December 8, 2008
This morning I read the article ‘Council of Europe slams Belgium over linguistic feud‘. In this article, which is available in English, French, even German, but not in Dutch (the official language in Flanders), I read about a town called ‘Crainhem’.
The use of this quasi-French name (it is not even official in French) may be an example of the usual bias in the foreign press, and even in EU policy. The situation in Belgium was reported by a Frenchman. Can he be neutral? Of course he can. But there is a risk he is not.
The feeling in Flanders is that foreign press, foreign politics and foreign intellectuals consider Flemish people to be radical, fascist or even worse. The Flemish side of the story is only heard in Flemish and Dutch newspapers. And in these Dutch newspapers, Crainhem is known as Kraainem. It is a Flemish town.
I want to emphasise that I am not a Flemish nationalist. I want to maintain the Belgian state and I recognise everyone’s right to speak their native tongue. But it is important that this crisis is approached with nuance and distance, not from a French or Dutch view, and not from Kraainem itself.
M. PlaatsmanAuthor : Letters to the EurActiv editor