About a week ago I returned from my trip to Belgium. My mission was to find out about the language conflict between Walloons and Flemish people. Honestly spoken I was a bit sceptic about this story. Would it be interesting enough? How bad could this dispute be – in the middle of the European Union? My first contact with the conflict were some paintings on the ground in front of Brussels’ North Train Station. A lot of peace signs, rainbows, anarchy symbols covered almost half of the little square. With chalk some people seemed to have expressed their protest against a million random objects of anger. “United as 1 – Divided by 0″ was written there. What is actually a well-known slogan for net activists of all kind mostly linked to the Anonymous collective got a whole new meaning placed in between a Walloon and a Flemish emblem. Doing research about that I joked about Belgium being a Balkan state on Twitter. One of my followers replied: “Would you please stop insulting the Balkans by comparing it to Belgium? ;)”
Belgium had no government for 541 days after the last elections. This is a world record. Belgium is world record holder of “Longest period without government in peace times.” The record holder of “Longest period without government after a conflict” is Iraq (289 days).
I should find out things in Belgium are far more complicated than most people in Europe imagine. What is reduced to a fight about money on the news is embedded into a conflict that has been existing as long as the Belgian state.
Read the whole story (in German) in 2012‘s July issue.