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Belgian Report Belgian Report
by Euro Reporter
2007-09-18 10:12:16
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Raikkonen wins third-straight Belgian Grand Prix

Fernando Alonso cut McLaren team-mate Lewis Hamilton's world championship lead to two points as Kimi Raikkonen took a dominant win at the Belgian GP at Spa-Francorchamps. This was Raikkonen's third-straight Belgian Grand Prix win and it allowed Ferrari to secure the constructors' championship title.

However, Ferrari actually won the constructors' title in Paris last week when the FIA World Motor Sport Council decided to strip McLaren of all its constructors' points for 2007 following evidence that they received a systematic flow of information from a spy within rivals Ferrari for nearly three months this year. The FIA fined McLaren £50m.

However, the Belgian grand Prix was further overshadowed when McLaren revealed they may file a complaint against rival team Renault about alleged use of technical information. Just where this domino effect of corruption and allegations will end remains to be seen and there is a real danger the sport will be plunged into the same disrepute as Italian football faced last year.

Belgium no longer for sale

This week Internet auction website eBay withdrew an unusual second-hand sale item, the country of Belgium, which had attracted an offer of 10 million euros. "Belgium, a kingdom in three parts" was posted on the Belgian eBay site as offering "plenty of choice" despite the caveat that it comes with "300 billion of National Debt", although the accompanying text said the kingdom "can be bought as a whole (not recommended)".

EBay spokesman Peter Burin said the site could not host the sale of anything virtual or "unrealistic", the Belga news agency reported. The 'vendor' was named as a former journalist, Gerrit Six. Offering his lot at an initial price of one euro ($A1.67), he saw 26 subsequent bids culminating in the 10 million euro offer today before the auction was halted.

10 million euros isn't too bad for a country famous for… famous for, errr, chocolate, beer and… errr… Anyway, 10 million euros isn't too bad for a country other than Belgium.

Belgium's worst crisis for 177 years
100 days have now passed since Belgium could boast of a government. Despite increasingly desperate calls by Belgium's King Albert for national unity, the federal state has hit its worst crisis for 177 years after national elections on June 10 failed to produce a government and coalition talks descended into ugly squabbling between francophone Walloons and the Dutch-speaking Flemish.

The 39-year old Flemish IT consultant has had enough. "The Belgian franc is gone. Our football team never wins anything anymore. The monarchy cannot even appeal to the politicians to stick together. It is time for us to get a divorce," he said. "With the best will in the world, you can not build a country on a shared taste for mussels, chips and beer - no matter how tasty."

See, 10 million euros is too much.

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Emanuel Paparella2007-09-18 12:15:51

A new Europe in search of a soul?

How ironic indeed! The country which hosts the headquarters of the EU government wants to break apart into Walloons and Flemish. Back to good old nationalism? This phenomenon of separatism: ethnic groups who wish to create their own nation can be spotted all over Europe, in Italy (the Trentino, aside from San Marino and the Vatican, independent countries within Italy), in France (Corsica), in Spain (the Basque region), in Ireland (Northern Ireland) in the Ukraine (nostalgia for mother Russia). Perhaps the message here is that it takes more than a common bank to keep together diverse countries with diverse cultures and mores. Perhaps not even democracy as a common value can accomplish the feat. Unity in diversity is undoubtedly a great idea but as Kurt Held has warned in his brilliant article on democracy, science and religion in Europe, if the center does not hold with something stronger than mere economic interests, even less so with chips and beer; diversity will simply exacerbate the centrifugal forces. Unless the crucial question: what does it mean to be a European is probed and answered (the question of cultural identity), the risk of making the same mistake of Italian unification will persist. That mistake assumed that first one needed to make Italy and then one could make the Italians. That is like putting the cart before the horse.

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