is something that Mr Bourgeois feels is lacking.

"I have been saying for a long time that Flemings should be proud of their identity”. Mr Bourgeois went on to say that an independence referendum in Flanders is unthinkable. “We operate in a totally different context”.

Mr Bourgeois repeated his call for dialogue.

"I hope that all parties get around the table and if this doesn’t prove possible then an arbitrator should be appointed”. The Flemish Prime Minister concluded by saying that it regrettable that the EU didn’t condemn Sunday’s violence sooner.


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