In a traditional Christmas Eve message, Belgium’s King Albert II warned his country against racism and xenophobia, issues that have gained attention since the electoral success three months ago of a Flemish nationalist party opposed to immigration.
The king also spoke of his recent visit to Belgian peacekeeping troops in the Balkans, saying he was “horrified by the ravages caused in our times and on our continent by extreme nationalism and xenophobia.”
King Albert also used his speech to pay homage to Belgian peacekeepers in the Balkans.
For thousands of NATO troops in Bosnia, Christmas this year meant being far from their families.
Christmas trees and colored lights decorated the U.S. barracks Eagle base in northern Bosnia. Near Mostar, southern Bosnia, soldiers from France, Spain, Italy and Portugal held a dinner, attended Mass and sang songs from all their nations.
At Camp Bondsteel in the Yugoslav province of Kosovo, members of the 4,500-strong U.S. contingent were missing their loved ones.
“I wish I was home for the holidays, but what can you do?” said 28-year-old Capt. Brook Maynelt of Illinois. “There’s a job to be done.”