Hello dear readers,
I am writing this brief to you at a time when all of humanity is facing an unprecedented attack and when overcoming ill-maintained differences will be crucial not only for world peace but also for its rescue.
Relations between the North and South of Belgium are concrete examples of the establishment of barriers that do not serve the interests of the Belgian people without ethnic distinction.
Let’s start with the common history of Flemish Belgians as Walloons.
A rich common history
If in 1830, though a committee made up of Walloons and Flemish supporters of Liberalism, Catholicism and secession with the Netherlands led to the creation of Belgium, intra-Belgian relations are in reality millennial.
Look at these maps of Europe in the 2nd century AD. JC.
We see there that Belgium and the south of the Netherlands were populated by Gallo-Romans, Germanic communities were installed there as evidenced by historical documents.
A common lineage is therefore shared, which represents a slap in the face to hard-line nationalists in both the North and the South.
After the great invasions that began in the 3rd century, the Germanic peoples progressed and intermingled with the natives. The Walloons were going to preserve their dialect thanks to the fortified line going from Boulogne to Cologne.
Over the centuries, sometimes French, sometimes Low German would become the commercial language or Lingua Franca (vehicular-international language). The Flemish prevailed in the North in the 14th century.
At the Battle of the Golden Spurs in 1302 as part of the Hundred Years War between England and France, the militias of the Flemish communes fighting with the Count of Flanders supported by the French crown were supported by Count Gui of Namur.
From 1384, a Burgundian state was born and established bilingualism in state affairs.
After full independence following the Dutch, French and Spanish domination, there arose the disagreements specific to any Jacobin nation-state: the linguistic question, the political question (about autonomies) and the ideological question.
The French speakers were seduced by liberalism and the Dutch speakers by Christian democracy and the latter were more concerned with the Catholic heritage.
In 1840, in the Flemish region, a health disaster similar to ours (parasites in wheat fields and typhoid fever) caused human losses and mass migrations. The industrialization of the South has also been a driving force for internal migration.
In 1970, Belgium became definitively federal after a linguistic regionalization in 1962.
Nowadays, we see that as with many inter-community or international disputes, the political world monopolizes the resolution of problems or creates them from scratch.
Claiming economic reasons, it rains and shines and seems to have a short memory. The rise of the extreme right and separatism in the North and of the extreme left in the South are poisoning the already delicate situation.
The solutions that I am going to propose to you are simple and have been listed many times before by sensible people.
1) Teach the counterpart’s language from primary school, or at least impose a better learning of English as an international language.
2) Fight against negative and separatist ideologies. Find ideological common ground.
3) Improve North-South relations by covering reciprocal news with translations and subtitles.
4) To make visit the whole of the Country as of the schooling of the young people.
Historical depth is an invaluable ally in repairing relationships damaged by unscrupulous politicians.
Revitalized community relations will point the way to better international relations.
It will certainly be up to as many people as possible to take the necessary actions because it seems clear that they will not come from above.
Özler ATALAY YÜKSELOĞLU