The following position paper on the independence of Flanders was sent to us by Gerolf Annemans of Vlaams Belang.
Abstract of party position
Vlaams Belang strives for the dissolution of the Belgian state. The division of the Scandinavian Union into Norway and Sweden (1905), the division of Czechoslovakia into the Czech Republic and Slovakia (1992) and the recent independence of Montenegro (2006) prove that it is possible to dissolve a state and become independent in a peaceful, democratic and internationally accepted way.
The right to self-determination
The right to self-determination has been repeatedly and explicitly acknowledged, for example in the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (1966), the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (1966), the Helsinki Final Act (1975) and in the final declaration of the World Conference on Human Rights in Vienna (1993). The right to self-determination is universal, on a moral and a judicial level.
There are enormous cultural and political differences between Flemings and Walloons. Flanders and Wallonia are actually two completely different countries. Decent policy-making is impossible in Belgium: The Belgian governments are paralyzed by the ongoing disputes between Flemish and Walloon politicians, who disagree about almost everything. Security, justice, social and economic policy, immigration and asylum, tax law and foreign policy: There is no consensus on any of these issues. The Flemish solutions are flatly opposed to those of the Walloons. Flemish independence is a matter of principle for Vlaams Belang, but also an absolute necessity for an effective and efficient policy. Flanders already has a Flemish parliament with its own (limited) authority. This parliament could easily become the legitimate representation of the independent Flemish state.
Small but prosperous
When Flanders and Wallonia become sovereign states, twelve countries in the European Union will still be smaller than Flanders , even six that will be smaller than Wallonia . With its (more than) six million inhabitants and its internationally oriented economy, Flanders will belong to the group of small, prosperous countries, such as Ireland (3,7 million inhabitants), Norway (4,4 million), Finland (5,2 million), Denmark (5,3 million), Switzerland (7,1 million), Austria (8,1 million) and Sweden (8,9 million). There are very strong economic arguments in favor of Flemish independence. For example, Flanders produces three-quarters of the Belgian gross domestic product (GDP). It also counts for more than 80% of Belgian exportations. When it comes to the gross domestic product per capita, Flanders does better than other countries such as Germany, Denmark, France, the Netherlands, Austria, Sweden, Ireland, Finland, the United Kingdom, the United States and Canada.
Flemish money in Flemish hands
Vlaams Belang wants to stop the compulsory and opaque flow of money from Flanders to Wallonia – at least 12,68 billion euros each year. This way, the Flemish people lose more than 7% of their Gross Domestic Product (GDP), which makes it probably the world’s biggest contribution to another community. Stopping the Flemish flow of money would force the Walloon government to take responsibility, and would give the Walloon economy an important boost, comparable to the great economic progress Slovakia made after the dissolution of Czechoslovakia. Our party is in favor of solidarity with other nations, but in a European context, in which the wealthier countries take measures in favor of the less wealthy. This solidarity should always be voluntary, transparent, negotiated and of course efficient and controlled.
Prominent people in favor of independence
In economic circles, more and more people realize that it is time for Flemish independence. At the end of 2005 already, Flemish captains of industry wrote an extensive manifesto, in which they pleaded for the division of the Belgian state. Among these prominent Flemish people that spoke up for a Flemish state are Herman De Bode (top executive of consulting firm McKinsey), René De Feyter (former director of the “Vlaams Economisch Verbond,” a Flemish employers’ organization and lobbying group), Manu Ruys (former editor in chief of the Flemish newspaper “De Standaard”), Guido Naets (journalist and former spokesman of the European Parliament), Frans Crols (director of the leading business magazine “Trends”) and Remi Vermeiren (former top executive of KBC, the third largest bank holding company in Belgium). These people prove that the Belgian form of government holds back economic development and keeps us from securing our prosperity. The Belgian establishment has never managed to refute this well-founded manifesto.
After Belgium – The Orderly Split-Up Synopsis
This English translation of the recent (2010) Vlaams Belang book is neither a political nor a polemical monograph. The political background of the authors suggests the contrary, but from the start – since the first initiatives for the O2-colloquium of 30 January 2010 – the authors wanted to provide inspiration for the inevitable debate on the dissolution of the Belgian federacy. Of course, this debate will take a political course. At the moment, however, it is still in its early stages. However, there is one very specific political angle: our reply on arguments that the dissolution of the Belgian Union and the foundation of a Flemish state (as a member state of the European Union, of course) would lead to so-called ‘revolutionary situations’ or even ‘chaos’. In their book, the authors explain that there is an alternative after the Belgian model has completed collapsed, there is a ‘Plan B’: the Orderly Split-Up of Belgium.
Chapter 1 gives an historical look on the creation of new states in the 20th century. This is a useful and instructive exercise, even if some cases cannot be compared to the situation in Belgium and cannot serve as an example for the orderly dismemberment of the country. This analysis needs to make the readers realize that founding a new state is not exceptional or rare. Even in modern times, states can be dismembered. This chapter shows that the creation of new states has been an important international tendency during the past 100 years. It also tells what we can learn from these examples from the past.
Chapter 2 is devoted to the modern concept of ‘states’ and to the principles (in the international community and the international literature) along which new states come into existence. There are classical, modern and even postmodern views on the essence of ‘states’ and their purpose. We make clear that the dismemberment of Belgium and the foundation of an independent Flanders is in accordance with these theories and even is a logical consequence of these views. The more recent theories also indicate that Flanders has strong international trumps.
This chapter shows the importance of international recognition. We do not want to found an isolated, unworldly state. All prejudices about an independent Flanders are refuted, such as institutional chaos, economic disasters, the loss of Brussels and even outbursts of violence. With well-founded arguments, the authors show that a Flemish state can be founded in a decent and orderly way. This means: within the margins of the constitutional state, even if this state is in crisis and special measures need to be taken. This chapter also pays attention to the membership of the European Union. This chapter also gives an overview of the advantages for Flanders with regard to the generally accepted instrument of ‘uti possidetis iuris’ (UPI: especially important regarding Brussels) and gives a summary of the various principles of dismemberment. In chapter four, these principles are put into practice.
In the following chapter, we applied the general principles on succession of states on the difficult questions relating to the failing state of Belgium, a country that is in constant crisis since 2007. We start with a detailed analysis of the community role of the Christian democrats during the last decades. This is necessary to understand the current crisis. Since Yves Leterme came into play, community problems have seriously increased, because the francophone federalism obstructed the ‘classic role’ of the Flemish Christian democrats: to represent the ‘undercurrent’ in Flemish society. For now, the N-VA has succeeded in becoming the new political emanation of this undercurrent. The undercurrent, however, does not confuse actual statesmanship with solving the Belgian chaos. Because of this institutional crisis, the Flemish people have understood the necessity of a ‘Plan B’. This is an important warning for all political parties. That is why we have drawn up a detailed strategic agenda of the Orderly Split-Up. At first, we zoom in on the sense and nonsense of further Belgian state reforms, in which we make a clear distinction with Flemish nationalists who are in favor of such state reforms. That’s why we developed a strategy for the termination of the Belgian structures, the ‘click and boomerang tactic’, in response to the francophone federalism of obstruction. We have also investigated the future of Brussels (in which the Flemish-Brussels unity, which is guaranteed by the UPI-instrument, is very important), the ‘double approach’ (first the declaration of sovereignty and then the declaration of independence), the importance of international recognition and the Advice of the International Court of Justice (more specifically with regard to Kosovo), the analysis of the concept of ‘compromise’ with regard to the final negotiations, the Constitution of the Flemish republic, organizing or avoiding a referendum, the recognition of the Minority Treaty and the central role of the Flemish Parliament, as well in the transitional phase as in the further development of the constitutional state.
Chapter 4 holds a large inventory of the federal properties. The principles of the split-up are applied to these assets, of course with the international recognition and the practical situation in mind. This results automatically in an orderly ‘dedramatization’ of this question.
The last pages of the book (chapter 5) are devoted to a conclusion which calls for urgency and increased activity on the international forum. The book also holds a glossary and an important number of notes which show that everything is based on scientific sources and factual findings.
MP Vlaams Belang