Belgium is his own country
She doesn't know what the new name is supposed to change. Tanja Freisen crosses her arms, in front of her are hundreds of chocolates, Belgian of course, but it's such a thing with Belgium. Your homeland should now be called differently, the German-speaking community has renamed itself. It is now called Ostbelgien. It's typical for this country, everyone does their own thing, says Freisen. She raises her eyebrows, looks outside, through the window of the chocolate shop. There, opposite, the Prime Minister of the German-speaking Community has his seat. He is afraid that nobody will come to Eupen, Büllingen and St. Vith.
The head of government believes that too few people know his community, that hardly anyone understands who this community is at all. Therefore there is now the new name, therefore the new sign in Gospertstraße in Eupen: Ostbelgien. In a country like this, with three so different communities and three so different regions, one always fears being overlooked.
The German-speaking community in Belgium has around 77,000 inhabitants, but it has its own prime minister. Some cars in Eupen still have a sticker on them: DG for German-speaking Community, but there were also imaginative explanations for the abbreviation, "Dolce and Gabbana" was one of them, "Dumm Gelaufen" was another. Most of them introduced themselves to a small group of Germans abroad under the name German-speaking Community, such as Italians in New York and Greeks in London. But no federal state, that was the problem. On the market square in Eupen one can hear again and again: Nobody pays attention to the community, not even in the rest of the country.
The new name is a clear commitment to Belgium, says the regional head of government
Belgium, that is, three regions and three linguistic communities, is on an equal footing in the constitution, ultimately like six federal states. These are the regions of Flanders in the north, Wallonia in the south and the capital Brussels in the center. And there are the Flemish Community in the north, the French community in the south and the German-speaking community in the east. The tasks differ, for example the regions are responsible for the economy, the communities for culture. After all, the Flemish Region and the Flemish Community have merged so that there are only five parliaments, but sometimes they have enormous power.
Last year, the Ceta trade agreement between Canada and the European Union almost collapsed because the Walloons refused to agree. The national government of Belgium even broke the world record a few years ago because of the complicated conditions. 541 days without a new government because the Walloons and the Flemish once again disagreed.
Tanja Freisen still remembers those months, but nothing changed in her life back then, despite the world record. She is 35 years old, she likes the sweet smell in the shop, chatting with older women. Manon is the most popular variety, coffee, nougat, buttercream. An advertising agency would probably prefer to print someone like Tanja Freisen on posters for DG, along with the chocolates. She likes living in Eupen, in general, in Belgium. Even if many do not understand where she lives because they know nothing about the German-speaking community and certainly nothing about their government.
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