NEWS & PUBLICATIONS
News and Events
In fulfilling its responsibilities as a signatory of the OECD Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Officials in
International Business Transactions (1999), the Belgian Government periodically reminds Belgian companies of its
policies to prevent, detect, investigate and penalize the practice of bribery.
The OECD Anti-Bribery Convention, signed by 39 countries including the United States and Belgium, established
legally binding standards to criminalize the bribery of foreign public officials in international business
transactions. Belgium adopted the Convention as national law: bribery of foreign public officials is a criminal
offense. Beyond the legal aspects, bribery raises serious moral and ethical concerns, and its political, social,
economic and, in some cases, environmental repercussions are often considerable.
Belgian policy mandates awareness raising, which starts with information sharing about the definition of bribery,
which under the Convention is defined as the voluntary giving (promising or offering) of something of value to a
foreign public official in order to obtain or retain business or other improper advantage in the conduct of
In keeping with this policy directive, the Embassy is hereby making available the text of the
Convention, the "Good Practice Guidance" and of the
implementing Belgian legislation.
May 6, 2013
The film My Worst Nightmare (Mon Pire Cauchemar), directed by Anne Fontaine and starring Isabelle Huppert
and Benoit Poelvoorde, will be screened at the Avalon Theatre in Washington, DC on Tuesday, April 23 at 8 p.m.
A lecture-recital by Pamela Meys Kane, Sounds of the Silent Cinema Organ Recalled in the Life and Works of Firmin
Swinnen, will be held at the Catholic University of America on May 2 at 12:30 p.m.
Leaving Paradise, an installation by Koen Vanmechelen, will be on view at ConnerSmith Gallery in Washington, DC,
from May 4 to June 29. The opening reception will be on May 4 from 6 - 8 p.m. (website)
Paul Oorts and Karen Ashbrook will represent Belgium in the EU Month of Culture Music Series, performing traditional
music from Western Europe, on the hammered dulcimer, wooden flute, and string instruments, on the Kennedy Center’s
Millennium Stage, May 6 at 6 p.m.
April 19, 2013
The implementation of the US Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) has caused Belgian financial institutions
to review their policies towards their US-based clients.
The Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA), adopted in 2010 in the United States, was designed primarily to
combat offshore tax evasion and increase federal tax revenues. It requires financial institutions to identify US
taxpayers who have invested in either non-US financial accounts or non-US entities. The intent behind FATCA is to
keep US taxpayers from hiding income and assets overseas.
FATCA enters into force on January 1, 2014, but foreign financial institutions, including Belgian institutions,
are preparing to comply with the new reporting regulations.
The consequences of the review may differ from financial institution to financial institution, depending on the
status of each financial institution with regard to the US authorities, the specific US rules applicable to them,
and the particular financial products held by individual customers.
US-based clients may be asked to sign specific documents enabling the institution to comply with the regulations.
In some cases, different rules of conduct may enter into force and a limitation of access to some services or
products is possible for US-based clients on United States territory.
The Embassy therefore advises US-based clients to contact their financial institution in Belgium as soon as
possible to learn about the consequences of the new policies for them.
For general information on FATCA, please visit the
April 19, 2013
Please visit us on Saturday, May 11 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. when we will participate in “Shortcut to Europe,” the seventh
annual European Union Open House. Explore the architecture of five stunning residences in the Belgian capital through
the exhibition “The Cradle of Art Nouveau: Victor Horta and Brussels.” Meet a representative of Brussels Airlines who
will tell you about the new direct flights between Washington/Dulles and Brussels Airport. Pick up some tourist brochures.
Learn how diamonds are polished and discover what Belgians are researching in Antarctica. See models of the Solar Impulse
airplane and a collection of comic book covers. Ask members of our military section about U.S. – Belgian defense
cooperation. Watch the video “Belgium…at first sight.” Sample Belgian waffles, chocolate, beer and other specialties.
Have your photo taken with a Smurf.
The Embassy would like to thank VisitBrussels, Brussels Airlines, Belgian Tourist Office, Visit Flanders,
Antwerp World Diamond Centre, Belgian Polar Secretariat, Dupuis Publishers, the Solvay Solar Impulse Project,
Sony Pictures, Orval Brewery, Brasserie DuBocq, Le Pain Quotidien, Lotus, Anheuser-Busch/InBev, Duvel Moortgat
Brewery, Lindemans Brewery, Delhaize America, Tiense Suikerraffinaderij, Guylian, Jules Destrooper, Trappist
Brewery of Westmalle, and all of our other generous sponsors.
For information on "Shortcut to Europe" and on the free shuttle bus
service that will link the embassies, click
April 16, 2013
For the 13th consecutive year, the countries and cultures of the French-speaking world will be
celebrated with a month-long festival in Washington, DC. Among the various offerings in music,
film, theatre, cuisine and children's programs are several events from Belgium: screenings of
two films by the Dardenne brothers, a reading for children by Catherine Pineur and a performance
by actor Pierre Megos . Thirty-five embassies will showcase their cultures and cuisines at the
popular and always sold-out Grande-Fête, which takes place at the Maison Française at the Embassy
of France on March 22 from 7 p.m. to midnight, and will this year include a concert by Swiss Pop
star Bastian Baker. For the complete schedule, please visit
Francophonie DC Website.
March 4, 2013
The Next Wave: Industrial Design Innovation in the 21st Century, an exhibition focusing on contemporary
design in Europe and the United States is now on view at Artisphere, in Arlington, Virginia. Curated
by Apartment Zero co-owner Douglas Burton, the show includes over 100 objects covering the areas of
lighting, tabletop, furniture, textile, product, electronics, housewares, tools and interactive design.
Participating Belgians include Sas Adriaenssens and Alain Gilles (whose Buzzihood is pictured here).
The exhibition, which runs through May 19, will be complemented by a series of free public programs.
March 4, 2013
The European Clubs at Harvard Kennedy School and Harvard Business School will present the
European Conference at
Harvard -- Europe 2.0 Taking the Next Step, which aims to spark interest in key European topics and to provide a
forum to discuss Europe with the business, economic and political leaders of today and tomorrow. Two prominent
speakers from Belgium will be featured: Guy Verhofstadt, leader of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats in the
European Parliament, and Karel De Gucht, European Commissioner for Trade. The Conference will host panels on
European energy, investing, entrepreneurship, luxury and fashion, greentech, diplomacy, economics and much more.
February 21, 2013
Belgian film directors Luc and Jean-Pierre Dardenne are the subject of a new book by Professor
Philip Mosley of Pennsylvania State University. Mosley will be in Washington, D.C. on March 2
to present and sign his book, The Cinema of the Dardenne Brothers: Responsible Realism, at the
National Gallery of Art. The afternoon program will include the screenings of two award-winning Dardenne films;
Rosetta (1999) and the The Son (2002).
For a detailed description of the films
and of the National Gallery event, click
The Cinema of the Dardenne Brothers: Responsible Realism is also
Professor Philip Mosley
Author of The Cinema of the Dardenne Brothers: Responsible Realism
February 21, 2013
In Belgium’s secluded Ardennes, where people live close to the land, a mystifying force is changing
the natural order—seasons are erratic, seeds don’t sprout, and birds and bees ignore their labor.
Without the cyclical rhythms, the local villagers are on the verge of lunacy and revert to their
only hope of recovery—a sacrifice of one of their own.
Weaving a surreal tapestry, The Fifth Season
(La Cinquième saison) recalls the canvases of Magritte, Delvaux, and Ensor.
(Peter Brosens and Jessica Woodworth, 2012.
HDCam, French and Dutch with subtitles, 94 minutes)Presented by the National Gallery of Art in association with the Environmental Film Festival.
February 21, 2013
New requirement: official address in Belgium
As of January 1, 2013, foreign nationals wishing to voluntarily acquire or regain Belgian nationality
must meet the condition of legal residence in Belgium. This applies to persons wishing to become a
Belgian national by naturalization, by marriage, or if you once were a Belgian national and you wish
to recover your nationality.
Therefore, Belgian diplomatic posts abroad – including the Embassy
of Belgium in Washington DC and all Consulates General in the U.S.
-- can no longer process applications to acquire or recover Belgian
Not affected by this modification: Belgians who wish to assign Belgian citizenship to a child under
5 years of age (attribution), and dual citizens born abroad filing an act of conservation before
28 years of age (conservation). These applications can still be done at the Embassy or Consulates General.
January 14, 2013
Victor Horta, a master of Art Nouveau architecture, and his five most outstanding
building designs, all listed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites, will be the centerpiece of an exhibit
which will open on October 19 at the District Architecture Center in Washington, DC.
The Cradle of Art Nouveau: Victor Brussels is a panel exhibition that will explore the grandeur and
beauty of many of Horta's residential works, including the Hôtel Tassel, Hôtel Solvay, Hôtel van
Eetvelde, and his own home, now the Horta Museum.
The exhibit will be complemented by a film on Art Nouveau.
The exhibition was organized by the Monuments and Sites Department of the Brussels-Capital Region in
cooperation with the Washington Chapter of the American Institute of Architects, and VISITBRUSSELS,
the Belgian capital's tourism agency. All involved hope that the show will bring attention to Brussels'
extraordinary Art Nouveau heritage.
For more information, please visit the
October 19, 2012
October 3, 2012
The government of Belgium today signed an agreement with the Organization of American States (OAS)
through which it will provide financial support for the program “Landmine Victim Assistance in
Ecuador and Peru,” carried out by the OAS. The contribution will help to prolong both countries’
control over their demining programs and ultimately achieve their goals of completion by 2017 in
accordance with their commitments under the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention.
During the signing of the agreement, which took place at the Embassy of Belgium in Washington, DC,
the Secretary General of the OAS, José Miguel Insulza, highlighted that the landmine program "is
one of the most important and recognized" of the organization and mentioned the progress that has
been made in the area, mainly in Central America. "Recently we celebrated in Nicaragua the success
we've had with the countries of Central America, which was declared a couple of years ago a
landmine-free zone," he said.
The Secretary General acknowledged the support received from Member Countries and Permanent
Observers to the organization and recalled that, despite the achievements, "many challenges
remain, especially in the countries of the Southern Cone, on Chile's border with Bolivia
The Permanent Observer of Belgium to the OAS, Ambassador Jan Matthysen, recalled at the ceremony,
the diplomatic and programmatic efforts that his country has made from several years ago in
support of the eradication of antipersonnel mines in several countries, and recalled the social
and economic implications of this scourge. "Belgium has focused its efforts in promoting the
Ottawa Convention and to address this problem at a worldwide level." "Assisting the victims
and rehabilitating the wounded children, adolescents and young adults is part of this
purpose," he said.
The Belgian diplomat stressed that the agreement "is not only an occasion to highlight the
issue of landmines, but also to emphasize the importance of further strengthening ties between
Belgium and Latin America and with the OAS," concluded the representative of the European
country, that has, since becoming a Permanent Observer in 1972, devoted much of its cooperation
with the OAS to support the Program for Comprehensive Action against Antipersonnel Mines (AICMA).
In the last two decades the OAS has played a key role in the efforts to eliminate anti-personnel
mines in the Western Hemisphere. The program initially focused on Central America and soon spread
to other countries of the hemisphere where such munitions are still a threat. Its contribution
was decisive to the declaration in 2010 of Central America as a mine-free zone, a milestone that
represents a significant achievement in promoting the goals of peace and security in the Americas.
The distinctive aspect of the AICMA is its eminently humanitarian nature, as it seeks to
reestablish safe and secure living conditions for people, reduce the risk and dangers of
unexploded ordnance (UXO) and antipersonnel mines, and return previously mined land to
productive use. It is a multilateral program in which, in addition to beneficiary countries,
a number of donor and contributing countries, international organizations, and non-governmental
A gallery of photos of the event is available
For more information, please visit the OAS Website at
October 3, 2012
The Belgian Embassy opens its doors for a new academic year of "Dutch language courses"
which will resume on September 24, 2012. From this year on, two teachers will be independently
offering the courses at the Embassy.
Classes will take place on Mondays and Wednesdays. Three course levels will be offered.
For more detailed information about the programs provided, please feel free to contact:
Pat Boydens: email@example.com
Stefaan Lust: firstname.lastname@example.org
September 20, 2012
België op het eerste gezicht
Coup d'oeil sur la Belgique
Belgium at a glance
August 9, 2012
The Allied Command Transformation, NATO’s only strategic command located
in North America, held a flag raising ceremony in Norfolk, Virginia, in
July to mark Belgium’s National Day. Belgian Ambassador Jan Matthysen
travelled to Norfolk for the occasion with Belgium’s Defense Attaché,
Brigadier General Mike Delobel.
ACT Commander General Stéphane Abrial welcomed participants and guests
and spoke of Belgium’s unique place as the Alliance’s headquarters.
He went on to say, “But Belgium is much more than just the country that,
more than any other, the Alliance calls home. She is above all a valued
member nation, one that can be counted upon in every major NATO operation.
From her 500 men in ISAF to her air and sea engagement in Operation Unified
Protector, from Kosovo to Operation Ocean Shield, the Belgian Armed Forces
have proudly represented their nation wherever the Alliance’s security and
values were at stake.”
In his remarks, Ambassador Matthysen noted the positive effect that Belgium’s
renewed political stability has had on the Belgian economy and on the
country’s ability to play an even more meaningful role in European affairs
and in international alliances. The Ambassador highlighted several aspects
of the longtime friendship between Belgium and the United States, and
stressed the “productive operational relationship” that exists between
Brussels and Washington. He noted that, “Belgium has successfully risen
to the challenge of its size and used its central location in Western Europe
to become a champion of international trade and an important player in the
forging and sustaining of international alliances.”
August 9, 2012
There was a new feature at this year’s July 4th State Department reception
that brings together foreign ambassadors and their families to celebrate
America’s Independence Day: the “Melting Pot of America Apple Pie Contest.”
Each diplomatic mission was invited to submit its own take on the iconic
American dessert. The role of food in diplomacy is well understood by
Belgians and Embassy Chef Jan Van Haute enthusiastically took up the
challenge. A panel of judges, which included food critic Tom Sietsema
of the Washington Post, awarded first prize to the Belgian entry
– an apple frangipane tart.
Ambassador Jan Matthysen happily accepted the award at the event which
later included a surprise appearance by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham
Clinton and President Bill Clinton. In addition to the Ambassador’s
diplomatic colleagues and State Department officials, this year’s guests
also included nearly one hundred representatives from nations and
organizations on five continents who were in Washington at the invitation
of U.S. Chief of Protocol Capricia Marshall for the Global Chiefs of
July 5, 2012
The Belgian Embassy has enjoyed a decades-long friendship with the
Washington Bach Consort, a Baroque chorus and orchestra founded
thirty-five years ago by J. Reilly Lewis. Over the years, Belgian
Ambassadors have attended the Consort’s programs and have also
helped its fundraising efforts by hosting benefit receptions. In
addition to bringing together Consort supporters and benefactors,
the most prominent of whom may be Senator Jay Rockefeller, these
receptions bring the glorious music of Bach to the Belgian
Such was the case on May 14, when about one hundred guests of
Ambassador and Mrs. Matthysen enjoyed a buffet of Belgian
specialties and were then treated to a private concert of arias and
duets by select Consort vocalists and instrumentalists, interspersed
with Inventions performed by J. Reilly Lewis on a period
The evening’s grand finale was a four-hand performance of Bach’s
Contrapunctus IX from the Art of the Fugue played by Lewis and Scott
Dettra, the Consort’s Keyboard Artist, on the Embassy’s Steinway
piano. This piece was recorded live several weeks later at the
Ambassador’s Residence and is now available on You Tube:
June 20, 2012
A selection of exquisite costumes and dresses made of paper by
Belgian painter and designer Isabelle de Borchgrave opened at
Hillwood Museum on June 16. Prêt-à-Papier: The Exquisite Art of
Isabelle de Borchgrave is the first exhibition of the artist’s work
to be presented in Washington, DC. It brings together more than 25
of de Borchgrave’s quintessential interpretations of historical
costumes and haute couture dresses, with six new works made for this
show, including one commissioned solely for Hillwood.
For over 15 years, inspired by the rich history of fashion
represented in European paintings, famous costumes in museum
collections, and designs of the grand couturiers, de Borchgrave has
turned her passion for painting toward the recreation of elaborate
costumes – crumpling, pleating, braiding, and painting the surface
of simple rag paper to achieve the effect of textiles and create the
illusion of haute couture.
By reconstructing dresses from key period in fashion history,
including gowns worn by the famous, Prêt-à-Papier presents a range
of styles from the late 17th to the early 20th century. (For
information on visiting Hillwood, please visit:s
In honor of the opening of the exhibition, Ambassador and Mrs.
Matthysen feted the Brussels-based artist and Hillwood staff and
supporters at a luncheon at the Belgian Residence on June 15.
June 20, 2012
Come learn about Belgium when the Embassy opens its doors on Saturday, May 12
from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. as part of EU Open House Day. In keeping with Belgium’s
“2012 Year of Gastronomy” tourist theme, this year we will be highlighting
Belgian food and drink specialties.
Barry Callebaut®, the world’s leading manufacturer of high quality cocoa and
chocolate, is celebrating its 100th anniversary and, to mark the occasion,
throughout the day we will be screening the company’s film “Unveiling the
Secrets of Cocoa and Chocolate.” Learn about the process of chocolate- making
from cocoa bean to finished product and sample some gourmet baking Callets.
In another room, Le Pain Quotidien, the Belgian bakery with over 140 locations
around the world, will be offering samples of its delicious organic breads
Belgian waffles will be prepared outside (weather permitting) by chefs from Locolat, an authentic Belgian café on Florida Avenue, and Embassy chef
Jan Van Haute.
Featured beers will include Stella, Leffe, Hoegaarden (all supplied by
Anheuser-Busch), Orval and Lindemans fruit beers.
The Embassy is also very appreciative for the generous support of Biscuiterie
Jules Destrooper and Bloom/Food Lion.
Please stop by our economic information desk and watch the video about Belgium’s
economic achievements. Our Police Liaison Officer will also be on hand to speak
about law enforcement cooperation between the United States and Belgium. A slide
show on the Belgian Residence will be played on a continuous loop in the
Ambassador’s office. And, if you’re thinking about a trip to Belgium, pick up
some tourist brochures.
For information on what other EU Member States are doing on Open House Day,
please visit www.euopenhouse.org
We look forward to seeing you on May 12!
April 26, 2012
In 1997, the Belgian Government declared an official day of remembrance to honor
members of the military who have died since l945 while in service to humanitarian causes
or peacekeeping operations. April 7 was chosen as the specific date, because it marks
the day in 1994 when ten Belgian paratroopers, UN soldiers in Rwanda who were escorting
the Rwandese prime minister, were captured and brought to a camp in Kigali, where they
were brutally murdered. Since the end of World War II, more than 200 Belgian military
servicemen have lost their lives in the line of duty. They are now remembered with a
ceremony that takes places on April 7 at 11 a.m. (Belgian time) at the Tomb of the
Unknown Soldier in Brussels; Belgian military and civilian personnel elsewhere in the
world also honor their fallen comrades on this day.
April 7, 2012
King Albert II, Prime Minister Elio Di Rupo and Minister of Foreign Affairs
Didier Reynders expressed their grief on hearing the news of the terrible bus accident
that took place in Switzerland last night. The thoughts of the entire nation go out to
the 28 victims, their parents and family members. The Belgian government takes every
possible step to keep the families informed, to arrange transport to the site of the
accident and to offer psychological counseling. Prime Minister Elio Di Rupo and several
other ministers will also visit the site of the crash today. The embassy wishes to take
this opportunity to thank those who left messages of condolence at the embassy, by phone
or online. If you wish to send a message, you can do so on our facebook
March 14, 2012
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs Didier Reynders announced
that he was immediately recalling the Belgian ambassador to Syria for consultations.
Didier Reynders has also requested that High Representative Catherine Ashton quickly
organise the coordination of the 27 EU Member States regarding the security of our
diplomatic posts in Syria and concerning the correct measures that could be taken in
order to best respond to the development of the situation.
February 8, 2012
The Swedish Royal Academy of Sciences has awarded the prestigious Crafoord Prize to Belgian
mathematician and professor at Princeton University, Jean Bourgain.
Professor Bourgain will be given the 445,000 Euros prize for his ground-breaking work on number
theories and differential comparisons. He shares the prize with the Australian-American scientist
Terrence Tao from the University of California at Los Angeles.
“There are so many other colleagues who excel and deserve this prize as much as I do,” commented a
The Crafoord Prize, often referred to as equivalent to the Nobel Prize, is not the first honor to
be bestowed upon professor Bourgain. In 1985 he won both the prize of the Belgian National Fund for
Scientific Research, and the Langevin Prize of the French Academy of Sciences. Prizes in Switzerland
and Ukraine followed. He received honorary doctorates from the universities of Marne-la-Vallée in
France and the Free University of Brussels in Belgium. Two years ago, he shared the Hong Kong Shaw
Prize in Mathematical Sciences with four colleagues.
The Crafoord Prize will be presented to professor Bourgain by King Carl Gustaf of Sweden at a ceremony
January 24, 2012
Today the European Union has decided to broaden restrictive measures on Iran. The steps have been
agreed upon by the 27 Member States of the EU, at the Foreign Affairs Council. The targets of
today’s decision are the sources of finance of Iran’s nuclear program. These new sanctions are
designed to complement and reinforce previous action by the EU against the Iranian regime.
The EU’s objective is to develop a durable and positive relationship with Iran. There is great
potential for a constructive partnership, from which both sides could draw benefits.
However, since 2005, the serious concerns over the Iranian nuclear program have dominated EU-Iran
relations. A number of United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolutions have been passed in
relation to Iran. As a member of the UN, Iran is bound by these resolutions. However, resolutions
in 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2010 have not persuaded Iran to alter its current course.
In October 2011, the issue of Iran’s nuclear program descended further, with the publication of the
International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) report. The report raised further concerns over the
nature and intent of the Iranian nuclear program. The start of operations of enrichment of uranium
to a level of up to 20%, in the deeply buried underground facility in Fordow near Qom, further
aggravates concerns about possible military dimensions to Iran’s nuclear programme. Iran’s
acceleration of enrichment activities is in flagrant violation of six UNSC Resolutions and eleven
IAEA Board resolutions and contributes to increasing tensions in the region. Against this background
and the lack of engagement from the Iranian side with the efforts aimed at constructive talks made
by Catherine Ashton, on behalf of the E3+3, the EU has decided to extend sanctions. By targeting the
sources of finance of the Iranian nuclear programme, the EU aims to starve the programme of money and
so encourage Iran back to the negotiating table.
EU sanctions are designed to persuade Iran to comply with its international obligations and constrain
its development of sensitive technologies in support of its nuclear and missile programmes.
The EU has consistently argued that the best way to solve the impasse is through constructive negotiations.
The EU remains committed to achieving a comprehensive and long-term settlement which would build
international confidence in the exclusively peaceful nature of the Iranian nuclear programme, while
respecting Iran’s legitimate rights to the peaceful uses of nuclear energy in conformity with the Non
Proliferation Treaty. Catherine Ashton, as the designated negotiator on behalf of the E3+3, has always
signalled her readiness to resume talks.
Who do the sanctions target?
It is important to note that EU sanctions are not targeted at the Iranian people, but rather those
individuals and entities that are bankrolling Iran’s nuclear programme. Today the EU banned imports of
Iranian crude oil and petroleum products. The prohibition concerns import, purchase and transport of
such products as well as related finance and insurance. Already concluded contracts can still be executed
until 1 July 2012. A review of the measures relating to oil and petroleum products will take place before
1 May 2012. In addition, the EU outlawed imports of petrochemical products from Iran into the EU, as well
as the export of key equipment and technology for this sector to Iran. New investment in petrochemical
companies in Iran as well as joint ventures with such enterprises are also no more allowed.
The EU also froze the assets of the Iranian central bank within the EU, while ensuring that legitimate
trade can continue under strict conditions. Trade in gold, precious metals and diamonds with Iranian public
bodies and the Central Bank will no longer be permitted, nor will the delivery of Iranian-denominated
banknotes and coinage to the Iranian Central Bank. A number of additional sensitive dual-use goods may not
be sold to Iran. Finally, the EU subjected three more persons to an asset freeze and a visa ban. It also
froze the assets of eight further entities.
For more information, please visit:
January 24, 2012
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs Didier Reynders had separate meetings with
two important Syrian opposition groups. He spoke with Mr Burhan Ghalioun, leader of the Syrian National
Council (SNC), and with Mr Haytham Manna, representative of the National Coordination Committee (NCC).
Minister Reynders is one of the first to be able to speak with these two groups since their recent
attempt at unification.
He advocates peaceful action and an opposition that represents as many of Syria’s communities as
possible. The Minister also emphasised the importance of reaching a united opposition platform in order
to offer a decisive alternative after the departure of President Assad. A split opposition, after all,
only plays into the hands of the current Syrian regime. According to Didier Reynders, it would be good
to have a joint opposition structure. But it is even more important to be in agreement on a number of
principles before the transition, such as a programme and a calendar.
Due to the serious situation in Syria, the two groups have declared that they are ready to continue
discussions to reach a common point of view, which the Minister welcomed.
The Arab League’s initiative was also discussed, including an evaluation of the first observation
mission. Didier Reynders confirmed Belgium’s support of the Arab League, which must continue to play a
key role as a regional organisation.
The SNC also urged the creation of a European aid fund to alleviate the major humanitarian needs in
Furthermore, Minister Reynders defended the European sanctions policy. He also believes that a strong
resolution from the UN Security Council is necessary. Russia’s willingness to negotiate a resolution
must be used to send a clear signal to the Syrian regime that the violence must stop and that President
Assad must make way for truly democratic reforms. Belgium, within the European Union and together with
the international community, will continue to strive towards a swift end to the dramatic situation in
which the Syrian people find themselves.
January 09, 2012
The Embassy of Belgium is pleased to announce that, starting in January, its Dutch language courses
for Beginners and Intermediates will be augmented by a course for Advanced students.
This new 15-week course will take place at the Belgian Embassy on Mondays from 6pm to 8pm. These classes
are offered at the price of $300, payable on the first day of the course, in cash or check to the
“Embassy of Belgium – Dutch classes”.
Please fill out the registration form accessible on the Embassy’s website:
MS Word format)
and bring the completed form with you on the first day of the course.
At this level we will focus on conversation. We will use the book “Niet Vanzelfsprekend”
as a guide throughout the course. It offers dialogues and more complicated texts and articles
that give us plenty of materials to discuss. Grammar and exercises on new vocabulary will also
be part of our classes.
The goal of the course is to strive for a balance between listening, reading and speaking
skills. In order to obtain that balance, we will take advantage of other articles, newsflashes
and reports directly from the internet, in addition to the book. All these components will make
it an exciting course!
Course material : The book “Niet Vanzelfsprekend. Een vervolgmethode Nederlands voor
anderstaligen” is available for purchase at the price of $ 80. The price includes shipping and
January 06, 2012
The Belgian residence was fully decorated for the Christmas season when Ambassador
and Mrs. Matthysen opened their doors to the veterans of the Battle of the Bulge on
Ambassador and Mrs. Matthysen at the Belgian residence with veterans of the Battle of
Upon arrival at the residence, the veterans and other guests were greeted with holiday
songs performed by the Madrigals of Walter Johnson High School, Bethesda, Maryland,
under the direction of Choral Director, Isabel Hernandez-Cata. Throughout the reception,
the singers, sometimes solo, sometimes in small groups, serenaded guests with songs
popular in the 1940’s.
Ambassador Matthysen reminisced about the monumental battle for freedom that took place
on Belgian and Luxembourg soil 67 years ago: Those who fought in that long, cold, fierce
battle were so involved in the daunting task of routing the enemy that they probably did
not have time to consider their role as peace-makers. With hindsight, however, we know
that they did make a significant contribution to winning the war and to creating lasting
peace in Europe. He emphasized the respect in which Belgium holds the veterans, the
country’s gratitude for their accomplishments and the need to keep alive the memory of the
Battle of the Bulge.
A highlight of the reception came when the Ambassador announced that a special Belgian
award, the Fourragère 1940, had been bestowed on three veterans who were part of a unit
cited twice in the Daily Orders of the Belgian Army for heroic actions during the Battle of
the Bulge: Mr. Sossio E. (Pat) Capasso; Mr. Ted Hauprichts and Mr. Harry E. McCracken.
Warm and sustained applause followed and during the reception many guests had the
opportunity to individually thank the veterans for their service.
On December 16, Ambassador Matthysen, together with Consul Wiezen of the Embassy of
Luxembourg, laid a wreath at the Battle of the Bulge Memorial at Arlington National
December 20, 2011
This morning a tragic shooting incident took place in the Belgian city of Liège.
A lone gunman opened fire, resulting in the tragic deaths of three innocent bystanders
and the wounding of more than 120 others. Several victims remain in critical condition.
Ambassador Jan Matthysen and the staff of the Belgian Embassy are grateful for the comforting
expressions of support that have been received throughout the day.
December 13, 2011
240 guests, including the fine fleur of the local Belgian business community,
attended the latest BelCham Entrepreneurship Awards gala ceremony at the Harvard
University Club in New York on November 5, 2011. The awards honor both Belgian
and U.S. small and medium-sized enterprises in the U.S. market with powerful
ventures, business plans and existing or potential success stories.
From left to right: Georges Ugeux, Lifetime Achievement Award Winner, Ambassador
Jan Matthysen and Mrs. Kneissel, at the 2011 Belcham Entrepreneurship Gala
The Company of the Year Award went to one of Belgium’s favorite bakers in the
U.S., Le Pain Quotidien; accepting the award were founder Alain Coumont and CEO
Vincent Herbert. Le Pain Quotidien (LPQ) was established in 1990 in Brussels.
Nowadays, the company does business in 20 countries, with almost 170 bakery-eateries
turning over more than $200 million. The United States has become a major market
for LPQ, with 53 restaurants in four cities. New York alone houses 26 LPQ locations
as well as the company’s North America headquarters. LPQ is known for using organic
ingredients, influencing every part of the company’s business. Like all of the
furniture, for instance, the communal table in every restaurant is made from
The Most Promising Company of the Year Award went to I-MOVIX, a Belgian company
offering market-leading technology in the domain of extreme slow motion.
The other highlight of the evening was the Lifetime Achievement Award awarded to
Georges Ugeux, CEO of Galileo Global Advisors. Introduced by his long-time friend and
colleague William Kneissel, the Belgian former Executive Vice President of the New
York Stock exchange quickly proved, in an acceptance speech full of wit, balance and
foresight, why he has been described as one of Belgium’s greatest financiers ever.
Accepting the “last award for the first part of his life”, the 66-year-old lawyer and
economist delivered a “sharp and blunt” assessment of the current economic woes in
the Western World, accompanied by concrete ideas to reduce the current imbalances.
Ambassador Matthysen also tackled festive and serious issues in his remarks,
highlighting the wonderful cooperation between US and Belgian companies and federal and
regional agencies that had secured the success of the economic mission to the United
States led by Prince Philippe last June. He also underlined the challenging bilateral
economic issues the Embassy focuses on, such as double taxation issues, U.S export
controls, foreign account tax compliance laws, tax deferral for U.S. corporations abroad,
trade barriers, and the impact of U.S. innovation, energy and transportation policies,
just to name a few.
Having started with an inspiring and passionate plea for entrepreneurship by Belcham’s
President Olivier Smekens, the formal part of the evening was concluded by a few humorous
remarks by Consul General Herman Portocarero. Then, the music took over, leading to a night
of joy, dancing and glamour. Please judge for yourself on
November 22, 2011
On November 1, Belgium-born Professor Matthias Matthijs became the 6threcipient
of the Fisher Prize for Excellence in Teaching. Named afterthe late industrialist
and presidential adviser Max M. Fisher, the prizeis presented at commencement each
year to a Johns HopkinsUniversity/SAIS professor selected by the graduating
Introducing Prof. Matthijs' "Fisher Lecture," Dean Jessica P. Einhornreminded the
audience that he had himself obtained both his MA and PhDfrom Johns Hopkins University
and thus already had been with JHU formany years. Born in Eeklo, Belgium, in 1979,
Matthias Matthijs is agraduate of the University of Antwerp and, concurrently with his
SAISchair, a full-time Assistant Professor of International Politics atAmerican
In his very lively presentation, "After the Crisis, the Compromise: ThePolitics of
Economic Adjustment," Prof. Matthijs shook up a fewconventional wisdoms and in-fashion
economic theories, e.g. thequasi-automatic relation between sovereign debt and financial
Among other surprising statistics, he underlined the fact that the bulkof the
increase of the US public debt since 2008 (39.1%) was due to lossof government revenue,
with the stimulus plan and the bank bailouts"only" accounting for 4.5% and 3.5%
respectively. According to Prof.Matthijs, US tax intake is now at its lowest ever level
at 14% of GDP.
November 22, 2011
The privilege of joining an artist residency program in the Red Barn Art Center near Beatty,
Nevada, recently proved a very enriching painting experience for an Embassy spouse. And, as
experience goes, it also turned out to be a very pleasantly surprising from a Belgian point of
"Albert Szulaski's Last Supper, Artist Impression" by S. King
Indeed, the Goldwell Open Air Museum, to which the renovated historic barn belongs, revealed
an unexpected story of Belgian art roaming the world. In this tale of boldness and vision, a
stretch of Mojave Desert, flanked by the ruins of the ghost town of Rhyolite and the daunting
slopes of Death Valley, becomes a haven for modern Flemish creators and plastic artists.
First, at the heart of the Museum's collection is its very first work (and symbol), the
monumental installation "The Last Supper" by the late Antwerp artist Albert Szukalski, which
hauntingly recreates Leonardo's famous biblical painting in front of arresting views of the
In 1992, Szukalski's thirteen spook-like canvas and plaster biblical silhouettes were joined by
two other purpose-sculpted figures by Antwerp artists: "Lady Desert: The Venus of Nevada" by Dr.
Hugo Heyrman, and the late Dré Peeters' wood sculpture "Icara". A (thusfar) last work by Belgian
sculptor Fred Bervoets, "Tribute to Shorty Harris," with its very un-Nevadian penguin, was added in
The Goldwell Museum is located near Beatty, only 115 miles north of Las Vegas on Highway 95 (and
a little more through the breathtaking roads of Death Valley National Park). The Museum is free and
can be visited 24/7; the Visitor Center is open six days a week (but closed on Saturdays).
November 22, 2011
The Belgian government has launched a new, user-friendly, online tool to help people planning
to live, work or study in Belgium figure out the Belgian social security rules that apply to them.
The new tool, called “Coming2Belgium”, is designed for newcomers to the country as well as for
Belgian citizens who return to their own country after a long stay abroad. Professionals, employees,
retirees and students can all use the site to get answers to their questions regarding pensions,
unemployment benefits, health care, leave policy, child care allowances, long term disability and
“Coming2Belgium” is available on the Belgian social security portal site
Users must identify only their nationality, country of origin and employment status and then select
the subject of their inquiry from a pull-down list (e.g. child care allowances, pensions,
reimbursement of medical expenses, incapacity for work, payment of social contributions, …) to obtain
immediate information that applies to their specific situation.
In 2010, a similar tool, in French, Dutch and German, was designed for Belgian citizens planning
to leave their country to live, work or study abroad:
For further information please contact:
SPF Sécurité Sociale
Direction Générale Appui Stratégique
Centre Administratif Botanique - Finance Tower
Boulevard du Jardin Botanique 50/135
November 17, 2011
On October 21 a wide-ranging agreement between the Museum for African Art (MfAA)
and the Royal Museum for Central Africa (RMCA) was signed at the residence of the Consul
general of Belgium in New York.
The museums will collaborate to exchange collections and expertise, to set up joint thematic
and traveling exhibitions and to extend their respective missions in education and outreach,
including to the African diaspora. RMCA brings to this cooperation one of the world’s most
prestigious collections of African art. MfAA’s strengths lie in a flexible and all-encompassing
approach to the African continent as a source of pride and beauty. The New York Museum is
presently being relocated to its new headquarters, a spacious and prestigious new building on
5th Avenue’s world famous Museum Mile. MfAA is scheduled to open to the public in late 2012.
October 25, 2011
The 24th edition of the European Union Film Showcase will run from
November 3 through 22 at the American Film Institute Silver Theatre and
Cultural Center in Silver Spring, Maryland.
To purchase tickets, click
Movie Tickets .
There are three films from Belgium in the lineup:
THE KID WITH A BIKE [Le Gamin au Vélo]
Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne’s latest film once again plumbs the lives of
the young, vulnerable and dispossessed with uncommon sensitivity and moral
rigor. Placed in a group home for children, peppery 11-year-old Cyril
(non-pro Thomas Doret) promptly escapes, unwilling to accept that his
deadbeat dad (former Dardenne discovery Jérémie Renier) has abandoned him.
Rebuffed by his father, the distraught Cyril is taken in by concerned passerby
Samantha (Cécile de France), who in time becomes his foster guardian.
Samantha’s good heart could make a world of difference in Cyril’s life, but the
troubled young boy still has demons to deal with. Grand Prize, 2011 Cannes
Film Festival; Official Selection, 2011 Karlovy Vary, Telluride, New York Film
Festivals. DIR/SCR/PROD Jean-Pierre Dardenne, Luc Dardenne; PROD Denis Freyd.
Belgium/France/Italy, 2011, color, 87 min. In French with English subtitles. NOT RATED
Sun, Nov 6, 3:45; Tue, Nov 8, 7:00
“A joyous heartwarmer with an endearing Mark Twain meets Ken Loach vibe.”—
Screen International THE GIANTS [Les Géants]
Actor Bouli Lanners demonstrates great warmth and humor as a writer/director with
this follow-up to his acclaimed ELDORADO (2008 AFI European Union Film Showcase).
Abandoned by their troubled mother at their late grandfather’s house in the country,
teen brothers Seth and Zak, along with their new ne’er-do-well friend Danny, set
about enjoying a summer of mischief. But as their circumstances comically go from
bad to worse, the boys learn that they have no one to depend on but themselves. The
beautiful woodland lake locations were shot in Luxembourg; the freak-folk soundtrack
is by The Bony King of Nowhere. Best French Language Film and the Art Cinema Prize,
2011 Directors Fortnight, Cannes Film Festival. DIR/SCR Bouli Lanners; SCR Elise
Ancion; PROD Jacques-Henri Bronckart, Jani Thiltges. Belgium/France/Luxembourg, 2011,
color, 84 min. In French with English subtitles. NOT RATED
Sat, Nov 12, 1:00; Mon, Nov 14, 7:10
2011 Oscar Submission, Belgium
This gritty, gonzo and stylish thriller, the debut feature from writer/director Michael
R. Roskam, heralds an important new filmmaking talent to watch. An unlikely setting for
organized crime, the farmlands of Flanders, and an unusually sympathetic villain—a cattle
farmer (seriously beefed-up Matthias Schoenaerts, alternately sensitive and psychotic in
a career-making performance) who deals in black market bovine growth hormone, abuses
steroids and has a most unusual skeleton in his closet—make for a fascinating genre
mashup: a crime thriller with quirky humor, harrowing suspense and elements of
“Frankenstein” and “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.” An English-language remake is in the works.
DIR/SCR Michael R. Roskam; PROD Bart Van Langendonck. Belgium, 2011, color, 124 min. In
Dutch and French with English subtitles. NOT RATED
Wed, Nov 16, 6:30; Sat, Nov 19, 9:30
October 25, 2011
Belgium’s Théâtre Maât will be coming to Washington, DC, in early November to perform
in the fourth edition of the Kids Euro Festival. Please bring your children and join us
in welcoming this talented troupe from Brussels at a free performance at the Kennedy Center
Millennium Stage on Tuesday, November 8 at 6 p.m. No reservations are necessary.
Banquise / Ice Floe
Music / Theater (without words)
Age: 3-8 47 minutes
Matthieu Moureau ("Paxo" - saxophone)
Julien de Borman ("Paccor" - accordion)
Hélène Blesch ("Piole" - cello)
Hadi El Gammal ("Anton Pravitch")
Take an imaginary Arctic expedition — and discover some fun!
On this wacky — and melting — glacier, you'll meet the most
musical group of penguins you've ever seen. Paxo, Paccor,
and Piole all perform for a circus in the Great North, where
Anton Pravitch, their caretaker, thinks he’s the one in charge.
Both humorous and moving, Banquise (Ice Floe) will make you
laugh — and think.
October 21, 2011
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs Steven Vanackere is delighted with
the release of Gilad Shalit. After more than five years in captivity, there is now an end in
sight to the extremely testing time that Gilad Shalit and his family have had to endure.
Minister Vanackere is pleased that, after so many years, the international call to release
Gilad Shalit has finally been answered. His imprisonment was always in clear contravention of
the Geneva Conventions: “Together with my European colleagues, I have called for the immediate
release of Gilad Shalit on many occasions. Bilateral contacts have also been maintained,
including at ministerial level, with the Shalit family in order to offer Belgium’s support and
The Minister took this occasion to draw attention to the daily conditions and the rights of
Palestinian prisoners in Israel, some of whom are minors. Israel will now release over 1,000
Palestinian prisoners, but there remain many thousands more in Israeli prisons.
At all times, and in all circumstances, the respect for international human rights is of the
Minister Vanackere also stresses the great importance of talks between Israel and the
Palestinians being rapidly resumed, as this is the only way in which a lasting solution to the
conflict can be reached. “Violence merely generates more violence. So my appreciation goes out to
those who work tirelessly towards a peaceful, non-violent solution.”
October 19, 2011
Learning new languages can be a fascinating way to discover other cultures and open your viewpoint
to the world. Belgium has three official languages: French, Dutch and German. English is taught from
early on in school. That is why many Belgians can easily make conversation in 3 or 4 languages. Are
you interested in learning one of our official languages?
For those interested in learning French or German, the Alliance Française
(www.francedc.org/en/Classes ) and the
are among the options.
For those interested in learning Dutch, the Embassy of Belgium is pleased to announce the continuation
of its Dutch language courses. Classes are open to all interested persons, age 16 or older, and take place
at the embassy. Groups are formed according to proficiency and no prior knowledge of Dutch is required to
enroll at the beginners’ level. Classes at each level are scheduled on weekday evenings from 6:00 to
8:00 p.m. and meet once a week for 26 weeks.
Don’t miss your chance to learn more about the course by taking a look at the enclosed information form
(in PDF or
MS Word format) in order to register, please
return the enclosed registration form
(again, available in
MS Word format).
September 02, 2011
On Tuesday, October
4th, President James Earl ‘Jimmy’ Carter received the Belgian Grand Cross in the Order of the Crown
in recognition of his numerous and excellent efforts in waging peace, fighting disease and building
Prime Minister Yves Leterme lauded President Carter for being “a fighter for peace, and successfully
so, not only during his presidency but long afterwards.” The Prime Minister cited examples both during
and after the Carter presidency. He talked about the success of President Cater in brokering a peace
agreement between Israel and Egypt that still stands as a model today, and talked at length about several
successes of the Carter Center. This Center was founded by the President and his wife Rosalynn in order
to advance peace and health worldwide. The Belgian government supports the Carter Center in this endeavor,
resulting in an excellent cooperation between both in countries such as Nepal, Tunisia and Congo.
Prime Minister Leterme offered the decoration “In the name of the countless people who benefit from
the Carter Center’s support.”
October 11, 2011
It all started with a California man who found an ornate medal in an embossed red box while
cleaning out the garage after his father’s death. Along with the medal he found a photograph of
his father, Joseph Goularte, at an award ceremony in February, 1951 with a caption explaining
the Belgian government bestowed upon him the "Order of Leopold." His father seldom talked about
his military service. The Belgian government awards this honor for extreme bravery or meritorious
service. George Patton and Dwight Eisenhower have a Leopold Cross. What did this soldier do to
earn this decoration?
History Detectives host Gwendolyn Wright resolves to find the answer and interviews Joris Totté,
First Secretary Press and Public Affairs at the Embassy of Belgium. With the help of the Ministry
of Foreign Affairs in Brussels, he provides key information that solves the mystery surrounding
This episode episode of History Detectives aired on most PBS stations on Tuesday, September 20.
To see it online, click here: www.pbs.org
October 7, 2011
On Tuesday September 20th, Belgian Minister of Justice Stefaan De Clerck and Minister of Interior
Annemie Turtelboom were joined by U.S. Attorney General Eric H. Holder to sign an agreement on
Preventing and Combating Serious Crime (PCSC), which will allow for the exchange of biometric and
biographic data of suspected criminals between the United States and Belgium to bolster
counterterrorism and law enforcement efforts while protecting individual privacy.
Under the agreement, Belgium and the United States will leverage state-of-the-art technology to
share law enforcement data, including fingerprints, to better identify known terrorist and criminals
during investigations and other law enforcement activities. The agreement authorizes the use of
specific mechanisms for sharing vital information to help prevent serious threats to public security,
and requires measures to ensure the protection and privacy of citizens in both countries. In fact,
the PCSC contains numerous provisions pertaining to the handling, sharing, and retention of relevant
data, all designed to ensure privacy and data protection.
This agreement is one of many examples of the strong bilateral ties between Belgium and the
United States of America.
September 26, 2011
The Belgian American Educational Foundation (BAEF) encourages applications for
fellowships for advanced study or research during the academic year 2012-2013, at
a Belgian University or institution of higher learning.
The BAEF will award up to eight fellowships each carrying a stipend of $25,000
If the fellow chooses to remain less than the full 12 months, the stipend will
be prorated accordingly. The fellowship period must be at least 6 months.
In addition to the stipend, the Foundation will provide health insurance. No
other supplements can be expected.
Applicants must be citizens or permanent residents of the United States.
● either be registered in a graduate program towards a Ph.D. or equivalent degree
in the United States,
● or register in a graduate program in Belgium,
● or hold a Master’s, Ph.D., or equivalent degree.
Preference is given to applicants under the age of 30 with some knowledge of Dutch,
French, or German.
Applicants should make their own arrangements to register or affiliate with a Belgian
University or research institution. BAEF Fellows must reside in Belgium during the tenure
of their fellowship.
In addition to the application form, applicants must furnish 3 letters of recommendation,
a letter of nomination from the Dean of his or her U.S. school if applicable, undergraduate
and graduate transcripts, a brief biographical statement, and a statement of purpose.
Application forms can be downloaded from the BAEF website at:
For application blanks or additional information contact the Foundation at the above address
or email: email@example.com
Completed applications for 2012-2013 fellowships are due no later than October 31, 2011.
September 23, 2011
On Sunday September 18th, the exhibition The Invention of Glory: Afonso V and the
Pastrana Tapestries will open to the general public at the National Gallery of Art.
The Pastrana Tapestries—four monumental works of art on loan from the Collegiate Church
of Our Lady of the Assumption in Pastrana, Spain—are among the finest Gothic tapestries in
existence. This exhibition represents the first time the set will be on view in the United
States. Depicting the conquest in 1471 of two strategically located Moroccan cities by the
King of Portugal, Afonso V, the tapestries are highly unusual in portraying contemporary
events. Exquisitely rendered in wool and silk threads by Flemish weavers in Tournai, Belgium,
the recently restored works teem with colorful images of knights, ships, and military
paraphernalia set against backdrops of maritime and urban landscapes.
The exhibition is organized by the National Gallery of Art, Washington, and the Fundación
Carlos de Amberes, Madrid, in association with the Embassy of Spain, the Spain-USA Foundation,
the Embassy of Portugal and the Embassy of Belgium and with the cooperation of the Embassy of
Morocco in Washington, DC, as well as the Diocese of Sigüenza-Guadalajara and Church of Our Lady
of the Assumption, Pastrana, Spain.
The exhibition is made possible through the generous support of the government of Spain; the
government of Portugal, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Instituto Camões; and the government of
Belgium, Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
In 2008 the tapestries were sent to Belgium, where they originally had been woven more than
five centuries earlier, for conservation treatment by the Royal Manufacturers De Wit in Mechlin.
The conservation of the tapestries was undertaken at the initiative of the Fundación Carlos de
Amberes, with support from the Belgian InBev-Baillet Latour Fund, and the following Spanish
institutions: Fundación Caja Madrid, Region of Castilla—La Mancha, Provincial Council of Guadalajara,
and Diocese of Sigüenza-Guadalajara and Church of Our Lady of the Assumption, Pastrana. The
conservation of the tapestries received the European Union Prize for Cultural Heritage/Europa Nostra
During the opening reception and press preview on September 13th, Belgian ambassador Jan Matthysen
said “to be struck by the aesthetical beauty of the tapestries”. About the restoration and the
contribution made by Belgian multinational Inbev, ambassador Matthysen said that “skills go in
different directions, but excellence and savoir-faire is always there”.
After Washington, The Invention of Glory: Afonso V and the Pastrana Tapestries will be on
view at the Meadows Museum, Dallas, Texas (February 5–May 13, 2012); the San Diego Museum of Art
(June 10–September 9, 2012); and the Indianapolis Museum of Art (October 5, 2012–January 6, 2013).
September 16, 2011
A team of the Belgian Air Force’s 15th Transport Wing, flying a Lockheed C-130H Hercules
aircraft, participated in the International Air Mobility Rodeo which took place from July 24
to 29 at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington State. The rodeo is a “readiness competition”
that tests the flight and ground skills of aircrews as well as the related skills of special
tactics, security forces, aerial port operations, aero-medical evacuation and maintenance team
members. According the U.S. Air Force, more than 150 teams and 3,000 people participated.
Other foreign competitors included Air Forces from the Netherlands, Pakistan, South Korea,
Saudi Arabia, Spain and Sweden; in addition, some twenty other countries sent observers. At
the July 29 closing ceremony that capped the five-day competition, Belgium was named “Best
International Team” at USAF Rodeo 2011.
August 18, 2011
At the end of June, Their Royal Highnesses Prince Philippe and Princess Mathilde of Belgium
led a Belgian economic mission to the USA. The objective was to highlight the extraordinary
opportunities for investment, trade and innovation offered by Belgium’s dynamic economy. Over
nine days, the delegation visited New York, Washington DC and Boston.
Numerous seminars, visits and networking events were organized as part of this mission. For
example, the Belgian delegation visited the headquarters of Johnson & Johnson and IBM. HRH Prince
Philippe opened the Belgian pavilion at the International Biotechnology Industry Convention and
presided over the signing of numerous cooperation agreements between Belgian and US companies or
institutions, notably between:
In addition to the purely economic aspects, the mission was also aimed at highlighting themes
of a more social nature such as child literacy, the fight against cancer, poverty eradication,
philanthropy and culture. It was in this context that HRH Princess Mathilde participated in events
on microfinance and social entrepreneurship. The Princess visited a home run by the Little Sisters
of the Poor and attended a meeting of the Council of Women World Leaders, during which she gave a
very committed speech on combating violence against women.
This visit was also the perfect opportunity to emphasise the ties of friendship and solidarity
which exist between the USA and Belgium. TRH Prince Philippe and Princess Mathilde spent a few
moments of silence at Arlington National Cemetery, where the bodies of many American soldiers killed
in Belgium, most notably at the Battle of the Ardennes, are buried. The Royal couple also visited
the site of Ground Zero to pay their respects to the innocent victims of 11 September 2001.
Finally, there was also a political component to the mission, with Minister Vanackere making great
use of the occasion to hold talks with Mr Ban Ki-moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations, in
New York. The dramatic situations in Syria and Libya and the measures needed to respond to them, the
prospect of elections in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and the Middle-East peace process all
featured prominently on the agenda. In the US capital, Minister Vanackere held talks with Mr Joe Biden,
Vice President of the United States, and conducted high-level meetings with Congress - Republican
Senator John McCain and Democrat Senator John Kerry - and the Department of State. Among other topics,
these talks centred on the “Arab Spring” and in particular on the ongoing Syrian crisis.
You can find a complete account of the mission at
July 27, 2011
On June 27th, Vice Prime-Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Belgium, Steven Vanckere,
was invited to share his views on Common European Foreign Policy at the European Institute in
Washington DC. You can read his full speech below.
Mr. Steven Vanackere, Vice-Prime Minister and
Minister of Foreign Affairs of Belgium European Institute Washington D.C.
JuNE 27, 2011
Ladies and Gentlemen,
In a few days, millions of people in this city and throughout the country will again celebrate
the adoption of the Declaration of Independence and thus commemorate the decisive role of the Founding
Fathers in creating and shaping the United States of America.
Although Europe has no “Declaration of Independence”, we sometimes tend to forget that the European
Union has also her own founding fathers. Eminent politicians such as Adenauer, Schuman and Monet
created a framework for peace and cooperation in a continent with a history of wars and made it possible
for the EU to become a major world power and a force to be reckoned with in the trade, economic,
monetary… and yes, also in the political field. Thanks to their efforts integration of Europe has come
a long way. It has been a rich and unique experience. The horror of continental wars brought our founding
fathers to believe that the integration of Europe was an end in itself to ensure systemic peace on the
European continent. Their strategy was to irreversibly interlock Nation-States in a network of
institutions, and to let them give up parts of their sovereignty. Europe’s Single Market and its Single
currency are the major achievements of this strategy.
We have now integrated Nation-States in a collective system of governance, but without a Government.
Europe is no longer a patchwork of fully sovereign states. Yet it has also not become a single Federal
State. Over decades, and by sometimes small, sometimes big steps, sometimes by design, but very often
through reaction on “events” , Europe has devised a hybrid system in which, side-by-side, supranational
European institutions exert federal powers and produce legislation in the field of monetary policy,
agriculture or trade while 27 nation-states continue to exert national powers in the field of defense,
fiscal policy or justice. And even where those 27 Nation-states still hold full sovereignty, they
intensively coordinate their sovereign policies with each other. Thus, I meet every month with my 26
fellow colleagues, under chairmanship of Cathy Ashton to coordinate our policies. In other words, today
in Europe, there is hardly a field of policy-making where Nation-States are not bound by European
legislation or where they do not seek synergies through coordination.
For Americans, no doubt, a complex story ! Yet integration will undoubtedly continue, while serving
other purposes. Globalization has become the main drive for further integration.
Globalization is shaking-up the balance of power. The powerhouse of the global economy is moving to
Asia where our new export strategies need increased market access. And the share of power in the
governance of world affairs needs an overhaul. Our individual Nation States may have an opinion, but
they have not such a strong voice in this process. Only collectively and through the Union can they
exert leverage. Today Europe’s leaders work with the Union as the best external protection shield against
global disruptions. And facing sovereign debt crises, they also turned Europe’s institutions into their
internal platform for stronger surveillance of fiscal discipline and tightened coordination of structural
reform. This was not the plan. It is an enforced process of improvement, resulting from unpredictable
This brings me now to our main topic : Europe’s Foreign Policy. The complex model of hybrid governance,
by which supranational institutions and nation-states exert powers side-by-side complementarily, also
applies here. The new institutional arrangements flowing from the Lisbon treaty should produce more synergy
between the Foreign policies of Europe’s Nation-states and institutions. But make no mistake : national
foreign policies will not cease to exist. European States still hold their sovereignty on making war and
peace. The thousands of diplomatic staff of the 27 European nations working in Embassies or Delegations
remain civil servants of their own governments. The millions of European men and women under arms still
obey to national commanders. Decision-making allowing the Union to deploy diplomatic or military action
remains under tight control of the 27 Member States, deciding in each case by unanimity. One veto can suffice
to block the European Union from action. If for example four Member States refuse to recognize Kosovo, the
Union cannot develop treaties and normal diplomatic relations with Kosovo.
While most of the tools for action in diplomacy or crisis-management thus rest in the hands of 27 Nations,
we have however created a European External Action Service under leadership of Cathy Ashton, Europe’s Foreign
Policy supremo. This is a unique, hybrid diplomatic service where civil servants from the Institutions and
diplomats from the 27 Member States will work side by side. Financial means of the Union and national
diplomatic know-how are brought together in this diplomatic Service in Brussels and all over the world, in EU
Here again, Europe’s undertaking is unique ! This new Service should fuse different business cultures and
breed a common strategic culture for the 21st Century. Europe has a wide array of know-how and capabilities.
European Institutions have expertise in institution-and capacity building, in infusing change by norms and
standards. This “soft power” is dense and broad, but often lacks a sense of political interest, short term
output, and convergence with actions and strategies of the 27 nation-states. Put bluntly : it is too often a
“checkbook diplomacy” lacking punch or muscle. Nation-States have political interests, expertise in diplomatic
action and crisis-management. But their “hard power” is fragmented, and is rapidly dwindling by lack of
investments and economies of scale. It no longer matches with global challenges. Last but not least, we do not,
today, tap full potential from the rich diversity of strategic cultures of our 27 Nation-States. Our nations
have historic relations and incomparable expertise with all corners of the planet. Spain and Portugal have a
dense network with South America. Belgium, Portugal, France and the United Kingdom have strong bonds with most
of the African nations. Our new Member States bring formidable expertise on Eastern Europe, the Caucasus and
even Central Asia.
Bringing this diversity and divergence to synthesis and a common strategic culture is now the challenge for
Europe’s new External Action Service. In a few years time, the expected result would be that Europe’s External
Action Service will better tie-in all different strands of Europe’s foreign policy making and develop a common
platform for coordination with Europe’s Nation-states on diplomatic action and crisis-management. A particular
challenge will also be to “externalize” what we do in common internally: migration, policies against global
warming, defending the Single Market through our common trade policy, developing a genuine “energy diplomacy”.
All this adds up to the tasks.
But improving soft power, stemming the decline of hard power and fusing diversity to breed a unique European
strategic culture can of course not be the job of just the European External Action Service.
What about our attitudes and willingness to deliver ? I spoke about a shift in paradigm in the field of
economic governance. Leaders are clearly looking at the Union as an external shield against globalization and
the internal platform for strengthening fiscal discipline and structural reforms.
Is a similar shift of paradigm taking place on the Foreign Policy front ? I say yes, even though our External
Action is still in its infancy. It is probably right to compare Europe’s Foreign policy with where our Monetary
policies stood before we took the first steps in launching the Euro, almost twenty years ago.
In the nineties, the irruption of wars in the Balkans left Europe’s national diplomacies in disarray. We
neither had capability nor resolve to bring destruction to a hold. On the European continent, crisis-management
by Nation States seemed to have gone bankrupt. America’s diplomacy jumped in and brought war to an end. Would
we now fare better ? Well, at least we learned that we are doomed to fail further if we do not act together
through the Union.
Thus, twelve years ago, we appointed our first High Representative, Javier Solana, who was asked to develop
our “Common Foreign and Security Policy”. Only eight years ago, the Union embarked in crisis management, with
its first military and civilian operations in 2003. Since then, Member states have deployed tens of thousands
of military and civilian personnel under Command of the European Union. Today, collective action of the Union
brought sounding success in many places on earth. In Aceh – Indonesia, the Union deployed a civilian mission to
frame the implementation of a peace agreement between separatist rebels and Jakarta. Today, a huge success just
known by few. Military action in the Congo, Chad, or Bosnia and a robust civilian operation in Kosovo are other
successful examples of our new policies. Or say, tough collective sanctions on Iran, joint diplomatic demarches
to avoid Serbia getting entangled in a negative process with Kosovo and the Union, our present maritime
operation Atalanta in the fight against piracy along the coasts of Somalia: just to name other examples of
For sure, when we compare the present output of Europe’s collective action with the output of America’s
foreign policy, our results may look meager. But what we do is just brand new. And we are indeed forced to make
a long detour by a shift of attitude before we come to a shift in result. So dear Friends, yes we experience a
shift of paradigm in Foreign Policy. European nations failed by acting individually and therefore decided to invest
their future capital in acting collectively.
Of course, we still have a lot to improve, and of course we still will lose a lot of energy with institutional
wrangling in Brussels, with a mismatch of ambitions between Nation States and European Institutions or with
diverging conduct for the coming years. It will still take time to overcome those remaining problems of our infant
Foreign Policy. Meanwhile, other challenges around us are huge.
The Arab Spring or Awakening brings enormous opportunities for improved relations between Europe and the young
societies on the southern Mediterranean. We are asked to invent a policy mix of short term action and
crisis-management and longer term promotion of what Cathy Ashton calls “deeper democracy”. We are in the most
challenging scenarios in our direct neighborhood since the collapse of states in the Balkans. But I dare say this
time we display more resolve. European nations have taken the lead in negotiating a mandate in the Security
Council and in running consequently the military operation against Kadhafi. Cathy Ashton is leading intense
consultations with the new leaders in both Egypt and Tunisia. The Middle East Peace Process definitively needs to
be reactivated and Europe should, in my eyes, take bold initiatives to avoid the deadlock to which inaction, cynic
calculations or unilateral initiatives may lead. But Europe also needs to be more assertive with strategic
partners, including the BRICS countries. Europe’s influence in the G20 – take the example of our push for
regulation of the global financial sector – is not bad at all.
To conclude, I will make some last remarks on what I think are other key issues for us to succeed in the coming
First, European Nations and Institutions need to accept a real shift in attitude. This applies as much for
within the Institutions in Brussels, where turf battles draw away attention and energy from the key task, which is
to make Cathy Ashton and the Service succeed. It basically means work with one another, and not along or even against
one another (new multilateralism).
Second, even if we cannot as from now always act together, we must at least find ways to read events together. In
the coming months and years, we must start reading from one book on, say, the BRICS, the G20 or on Multilateral
Organizations. We then have to define common strategies. The European External Action Service should bring to daylight
these common textbooks.
Third, we have to provide adequate funding for Europe’s foreign policy. Presently, the European institutions run
yearly an 8 billion Euro (11,5 billion USD) budget, which is roughly just four times the budget Belgium has at its
disposal for Foreign policy, development cooperation and defense. It is not all about money of course, it is also about
a better use of funds, rapid disbursements and special financial instruments for crisis management and deployment of
Fourth, we must improve the state of our rapid response and “hard power” capabilities. We have more soldiers than
America, yet the quality of their equipment is not on pair, mainly due to a total fragmentation amongst Nations. We
do not need more budget for the military, our fiscal pains do not allow for this, but should integrate our efforts.
The same goes for Europe’s response capacity to natural and manmade disasters. Belgium has always advocated a European
Disaster Response capability. The devastating earthquake in Haïti, the flooding in Pakistan, the tsunami in Japan all
indicate that Europe will need better response capabilities on the domestic front, but also to provide efficient help
on the world stage.
This, dear ladies and gentlemen, is basically what I had to say today. Belgium is extremely keen on having a strong
foreign policy for the Union. The hybrid governance of this policy, bringing our Nations and Institutions to synergy,
is a unique answer to the main challenges for the 21st Century. I therefore have tasked my staff to stay closely
involved in discussions on building up the External Action Service and asked them to present, with our colleagues from
Luxembourg and the Netherlands, some ideas on how we see this happen. This Benelux non-paper is presently being
discussed within the European Union.
But my last word goes to the American friends in the audience. Europe rose from the ashes after the Second World War
thanks to the generosity of your ancestors. Your Presidents all have advocated a stable, united European Union. We do
have a common destiny and common responsibilities. A strong Foreign Policy is the best the European Union could offer
to America, as the future challenges will more than ever request us to be united in our response.
I thank you for your attention.
July 11, 2011
The Minister for Development Cooperation, Olivier Chastel, congratulates Dr. Denis Mukwege, who was
awarded the King Baudouin International Development Prize on Tuesday. Olivier Chastel wishes to specifically
thank him for his major contribution to development in the Democratic Republic of Congo and expresses his
admiration of Dr. Mukwege’s fight against sexual violence against women in this region.
The King Baudouin International Development Prize aims to acknowledge the work of persons or organizations
which have made a substantial contribution to the development of countries in the southern hemisphere or to
solidarity between industrialized nations and developing nations. It also seeks to remind public opinion that
the problems of development are today even more acute than when they gradually emerged in the collective
awareness of nations in the aftermath of the Second World War.
“It is a privilege and an honor for me to be receiving the King Baudouin International Development Prize.
Most importantly, I am grateful for the opportunity to reiterate the critical need for all of us to take action
for women in the Democratic Republic of Congo. We cannot risk being silent on this grave injustice – destroying
women means destroying life,” said Dr. Mukwege.
Established in 1978 and worth 150,000 euros, the King Baudouin International Development Prize is awarded
every other year by the King Baudouin Foundation. Beyond its actual financial value, the Prize provides winners
international visibility and publicity, with the main agents of development in particular, such as the United
Nations and its specialised agencies, the World Bank, the European Union and a number of bilateral development
agencies, the world of foundations or international NGOs.
“Belgium has been playing a mobilising and pioneering role in the fight against sexual violence in the RDC
by supporting the programme jointly managed by three UN agencies: the Population Fund, UNICEF and the High
Commission for Human Rights. Our country is continuing to provide support to the harmonised approach coordinated
by the Congolese government in order to provide, in the framework of the STAREC (the stabilisation and reconstruction
plan for the eastern DRC), a global response to the medical, psychosocial and legal needs of the victims of sexual
violence, who also need to be re-integrated into society at a socio-economic level,” Olivier Chastel explains.
June 05, 2011