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Belgium scraps Waterloo euro coins amid French protests

Belgium has agreed to dump already minted euro coins marking the anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo. The move came after French protests to the commemorative coins grew stronger.

Belgium on Thursday abandoned its plan to issue a new two-euro coin marking the 200th anniversary of the defeat of Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo. The 1815 event near the Belgian town of Waterloo pitted the French emperor against British, Prussian and Dutch forces, with Napoleon suffering a crucial defeat.

About 180,000 of the coins in question had already been produced when French officials objected on the grounds that the commemorative edition would cause tensions, with European unity already under threat.

"I'm a bit surprised by all this agitation," Belgian Finance Minister Johan Van Overtveldt said in a statement. "Europe has plenty of other issues to deal with and challenges to overcome without wasting time and energy on this."

Collectors will be sad

Belgium now faces having to scrap the already minted coins which it planned to sell as collectors' items in special boxes at a price of 8 euros each.

"Once you've got rid of them, there will be a loss of 1.5 million euros," Manuela Wintermans from the Finance Ministry's union NUOD told AFP news agency.

Belgium is planning four days of commemorations in June to mark the Waterloo anniversary with a budget of almost 5 million euros and some 200,000 visitors expected, Belga news agency reported.

hg/bk (AFP, dpa)

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