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Le Pen: France could expand to include part of Belgium

Matthew Warren · 21 Jul 2011, 12:30

Published: 21 Jul 2011 13:58 GMT+02:00
Updated: 21 Jul 2011 12:30 GMT+02:00

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The leader of the far-right Front National has said that the French-speaking area of Belgium, known as Wallonia, could eventually become part of France.

In a statement published on Wednesday, the day before Belgium’s national day, Marine Le Pen said France should be prepared to “reach out to Wallonia.”

“If Belgium broke up and Flanders became independent, which seems more and more likely, the French Republic should be ready to welcome Wallonia. The historical and brotherly ties between our peoples are too strong for France to abandon Wallonia,” she said.

Wallonia makes up about 55 percent of Belgium and includes around a third of its population, known as Walloons.

Belgium recently passed the 400-day milestone without a government, with no obvious solution in sight. Elections were held in June 2010 but the two winning parties, the separatist New Flemish Alliance (NVA) and the pro-unity Socialist Party, have been unable to reach agreement on forming  a government.

Le Pen is not the first French politician to have proposed the two countries joining up. An opinion poll conducted in 2008 by French newspaper La Voix du Nord and Belgian daily Le Soir suggested that 49 percent of Walloons would be in favour should the country divide.

Christophe Giltay, a journalist with RTL Belgium, wrote in his blog that her proposal could help the Flemish nationalists “by giving credence to the idea that Belgium is about to break up and that the Walloons could seek refuge in France.”

Matthew Warren (news.france@thelocal.com)

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