Postcard from... Brussels
They may be cuddly, cute and seemingly innocuous, but two panda bears are the latest culprits pitting Belgium’s French-speakers in the south against its Dutch-speakers in the north.
Sparkling Star and his partner Sweet are, of course, oblivious to the ruckus, which began when Belgium’s Prime Minister Elio Di Rupo travelled to China this week. As part of the visit, Beijing offered the four-year-old pair on a loan, a gift frequently bestowed by the Chinese authorities in what is now termed “panda diplomacy”. What was not so diplomatic, however, was Mr Di Rupo’s announcement that the pandas would be be housed in an animal park in Wallonia, the French-speaking south, and not far from Mr Di Rupo’s home town of Mons. “The arrival of the pandas will show the bond of trust between our two nations,” the Prime Minister said.
That simply highlighted the lack of a bond between Wallonia and Flanders. The 170-year-old Antwerp Zoo in Flanders immediately said it would ask for an explanation, hoping that they would be able to host the pandas and the extra visitors they bring.
The Flemish Premier, Kris Peeters, said he had “no need of a panda row”, but he did say he would raise the issue with Mr Di Rupo.
The Flemish separatist N-VA party gained record support at general elections in 2010, and they are riding high in the polls ahead of elections next year, leading to concerns that the country could be plunged into political turmoil.
The magicians using online collaboration to push boundaries
Jennifer Lawrence attacks mass media again over body image
Exclusive: Young people ‘want UK to stay in Europe’: Four in 10 adults aged 18 to 24 are ‘firmly in favour’ of membership, poll shows
You can STILL be jailed for being a republican, government confirms, and it remains illegal to even 'imagine' overthrowing the Queen
Kiss and yell: Italian protester charged with sexual assault after kissing riot police officer
Fighting back: the woman giving a voice (and 49,999 others) to the victims of sexism - by giving an airing to their horror stories
PM denies two child limit for benefits is part of Tory welfare policy
Ethan Couch: Texas quadruple murderer – or a victim of ‘affluenza’?
- 1 America's 'virgin births'? One in 200 mothers 'became pregnant without having sex'
- 2 Sun will 'flip upside down' within weeks, says Nasa
- 4 Christmas comes early: Justin Bieber announces he's 'retiring from music'
- 5 Children evacuated from swimming pool after prosthetic leg mistaken for paedophile
- < Previous
- Next >
£25000 - £32000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Junior Business Analyst - Banking...
£21999 - £27001 per annum + Benefits: Pro-Recruitment Group: Do you have exten...
£25000 - £35000 per annum + benefits + bonus: Harrington Starr: Business Analy...
£42000 - £51000 per annum + Benefits: Pro-Recruitment Group: Are You Receiving...