Welcome on Mars

3 09 2008

It’s a strange thing, living in a country that’s falling apart. Especially if that country is in the heart of Europe. While many people think that nation states are something of the past and that some kind of a united states of Europe should be our future, in reality in many European countries separatists are still gaining ground. Think of the Basques, the Catalans or the Scots for example. Western Europe has been a very stable region since the second world war. But maybe that can change now the country who’s capital is also the EU capital, is going through a very deep political crisis.

You probably have guessed by now that the country I’m writing about is Belgium. A year ago, that country was still referred to as “Boring Belgium”. Nothing interesting ever seemed to happen there. Except for an occasional scandal involving paedophiles or fraud. But things have changed. When abroad, Belgians are no longer greeted with jokes like “Belgium, isn’t that the capital of Brussels?”. People now ask them what part of Belgium they come from, what language they speak and if they think their country is going to survive much longer.

This made me think that some people outside of Belgium might actually be interested in what is going on here, which seemed like a good opportunity for me to practise writing in English. The coming months (or years, who knows how long this crisis is going to last) I’ll try to entertain you with some “faits divers” (pardon my French), some interesting facts that you might not have thought possible in modern day Europe. So sit back and enjoy. Laughing is allowed. Belgians do it all the time.