A leading Flemish nationalist politician has condemned the Vlaams Blok for its reported attack on the Scottish National Party. Nelly Maes MEP, president of the European Free Alliance - a grouping of European autonomists of which the SNP is a member - distanced herself from the Flemish far-right and offered support for the SNP's stance against the Vlaams Blok.

Ms Maes, of the Spirit party, commented:

"It is disappointing that the right-wing, racist views of the Vlaams Blok have attracted so much attention in the Scottish press in recent days. The Vlaams Blok are not representative of the ordinary people of Flanders and they offer us nothing for the inclusive Europe we desire.

"Contrary to the Blok claims, the SNP are indeed good friends of Flanders. The SNP's members of the European Parliament are widely respected - and are known for their total commitment to a democratic and free Europe."

"I very much look forward to the day when an independent and inclusive Scotland can speak to Flanders on equal terms."

SNP Euro-MP Ian Hudghton added:

"The Vlaams Blok are an isolated political force - both in Flanders and in Europe. I can only give my full backing to my colleagues in Scotland who have fought to keep the VB out of the Scottish parliament."

"The democratic nationalists of Scotland and Flanders share a vision of a Europe which respects cultures and diversity. We will continue to work together to achieve this dream."

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