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Last Updated: Monday, 17 December 2007, 16:34 GMT
Miss Belgium fails her first test
Miss Belgium
The smiles may be wearing thin for Alizee Poulicek

The language divide that has led to Belgium's political deadlock has also spread to its Miss Belgium contest.

French-speaking Miss Belgium winner Alizee Poulicek, 20, was booed by parts of a 3,400-strong Antwerp audience when she revealed she could not speak Dutch.

When the show's presenter quizzed her on her hopes for the future, she said: "I didn't understand, can you repeat?"

Ms Poulicek says she has been taking language lessons and has promised to improve her standard of Dutch.

The beauty queen's language skills take on a wider significance as Belgium is still without a government six months after elections amid political stalemate between the main Dutch- and French-speaking parties.

Press uproar

In halting Dutch, Ms Poulicek told the Flemish network, VRT: "I have to try to learn more."

She then went on in French: "I spoke almost no Dutch when I started this adventure."

That has not impressed the Flemish-language press.

Het Laatste Nieuws said on Monday Belgium's "community crisis ... has insinuated itself into even the lightest sector".

Television viewers did not seem to mind but, after the show, Ms Poulicek was asked a series of questions about her lack of Dutch at a news conference.

The daughter of a Czech father and a Belgian mother, she has spent half her life in the Czech Republic.

The organiser of the contest, Darlene Davos, said it could have been far worse.

"It is the least painful thing," she said. "I would consider it different if they had said: 'Miss Belgium is an ugly girl'."

Nation or state?
07 Dec 07 |  Magazine
Country profile: Belgium
18 Sep 07 |  Country profiles
Viewpoints: Belgian crisis
17 Sep 07 |  Europe


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