Preparing Wallonia’s future through union with France
A new political force is needed to prepare for the future in Wallonia and Brussels. There has been no end to the political crisis disrupting the Belgian State nor to the development of institutions. Flanders has given up none of its aims.
The story is not over, as demonstrated by events in Europe over the last ten years, and the Walloon movement will once more be compelled to choose the it’s direction, as it did in 1940, 1945, 1960 and in the ’70s.
That path is one of future union of Wallonia with France, in some form to be negotiated. Given that perspective, a number of political associations and movements in Wallonia concluded that the message was being weakened by the number of disparate organisations. Accordingly, they have decided to unite to create together a political party, the Rassemblement Wallonie-France (R.W.F.), which will have a presence in Wallonia, and also in Brussels under the name Rassemblement Bruxelles-France (R.B.F.).
The R.W.F. calls upon Walloons to move towards France and, in so doing, resolutely turns its back on the allegedly providential institutional compromises which have never assumed definitive form and have, as often as not, been mere surrender on the part of French-speakers.
The R.W.F. will not indulge in party-governed alternance, but will provide a radical alternative, it is now the only genuine opposition to the Belgian system in Wallonia and Brussels.
The R.W.F. is a pluralist grouping of men and women from across the spectrum of Society, from, the democratic left to the democratic right. They all have a single, common, objective: to free Wallonia and Brussels from the dual fatalism which is paralysing them. Firstly, political fatalism, with Walloons and the inhabitants of Brussels consistently bowing to the Flemish majority, the injustices committed (particularly in Fourons and the Brussels outlying districts) become irreversible. Secondly, ideological fatalism, with acceptance of enduring economic and social decline, society is then doomed to impotence in the face of the neo-liberal extravagances of globalisation.
The R.W.F. rejects that twofold resignation, as it would be tantamount to denying, the very existence of Wallonia and Brussels and because it would mean that any form of political determination would be doomed to failure out of hand.
So the R.W.F. is the party of new Wallonia, of young Wallonia, which rejects domination and wants to walk tall. The R.W.F. wants the youth of Wallonia to come together in hope. Its ambition is personal development for everyone through employment and culture, and for all Walloons dignity, a project for the future and a common destiny.
The R.W.F. has also created a section in Brussels : the RASSEMBLEMENT BRUXELLES-FRANCE (R.B.F.). The R.B.F. will be the focus and instrument of genuine resistance in Brussels. The R.W.F.-R.B.F. attaches prime importance to the future of Brussels as a great city and region built up to a considerable degree by Walloon emigration… and also by Walloon drive, Walloon savings and Walloon investment.
Wallonia, and beyond it the French-speaking world as a whole, quite clearly have moral, cultural, political and economic interests vested in Brussels. As a result, Wallonia is determined to preserve and indeed to enhance these special links with Brussels.
Brussels continues to be under threat from a plan of gradual absorption into Flanders (with transitional stages) and from creeping cultural Americanisation. There is a considerable danger in the long-term to see Brussels lose both its identity and its autonomy, the two being linked.
Wallonia therefore calls upon Brussels to accompany it in its movement towards France, so that, in the future, its role as a major international city and its essentially French character can be secured, without the Flemish minority’s rights being called into question. However, a refusal by Brussels to go down this road would in no way impinge upon Wallonia’s determination to achieve its own objectives.
The Flemish majority no longer has a plan for Belgium, and Belgium no longer has one for Wallonia. The Walloons and inhabitants of Brussels must therefore be aware that Belgium is not and cannot be their be-all and end-all.
It is clearly not the purpose of the R.W.F. to prophesy the date of the end of Belgium, which will probably be decided on by Flanders, in due course, when Flanders deems it to be in its interest. The R.W.F.’s role is to open eyes and raise awareness.
Europe must know that if Wallonia and Brussels share a common destiny with France, they clearly remain open to intensive forms of cooperation with all the other nations of Europe, including the Flemish nation.
Belgium has never been a true nation. It is virtually no longer a State. The various dysfunctions and recurrent crises of the authorities in place bear witness to the well-nigh congenital impotence of a state apparatus undermined by Flemish nationalism.
Flanders regularly call into question the most solemn agreements and renegotiates to its advantage compromises already reached. Generally speaking, Flanders considers that reform of the State is never a done deal.
In point of fact Flanders, which is a nation, already has in its possession the constituent elements of a State. In its drive to become « een Vlaamse Staat in Europa » (a Flemish State in Europe), is de facto preparing its independence. One day, it will become evident that there is no room for two States (Flanders and Belgium) within a single territory. That is why it is behoven upon the Walloons and the inhabitants of Brussels to prepare their future, which will not be the result of further bipartisan negotiations decided on and laid down by Flanders. Beyond all else, Wallonia must rediscover and revitalise its true national identity, which is French.
Such a prior national foundation is not ethnic nationalism linked to blood and land, but rather a voluntary signing-up to an overall political and cultural project, that project is quite simply the French republican ideas of democracy in liberty and equality.
The necessary alliance of our two regions, Wallonia and Brussels, with France would therefore have to be organised in line with that concept of our national identity. That would entail negotiations sanctioned by a referendum. Some form of special status may be envisaged for Brussels. As for the population of Fourons, the six Brussels outlying communes and the German-speaking communes, they would of course be consulted on their status by means of a referendum under international control.
The R.W.F. would call upon Walloons to stop sticking their heads in the sand and rejecting reality, but rather prepare to confront it. Walloons can still be masters of their own destinies if they have the determination.
By joining with France (from which it issues by virtue of language, culture and civilisation and which is the fifth economic power in the world), Walloons will be stronger, more viable, more socially-minded and freer. In so doing, it will not lose its inherited identity, its specific characteristics or individual personality.
The major objective of the four traditional parties is to make, shift and to alternate in power, or the semblance of power, in governments of mere happenstance. They are unable to produce independently the reactions which are essential to making good the shortcomings of their short-term vision, to combat their own resignation and that of the elite, and prepare for the future.
Not only are they unable to bring forth these redeeming reactions, but they try to dupe, anaesthetise and « standardise » opinion: the recent claim by Walloon parties that « Flanders has changed » is a triumph of auto-suggestion and has no foundation in reality. It is well-known that the basic objectives of the Flemish Parliament have been built into the official programme of the new Flemish Government.
The neo-Belgicism of the four official French-speaking parties is directed at conjuring up an atmosphere of euphoria comparable to the « cowardly relief” which followed the Munich agreements. The desired effect is for the Walloons and the inhabitants of Brussels to drop their guard in order to prepare new « compromises », which will be a smoke-screen for fresh concessions and fresh defeats. Take, for example, the premature break-up of the pseudo « Front of refusal », whereas in fact pressure by Flemish nationalists is bound to step up.
That is why the R.W.F. calls upon Walloons and the inhabitants of Brussels to redouble their vigilance.
Preparing a future for youth through education and culture
The R.W.F. would emphasise that there is no contradiction or competition between Walloon identity and heritage and Wallonia’s French identity and affiliation. It is and will be perfectly possible to be Walloon and French, just as it is to be Alsatian and French or Provençal and French.
On the other hand, it is absurd to lay claim, as certain political leaders do, to an exacerbated form of Walloonism which would reject our French identity. There would be no Wallonia without the French language, which is the main, not to say sole, source and constituent of the common Walloon personality. Walloons, as indeed the inhabitants of Brussels, must be more aware of their good fortune in belonging to the great French nation and the French-speaking community, which is one of the four or five major cultural entities in the world with the capacity to influence the international scene in the new century. They must therefore further reinforce their commitment to the French speaking world and tighten the special bonds which link them not only to France, but also to Quebec, French-speaking Switzerland, the Val d’Aosta and the French-speaking States of Africa.
Preparing the European balance of the coming century
The R.W.F. notes that its programme for linking the destinies of Wallonia and France is in keeping with the unswerving, continuous line of the historical Walloon Movement (in particular when, before the war, it denounced Belgium’s new diplomatic and military neutrality towards Hitler and the breaking of the alliance with France). Similarly, it recalls and recognises the legitimacy of the first vote by the Walloon National Congress in Liège, in 1945, in favour of uniting Wallonia with France. The R.W.F. takes up the inheritance of the movements and parties, born front the Walloon Movement, which preceded it in action for Wallonia.
The R.W.F. salutes the role of those parties and movements and renders homage to the commitment of the numerous militants who have worked for the common cause for nearly one hundred years. The R.W.F. regards its own action as part of an historical line running from Jules Destrée to Andre Renard, Jean Duvieusart to Marcel Thiry and Charles Plisnier to Maurice Lebeau, but it also and above all wants to extend and project that historical line into the future.
The R.W.F. accordingly reaffirms the triple purpose of the Walloon Movement: to be Walloon, French and European.
The R.W.F. is proposing a positive and peaceful solution to the nationality crisis ravaging Belgium. There is no demand for creation of an independent Wallonia or an extended mini-Belgium, scaled down to a Wallonia-Brussels set-up, which would merely add yet another State to Europe, and a weak one at that.
Wallonia (and Brussels alongside it, if it so wishes) will thus contribute to the stability and balance of the European continent through its union with France.
For the R.W.F. it is clear that the geopolitical destinies of Wallonia and France in Europe are as one, that there is already a very high degree of integration between the economic interests of Wallonia and France, and that the future of the French Community of Europe (and the entire French-speaking world) would be better secured if France were bolstered by the addition of Wallonia. That also impacts on European interests and balance, particularly with a view to Union enlargement to 30 (and probably more) increasingly disparate States.
So, faced with a Belgium that will continue to auto-destruct and an amorphous Europe without any ability to organise itself around a genuine political project, an effective diplomacy or a free-standing security and defence system, the Walloons and the French would be best advised to form a common destiny together.
It is the R.W.F.’s belief that if Europe is not to sink into fall-back and irresponsibility, it must perforce be based on close and active cooperation at intergovernmental level between solid and strong nation states, and primarily on a Franco-German alliance which is not merely preserved, but at all costs reinforced. An alliance of this type must be based on the shared conviction that it is in the interest of both parties and on active loyalty. The Franco-German axis is, and will remain, the core of common European policies, with due compliance for specific national and cultural characteristics, and in particular minority languages.
There is no gain for Europe in cooperation among weak, impotent and under-administered States. Only strongly-built and properly administered States will be in a position to frame together common policies and deliver implementation, a task beyond a bureaucratic Commission.
In a context of consolidated Franco-German cooperation, Wallonia’s input to France in human, economic and cultural terms must inevitably contribute to the geopolitical balance of Europe as a whole.