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Belgians agree on one issue: foreigners - International Herald Tribune

BRUSSELS: This 177-year-old nation came a step closer Tuesday to averting breakup after its squabbling linguistic communities managed to agree on the one issue that increasingly unites them: fear of immigrants.

Belgium, divided between Dutch-speaking Flanders in the north and French-speaking Wallonia in the south, has spent 120 days since national elections without a new government. Political parties have been unable to agree on the country's direction, and fears are growing that Belgium will dissolve. Yet signs of a breakthrough in the coalition talks emerged Tuesday morning when the Christian Democrats and Liberals temporarily put aside their differences and agreed on a tough new approach to asylum policy and economic migration.

Despite this agreement, political analysts stressed that the crisis was far from over with the important issue of how to grant more autonomy to Flanders and Wallonia still hanging in the balance. They underlined, however, that the deal illustrated how immigration had become a unifying issue in a country where the prime minister-in-waiting recently publicly fumbled the words of the national anthem and where the unifying force for Belgians of all linguistic stripes is a love of the country's 400 kinds of beer.

by Fran on Tue Oct 9th, 2007 at 11:46:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
and be done with it: Europeans are racist.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Wed Oct 10th, 2007 at 04:17:42 AM EST
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Sweeping generalisations about all Europeans aside, xenophobia (and racism) is in my estimation the main reason why the right is in power in most countries in Europe. The political left has not yet formulated an adequate response to the fear kicked up by the right and the underlying issue of immigration, work and cultural differences.

An adequate response in this context being adequate with regard to winning elections.

by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Wed Oct 10th, 2007 at 05:25:01 AM EST
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Perhaps some great marketing campaign like...

We need more immigrants - they work cheap and their offspring will help fund the national pension you'll be expecting when you retire.

Never underestimate their intelligence, always underestimate their knowledge.

Frank Delaney ~ Ireland

by siegestate (siegestate or beyondwarispeace.com) on Wed Oct 10th, 2007 at 07:56:35 AM EST
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my sole role this week on ET is to point out that I agree 100% with what just has been said.

There are racists in Europe. Plenty of them. Addressing them as well as addressing the problems which feed into racism is, IMHO, one of the most critical points for the left, especially if Europe as a whole wants to focus on environmentalism and upholding a social model to the rest of the world.

Because, how oddly, it appears to me that a slew of the xenophobic parties pander closely to the neo-liberal "Business Über Alles" lobby.

If Europe can't address the immigration issue and the socio-demographic impact that has been steadily building up throughout Europe the past decades, the left looks doomed to me.

Hence I still carry a modicum of respect for Frits Bolkenstein - he was the one in the Netherlands (in a pro-Pim Fortuyn age) who dared to speak out about the approaching problems. The left lambasted him for his proposed solutions, but did fairly nothing to address the underlying issues.

by Nomad on Wed Oct 10th, 2007 at 08:06:06 AM EST
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Or put more simply, people blame immigrants for the social effects - real or imagined - that they should be blaming the ownership class for.

And immigration is used as a deliberate misdirection to keep people from looking honestly at what the ownerships class has been doing for the last couple of decades.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Wed Oct 10th, 2007 at 09:13:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Indeed :
flandersnews.be - First government accord after 120 days!
The accord recognises the need for economic immigration. A kind of 'green card' system is to be implemented. If certain job vacancies cannot be filled by Belgian or other EU member state citizens, a green card will be issued to non-EU citizens.

The Flemish liberal party (Open VLD) is pleased with the aspect regarding economic immigration. "Many companies are unable to fill their vacancies. Now it will be possible for non-EU citizens to play an important role in our economy," says Open VLD chairman Bart Somers.

The struggle of man against tyranny is the struggle of memory against forgetting.(Kundera)
by Elco B (elcob at scarlet dot be) on Wed Oct 10th, 2007 at 09:26:41 AM EST
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my role is it agree completely wiht the one who agrees 100%

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Wed Oct 10th, 2007 at 09:13:06 AM EST
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Well, European sociologists started to whisper about xenophobia being one of the largest hidden problems of Europe at least back in 1999 - I simply don't have anecdotes from the times before 99. Why whisper - it was so politically incorrect, that getting money for a proper research was extremely hard. No surprises here.
by Sargon on Wed Oct 10th, 2007 at 05:36:35 AM EST
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"we're not racist, but..."

We have met the enemy, and it is us — Pogo
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Oct 10th, 2007 at 05:53:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]


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