Flanders' new Minister-President Liesbeth Homans on Tuesday attempted to play down negative comments made about the Belgian flag as a "joke," after she referred to it as a "rag" in presence of reporters only hours after being sworn-in to her interim position by Belgium's King Philippe.
Approached by reporters after the ceremony, Homans —the first-ever female politician appointed to lead the regional parliament— agreed to pose for a group photo before expressing her unwillingness of being pictured with the national flag.
"But not here, not with the Belgian rag in the background," Homans said in a video captured by VRT news.
The Flemish politician, member of the Nieuw-Vlaamse Alliantie (N-VA), then attempted to justify her comments as a "joke," and asked reporters whether her statement would be made public.
"Nobody heard that, did they? It won't be broadcast," she asked reporters before attempting to downplay her comments, attributing them to the special occasion.
"That was a joke," she said, adding: "this is a festive moment."
Homans, appointed to lead the Flemish parliament temporarily until a government agreement is reached, has made headlines in the past for her controversial statements.
In 2016, during her tenure as Flemish Minister of Home Affairs, she caused a media frenzy after she expressed hope that "Belgium would no longer exist by 2025," if Flanders succeeded in becoming an independent republic.
Madeleine Fletcher and Gabriela Galindo
The Brussels Times