Prime minister denounces nationalism during university lecture

During a lecture at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB) on Tuesday evening, prime minister Alexander De Croo strongly criticised nationalism's "lure of simplicity". "Give me one example where that lure has not led to the massive destruction of prosperity," he said.

De Croo made a plea for democracy during his presentation. "Democracy means dealing with hundreds, thousands of opinions. Almost everything you do with different opinions leads to better results. A more diverse decision table, therefore, makes the best decisions," he said.

"I have heard all my life that Belgium is a country of different opinions, with different languages, and that this is a disadvantage. But exactly the opposite is true. Our diversity is one of our greatest strengths."

"Give me one example where that lure has not led to the massive destruction of prosperity"

De Croo is critical of nationalism, both in Flanders and abroad. "Look at the ruins of Brexit: since 2016, [the UK's] economic growth is a third lower than in Belgium," he said. "Look at Trump, Bolsonaro and Putin. And look at Catalonia. As Spain's richest region, it wanted to go it alone a few years ago. Do you know which region is now the richest? Madrid.

"These are the ruins of nationalism, and we talk about it far too little. Some say everything would be better if we all came from the same region, or all spoke the same language. That is the lure of simplicity. Of course, we must have something in common. Not our political beliefs, skin colour, origin or past, but our values, such as respect for each other, for debate."

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