Belgium's brand new Defence Minister, Pieter De Crem, sees no problem in reversing a controversial order by his predecessor. Francophone socialist André Flahaut (a guy who obviously has never turned down a second helping in his life) earlier purchased small calibre guns that cannot be used in international operations and that use ammunition only produced in his constituency.
The purchase of 90 mm guns was controversial from the start. The finance department twice stopped the order.The guns are only produced in Liège by CMI. Ammunition is only produced by Mecar, a company in the constituency of former Defence Minister André Flahaut.All other NATO countries use guns with a higher calibre, at least 105 mms. Using the two types side by side is not an option.Mr De Crem concedes the guns have been ordered, but sees no reason for cancelling the order. He will now examine how Belgium can cancel a contract that costs the taxpayer 42 million euros.Belgian Premier Guy Verhofstadt (Flemish liberal) says that he's unaware of Mr De Crem's decision and that there was nothing wrong with the contract.
Nuclear arms at Kleine Brogel?
Defence Minister De Crem on Wednesday confirmed that nuclear arms are deployed at the Kleine Brogel air force base in Limburg.The presence of the arms has been a public secret for years, but it's the first time there is confirmation from a government minister.Later in the day the minister said that he had meant to say something else and was talking about Belgian co-operation in NATO.