The King of Belgium has pleaded for unity on the eve of his country’s national day on Monday. King Albert made the plea in a televised statement, as a council of ministers seek a solution to a crisis dividing the Dutch and French-speaking regions in the country.
“A difference of ideas is not a fatality,” he said. “Unity and tolerance towards the identity of each of the members of our federation are the only solutions for our democratic society.” “We need to work out new ways of living together peacefully in our country.” “Our country is going through political difficulties, but this is a time to rally and rebound,” he added.
The crisis reached its zenith last week, when the King refused to accept the Prime Minister’s resignation.
Four months after he was appointed, Yves Leterme was handing in his notice, because he could not broker a deal between Dutch and French-speakers on devolving more power to the regions.
The King appointed a council of three ministers to bring about talks on power-sharing. They will report on ways to do so at the end of the month – if they find any. A recent poll showed almost half of Flemish voters want a separate state. But it would be an odd fate for a country that hosts the EU, the advocate of federal Europe.