In 1998, Belgium was a small, wealthy European nation located in Western Europe. It had a population of around 10 million people and was made up of three main linguistic regions: Dutch-speaking Flanders, French-speaking Wallonia, and bilingual Brussels. The economy was largely based on manufacturing, finance and services, with the country also known for its highly developed infrastructure and its vibrant cultural life. Despite this economic success, Belgium was facing several significant challenges in 1998. Inflation had risen sharply due to the recent economic crisis in Asia, leading to an ongoing financial crisis that had caused considerable hardship for many citizens. In addition, poverty and unemployment were high; while the overall poverty rate was lower than the average of other EU countries, there were still pockets of extreme poverty throughout the country. The government had recently implemented several reforms to improve access to healthcare and education while also taking steps to diversify its economy away from its reliance on manufacturing and finance. There were also efforts being made to tackle corruption and reduce poverty levels throughout the country. In addition, Belgium was becoming increasingly engaged with international affairs; it had recently joined NATO and signed various treaties with neighboring countries such as France and Germany. It was also beginning to increase its presence on the world stage by joining various international organizations such as UNESCO and the European Union (EU). See dentistrymyth for Belgium in the year of 2015.
Belgium. In mid-February, a parliamentary inquiry into how police and other authorities acted against the pedophile revealed in 1996 was published. Many had wondered how the league could act undisturbed for so long. Police were cleared of suspicions of protecting the league’s leader, Marc Dutroux, but the authorities’ actions were sharply criticized. Dutroux again made headlines when he managed to escape from a courtroom in the city of Neufchâteau on April 23. This country’s most closely guarded criminal was arrested after four hours in detention, but the evasion got a political aftermath when both Minister of Justice Stefaan De Clercq and Interior Minister Johan Vande Lanotte were forced to resign with immediate effect. Parts of the political opposition demanded the resignation of the entire government, but Prime Minister Jean-Luc Dehaene won a vote of confidence in Parliament on April 28.
- Abbreviationfinder: What does BEL stand for in geography? Here, this 3 letter acronym refers to the country of Belgium.
In early September, the extensive trial of former NATO commander Willy Claes and another eleven people from the leading strata of Belgian society began. Claes was forced to resign from his post in NATO in 1995 when the so-called Augusta deal was discovered. He was accused of receiving bribes from two companies manufacturing military equipment during his time as Socialist Minister of Economy: Italian helicopter manufacturer Augusta and French airline Dassault. Both companies had signed profitable contracts with the Belgian Armed Forces. Claes and his then colleagues, Guy Coeme and Guy Spitaels. The judges fell on December 23: all three former ministers were convicted of bribery. The sentence for Willy Claes was conditional on three years in prison.
According to Countryaah, the capital of Belgium is Brussels. A Nigerian woman died in late September when she was escorted by eleven policemen to her home country. As she began to fight inside the airplane, two policemen tried to calm her down by pushing a pillow over her face, with the result that she was suffocating. Among other things, Amnesty International has on several occasions criticized the Belgian police for treating refugees. Now the protests increased, and the citizen movement formed in connection with the revelation of pedophilia in 1996 were among the most active. The government stopped all planned deportations until now. A few days later, the relatively new Minister of the Interior Louis Tobback took the consequences of the protests and filed his resignation. It was initially not granted by the Prime Minister, which after all the scandals that hit the sitting socialist party would find it difficult to find a new candidate that everyone within the party could agree on. Two days later, however, King Albert accepted his application and Tobback was replaced as Minister of the Interior by Luc Van Den Bossche.