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Voeren

From Academic Kids

Template:NPOV eo:Voeren fr:Fourons nl:Voeren Voeren (French: Fourons) is a municipality located in the Belgian province of Limburg. On January 1st, 2004 Voeren had a total population of 4,311 (2,173 males and 2,138 females). The total area is 50.63 km² which gives a population density of 85.15 inhabitants per km².

Contents

Villages

The municipality consists of the six villages: 's Gravenvoeren (Fourons-le-Comte), Sint-Pieters-Voeren (Fouron-Saint-Pierre), Sint-Martens-Voeren (Fouron-Saint-Martin), Moelingen (Mouland), Teuven and Remersdaal (Remersdael). 's Gravenvoeren is the most important and most populated town of the municipality

Linguistical and political problems

Voeren has been a part of the province of Liège from the French occupation (1794) until 1963 when it was transferred to the province of Limburg, and thus became part of Flanders.

Most people in Voeren speak a dialect related to Limburgian and it's thus related to Dutch. Voeren is economically dependent on the province of Liège so most people in Voeren got an education in Wallonia.

Until the beginning of the 20th century people didn't bother under which administration Voeren resorted. People in daily life spoke the local dialect. The government institutions used French and church and school used Dutch.

But Voeren was culturally Flemish and important inhabitants such as the local priest Hendrik Veltmans actively tried to bring Voeren into Flanders.

In 1932 a census was held to determine the linguistical alignment of Voeren. Most people spoke Dutch and administrative changes were made. The linguistical struggle had begun. In 1947 another census was held and French had increased its domination. A decision was made to make Voeren like Brussels bilingual, with French as the dominant language.

In 1962 Belgium was working on a new lingiustical law. The mayors of the villages in Voeren expressed that their villages were more Flemish than Walloon and a plan was devised to make Voeren a part of Limburg. The Belgian parliament approved this plan and Voeren became a part of Flanders on September 1, 1963 as part of Limburg. Voeren remained bilingual with Dutch as a dominant language.

But most people didn't really want to join Limburg as the region is very dependent on Liège and an anti-Flemish movement is still active. This is mostly seen by place-name signs on which the Dutch language is daubed.

On January 1, 1977 the six small municipalities were merged to the present-day Voeren municipality. The anti-Flemish movement could organize themselves political as there was now one instead of six municipal councils. Political and linguistical strife arose and the Retour à Liège faction won a majority in the new council. The francophone politicians stirred up francophone gangs to daub place-name signs and to engage in riots with pro-Flemish people.

In 1988 concessions to the francophone minority were made. The powers of the provincial government of Limburg were curtailed and more autonomy was left to the municipality. The government of Wallonia was allowed to build facilities in Voeren. It became possible for francophones to become mayor of a the Flemish municipality of Voeren. José Happart, a francophone, became mayor in 1988. He allegedly supported the francophone gangs in Voeren. In the 1994 municipal elections the Dutch speaking party (Voerbelangen) won a seat in relationship to earlier elections but was still a minority in council. In 1995 mayor Happart was forced to leave office. But there is still hope for the Flemings. Several national arbiteral courts declared some of the 1988 concessions unconstitutional (the Walloon building rights i.e.).

Around 20% of the population are non-Belgians, most are Dutchmen. EU nationals were given suffrage on municipal level in 1999. This factor was decisive in the 2000 municipal elections: Voerbelangen won a majority. However, the new majority had difficulties keeping the municipality economically sane, since a lot of money has been wasted by the previous mayor. Selling several municipal properties like forests and goods were necessary to keep the economics viable. Starting 2003-2004 the administration is viable again and new projects are being started to fulfill the promises made during the elections.

Tourism

The beautiful small villages in the beautiful hills give this region a traditional agricultural air. Although not blessed in cultural means, nature blessed this municipality with a landscape ideal for tourism. The afore-mentioned gangs are mainly occupied with vandalism and won't attack tourists. Voeren is safe if you stay away from municipal buildings. Tourism certainly is the solution to the Voeren linguistic problem as it can lessen the economic dependency on both Liège and Limburg.

External links

Template:Belgium Limburg
Template:Belgium-geo-stub

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