Belgium Explained To Slovenes (And Whoever Else) In Ten Easy Lessons

N.B.: this is the final post in the series by dr. Arf. To say that the series enriched this blog would be a gross understatement. The great Michael M. once compared yours truly with the Slovenian Wikipedia. However my knowledge of things past and present is puny compared to that of Dr. Arf and if I had any respect for the man and his wisdom I’d hide in a corner every time he enters the room. However, as a bodacious and irresponcible agent provocateur that I am (again, as described by the man who gave us, I (with the help of commentators and fellow bloggers) lured dr. Arf into writing this series and I can only begin to thank him for taking us on this journey.

It began on June 26th 2007. It’s been fun, at times even emotional and hardcore almost to the point of calling the whole thing off, but in the end everything worked out well. Thanks, man! And I hope you’ll treat us to some more of your writing in the near future. And I ain’t talking about comments. Capisce? :mrgreen:



This Is The End

Since I’ve finally come to the end of this guest series (do I hear a sigh of relief there?), I’m just going to round up various news items and close off with a final assessment before bidding farewell. I would like to extend my eternal gratitude to Pengovsky, who himself is a blogger extraordinaire (once again proven by recent posts about Zoki and the Open Letter To Borut Pahor, to name but a few stand-out examples, not to mention his weekly FF and – not so weekly 😉 – MMM posts) for giving me this opportunity to blog…

Various news items

– Last Monday, the 24th, the VRT and VTM news desks received a DVD, containing an admonition by Men Whose Face Were Wrapped In Towels, forcibly waving arms and pointing fingers upward (and using their left hand, which is apparently an insult in their culture), but with their message in subtitles and instead of the audio version, an a capella song, which seems to be a hit among the Youtube crowd, whose main concern in half the comments seems to be where they can download this cool tune (I happen to agree it is a cool tune, although the lyrics may be less favourable to an anti-religious Pagan like me) and the fact that somewhere in the song, with a bit of good will and a dirty mind, one can hear ?dikke vagina’ (Flemish/Dutch for ?fat vagina) being sung repetitively. Our national security agency confiscated the DVD’s to determine whether or not this message is a joke, compiled from downloaded internet sources (which isn’t that unlikely), or a genuine threat of terrorist attacks in Belgium, due to our involvement in Afghanistan (for which we have War Monger par excellence and minister of defence Pieter De Crem to thank). You can watch the footage in question here. Subtitles are in Dutch, and I can’t be arsed to translate this kind of terrorist religious tripe, whether it’s serious or not. The gist of it is : “Get out of Afghanistan or we’ll bomb you, you western pigs who cling onto life and impurity when we love purity and death etc.” blah blah blah… Still, that tune is cool.


– Coming back to the Vl. Pro débâcle, last night, after writing the blog post about it, I watched Bert Anciaux (pictured above; the grey haired chappy) being interviewed in the news magazine Ter Zake (?On the Case’, a rather bad translation, I admit, because it could also mean ?But Seriously’ but that doesn’t sound too, eh, serious) by the Hottest News Journalist This Side Of The Language Border, Annelies Beck (rather unflattering yet sufficiently illustrating pic above, to the left of the unflattering grey haired chappy). Dear old Bert behaved perfectly the way I predicted. With a pained scowl on his face, like he had a spikey rod permantely inserted up his rectum, he proceeded to explain that he wanted to retain his ministerial post at all cost ?because he wanted to actively change something’ and not be sidelined. In other words : our self appointed idealist, who started ID21/Spirit/Vl.Pro out of idealism, used this idealism to justify his impending move – of course not confirming it just yet – to SP-a. Bert, above all else, wants to be in the thick of the power circles. To ?do something’. He didn’t say what, though. So when the chips are down, he jumps ship. What an idealist. Not that it’s surprising, though. I recall him when still being chairman of VU, being very disappointed in national politics (because he couldn’t ?do something) and moving on to try to get elected at the European level because, and I quote, he was ?sick of national politics’. But when the CVP (predecessor to CD&V that was permanently in power with various coalition partners for over 50 years, as I explained a few posts back) surprisingly lost the elections, Anciaux insisted his party’s elected officials step aside to enable him to return to the national politics he so despised. Yes, because he could ?do something. That’s when he became minister of Culture for the very first time and as predicted, it was a disaster. So if nothing else, Bert Anciaux is at least consistent, just as I wrote a few hours prior to his interview with that scrumptious Annelies Beck.


– Minister of Foreign Affairs Karel De Gucht (VLD, pic with spouse Mireille) is in all sorts of trouble : not only is he being named in a bank stock scandal (his wife sold Fortis stocks just a few hours before this bank was sold to NBP Paribas as a direct result of the Credit Crunch, which implies he could have passed on this – secret – info, as it was the government who negotiated the deal), he’s also personan non grata in the Democratic Republic of Congo, because he very diplomatically, called their government corrupt. Unsurprisingly, he’s not welcome in the DRC anymore. Not that anyone would want to go there, with sadly yet another genocide happening as we speak…


– The Case Of The Three Francophone Mayors of the villages in the B-H-V region drags on and on. Flemish Interior ministers Marino Keulen (VLD) refused to appoint them for the second time in succession, prompting another outburst of outrage out of the francophone parties, who predictably threatened to blow up the federal negotiations concerning the state reform, even though these appointments were not an issue on the negotiating table, as they are, in effect a regional issue. To recap the problem : these are francophone mayors who refuse to implement and adhere to Flemish regional law concerning the Flemish towns they were elected in by the francophone majority living there. The francophone parties would like to usurp these Flemish territories into the mainly francophone Brussels region, which, of course, is a serious bone of contention over here in the north.

And there you have it…


All that isn’t well doesn’t end well and Belgium, by and large, isn’t well. Credit crunches, recessions, banks in trouble, the country still on the verge of a split and politics as usual.
I just hope I’ve managed to give a bit more insight into this enigma of a country, even if it didn’t manage to clear up anything, but rather scratch your head in bewilderment even more than before…


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Agent provocateur and an occasional scribe.

5 thoughts on “Belgium Explained To Slovenes (And Whoever Else) In Ten Easy Lessons”

  1. Hmmmm… While I thank you for your gracious send off, I feel the accolades are a bit too much, moj prijatelj. I’m quite certain you – and most of the jolly crowd here – have as much if not more wisdom than I do (no, that’s not false modesty; rather a case of ‘know thyself’). But you, sir, are indeed the living and breathing Slovene Wikipedia; I can attest to that!

    Af for me returning to the blogging world after this brief stint… That remains to be seen. First off, I’m still not convinced I’m a good blogger (or a consistent one, for that matter) and second : these days it’s very dangerous to blog about Flemish politics and politicians. It can cost you your job; I kid you not! A story that should have been included in this last post : our War Monger and Arrogant Arse Par Excellence, defence minister Pieter De Crem (or He Whose Head Needs To Be Shorn By Professional Australian Sheep Herdsmen), was on a mission in the U.S.A. last week, where he managed to visit a lot of army barracks and such, but also, at the end, the Belgian Café in New York, where his Erseness proceeded to get rather drunk and possibly even more obnoxious than when sober (if that is at all possible). Witness to this was a Dutch exchange student working there as a waitress, who, you guessed it, posted a blog about it. De Crem was not amused – he never is, he just gets permanent erections and delusions of grandeur because he’s our DM now – and managed to have the girl fired over this. Back at The Cremlin (possibly with a bigger hangover than expected), he at first denied any and all involvement in the dismissal of the girl, hiding behind his lengthy itinerary, which he summed up in a parliamentary hearing in order to bore everyone to death and hence deflect the issue. Then a day after that fascinating non-event – which should have been seen to be believed – he admitted that he was involved and went on to say THAT BLOGS ARE A DANGEROUS PHENOMENON.

    So there you go : this bit of character assassination of De Crem I just jotted down might just get me fired from my job. Who knows, he might even strip me of my citizenship or have me fed uranium in order to slowly kill me! Perhaps he’ll even send around some of the nation’s troops to ‘teach me a lesson’! I’m shaking in my grey wool winter socks and now I’m REALLY contemplating asylum. Anyone want to take in a Belgian on the run? I’m toilet trained, I assure you, and if needed I can – literally – sing for my supper…

    (P.S. : In a surprise move (yeah right) Bert Anciaux left the Vl.Pro last Thursday, going on record as saying ‘he hadn’t seen it coming’. He’s now starting a new ‘left wing, social, Flemish project’, tied closely to SP-a (meaning : he’s basically theirs now but it’ll take him a while to admit it). I told you he’s consistent.)

  2. Blogging is dangerous indeed! As are Facebook and YouTube! (just ask Croats :)) But if it gets you fired, it means you’re good blogger. But you might reconsider asylum in Slovenia. Here, people like De Crem are nominated as advisors to the PM.

    But still, I think you should start blogging, even (or especially) if you move to Slovenia. However, under no circumstances should you blog about music. Especially about heavy metal. Should you proceed to do so, you’d soon find out that blogging about politics is a piece of cake compared to that 😀

    as far as wisdom is concerned: I suggest we call it a draw and wait for really wise men enter the picture, no?

  3. My dear esteemed colleague,

    I thank you once more for writing this series of posts, which not only allowed us outsiders a glimpse of the intricacies of Belgian political reality, but possibly made us resent our own respective political scenes slightly less in light of the fact that you have it at least as bad as we do. I know this cannot be very comforting, but there you go. It seems it is not only dr. Rupel who’se eternal and it is certainly not a Belgian phenomenon for politicians’ family members to profit from insider information.

    It is incredible what language barriers will do to mankind. I HATE BABYLON. I can’t decide whether I hate the people who attempted to build the tower or the power that decided to punish mankind by making it speak different languages.

    Your arsehole of a DM is correct in one respect. Blogs can be a dangerous phenomenon. In one sense, they may be building that tower again that upset the higher forces a long time ago.

    Communication is key.

    Sincerely yours,
    dr. fil

    PS: I’m truly glad you completed the series despite the temporary halt midway and am hopeful that you’ll be back. As things stand, you will undoubtedly have much material to work with!

  4. @P : no blogging about music? Hmmm, you’re talking to a musician; how do you know I’m not doing that already? 😉 But blogging about heavy metal is not something I’m contemplating wherever I’ll end up, don’t worry. 😛

    The asylum thing still stands, though. Over there, you are the political blogger, so that puts me out of the game and I could – if I would contemplate a continuation – blog about Belgian politics (and whatever else, just as long as its not music 😛 )at a safe distance from Crembo and his cronies. Chances are, he doesn’t know any decent bar in LJ to get drunk in anyway, so even if he decides to go there, we would most certainly not have a chance meeting. :mrgreen: Makes sense, no? 😀

    As far as wisdom is concerned : agreed, but they might be female as well. Equality for all! 😉

    @ dr. fil : you’re welcome, my dear equally esteemed colleague. I’d say, though, the Belgian political reality is rather surreal, just like a René Magritte painting, but at least I’m glad it had an effect on you.

    I’d also say – as far as I know it – that Slovene politics are a little less complicated than in Belgium, because you don’t have to deal with the whole Babylonian thing, which accounts for the stagnation this country has been experiencing in the past 1.5 year. Yugoslavia did, though, and on a much bigger scale. While I don’t see a massive war breaking out between Flemings and Walloons here any time soon (although I still say a civil war may be in the cards at some point in the future, especially if this economic recession keeps going for longer and have more impact than anticipated), the example of YU is in the back of my mind whenever that issue is raised (i.e. daily) and I see the actors on both sides of the language border make aggressive statements, unhindered by common sense and helped by their own arrogance and sense of self importance. Communication is the key indeed, but it can also be the fuse to ignite the supply of dynamite a country’s living under.

    As for blogging being dangerous : I most certainly hope so, although the odd recipe and photograpic impressions of sights in Slovenija and other European cities on a certain blog are, while non threatening, most welcome too. 😉

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