Letter: Belgian anger a sign of health

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The Independent Online
Belgian anger a sign of health

Sir: I was astonished to read the article of Sarah Helm, "The nation that just won't work" (28 October). I do not deny that dreadful things have happened in Belgium lately. But dreadful events also occur in other countries. And I do not believe that objective journalists immediately draw the conclusion that everything in the country is rotten.

The White March was an exceptional event. It reflects the sincere indignation of a population that reacts towards an exceptional situation and demands better protection for its children. In the same edition, your newspaper mentions the protest march which took place before the House of Commons with the same objective. In both cases the reactions of the population are a confirmation of democracy itself.

Belgium is a complex country because of the co-existence of three communities with different culture and language. This is the reason federal structures have been developed recently. But co-existence in Belgium has always been realised in a peaceful and lawful way. I am not sure that the same can be said everywhere.

Comments of such an extreme nature as expressed in the article reflect a lack of insight into the real situation of a country that has always been a traditional ally of the UK. It is, for instance, wrong to say that the Low Countries were always occupied by some foreign power. As a matter of fact this only happened for short periods in the immediate aftermath of the French Revolution and during the two World Wars.

P THUYSBAERT

Ambassador of Belgium

London SW1

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