Belgium & Lebanon

The new Belgian ambassador Johan Verkammen, speaks to L’Orient-Le Jour, suggesting, not unsensibly, that the Lebanese should consider taking inspiration from the Belgian federal system with its built-in ‘gardes-fous‘ and other safeties preventing one community dominating the other (well, theoretically anyway). Belgium, interestingly, is going through a constitutional crisis not unlike Lebanon’s, having been without  a government since the elections in June 2007. There’s some differences though: one is that Belgians don’t all have kalashnikovs in the attic, another is that we still have a functioning parliament. And most importantly, of course, as Verkammen points out too, is that any foreign interference there may be, is largely positive, in the sense that Belgium is safely couched inside the EU. Thankfully for us, Germany and France don’t play the role of nasty occupying neighbours (anymore). The time when Belgium was the battlefield of Europe and a pawn in the game of the great powers of the age to be sacrificed as the need arisies, is long behind us. We leave that honour to Lebanon.

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