Live from Brussels

Musings from a bored analyst/project-manager.
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Friday, March 14, 2003
Europe-America: a Difference in Perception

Just got a mail from an anonymous ex-Belgian blogger who recently started his own blog. It seems I'll be visiting his site more in the future, because he has some interesting things to say. Try this for a start: Entre Nous / Musings of a Former Belgian.

Thursday, March 13, 2003
Antwerp City Council Members Resign!

City council members of the VLD and CD&V parties (right-wing conservative and christian democrat) have resigned from the city council! National head of Green party says that the Green council members better resign too. Only the socialists haven't done anything yet (the mayor is also socialist).
None of this is, as was to be expected, an admission of guilt.

Wednesday, March 12, 2003
We're Not Really Corrupt...

...because we're paying back the money we stole used for private expenses. Honest!

A scandal has erupted in my ex-home town Antwerp here in Belgium. The highest ranking civil servant of the city administration has had to resign after allegations surfaced that he had used a credit card issued by the city to pay for personal expenses. An investigation to the exact facts is still ongoing, but other civil servants and people high in the police force are also being looked at for the same reason.
What is probably the biggest scandal is that some city council members also used their credit cards for 'suspicious' expenses. They deny anything illegal or wrong has happened. But then I read this:
Council chiefs under fire
12 March 2003
BRUSSELS — The Mayor of Antwerp has pledged that any councillors who have used public funds to pay for private expenses will repay the money.
If nothing wrong happened, why are they paying it back? Naturally, they say this is not an admission of guilt at all.
Then what is it?

More History Repeating?

This just in: BBC NEWS: Serbian premier assassinated.
Last time a head of state was shot in Belgrade the result was WWI and milions of dead...
UPDATE: Yeah, I made a mistake: it was in Sarajevo, and all that... Stuff like this happens when you're too quick.

A Little History

I just looked up the text of UN resolution 687, which regulates the ceasefire that ended the 1991 Gulf war.
Quite some interesting stuff in there, if you have the time you should definitely read it. The gist of it is that the borders between Iraq and Kuwait are to be restored, Iraq must honour its foreign debts, allow inspections, destroy any WMD's and stop funding and training terrorists. Nothing really unexpected there...
The interesting bit lies in action clause 33:
Declares that, upon official notification by Iraq to the Secretary-General and to the Security Council of its acceptance of the provisions above, a formal cease-fire is effective between Iraq and Kuwait and the Member States cooperating with Kuwait in accordance with resolution 678 (1990);
What this in fact is saying is that Iraq doesn't actually need to do all the stuff listed, it just has to send 'official notification' of its 'acceptance'.
No wonder the Iraq crisis has been going on as long as it has: it's all a big misunderstanding. See, the U.S. interpreted this as saying Iraq actually has to do something, while Iraq in fact has complied perfectly by declaring complicance, which was all that was required! It's all so clear now...

Tuesday, March 11, 2003
(Anti-?) War Game

Tripped over this on blogdex: another cute little flash game in which you have to try and prevent war in Iraq. It's hard! Dr Strangeblix (

Monday, March 10, 2003
A Different Kind of Protest

I hope the people in Washington and London take note of this weekend's demonstration in Brussels. No, they were not marching against war in Iraq, at least not if it was conducted properly. But seeing how the Turkish parliament voted last week, it seems like the protesters are going to have it their way...
Indiana Gazette
BRUSSELS, Belgium - Thousands of Kurdish demonstrators rallied outside European Union headquarters Saturday to demand Turkey keep its troops out of northern Iraq.

The Sacred U.N.

I just read something in the online edition of The Telegraph: War on the home front. It resonated with my own thoughts this weekend, as I watched our Belgian Prime Minister talking on the main political talk show here.
He was basically saying Belgium saw no reason for any action against Iraq, unless it was supported by the U.N. Okay, I thought, that's a position that might make sense for a country like Belgium. But by being part of the U.N., Belgium also has a say in U.N. policy (however small that say is), isn't that right? So what I'd like to know from the P.M. of Belgium: what policy will we be advocating in the U.N. concerning Iraq? Just shouting really loud that we will follow any decision taken by the U.N. does not an opinion make, now does it? Do we even have an opinion? Show some spine! Tell it like it is: either we see nothing wrong with Saddam or we do something about him. And that 'something' better be more effective than 'letting the inspections continue' or 'exhausting all diplomatic means'. Or have we really learnt nothing from the past twelve years?