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Is a divided Belgium looking towards Scotland for independence inspiration?


Is a divided Belgium looking towards Scotland for independence inspiration?


Günther Dauwen from the European Free Alliance is just one member of a regionalist party who will be in Edinburgh supporting the Yes campaign. Dauwen is Flemish and hoping that victory in Scotland will set a precedent for separatists in other European countries who want independence.

“The right to decide is a universal principle of law and the Scottish will be exercising this right. We sincerely hope that the Catalans will soon be exercising this right. Regardless of the result, the right to decide has to prevail,” Dauwen told euronews before checking in for his flight to Edinburgh.

What is happening in Scotland could be relevant for some Belgians in a country divided into rich, Flemish-speaking Flanders and the poorer French-speaking Wallonia.

Mayor Kurt Ryon of Steenokkerzeel, a Flemish town close to Brussels, belongs to a nationalist party. He says he will celebrate Scottish independence with specially-prepared ‘freedom beers’.

“We are working now on a big road, a road to victory, but we are at the start of the road. So, we are building on a free Flanders. We learn a lot from the Scottish vote, the yes vote. We can use it for our white paper, when we say we are going to do our own referendum,” explained Ryon.

Some 58 percent of Belgium’s 11 million people are Flemish and 32 percent Wallonians. Separatists in Flanders complain the Flemish pay in more than they get out, but has the prospect of an independent Scotland encouraged a breakaway spirit?

Not with one Steenokkerzeel resident who said: “I want a country Belgium, not Flanders and Wallonia. I want Flanders and Wallonia together. I want Belgium, I like Belgium”.

Another added: “Scotland before was a country, Flanders and Wallonia were not countries. Flanders belonged to the Netherlands. So, it’s a different story. I think it’s completely different story. So, I don’t see this as a precedent.”

For one lady living in Steenokkerzeel, it is a clear cut issue. “I am a Flemish. My personal opinion is I should say yes – for the Scottish.”

Every story can be told in many ways: see the perspectives from Euronews journalists in our other language teams.


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