U.S. embassy disinvites Vlaams Belang from viewing of inauguration

A correspondent in Belgium sends this:

Three weeks ago the Vlaams Belang members of the Foreign Affairs committee of the Belgian Senate were invited to attend the inauguration of B. Obama at the U.S. Embassy in Brussels this afternoon. The invitation was sent to all the members of the Foreign Affairs committee of the Belgian Senate. This morning the U.S. embassy rang the party to tell that the invitation to the VB members has been withdrawn. The VB politicians are not welcome (though the politicians from other parties are). The U.S. embassy says the invitations to the VB were a “mistake.”

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Here is a further document I’ve received (no link or source), on the VB dis-invite. It would appear to be a VB press release:

Vlaams Belang not welcome at U.S. Embassy in Brussels

The American Embassy informed the Senate fraction of Vlaams Belang that the invitations a number of fraction members received to witness Obama taking the oath, at the American Embassy in Brussels, was “a mistake”. Fraction leader Joris van Hauthem finds this rejection “indecent for the largest democracy in the World”.


Some three weeks ago, the leader of the Vlaams Belang, the members and the mandatory members of the Foreign Affairs commission of the Senate received an invitation to witness the taking the oath by Obama at the Embassy of the United States in Brussels. Karim Van Overmeire and Freddy Van Gaever responded to the invitation.


This morning the fraction received a phone call in which the Embassy explained that the invitation was “a mistake”. Fraction leader Joris Van Hauthem is annoyed with the course of affairs. That suddenly members of Vlaams Belang are not welcome at the Embassy he finds “improper and unacceptable”.


Freddy Van Gaever called it outrageous and scandalous that his invitation is withdrawn. He points out that he some time ago donated a house to an organization in the United States. He was even invited to attend the taking the oath by Ronald Reagan in Washington. In the meanwhile he has decided to go to the Embassy this afternoon with his invitation.

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Vincent Chiarello writes:

From 1970 thru 1992, while serving in five different U.S. embassies in Latin America and Europe, I was involved, often directly, with organizing the embassy’s proceedings on election night and inauguration day. Never in my tours of service have I ever heard of any political party’s representative, especially those members who are part of the foreign policy machinery of the government, being “disinvited” after a formal embassy invitation had been proffered; it flies in the face of diplomatic protocol and good judgment.

The closest similar incident that I recall happened after the election of Reagan in 1984, and there were questions raised within the embassy about inviting the head of the Fremskrit (“Progressive”) Party to the inaugural celebration because of his very strong opposition to Third World immigration into Norway. In the end, Karl E. Hagen was invited, (I believe is still a member of the Norwegian legislature or “Storting”) for it was considered improper, and a violation of protocol not to do so.

The decision to ban the members of Vlaams Belang to the inaugural viewing had to have come from Washington. No ambassador—at least no perceptive one—wishes to burn his bridges to the legislative body of the nation to which he is accredited; aside from being stupid, it is counterproductive in fulfilling his objectives. Yet, in some ways, it does not surprise me. I can tell you that Foreign Service officers have delivered “demarche”—a diplomatic move or request—to foreign countries, including North African nations, about the evils of smoking. I wonder what the late George Kennan would think of such an action by our government.

The Foreign Service Officers at Embassy Brussels will have to live with that decision, but I’d bet a dollar to a doughnut that they were not responsible for it.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at January 20, 2009 12:35 PM | Send

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