Alexander De Croo, pictured on the right
BELGA

Mr De Croo labels Putin an ‘unadulterated fascist’ as he compares Russia’s nationalism to Belgium’s openness

The Belgian leader, Prime Minister Alexander De Croo (Flemish liberal), today seized the opportunity of a speech to parliament initially intended to clarify the agreement reached between government parties on budgets for 2023 and 2024 to lash out at the Russian leader Vladimir Putin and denounce his regime that contrasts markedly with Belgium’s openness.

Labelling the Russian leader an “unadulterated fascist” Mr De Croo said that the war in Ukraine showed the bankruptcy of inward-looking nationalism, built on purity and exclusion that divides instead of uniting, which removes people and kills them simply because of who they are and which language they speak: “It shows the bankruptcy of the absolute nation state, which should provide all salvation: one people, one empire, one leader, where did we hear that before?” Mr De Croo quizzed?

The premier contrasted this to Belgium’s openness: our open economy and willingness to work together with other nations. “Being open doesn’t mean you are neutral.  Putin’s madness forces all free democracies to make clear choices. It’s a choice between barbarianism and civilisation, between insistence on one’s own right and working together, between dropping others or protecting them, between shutting ourselves off or being open”.

Back on the economy the federal government is making cuts worth 3.6 billion euros in order to achieve a budget deficit that by 2024 will total no more than 3.2% of national output.

The prime minister told lawmakers it was the government’s job to support and protect citizens and businesses: “a government that doesn’t get in the way, that safeguards our physical, economic and financial liberty”.

The Belgian leader conceded that in times of war the bill was a hefty one.

Mr De Croo pointed to the efforts the government was making to ease the burden of the energy crisis on citizens and business. He also stressed the government’s efforts in the field of defence, cybersecurity and internal security. Referring to the foiled plot by narcoterrorists to kidnap the justice minister Mr De Croo made it clear his team would not be intimidated and that battling organised crime was a priority.

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