Whenever we say we’re from Flanders, the Basque people always think that the situation in Belgium is almost identical to the one in Spain and the Basque Country . While in fact it there are more differences than there are similarities.
What I’ve learned about the Basque people since I’ve been here, is that they want to protect their culture and language. The Basque language, Euskara , has no obvious links with other known languages and is believed to be spoken before the Indo-European languages took over Europe. All this together with some other historical and biological facts makes the Basques very proud of their identity, as they should. Especially in the neighborhood of Bergara, Arrasate and Eskoriatza we I always see flags which show the need of the Basques to be more autonomous. It seems like in the Basque people in our area really breath the Basque culture.
The Flemish Movement
When it comes to Flanders, the situation is very different. To begin with, the problems between Flanders and Wallonia (the French part of Belgium) are mostly political, and don’t have that much to do with cultural identity anymore. One of the biggest demands of the Flemish movement nowadays is that there should go less money from Flanders to Wallonia. They also criticize the fact that the federal government gives the same amount of money to the Flemish and the Walloon governments for the realization of big projects.
The biggest obstacle in the strive for Flemish independence is Brussels. Geographically, the capital lies entirely in Flanders, but the majority of the population speaks French. So that’s a problem a lot of Belgian politics can’t get solved.
Another issue the Flemish Movement copes with is their bad image. The political party who caused that is Vlaams Belang, an extreme-rightist party. It is true that the majority of the people who explicitly call themselves Flemish and not Belgian are more conservative, but they’re not all racists and there’s also a leftwing in the Movement.
In my point of view the separation of Wallonia and Flanders is not relevant at all. It would only cause more problems instead of solving them. I don’t really feel Belgian , but I don’t feel Flemish either, and I don’t have any affection with the specific ‘Flemish Culture’. But when I look at the Basque Country, I see an entirely different story with young people who really want to protect their cultural heritage, and I have a lot of admiration for their idealism and love for their country.