Minister Zuhal Demir (N-VA) was accused of being politically absent last week. In De Afspraak on VRT1 she explains why that happens on Friday evening. Demir said that she lost her aunt this week. “My only family member who still lived in Flanders and who had also somewhat taken over my mother’s role,” she said.
But Demir also emphasized that she does not want to simply make promises to farmers that she may not be able to keep. “I think you should have a fundamental debate and make decisions that benefit them.”
“Many people think I am Minister of Agriculture, but I am not. I am Minister of the Environment and of course I have had that nitrogen dossier on my plate, but in this story I am not the minister who is redesigning the agricultural model and looking at the income of farmers. That’s not my job,” she said.
READ ALSO. Farmers exempted from certain European agricultural policy requirements for one year
Demir does not fully understand why the EU Commission decided on Thursday to exempt farmers from certain requirements of the CAP, the European common agricultural policy, for 1 year. In certain circumstances, the requirement to leave 4 percent of the agricultural area fallow may be deviated from. “Postponing doesn’t buy those farmers anything. That’s not what the debate is about. I don’t think that is correct. This will only make farmers even angrier. And I blame that on politics.”
“The federal government was indecisive”
“The blockades are paralyzing the whole country. It is up to the federal government to solve that, but they have not done so. People were indecisive. Probably because you are dealing with parties that do not want to offend the farmers,” she said. “I don’t think it is acceptable to hold the entire economy hostage. I don’t understand it. I don’t understand why people (the federal government, ed.) haven’t intervened. Last year the farmers also took to the streets, but in a very dignified and organized manner. There was no destruction at that time and people could go to work. Now it takes longer than a week. Then I don’t really understand why no action was taken.”
“We live in a democracy, everyone can take to the streets. That should be possible. I also think it is crucial that this is possible. But blocking a highway goes a long way. Let’s not forget that someone lost their life,” she said, referring to one of the serious accidents that happened at the tail end of a traffic jam caused by farmers’ protests. (rr)