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e1 V.R.A.: Vlaamse RadioAmateurs vzw
         In English: Flemisch Radio Amateurs

How, What and Why?

Short history of radio amateurism in Belgium

Robert DeloorIn 1926 Rudy Deloor (P2, later ON4SA, see picture) founded, together with L. Hunninck the “Réseau Belge” the first Belgian association of radio amateurs.

 


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On 15/06/1926 the first edition of “QSO”, the periodical of the “Réseau Belge” appears.

 

CQ logoIn 1928 the “V.R.B.” is founded in Antwerp, the “Vlaamse Radio Bond” (Flemish Radio Union). They call themselves “Scientific association of radio transmitters and shortwave listeners”.

In 1930 the prefix “ON” is introduced for the Belgian radio amateurs, still applicable today.

In 1934 the first official examination for radio amateurs is organised by the R.T.T. (Regie voor Telefonie en Telegrafie), now the B.I.P.T., Belgisch Instituut voor Post en Telecommunicatie (Belgian Institute for Post and Telecommunication).

VRB tijdschiftIn 1936 the first edition of the V.R.B. periodical named “CQ-VRB” appears.

René KersseIn the same year an agreement is made between “Réseau Belge” and “V.R.B.” leading to the foundation of the “V.B.Z.”, het “Verbond der Belgische Zenders” (Alliance of Belgian Transmitters). It replaces immediately both associations and represents Belgium in the I.A.R.U. All this was mainly the work of R. Kersse, ON4GW, president of the Réseau Belge (see picture).

 

 

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In 1947 the “U.B.A.” is founded by the former ON4GK en ON4ZN, replacing the “V.B.Z.”

 

All goes well for nearly 25 years, in harmony and mutual understanding, until….

e7In Wallonia is a fierce resistance against the U.B.A. and the way this association is managed, is developing.  This leads in 1970 to the foundation of the U.B.R.C.”, de “Union Belge des Radio Clubs” (Union of Belgian Radio Clubs).

 

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It takes until 1981 in Flanders for the resistance against UBA rear its head. The dominance of the mostly French speaking directors dominate the UBA yet French speaking radioamateurs are an absolute minority in Belgium, barely 1/3 of the radio amateurs. This finally results in the foundation of the “V.V.R.A.”, de “Vlaamse Vereniging van Radio Amateurs” (Flemish Association of Radio Amateurs).

For a number of years, all remains quiet.

After the federalisation of Belgium most of the associations (sport, culture, …) do federalise themselves.  Indeed, because Belgium is no longer a “unitary monarchy”, but a “federal monarchy” according to the Constitution, this is the most natural thing to do.

A first attempt therefore is boycotted by the French speaking minority, mostly residing in Brussels. Travel facilities by busses to the General Assembly of the U.B.A are organised to maximise attendance. If I recall well, this was in the domain “Hengelhoef” in Houthalen.

In 1994 it goes from bad to worse.The U.B.A. insults the Flemish radio amateurs continuousely.
No less than 4 (four!) Dutch speaking directors of the board of the U.B.A. submit a proposal for federalization, conform the new constitution and other laws of this country. Art.1 of the Belgan Constitution states that Belgium is no longer a unitary kingdom, but that Belgium is a FEDERAL kingdom.
Those French speaking directors, supported by a few “Flemish” traitors, react in a completely inappropriate and scandalous way. The 4 Dutch speaking directors are deprived of their powers. This in fact means that the board of directors is in a situation whereby it is impossible to lead the U.B.A. according to the statuts of the association. But it seams to be of no concer to the “others”! Notwithstanding firm protest from members and clubs, they have it there way.

As a reaction those 4 Flemish directors, firmly supported by many others (including myself), founded the “V.R.B.”, the “Vlaamse Radio Bond”, with a clear reference to and respect for their predecessors in 1928.

After a few years, both V.R.B. and V.V.R.A., became aware of the need to join forces and after careful consideration they decide to dissolve both associations and to found one single new Flemish association of radio amateurs.

VRA logoOn 17 oktober 1998 the cultural centre “Westrand” in Dilbeek (where Flemish are at home!) is the scenery for the official founding of the “V.R.A.”, in full “Vlaamse RadioAmateurs” (Flemish Radio Amateurs). V.R.A. is a legally non-profit association.

 


UFRC logo
Early 1998 U.B.R.C. change there name to “U.F.R.C.”, in which the word “Belge” (Belgian) is changed to “Francophone” to also emphasize the federalisation.

 

 
  FRA logoBecause V.R.A. as well as U.F.R.C. are supporters of a confederal model, they decide to create an unincorporated association for those things we want to do TOGETHER. First of all this means to establish a good working QSL service. Later on it shows that this is (and still is) no unnecessary luxury. The abbreviation becomes “F.R.A”, which stands for “Federatie van RadioAmateur verenigingen” (Federation of Radio Amateur Associations).

So far this (short) historic overview of the radio amateur associations in Belgium. In contrast to what some might think and argue, V.R.A. is NOT an outgrow of V.V.R.A., but it is an entirely NEW association, founded by both V.R.B. and V.V.R.A. in mutual understanding and based on equality and mutual respect.

The relationship V.R.A. – U.B.A.

It is clear that the relantionship between the (unitary) U.B.A. and the (federalistic) V.R.A. is not obvious, although WE would have liked it otherwise. This is also the case for the relationship U.F.R.C. – U.B.A.

A question we often get: “Why has V.R.A. -being Flemish- a friendly relationship with UFRC and NOT with U.B.A.”?
Our answer can be very simple: because UFRC and VRA are working excellently together, whenever necessary (see F.R.A.) and because UBA refuse pertinently to cooperate, or even to dialogue.
An example (and certainly not the least important): the famous QSL service! V.R.A., together with U.F.R.C. is trying for many years now, to establish a cooperation with U.B.A. about the distribution of QSL cards. Our (official) proposal was based on the situation in The Netherlands, where VRZA and VERON are working perfectly together in the “DQB”, which stands for “Dutch QSL Bureau”. This DQB is exploited by both VRZA and VERON in a different and independent structure, managed by representatives of both associations and costs being paid in relation to the respective number of users. U.B.A. however scrupulously maintains the actual monopoly of the (IARU!?) QSL service.

Moreover our point of view is that QSL cards are the RIGHT of each individual radio amateur. This right is constantly denied by the UBA by refusing systematically to pass to us the cards for our members, arriving in their QSL bureau.
One of our most important goals is: “100% QSL for EVERYONE”!

And finally, there is a growing number of UBA sections that make no problem, despite pressor from UBA, to create a mutual unit of friends radio amateurs. Or… how the bases shows gives the example.

Gust, ON7GZ, President of VRA.

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