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56<br />



H.E.<br />


Ambassador<br />

of China to the<br />

European Union<br />

HERMAN<br />

DE CROO<br />

Minister<br />

of State<br />

Former President<br />

of the Chamber<br />

H.E.<br />

LEO D'AESE<br />

Ambassador<br />

of Belgium<br />

to Serbia<br />

H.E.<br />



AL AHMED<br />

Ambassador of<br />

Saudi Arabia<br />

H.E.<br />



Ambassador<br />

of Belgium<br />

to Cuba<br />

H.E.<br />


Ambassador<br />

of Italy<br />

H.E.<br />



Ambassador<br />

of Greece<br />

SOPHIE<br />

WILMÈS<br />

Federal Minister<br />

of Budget<br />

of Belgium<br />

H.E.<br />



Ambassador<br />

of Tajikistan<br />



Secretary<br />

of State<br />

Belgian Federal<br />

Government<br />

Spring 2018 www.diplomatic-world.com Quarterly edition<br />

P409937 - v.u. Barbara Dietrich, Beiaardlaan 25b, 1850 Grimbergen, Afgiftekantoor Mechelen X<br />









Sheer<br />

Driving Pleasure<br />

Sheer<br />

Driving Pleasure<br />

Environmental information (RD 19/03/04): www.bmw.be<br />

1.9-7.4 L/100 KM • 44-164 Environmental G/KM information CO2 (RD 19/03/04): (NEDC)<br />

www.bmw.be<br />

1.9-7.4 L/100 KM • 44-164 G/KM CO2 (NEDC)<br />

Jean-Michel Martin West<br />

Boulevard Industriel 125<br />

1070 Jean-Michel Brussels Martin West<br />

Tel. Boulevard 02 521 Industriel 17 17 125<br />

www.jmmartin.bmw.be<br />

1070 Brussels<br />

Tel. 02 521 17 17<br />

www.jmmartin.bmw.be<br />

Ginion Overijse<br />

Brusselsesteenweg 403<br />

3090 Ginion Overijse<br />

Tel. Brusselsesteenweg 02 687 91 40 403<br />

www.ginion.bmw.be<br />

3090 Overijse<br />

Tel. 02 687 91 40<br />

www.ginion.bmw.be<br />

BMW Brussels<br />

Branch of BMW Belux<br />

Chaussée BMW Brussels de Louvain 864<br />

1140 Branch Brussels of BMW Belux<br />

Tel. Chaussée 02 730 de 49 Louvain 11 864<br />

www.bmwbrussels.be<br />

1140 Brussels<br />

Tel. 02 730 49 11<br />

Davo<br />

www.bmwbrussels.be<br />

Tongeren bvba<br />

Maastrichtersteenweg 529<br />

Exit Davo 32 Tongeren - E313 bvba<br />

3700 Maastrichtersteenweg Tongeren 529<br />

Tel. Exit 012 32 - 23 E313 71 55<br />

www.davo.bmw.be<br />

3700 Tongeren<br />

Tel. 012 23 71 55<br />

www.davo.bmw.be<br />

Jean-Michel Martin East<br />

Rue François Desmedt 96<br />

1150 Jean-Michel Brussels Martin East<br />

Tel. Rue 02 François 772 08 Desmedt 20 96<br />

www.jmmartin.bmw.be<br />

1150 Brussels<br />

Tel. 02 772 08 20<br />

www.jmmartin.bmw.be<br />

Bilia-Emond Arlon<br />

Route de Bastogne 394<br />

6700 Bilia-Emond Arlon Arlon<br />

Tel. Route 063 de 23 Bastogne 05 60 394<br />

www.bilia-emond.bmw.be<br />

6700 Arlon<br />

Tel. 063 23 05 60<br />

www.bilia-emond.bmw.be<br />

Ginion Waterloo<br />

Chaussée de Bruxelles 54<br />

1410 Ginion Waterloo<br />

Tel. Chaussée 02 352 de 03 Bruxelles 30 54<br />

www.ginion.bmw.be<br />

1410 Waterloo<br />

Tel. 02 352 03 30<br />

www.ginion.bmw.be<br />

Louyet Mons<br />

Rue des Sandrinettes 48<br />

Louyet 7033 Mons-Cuesmes<br />

Tel. Rue 065 des 40 Sandrinettes 02 00 48<br />

www.louyet.bmw.be<br />

7033 Mons-Cuesmes<br />

Tel. 065 40 02 00<br />

www.louyet.bmw.be<br />

BMD1800215 - <strong>Diplomatic</strong> sales_2017 - Serie 5_270x210_BEUK.indd 1 14/02/18 16:55<br />

BMD1800215 - <strong>Diplomatic</strong> sales_2017 - Serie 5_270x210_BEUK.indd 1 14/02/18 16:55






Address: Beiaardlaan 25<br />

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Barbara Dietrich<br />

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ir. Marc Kintaert<br />

CEO<br />

Barbara Dietrich<br />


Bruno Devos I Philippe Billiet I Marc Kintaert<br />

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©2018 <strong>Diplomatic</strong> <strong>World</strong> Magazine<br />

As the Europe 2025 strategy makes clear, to overcome the current crisis<br />

we need to stimulate a more creative and smarter Europe, a greener<br />

economy, where our prosperity will come from research, innovation,<br />

creativity and a better (mental) health. Science is a basis for a better<br />

future and the bedrock of a knowledge-based society and a strong<br />

economy, but if we talk about science we must also talk about art simply<br />

because art predates science (i.e. the prehistoric cave drawings in<br />

Lascaux). Both science and art propose models of the world that, when<br />

refracted through the medium of technology, can reveal amazing new<br />

vistas. We are now entering a new world where art, science and technology<br />

collide. This new vista will be an open door to the unimaginable.<br />

Knowing the price of everything and the value of nothing.<br />

Types of values include ethical and moral values, doctrinal and<br />

ideological (religious, political) values, social values, aesthetic values,<br />

cultural and economic values, the value of time, et.al.<br />

Thinking about the “Nature of Value” raises more questions than<br />

answers. Is value solely based on the relationship between satisfying<br />

needs and expectations and the resources required to achieve? Maybe all<br />

forms of value are socially constructed?<br />

Value seems to be a hybrid, something hovering between the real and<br />

the virtual, the actual and potential, it’s objective and subjective at the<br />

same time. Value and economy, and the role that art can play therein, is<br />

the nexus of the exhibition proposition. In the aftermath of the global<br />

economic crisis increasingly urgent questions arise that are related<br />

to neoliberal values seeping into almost every aspect of our lives. In<br />

addition to the known financial and economic criteria, can we articulate<br />

different ideas about the concept of value? What are other possible<br />

forms of (economic) exchange? And what do these alternatives mean for<br />

how value manifests itself?<br />

Art and Culture<br />

Art and culture reinforce divergent thinking, playfulness, taking risk,<br />

tolerating ambiguity, art surprises us, it tells us something about ourself<br />

and what we are/where doing at a particular time. Art has the ability<br />

to provoke us, poke us, to say things that a normal citizen or politician<br />

can’t say and it helps us not to be afraid to fail, if you try to think outof-the-box.<br />

The arts help us to converse across countries, political lines,<br />

language barriers; it unifies. Nevertheless, the public value of the arts<br />

has been a topic of debate since the culture wars of the early 1990s.<br />

Today’s prevailing view is that the arts have public value because they<br />

promote broad social and economic goals, such as economic growth and<br />

better academic performance. These benefits are called “instrumental”<br />

because the arts are seen as an instrument for achieving them.<br />

The intrinsic benefits of the arts experience, such as aesthetic pleasure<br />

and captivation, are viewed as having strictly private — some of them<br />

also contribute to the public welfare — and personal value. They are<br />

primarily qualitative and thus less amenable than the instrumental<br />

benefits to the increasingly results-oriented, quantitative approach that<br />

characterizes public policy analysis.<br />

As individuals we mainly participate in the arts for the intrinsic benefits<br />

of the art or cultural experience, not to improve our test scores or to<br />

stimulate our economy but rather to create meaning, to be stimulated,<br />

to be surprised or inspired. On the other hand; the value derived from<br />

an appreciation of intrinsic characteristics of art is not to be deemed as<br />

strictly individual, as they can indeed contribute to the creation of social<br />

bonds and the expression of communal meaning.<br />

Barbara Dietrich<br />








OF STATE<br />


4<br />

VISION 2030<br />

42<br />


72<br />






Prince Michael<br />

of Liechtenstein<br />

CHINA-EU<br />


18<br />





46<br />




74<br />



H.E. LEO D’AESE<br />



20<br />

CHINA – EU<br />

54<br />


80<br />






OF ITALY<br />

28<br />




58<br />





Dr Pierre-Emmanuel<br />

Thomann<br />

84<br />









32<br />


60<br />

Michel de Kemmeter<br />

90<br />






Freddy Opsomer<br />






36<br />





Alexander Shulgin<br />

64<br />


OF THE 2018<br />

EU-CHINA<br />


Alexander Alles<br />

Irma Orlandi<br />

94<br />

2<br />

40<br />






70<br />

Dorin Deelen<br />

98<br />




BREXIT?<br />

Billiet & Co Lawyers

21<br />

katerns Margins of Excess 192x246_01.indd 21 08/01/2018 16:33<br />

Sheba<br />

International<br />

Sheba<br />

International<br />

Sheba<br />

International<br />

Sheba<br />

International<br />

Sheba<br />

International<br />

Sheba<br />

International<br />

Sheba<br />

International<br />

Sheba<br />

International<br />

Sheba<br />

International<br />

Sheba<br />

International<br />

SPRING 2018<br />




104<br />


148<br />





168<br />


DINNER<br />



Sheba International<br />

Impacting healthcare worldwide<br />

Russia<br />

Ukraine<br />

Kazakhstan<br />



PEOPLE,<br />


Hans Maria De Wolf<br />








Tim Cullen<br />

118<br />

108<br />

120<br />




AND ASIA<br />






154<br />

152<br />

156<br />


LIGHT @ DARK 2.0<br />

ART EXPO<br />



& PSYCART<br />

SHEBA<br />






CENTER’S<br />

70th ANNIVERSARY<br />


170<br />

Ghana<br />

Equatorial<br />

Guinea<br />

Congo<br />

177<br />

178<br />

Zambia<br />

Georgia<br />

Israel<br />

International Consultation Division<br />

International Training Center<br />



WORLD<br />

China<br />

128<br />





160<br />





VAN DYCK<br />

182<br />









142<br />

141<br />





Bruno Devos<br />

H.E. PATRICK<br />




166<br />

162<br />

CIDIC<br />











Prof. Dr. Jan De Maere<br />

186<br />








VISION 2030<br />

Any developed economy that wants to remain<br />

dynamic and vibrant must be flexible and innovative<br />

to adapt to the ever-changing conditions of the<br />

global economy. Vision 2030 is Saudi Arabia’s<br />

ambitious agenda, which will diversify and<br />

restructure the Kingdom’s economy, improve the<br />

governance of Saudi resources, and improve quality<br />

of life for all Saudi citizens. This socio-economic<br />

roadmap, master-minded by the Crown Prince<br />

Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud and approved<br />

by the Saudi government and King Salman bin<br />

Abdulaziz, is already under implementation.<br />

In April 2016, the Saudi Cabinet, led by Custodian of the<br />

Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz, approved<br />

the country’s Vision 2030, an economic roadmap which will<br />

end the Kingdom’s dependence on oil revenue.<br />

The historic vision was developed by the Council of<br />

Economic and Development Affairs, which is chaired by<br />

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud. It includes<br />

a number of goals and reform strategies for the Kingdom’s<br />

long-term economic success, including reductions in<br />

subsidies, the creation of a sovereign wealth fund, opening<br />


Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud:<br />

© Embassy of Saudi Arabia<br />

“Our country is rich in its natural resources. We are not dependent solely on oil for our<br />

energy needs. Gold, phosphate, uranium, and many other valuable minerals are found beneath<br />

our land. But our real wealth lies in the ambition of our people and the potential of our<br />

younger generation. They are our nation’s pride and the architects of our future ... Our people<br />

will amaze the world again.”<br />

Saudi Aramco to private investment through a partial IPO,<br />

and reforms to several industries including tourism and<br />

defence.<br />

“We are determined to reinforce and diversify the<br />

capabilities of our economy, turning our key strengths into<br />

enabling tools for a fully diversified future,” said Prince<br />

Mohammed. “We are determined to build a thriving country<br />

in which all citizens can fulfill their dreams, hopes and<br />

ambitions.”<br />

The vision is built around three primary themes: a vibrant<br />

society, a thriving economy and an ambitious nation.<br />

In order to achieve a vibrant society, Saudi Arabia will focus<br />

on its people and the Islamic faith. This will happen through<br />

a series of commitments, including:<br />

• Increasing the number of Umrah visitors from 8 million to<br />

30 million annually.<br />

We have been given the privilege to serve the Two Holy<br />

Mosques, the pilgrims and all visitors to the blessed holy<br />

sites. In the last decade, the number of Umrah visitors<br />

entering the country from abroad has tripled, reaching<br />

8 million people. This is a noble responsibility. It requires<br />

us to spare no effort in seeking to offer pilgrims with all<br />

they need, so we fulfil our duty to provide good hospitality<br />

to our brothers and sisters. In this context, we have<br />

begun a third expansion to the Two Holy Mosques, as<br />

well as modernizing and increasing the capacities of our<br />

airports. We have launched the Makkah Metro project<br />

to complement the railroad and train projects that will<br />

serve visitors to the Holy Mosques and holy sites. We have<br />

reinforced the network of our transport system to facilitate<br />

access and help pilgrims perform their visits with greater<br />

ease and convenience. At the same time, we will enrich<br />

pilgrims’ spiritual journeys and cultural experiences while<br />

in the Kingdom. We will establish more museums, prepare<br />

new tourist and historical sites and cultural venues, and<br />

improve the pilgrimage experience within the Kingdom.<br />



By increasing the capacity and by improving the quality<br />

of the services offered to Umrah visitors, we will, by<br />

2020, make it possible for over 15 million Muslims per<br />

year to perform Umrah and be completely satisfied with<br />

their pilgrimage experience. We will achieve this by<br />

improving visa application procedures which will smooth<br />

the visa process with the aim of full automation. We<br />

will also further integrate e-services into the pilgrims’<br />

journey, which will enrich the religious and cultural<br />

experience. Both the public and private sectors will<br />

play a crucial role in this project as we work to upgrade<br />

accommodation, improve hospitality and launch new<br />

services for pilgrims.<br />

• Establishing the largest Islamic museum in the world.<br />

We have always taken — and will continue to take — great<br />

pride in our heritage. Mohammad, the Last of Prophets,<br />

Peace Be Upon Him, was from Makkah, the birthplace<br />

of Islam. Medina is where the first Islamic society was<br />

born. We will build an Islamic museum in accordance<br />

with the highest global standards, equipped with the<br />

latest methods in collection, preservation, presentation<br />

and documentation. It will be a major landmark for<br />

our citizens and visitors, where they will learn about<br />

the history of Islam, enjoy interactive experiences and<br />

participate in cultural events. Using modern technology,<br />

visitors to the museum will take an immersive journey<br />

through the different ages of Islamic civilization, as well<br />

as its science, scholars and culture. It will also be an<br />

international hub for erudition and include a world-class<br />

library and research center.<br />

• Doubling the number of Saudi heritage sites registered<br />

with UNESCO.<br />

• Promoting the growth of cultural and entertainment<br />

opportunities within the Kingdom.<br />

Vision 2030 is not a tactical quick-win for Saudi Arabia<br />

to boost its economy in the short-term; it goes beyond<br />

the question of oil. It is an ambitious long-term strategy<br />

that is set to bring about important lasting change to<br />

our country and a positive future for the population.<br />

Culture and entertainment are indispensable to a<br />

high quality of life. We shall acknowledge that the<br />

cultural opportunities currently available in the<br />

kingdom do not reflect the rising aspirations of our<br />

citizens and residents. To reflect this aspiration,<br />

government funds and partnerships with local and<br />

international investors will be harnessed to make land<br />

available for cultural and entertainment projects, and<br />

talented writers, authors and directors will be better<br />

supported. Ultimately, this too will also contribute<br />

to our economy and will result in the creation of<br />

many job opportunities. To ensure that the richness<br />

of Saudi history and culture is recognized, we aim to<br />

double the number of Saudi heritage sites registered<br />

with UNESCO — process has already begun with the<br />

recognition by UNESCO of ancient rock art in the<br />

Hail region. Most recently, the Kingdom has allocated<br />

around €0.9 billion to preserving its cultural heritage<br />

and is investing in tourism, aiming to increase spending<br />

by Saudis at home.<br />

• Encouraging healthy lifestyles so that the number of<br />

citizens who exercise once a week increases from 13<br />

to 40 percent.<br />

A healthy nation needs a healthy population and so<br />

the Saudi government has committed to encouraging<br />

healthier lifestyles so that the number of citizens who<br />

exercise once a week increases from 13 to 40 percent,<br />

through widespread and regular participation in sports<br />

and athletic activities, working in partnership with the<br />

private sector to establish additional dedicated facilities<br />

and programs.<br />



• Developing Saudi cities so that three are recognized in the<br />

100 top-ranked cities in the world.<br />

Our cities already enjoy high levels of security and<br />

development. Despite the current turmoil in the region<br />

and the wide expanse of our territories, our country and<br />

citizens are safe and secure. Our cities are among the<br />

safest in the world with annual crime rates that are less<br />

than 0.8 per 100.000 people, far below the international<br />

rate of 7.6. We will maintain our safety and security<br />

by supporting ongoing efforts to fight drugs abuse, as<br />

well as by adopting further measures to ensure traffic<br />

safety, reduce traffic accidents and minimize their tragic<br />

consequences.<br />

Our cities have grown significantly in recent decades;<br />

a growth which has been accompanied by the steady<br />

development of their infrastructure. To ensure we can<br />

continue to enhance the quality of life for all and meet<br />

the needs and requirements of our citizens, we will<br />

continue to ensure high quality services such as water,<br />

electricity, public transport and roads are properly<br />

provided. Open and landscaped areas will also be<br />

developed further, to meet the recreational needs of<br />

individuals and families.<br />

• Diversifying the Kingdom’s economy through the ongoing<br />

privatization of state-owned assets, including establishing<br />

a sovereign wealth fund that will be financed through the<br />

partial IPO of Saudi Aramco.<br />

The ongoing privatization of state-owned assets, including<br />

leading companies, property and other assets, will bring in<br />

new and more diverse revenues for the Saudi government.<br />

This will further enhance our financial resources and<br />

economic stability, which will be reinvested for long-term<br />

impact. We will develop further the sophistication of our<br />

investment vehicles, particularly after transferring the<br />

ownership of Aramco to the Public Investment Fund,<br />

which will become the largest sovereign wealth fund in<br />

the world. We will increase the efficiency of the fund’s<br />

management and improve its return on investment,<br />

with the aim of diversifying our government resources<br />

and our economy. The Public Investment Fund will not<br />

compete with the private sector, but instead help unlock<br />

strategic sectors requiring intensive capital inputs. This<br />

will contribute towards developing entirely new economic<br />

sectors and establishing durable national corporations.<br />

• Unlocking underdeveloped industries such as<br />

manufacturing, renewable energy and tourism.<br />

In order to achieve a thriving economy, Saudi Arabia will<br />

diversify its economy and create dynamic job opportunities<br />

for its citizens. This will happen through commitments to<br />

education, entrepreneurship and innovation, including:<br />

We will support promising sectors and foster their<br />

success so that they become new pillars of our economy.<br />

In the manufacturing sector, we will work towards<br />

localizing renewable energy and industrial equipment<br />

Aqua desert of Saudi Arabia<br />

© Shutterstock<br />


sectors. In the tourism and leisure sectors, we will create<br />

attractions that are of the highest international standards,<br />

improve visa issuance procedures for visitors, and<br />

prepare and develop our historical and heritage sites. In<br />

technology, we will increase our investments in, and lead,<br />

the digital economy. In mining, we will furnish incentives<br />

for and benefit from the exploration of the Kingdom’s<br />

mineral resources. At the same time as diversifying<br />

our economy, we will continue to localize the oil and<br />

gas sector. As well as creating a new city dedicated to<br />

energy, we will double our gas production, and construct<br />

a national gas distribution network. We will also make<br />

use of our global leadership and expertise in oil and<br />

petrochemicals to invest in the development of adjacent<br />

and supporting sectors.<br />

• Modernising the curriculum and standards of Saudi<br />

educational institutions from childhood to higher learning.<br />

We will close the gap between the outputs of higher<br />

education and the requirements of the job market. We<br />

will also help our students make careful career decisions,<br />

while at the same time training them and facilitating their<br />

transition between different educational pathways. In the<br />

year 2030, we aim to have at least five Saudi universities<br />

among the top 200 universities in international rankings.<br />

We shall help our students achieve results above<br />

international averages in global education indicators.<br />

To this end, we will prepare a modern curriculum<br />

focused on rigorous standards in literacy, numeracy,<br />

skills and character development. We will track<br />

progress and publish a sophisticated range of education<br />

outcomes, showing year-on-year improvements. We will<br />

work closely with the private sector to ensure higher<br />

education outcomes are in line with the requirements<br />

of job market. We will invest in strategic partnerships<br />

with apprenticeship providers, new skills councils from<br />

industry, and large private companies. We will also<br />

work towards developing the job specifications of every<br />

education field. Furthermore, we will build a centralized<br />

student database tracking students from early childhood<br />

through to K-12 and beyond into tertiary education<br />

(higher and vocational) in order to improve education<br />

planning, monitoring, evaluation, and outcomes. We will<br />

also expand vocational training in order to drive forward<br />

economic development. Our scholarship opportunities<br />

will be steered towards prestigious international<br />

universities and be awarded in the fields that serve our<br />

national priorities. We will also focus on innovation in<br />

advanced technologies and entrepreneurship.<br />

10<br />

Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, Outside distance skyline view on Riyadh Kingdom tower, Al Faisaliah and other business skyscrapers, full wide panorama

© Shutterstock<br />

© Shutterstock<br />


• Refocusing on small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs)<br />

by encouraging financial assistance. Increasing the<br />

contribution of SMEs to GDP from 20 to 35 percent by<br />

2030.<br />

To make the country less dependent on its oil reserves<br />

and secure a thriving economy, Saudi Arabia will<br />

diversify to create more dynamic job opportunities for<br />

its citizens. This will happen through commitments to<br />

entrepreneurship, innovation and education. Concretely<br />

we are striving to lower the rate of unemployment from<br />

11.6% to 7%; increase SME contribution to GDP from<br />

20% to 35%, and increase women’s participation in the<br />

workforce from 22% to 30%. By privatising state-owned<br />

assets such as Saudi Aramco and also refocusing on small<br />

and medium-sized enterprises through enhanced financial<br />

assistance, the kingdom will unlock underdeveloped<br />

industries such as manufacturing, renewable energy<br />

and tourism and make our economy more robust.<br />

Furthermore, by modernising the curriculum and<br />

standards of Saudi educational institutions, the aim is to<br />

propel at least five Saudi universities into the top 200 in<br />

the world, delivering a well-equipped workforce. Beyond<br />

these reforms, achieving our desired rate of economic<br />

growth will require an environment that attracts the<br />

necessary skills and capabilities from beyond our national<br />

borders. To attract and retain the finest foreign minds,<br />

the government plans to improve living and working<br />

conditions for non-Saudis by extending their ability to<br />

own property in certain areas, improving the quality of<br />

life, permitting the establishment of more private schools<br />

and adopting an effective and simple system for issuing<br />

visas and residence permits.<br />

Opening up the kingdom in this way will contribute to<br />

economic development and attract foreign investors who<br />

can be confident in the resilience and potential of our<br />

national economy. By easing restrictions on ownership<br />

and foreign investment and creating a smoother flow of<br />

goods, people and capital, we aim to increase foreign<br />

direct investment from 3.8% to the international level<br />

of 5.7% of GDP. This is of course a great opportunity<br />

12<br />

Kaaba in Masjid Al Haram in Mecca Saudi Arabia <br />

© Shutterstock

Makkah Clock Tower <br />

© Shutterstock<br />

for European entrepreneurs eager to benefit from Saudi<br />

Arabia’s potential as a strategic location that links<br />

Europe to Asia and Africa.<br />

In order to be an ambitious nation, Saudi Arabia will focus on<br />

accountability, transparency and effectiveness in its governing<br />

strategy. Sustainable success can only be achieved with solid<br />

foundations. In order to realize this potential, the Kingdom<br />

will:<br />

• Boost transparency by expanding online services and<br />

improving governance standards.<br />

In order to sharpen the ambition of our nation, Saudi<br />

Arabia will focus on accountability, transparency and<br />

effectiveness in its governing strategy. We shall have<br />

zero tolerance for all levels of corruption, whether<br />

administrative or financial. We will adopt leading<br />

international standards and administrative practices,<br />

helping us reach the highest levels of transparency<br />

and governance in all sectors. We will set and uphold<br />

high standards of accountability. Our goals, plans and<br />

performance indicators will be published so that progress<br />

and delivery can be publicly monitored. Transparency<br />

will be boosted and delays reduced by expanding online<br />

services and improving their governance standards, with<br />

the aim of becoming a global leader in e-government.<br />

• Establish the King Salman Program for Human Capital<br />

Development in order to train more than 500.000<br />

government employees in best practices.<br />

We have yet to identify and put into effect the best<br />

practices that would ensure that public sector employees<br />

have the right skills for the future. However, by 2020, we<br />

aim to have trained, through distance learning, 500.000<br />

government employees. All ministries and government<br />

institutions will be required to adopt best practices in<br />

human capital development. We will continue to hire<br />

individuals according to merit and work towards building<br />

a broad talent base, so they may become leaders of the<br />

future. The King Salman Program for Human Capital<br />


Development will establish HR centers of excellence in<br />

every government agency, and provide training. We will<br />

work to raise the productivity of employees to the highest<br />

levels possible, by implementing proper performance<br />

management standards, providing continuous training for<br />

professional development, and sharing knowledge. We<br />

will develop targeted policies to identify and empower<br />

future leaders, and will furnish a stimulating environment<br />

that provides equal opportunities and rewards for<br />

excellence.<br />

careers. We will encourage the businesses that follow<br />

through on this commitment to participate in our<br />

country and to address national challenges.<br />

• Being responsible to society<br />

The values of giving, compassion, cooperation and<br />

empathy are firmly entrenched in our society. We have<br />

already played an influential role in providing social aid<br />

locally, regionally and globally.<br />

• Bolster the non-profit sector through increased efficiency<br />

and impact.<br />

We aspire to have businesses that contribute to<br />

developing our society and our country, not be geared<br />

solely towards generating profits. We expect our<br />

companies to observe their social responsibilities and<br />

contribute to creating a sustainable economy, including<br />

by creating the stimulating opportunities for young men<br />

and women that can help them build their professional<br />

In the future, we will formalize and strengthen the<br />

organization of our social and compassionate work<br />

so that our efforts have the maximum results and<br />

impact. Today, we have fewer than 1.000 non-profit<br />

foundations and associations. In order to increase the<br />

resilience and impact of this sector, we will continue<br />

to develop regulations necessary to empower nonprofit<br />

organizations. We will review our regulations to<br />

encourage endowments to sustainably fund the sector and<br />

to encourage corporations and high net worth families to<br />

14<br />

Saudi Arabia, Sakaka, sunset on the Qasr Za’abel fortress <br />

© Shutterstock

His Excellency Ambassador Abdulrahman bin Suleiman Al Ahmed and Barbara Dietrich <br />

© Embassy of Saudi Arabia<br />

establish non-profit organizations. Government support<br />

will be directed to the programs with highest social<br />

impact and we will support training workers to encourage<br />

volunteering and careers in the non-profit sector.<br />

Enabling non-profit organizations to attract the best<br />

talents in order to ensure best management practices and<br />

the transfer of knowledge, which will strengthen these<br />

institutions over the long term. This will ensure that the<br />

non-profit sector plays an enhanced and more efficient<br />

role in critical sectors such as health care, education,<br />

housing, research, and cultural and social programs.<br />

lives of citizens. But it’s an important departure to overhaul<br />

its all-oil economic model and open the kingdom to bolder<br />

investment flows and international cooperation.<br />

Our commitment to achieving the goals of these pivotal<br />

programs and our collective contribution shall be the first<br />

step towards achieving Saudi Arabia’s vision for 2030. We<br />

will continue to launch new programs in the upcoming years<br />

as required, and we will continuously review and assess our<br />

performance in achieving this vision.<br />

The Vision 2030 plan is the first step towards achieving<br />

Saudi Arabia’s economic aspirations and transforming the<br />

For more details on Vision 2030, please visit the official<br />

website www.vision2030.gov.sa<br />


16 Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, KSA, New buildings being constructed in the new King Abdullah Financial District in Riyadh © Shutterstock








On 15 February 2018, the Chinese New Year’s Eve, arts<br />

performances were staged at BOZAR, Center for Fine<br />

Arts in Brussels, to celebrate the 2018 China-EU Tourism<br />

Year and the Chinese Spring Festival. The event was cohosted<br />

by the Chinese Mission to the EU and the Chinese<br />

Embassy to Belgium with the support of the Chinese<br />

Ministry of Culture and the Shenzhen Municipal People’s<br />

Government. Nearly 2.000 people attended the event,<br />

including Chinese Ambassador to the EU Mr. Zhang<br />

Ming, Chinese Ambassador to Belgium Mr. Qu Xing,<br />

Commissioner Tibor Navracsics for Education, Culture,<br />

Youth and Sport of the European Commission, General<br />

Mikhail Kostarakos, President of the EU Military<br />

Committee, other EU and Belgian representatives,<br />

diplomats to the EU and Belgium, Chinese entrepreneurs,<br />

the Chinese community in Belgium, as well as Chinese<br />

and foreign journalists.<br />

18<br />

H.E. Ambassador Zhang Ming<br />

Ambassador Zhang sent his New Year’s greetings and<br />

said to the guests that it is of special significance to<br />

ring in the Chinese New Year with them like a family.<br />

Ambassador Zhang pointed out that throughout the<br />

2018 China-EU Tourism Year, the two sides will hold<br />

various activities to enhance mutual understanding,<br />

strengthen existing cooperation and look for new areas of<br />

cooperation that benefit people of both sides, and bring<br />

more certainty to the world. The year 2018 is the Year<br />

of Dog. Like President Juncker, Ambassador Zhang also<br />

hopes that this year will be a year of loyalty, sincerity<br />

and harmonious relationship between China and the EU,<br />

and looks forward to greater prosperity in China-EU<br />


Commissioner Navracsics said that spring is the time to<br />

plan for the whole year and that it is a great delight to<br />

get together with Chinese and European friends on the<br />

eve of the Chinese New Year. The year 2018 is the EU-<br />

China Tourism Year and the European Year of Cultural<br />

Heritage. This will be a good opportunity for both<br />

China and the EU to showcase their cultural treasures.<br />

Commissioner Navracsics hopes that the EU and China<br />

will continue growing their relations in the coming year<br />

and bring cooperation and friendship to a new level.<br />

After the reception, guests watched the gala show<br />

themed “China Impression” presented by an art troupe<br />

from Shenzhen. The show, featuring traditional Chinese<br />

folk music, dances, fascinating acrobatics and martial<br />

arts, brought out the beauty of traditional Chinese<br />

culture, the vigor of Chinese young people, as well as<br />

the openness and diversity of Shenzhen as a frontrunner<br />

in China’s reform and opening-up. The show resonated<br />

strongly with the audience and left with them a deep<br />

impression.<br />

© Mission of China to the EU<br />









EUROPE<br />

the staging of the exhibition at the Diamond Vessel of Zaha<br />

Hadid, Head Quarters of The Antwerp Port Authority.<br />

We feel blessed by their great support.<br />

We were happy to present Dialogue with Emperor Qin:<br />

China-EU, an ambitious and philanthropic exhibition. It aims<br />

at generating exchanges and conversations around the theme<br />

of international cultural dialogue. Dedicated to all art lovers<br />

and to all those who want to build peace through cultural<br />

exchange; this event answers a long-lasting need and raises an<br />

artistic bridge between China and Europe.<br />

We arrived at the end of our epic journey with Dialogue with<br />

Emperor Qin and we were able to truly close the circle with<br />

Antwerp has a long and outstanding tradition regarding<br />

the ancient Silk Road. In 1722 the company “Generale<br />

Keizerlijke Indische Compagnie” also called the Oostendse<br />

Compagnie was founded. This company was owned by<br />

several famous shareholders and due to the influence of<br />

Emperor Charles VI had a monopoly of the commerce<br />

between Southern Netherlands and Asia. Today Antwerp<br />

is, in addition to this maritime tradition, very active on the<br />

new rail land-bridge that connects the Atlantic and Pacific<br />

Oceans.<br />

20<br />

5 warriors like a troop of Alexander the Great when he conquered his Empire © Inspiring Culture

Marc Van Peel (Chairman Antwerp Port Authority) giving his speech at opening<br />

© Inspiring Culture<br />

In 2010, as we were creating this China-EU sculpture<br />

exhibition, the Port of Antwerp, the second largest port in<br />

Europe, was embarking on establishing further links with<br />

China through the twinning of its port with the port of<br />

Guangzhou. Guangzhou, one of the most important ports<br />

along the historic Maritime Silk Road also boasts of having<br />

China’s largest repeat-flowering rose garden.<br />

In Summer 2011, a container was shipped from Antwerp<br />

port to Tianjin, filled with 27 sculptures from European<br />

artists (one from each European country). From there they<br />

were transported to Xi’an, home of the original Terracotta<br />

Warriors and starting point of the ancient Silk Road, where<br />

3 sculptures from 3 Chinese artists were waiting. The 30<br />

soldiers, each almost two metres high, represent an army<br />

that neither threatens, nor looks to conquer. It erases<br />

frontiers and cherishes freedom. It embraces the universal<br />

theme of “Messengers of Peace and Generosity”.<br />

With this exhibition, our ambition is to present and to<br />

demonstrate the many cultures which form a collective<br />

humanity.<br />

Tsinandali (Georgia), Lisbon, Bucharest, Sofia, London,<br />

Edinburgh, Brussels and now Antwerp. A sculpture was<br />

added when Croatia joined the EU and we were happy to<br />

finish this long journey in two Kingdoms, with both the UK<br />

and Belgium each staging the exhibition in two cities.<br />

The army that accompanied the Emperor in his everlasting<br />

sleep has come to life again in Antwerp, “The Diamond<br />

Capital,” of the world! The city and Antwerp Port continue<br />

to build upon their historic links with China through<br />

contemporary trade relations and through sustained<br />

diplomatic projects with recent highlights including the visit<br />

of China’s former vice-president now President Xi Jinping<br />

in 2009 and the establishment of the “One Belt One Road<br />

taskforce”. Dialogue With Emperor Qin, with its focus<br />

on international collaboration is uniquely positioned to<br />

compliment and to build upon these diplomatic projects.<br />

The exhibition, a physical manifestation of the continued and<br />

sustained relationship between Antwerp, the rest of Europe<br />

and China must therefore be seen amongst these other forms<br />

of diplomacy.<br />

In 2012, the exhibition was awarded the “EU-China<br />

Intercultural Dialogue” label by the European Union and<br />

after touring in eight Chinese museums between 2011 and<br />

early 2013, it entered its European phase travelling to Tallinn,<br />


In the very pristine Zaha Hadid designed Port House,<br />

the curation using “hard power” and “soft power” gently<br />


introduces the shock of two civilisations allowing the general<br />

public to familiarize themselves and to value both of the two<br />

worlds which inspired the curation of the works in Antwerp.<br />

It is noticeable in the scenography of the exhibition that<br />

the Founder of Inspiring Culture and International Curator<br />

of the exhibition Dr Pick Keobandith, wishes to invoke the<br />

rich past of two Empires; the Imperium Romanum and the<br />

ancient Chinese Empire of the Qin and Han dynasty who<br />

were in contemporary existence. As leading world powers,<br />

the two empires controlled half of the entire population of<br />

the world. But they had minimal interaction and developed<br />

independently of each other.<br />

It would be 100 years later, after Alexander’s conquest<br />

that the unification of China under its first Emperor Qin<br />

Shihuang laid the development of long distance trade routes<br />

commonly known as the “Silk Road”. The curation which<br />

combines elements from both civilisations is an original way<br />

to make the parallel between the two worlds in this exhibition<br />

“Dialogue with Emperor Qin”.<br />

For Keobandith: “The idea for the placement and curation<br />

of the works at The Port House came from my studies. In<br />

order to improve my French, I studied Latin at the end of<br />

secondary school for which I had to translate lots of texts<br />

about the Roman army and their leadership. It was very<br />

strange for me, someone who loves Proust and Musil.<br />

I very much enjoyed reading about their strategy and tactics<br />

however the vocabulary was very poor concerning the army.<br />

It was also interesting to note that in the Emperor Qin’s army<br />

and the Roman Army there were no female soldiers.<br />

I discovered the word strategist has its origins in the Greek<br />

“stratgos” meaning “Chief of Army”. A closer look at the<br />

definition of strategist included the word Victori - Strategy &<br />

Tactics. Victori is the Latin word for “The conquerors”.<br />

With all of this in mind, I based my scenography on the<br />

formation of the Roman Army as if they were preparing<br />

their troops to fight. They were the best army at that time<br />

and most of the soldiers in the Roman Empire came from<br />

countries outside Italy: from Africa, France, Germany, the<br />

Balkans, Spain and the Middle East.<br />

The structure of the Roman Army before the battle had<br />

the ambition focusing and keeping its troops in order. They<br />

believed that one could fight more effectively and generally in<br />

a staggered arrangement (en quinconce in French), from the<br />

Latin quincunx, by five.<br />

And so, placed in rows each consisting of five sculptures,<br />

the works in the exhibition prepare for their mission. Their<br />

ambition however is not to conquer but instead to bring a<br />

message of peace, to effectively and strategically bring their<br />

unique dialogue of cultural exchange to as many different<br />

audiences as possible.<br />

22<br />

‘Veteran’ — Shao Jun Wang — One of 3 artists representing China<br />

‘Amazone en Armes’ — Félix Roulin — Artist representing Belgium

H.E. Zhang Ming (Head of China Mission to EU) giving his speech at the opening of the exhibition<br />

© Inspiring Culture<br />

Let’s say I am a Fine Strategist. Leading my troupe of 31<br />

artists of Peace Builders and their sculptures through China<br />

and Europe with a stop in Tsinandali helped by the Silk Road<br />

Group in Georgia.”<br />


The exhibition “Dialogue with Emperor Qin” seeks to<br />

redefine and to shape the image of China and the EU in a<br />

different way. It is an initiative which allows for and actively<br />

encourages a positive dialogue between the two powers as<br />

well as providing a rewarding project for the private sector<br />

actors to be a part of and to help to strengthen cultural<br />

diplomacy.<br />

This travelling exhibition instigated in 2011 by Dr Pick<br />

Keobandith has taken a long and complex route before<br />

arriving at its final destination in the Port of Antwerp. This<br />

inter-cultural exchange is of particular relevance in today’s<br />

shifting and often dangerous political landscape, helping as it<br />

does to promote understanding and debate through the arts.<br />

Art is often described as a unique language and like all<br />

languages, it has its own rhythms, its own depths and<br />

of course its own complexities. Sometimes art is easy to<br />

understand, instantly readable, accessible for all. At other<br />

times it takes multiple viewings and dedicated attention<br />

to allow for its message to be fully understood. Inspiring<br />

Culture believes that only through art and the use of art’s<br />

distinctive language it is possible to speak to the world about<br />

the collective issues that we face today. Inspiring Culture<br />

is extremely proud to support this touring exhibition and<br />

continue to encourage people to look, listen and learn about<br />

other cultures. It is inspiring to find others who want to<br />

dedicate their energies to focus on the positive aspects of<br />

what makes each of us different from the other.<br />





International cultural exchanges are part of our DNA, as we<br />

are convinced that Art only reaches its full potential when it<br />

travels across political and cultural borders. When the core of<br />

the artistic creation, the very personal and unique expression<br />

of the artist becomes universal and speaks to the humanity.<br />

As a private organization, Inspiring Culture balances<br />

philanthropic initiatives like the “Dialogue with Emperor Qin”<br />

exhibition with more commercial missions, always focusing<br />

on international cultural initiatives.<br />


H.E. Natalie Sabanadze (Georgia’s Ambassador to Belgium, Luxemburg<br />

and the EU), Dr. Pick Keobandith (Inspiring Culture), Marc Van Peel<br />

(Chairman Antwerp Port Authority) and Jacques Vandermeiren (CEO<br />

Antwerp Port Authority)<br />

H.E. Natalie Sabanadze (Georgia’s Ambassador to Belgium, Luxemburg<br />

and the EU), H.E. Zhang Ming (Head of China Mission to EU),<br />

Dr. Pick Keobandith (Inspiring Culture), Marc Van Peel (Chairman<br />

Antwerp Port Authority) and Tom Monballiu (Deputy Port Ambassador)<br />

Cathy Berx (Governor of Province of Antwerp), H.E. Zhang Ming (Head<br />

of China Mission to EU), Marc Van Peel (Chairman Antwerp Port<br />

Authority) and Jacques Vandermeiren (CEO Antwerp Port Authority)<br />

Director, Founder Inspiring Culture Dr. Pick Keobandith showing guests<br />

works in the exhibition at the opening<br />

24<br />

Mrs Cai Xiaolin wife of H.E. Zhang Ming (Head of China Mission to EU), Linda Brunker (Artist Ireland), Tom Monballiu (Deputy Port Ambassador),<br />

H.E. Zhang Ming (Head of China Mission to EU), Jacques Vandermeiren (CEO Antwerp Port Authority), Hanneke Beaumont (Artist the Netherlands),<br />

Marc Van Peel (Chairman Antwerp Port Authority), Félix Roulin (Artist Belgium), John Atkin (Artist UK), Zhivko Sedlarski (Artist Bulgaria), Cathy Berx<br />

(Governor of Province of Antwerp), Anne Khayat-Benoist (Director France Inspiring Culture), Anton Grech (Artist Malta), Dr. Pick Keobandith (Founder and<br />

International Director), Sabrina Tacca-Pandolfo (Director Italy), Alessandro Filippini (Artist Italy), José de Guimarães (Artist Portugal), Ed Liddle<br />

(Project Manager), Tamas Eros (Artist Representative Hungary) and Freddy Opsomer (Counsellor New Silk Road)

Pictured left to right, Marc Van Peel (Chairman Antwerp Port Authority), Cathy Berx (Governor of Province of Antwerp), H.E. Zhang Ming (Head of China<br />

Mission to EU), Dr Pick Keobandith (Inspiring Culture) and Freddy Opsomer (Counsellor New Silk Road)<br />

We contribute to the “Cultural Diplomacy” policy of<br />

our clients or we generate our own and modest “Cultural<br />

Diplomacy” where the only interests we serve are those of<br />

humanism.<br />

The deep understanding of these diplomatic objectives is<br />

essential for the success of our initiatives. Through multiple<br />

elements, sometimes unnoticed by most visitors, we work on<br />

the alignment of the exhibition and its associated events with<br />

the objectives of our partners.<br />

George Ramishvili (Chairman of Silk Road Group)<br />

Is it morally acceptable to use the work of artists to serve<br />

diplomatic, and often ultimately economical interests of<br />

organizations or countries? We are regularly faced with this<br />

question.<br />

Our position is that competition will always exist between<br />

groups of human beings on this planet and that using<br />

cultural exchange to influence is certainly progressive if<br />

compared to much more aggressive strategies. We cannot<br />

control all possible hidden agendas of our partners. What we<br />

control is the sincerity of the cultural initiatives we manage<br />

and the fact that they enable thousands of citizens from<br />

various countries to be exposed to a large variety of artistic<br />

propositions. That alone, is making our planet a better place.<br />




The Port of Antwerp is Europe’s second largest port and acts<br />

as a bridge between Europe and all other continents. With<br />

a volume of over 223 million handled goods in 2017, the<br />

companies within the port area are serving over 60 percent<br />

of the European population, living in a range of 500 km from<br />

Antwerp. The port connects the wider European hinterland<br />

with the world by sea going vessel, train, barge and road.<br />

From a more symbolic point of view, this introduction<br />

also tells that the Port of Antwerp is a crossroad of goods<br />

and cultures, connecting people and ideas, and a source<br />

of inspiration for entrepreneurs and artists. The latter is<br />

demonstrated in the high number of artworks in which the<br />

port plays a role. And again, this role is very diverse. The port<br />

acts as the background, is in the center of the art piece or<br />

inspired the artist. This connecting idea is what struck me in<br />

the “Dialogue with the Warriors of Emperor Qin” exhibition<br />

as the sculptures reflect the dialogue between ancient and<br />

modern art and connect the rich Chinese culture with the<br />

European views. In an ever globalizing world the intercultural<br />

dialogue contributes to a better mutual understanding and<br />

respect. In this regard I am grateful that this exhibition is a<br />

result of the cooperation between the Mission of the People’s<br />

Republic of China to the EU and the Antwerp Port Authority.<br />

Another demonstration of connecting cultures.<br />

Marc Van Peel<br />

Chairman<br />



Silk Road Group (SRG), a privately held investment<br />

company, owned and run by Georgian and European<br />

partners, is active in Energy, Transportation, Hospitality,<br />

Entertainment, Real Estate and Telecommunications.<br />

Every SRG business has been established with the vision<br />

that Georgia is an integral part of the historic Silk Road<br />

trading route, the ancient geopolitical axis connecting Asia<br />

with Europe, where currents from the East link to those<br />

from the West, diverse ideas are exchanged and differences<br />

bridged by common values.<br />

In a push to rediscover Georgian heritage through the<br />

revival of the country’s wine making traditions, SRG<br />

invested in a project to restore and promote the famous<br />

Tsinandali estate and gardens in the Kakheti region, the<br />

19th Century Chavchavadze family manor house, its<br />

landscaped garden, a historic winery, wine cellar, hotel,<br />

museum and café, operating as a cultural and educational<br />

center. Tsinandali hosts numerous events and exhibitions,<br />

including an international classical music festival of<br />

growing importance.<br />

George Ramishvili, a Chairman of Silk Road Group:<br />

“We are grateful for the opportunity of being a part of this<br />

project. We believe that modern business is a part of the<br />

world’s social and cultural community and we are proud<br />

to contribute by sponsoring the sea transportation of the<br />

Army of Peace and Dialogue.”<br />


After Ecole du Louvre, Dr. Pick Keobandith received her<br />

Doctorate in Art History from Rennes II. A distinguished<br />

career in Paris followed where amongst other roles, she<br />

was an advisor to Sydney Picasso, was an exhibition<br />

commissioner with Galerie Piltzer and Galerie Anne de<br />

Villepoix. Later she worked at Gallery Templon and taught<br />

Contemporary Art Market at Christie’s Education. After<br />

Paris, Dr. Keobandith chose Brussels to be the platform<br />

to share her vision of International Art. She founded<br />

Inspiring Culture in August 2016.<br />

Working internationally, Inspiring Culture specialises in<br />

contemporary and modern sculpture. The main activities<br />

include: Exhibition conception and production, Public<br />

and private sculpture commissions, Academic research,<br />

Writing and lecture presentation, Critical Writing, and<br />

Artist & Art Institution development.<br />


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Relations between Italy and Belgium are rooted in<br />

the past. The Italian Residence where I have the<br />

privilege to dwell, a beautiful neo-classic palace<br />

where the engagement between Marie-José and<br />

Umberto II was celebrated, is the symbol of the<br />

common history between the Belgian Royal house<br />

and the House of Savoy. As it is well known,<br />

King Philippe of Belgium is the son of Paola Ruffo<br />

di Calabria. Italy and Belgium can count on an<br />

excellent relationship in all fields, from political<br />

to economic one, from cultural to scientific<br />

cooperation, moving on through consolidated and<br />

automatic patterns.<br />

In the European framework, as founding Members of the<br />

European Union, Italy and Belgium are both committed<br />

to re-launch the European Union as a more integrated,<br />

united and effective organization on the international<br />

scene. It is paramount to bring the EU Institutions closer<br />

to the citizens in order to reverse the on-going trend of<br />

estrangement and disillusionment, which has indeed<br />

contributed to the (re-)emergence of populism in many<br />

Countries of Europe.<br />

28<br />

Italy, together with like-minded EU partners, is<br />

contributing to set in motion the reform of the European<br />

Union in order to provide collective answers to the threats<br />

and challenges of our days, from economic crisis to<br />

terrorism, from migration to climate change. We would like<br />

to realize, with our like-minded partners, a Eurozone based<br />

on a more accentuated equilibrium between responsibility<br />

and solidarity. It is also important to realise the<br />

completion of the Banking Union and to have a European<br />

Union budget able to ensure adequately financed policies<br />

in sectors where Europe can bring its added value, such as<br />

H.E. Elena Basile and Barbara Dietrich

H.E. Elena Basile, Ambassador at the opening of the exhibition ‘’Spanish Still Life’’ at Bozar. After Brussels, the exhibition will be shown at Musei Reali in Turin<br />

security and defense, migration, research and development,<br />

the so-called “European goods”.<br />

Italy’s efforts to tackle the on-going migration crisis in<br />

the Mediterranean were widely acknowledged. Thanks to<br />

the EU “Surveillance & Rescue” missions, along with the<br />

daily work of the Italian “Guardia Costiera”, many lives<br />

are saved every day. However many continue to be lost and<br />

unfortunately the obstacles that the reform of the Dublin<br />

mechanism (the obligation for the Country of first entry to<br />

examine the asylum application) is encountering, it is an<br />

indication that there is still a long way to go. A common<br />

EU migration and asylum policy, the goal established<br />

already at the 1999 European Council in Tampere, has not<br />

yet been reached.<br />

From an economic perspective, Italy’s presence in Belgium<br />

is solid and long-standing. Companies such as Ferrero,<br />

Burgo, Vitrociset and Mapei have important operations<br />

in the Walloon Region, while CNH Industrial and Saviola<br />

Group have concentrated their activities in the Flemish<br />

Region. Many liaison offices are present in Belgium and<br />

represent the most important Italian enterprises and trade<br />

associations like Confindustria, ENI, ENEL, FCA and<br />

Leonardo.<br />

The “Made in Italy” is wide-spread and appreciated in<br />

Belgium, from food to fashion, from furniture to cars. With<br />

a trade exchange of about 30 Bn Euro in 2017, the two<br />

countries are closely linked, ranking in each other’s top ten<br />

list of economic partners. Next to traditional export areas<br />

such as agri-food, textile and machinery, Italy-Belgium<br />

trade relations are growing, in particular, thanks to the<br />

exchange of pharmaceuticals, chemicals, medical devices<br />

and bio-tech. Both Countries share the same industrial<br />

backbone, composed primarily by Small and Medium<br />

Enterprises (SMEs). In Italy, SMEs have developed a very<br />

strong expertise in high-tech sectors (for instance robotics,<br />

mechatronics, nanotechnologies and bio-science) which<br />

are particularly complementary to Belgium’s flagship<br />

enterprises.<br />

Despite the historical and excellent relations existing<br />

between the two Countries, there are still many<br />


potentialities to explore: From the innovation of the<br />

traditional “Made in Italy” to the attention to high-tech<br />

cooperation in sectors such as ICT, bio-technologies and<br />

space, with a particular regard to the start-up world.<br />

With reference to scientific cooperation, last November we<br />

have organized the first meeting of the Italian researchers<br />

in Belgium, in the presence of Philippe Busquin, former<br />

Belgian European Commissioner for Research from 1999<br />

to 2004, and Massimo Inguscio, President of the Italian<br />

National Council for Research (Consiglio Nazionale della<br />

Ricerche, CNR). We have mapped out a very high number<br />

of professors, senior and junior researchers, who are a<br />

great asset for our work and represent natural bridges<br />

between the two Countries.<br />

Italian language is wide-spread in Belgium. It is taught<br />

in all the schools which are covered by the Partnership<br />

Charter signed between Italy and the Wallonia-Brussels<br />

Federation, but also by the courses organized by the<br />

Italian Institute of Culture in Brussels, along with other<br />

associations.<br />

The historical and cultural links between Italy and Belgium<br />

are well known. The reciprocal influence of Italian and<br />

Flemish Renaissance is one of the many examples that we<br />

can take into consideration. The exhibition “Spanish Still<br />

Life”, which is currently at Bozar, shows how the Flemish<br />

and Italian models of “still life” had a great influence on<br />

the wider development of painting in Europe.<br />

We have a very active Italian Institute of Culture and<br />

our goal is to organize as many cultural events as we<br />

can in cooperation with Belgian cultural institutions.<br />

For instance, we are working together with the Vrije<br />

Universiteit Brussels (VUB) to present the legacy of Rocco<br />

Chinnici, the Italian judge who set up the judiciary and<br />

investigative mechanisms which are still used today in the<br />

fight against organized crime. The event will include a<br />

panel discussion between Italian and Belgian experts and<br />

the screening of the movie on Rocco Chinnici, interpreted<br />

by famous Italian actor Sergio Castellitto.<br />

This year, we would also like to bring to Belgium a theatre<br />

piece called “Italiens. Quand les émigrés c’etait nous”,<br />

which will be shown in Brussels and Liège. The show,<br />

by telling the stories of many Italian migrants that have<br />

crossed the oceans and seas in the last centuries, has also<br />

an educational value by reminding us the never-ending<br />

30<br />

Venice, Italy, gondolas with snow in front of the Basilica of San Giorgio Maggiore <br />

© Shutterstock

Rome, Saint Peter’s Basilica after snowfall © Shutterstock<br />

importance of solidarity and respect for human rights.<br />

My mission is of course influenced by the extremely<br />

high number of second or third generation-Italians who<br />

are still living in the Country. Italians were traditionally<br />

concentrated in the Walloon Region, primarily Liège<br />

and Charleroi, to be employed in the coal mines. The<br />

catastrophe that occurred in Marcinelle on August 8, 1956,<br />

where 262 miners, of which 136 Italians, lost their lives<br />

is commemorated every year as the saddest page of the<br />

history of Italians in Belgium.<br />

Community in the Belgian society. Italians are active in<br />

every sector, from construction to catering, from academia<br />

to politics. Our aim is to map out the Italians currently<br />

working in the Belgian institutions, convinced as we are<br />

that the community of Italians in Belgium is a powerful<br />

network of contacts and a crucial tool for the promotion of<br />

our Country.<br />

Italian migration to Belgium is a story of suffering, but also<br />

of great success. Former Prime Minister Elio Di Rupo is<br />

the symbol of the well-succeeded integration of the Italian<br />


This interview took place before the elections of 4 March 2018.<br />






2018 is the European Year of Cultural Heritage<br />

which invites us to celebrate our cultural diversity<br />

and, at the same time, to encourage our peoples<br />

to discover and engage with Europe’s cultural<br />

heritage, in order to reinforce a sense of belonging<br />

to a common European space.<br />

As ambassador of Greece, what are the main<br />

focus points for you today in Brussels? Bilateral<br />

agreements, Economic diplomacy, cultural<br />

diplomacy, education. Depending on the focus<br />

points, could you highlight these with specific<br />

cases.<br />

I strongly believe that the Greek culture, no matter where<br />

it comes from, belongs to all humanity. It enriches us in a<br />

unique way, thanks to its anthropocentric approach, which<br />

was absolutely novelty back then, but also vital and highly<br />

I would say that, given the fact that our principle aim<br />

is the strengthening of bilateral cooperation in various<br />

fields, a combination of political, economic and cultural<br />

diplomacy is what we are looking for. It is a known fact<br />

that Greece is quickly recovering after many years of<br />

fiscal difficulties and is back on the growth track. In this<br />

context, the Greek Embassy is focusing on establishing<br />

mutually beneficial relations with the Belgian business<br />

sector, hoping both to attract Belgian investments in<br />

Greece and to promote Greek investments in Belgium.<br />

As far as cultural diplomacy is concerned, our Embassy<br />

seeks to promote the Greek language and Greek culture<br />

in Belgium through various initiatives and by supporting a<br />

number of cultural events.<br />

32<br />

Without any doubt Greece and its cultural heritage<br />

are the fundaments of Western civilisation and<br />

relate to all cultural developments that have<br />

defined our cultural history until today. How do<br />

you look back to this phenomenon, and how would<br />

you contextualize the history and heritage as a<br />

bridge to our contemporary life and culture in the<br />

context of a European and even global culture?<br />

H.E. Eleftheria Galathianaki<br />

© <strong>Diplomatic</strong> <strong>World</strong>

H.E. Eleftheria Galathianaki<br />

© <strong>Diplomatic</strong> <strong>World</strong><br />

important for our consumption-oriented society, today. Its<br />

pan-anthropic values can correspond to the spiritual needs<br />

of all of us. This is why classical Greek literary production<br />

has been followed, studied and translated not only by<br />

modern Greek scholars, but also by brilliant minds all<br />

over the world. I also believe that Greek culture, because<br />

of its universality, is a quintessential tool for approaching<br />

peoples. It is the connective tissue in the quest for<br />

common origins and historical ties with other countries.<br />

Modern Greece attributes a great importance to the<br />

dialogue of cultures and cultural diplomacy. In 2017,<br />

on the initiative of Greek Minister of Foreign Affairs<br />

M. Nikos Kotzias, The Ancient Civilizations Forum took<br />

place in Athens with the participation of Bolivia, China,<br />

Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Italy, Peru and our country. Its aim is to<br />

serve as a platform for dialogue and cultural cooperation<br />

among the participating States.<br />

The diversity in Europe today, defined by a continuous<br />

diaspora for millennia, is dying to find a common<br />

cultural ground for the European Union. With<br />

everything mentioned above, could you create and<br />

propose a cultural framework that nurtures this longing<br />

for connection in between Europe?<br />

2018 is the European Year of Cultural Heritage and we<br />

are all invited to celebrate our cultural diversity and,<br />

at the same time, to encourage our peoples to discover<br />

and engage with Europe’s cultural heritage, in order to<br />

reinforce a sense of belonging to a common European<br />

space. It is an ideal opportunity for all of us to strengthen<br />

the dialogue with the cultural heritage stakeholders, to<br />

identify and implement coordinated policies and actions<br />

for the sustainable management and development of<br />

cultural heritage and to raise public awareness on the<br />

potential of cultural heritage.<br />


© <strong>Diplomatic</strong> <strong>World</strong><br />

Let us be guided by the successful Greek-inspired initiative<br />

“European Capitals of Culture”, an integral part of the<br />

Creative Europe programme 2014-20, whose ambition is to<br />

promote Europe’s cultural diversity and cultural heritage<br />

and to reinforce the competitiveness of our cultural and<br />

creative sectors.<br />

Brussels is at the heart of international economic<br />

diplomacy, which is a growing area in diplomacy.<br />

What particular role do you see for diplomats in<br />

relation to the facilitation of future economic deals?<br />

34<br />

© <strong>Diplomatic</strong> <strong>World</strong><br />

If we think of economic relations as links interconnecting<br />

people, organizations, regions and countries, then Brussels<br />

is the right place for a diplomat. Economic diplomacy<br />

is, perhaps, the most important long-term instrument for<br />

achieving international cooperation. Here, in Brussels we<br />

have the most obvious example and one of the greatest<br />

success stories of our recent history: The creation and the<br />

function of the EU. In this context, I can not think of a<br />

better place for establishing strong economic partnerships<br />

than in the actual capital of Europe.

H.E. Eleftheria Galathianaki and Barbara Dietrich<br />

© <strong>Diplomatic</strong> <strong>World</strong><br />

How and to what extend may Chinese investments<br />

have helped Greece to deal with the crisis?<br />

After years of financial troubles, Greece is returning<br />

to a growth path which opens up remarkable<br />

opportunities for investment and trade. Our dynamic,<br />

comprehensive and strategic partnership with<br />

China sets a solid basis for expanding our role as<br />

an important regional hub in the fields of trade,<br />

transport, energy. telecommunica-tions, logistics,<br />

culture and tourism. My country is once again taking<br />

full advantage of its unique geopolitical position as a<br />

country of Europe, the Mediterranean, the Balkans,<br />

but also, as a maritime country with great potential<br />

for advancing relations; far beyond its<br />

neighborhood.<br />

Specialists provide guidance to Chinese investors<br />

in Europe. Think for instance of the guidance that<br />

KA Legal frequently provides to foreign investors<br />

in Greece. How important is such specialist<br />

intervention to achieve the intended transactions?<br />

Greece is aware of the important role of specialists’<br />

intervention in achieving foreign investments. Therefore,<br />

we are trying to inform them on the major recent<br />

reforms in Greece, the positive economic climate and the<br />

hospitable environment which is being created for investors<br />

and businesses that can contribute towards growth and job<br />

creation.<br />

Which new opportunities may lay ahead for<br />

Chinese investors in Europe and vice versa?<br />

As a leading maritime country, looking for new trade<br />

routes, we see new great opportunities in the 21st Century<br />

Maritime Silk Road. An increasing number of Greek<br />

shipowners build their ships in China, while our biggest port<br />

— the port of Piraeus where a very important investment by<br />

COSCO has been made — is becoming a global gateway to<br />

Europe for products coming from Chinese and other Asian<br />

ports, including through the Suez Canal. From Piraeus port,<br />

the merchandise can easily be transported by rail to many<br />

destinations in the Balkans and in Central Europe.<br />






The realization of the New Silk Road project could<br />

foster a role model that has been played by the<br />

ancient Silk Road, where people were involved not<br />

only in trade but also in cultural, intellectual,<br />

educational, and religious exchanges.<br />

Mr. Ambassador, On November 10, 2017, the<br />

EU High Representative and foreign ministers<br />

of Central Asian countries, including Tajikistan<br />

gathered in Samarkand (Uzbekistan) for a new<br />

regional rapprochement. What is the importance<br />

of this event for your country?<br />

Well, I would like to begin by reminding that a quarter<br />

century ago the countries of Central Asia and the European<br />

Union embarked on the formation and development of their<br />

relations based on the principles of mutual respect and trust<br />

to each other.<br />

of Tajikistan, to improve the well-being of the people of<br />

the country. This document identifies the role of foreign<br />

partners’ significance in the implementation of the NDS.<br />

Tajikistan expects that foreign partners will increase their<br />

contribution to the priority areas of the Strategy.<br />

Therefore, Tajikistan considers strong regional and<br />

international ties as the main factor to impact the socioeconomic<br />

development of our region as whole, and each<br />

country individually.<br />

Since then, the countries of Central Asia and the EU have<br />

experienced different stages of cooperation, however, the<br />

Samarkand meeting expressed the sides’ intention to jumpstart<br />

their relations and give them the attention they deserve.<br />

The Central Asian countries’ vision to leverage their potential<br />

for drastic transformation and the EU’s strong interest in<br />

stable and economically prosperous regions are the factors<br />

that drive both sides towards the completion of common tasks.<br />

The importance of this event for Tajikistan was the<br />

affirmation of a strong willingness of all participants to pursue<br />

and enhance further regional and bilateral cooperation. We<br />

consider this political development as an important element<br />

in our relations and believe that a comprehensive and<br />

enhanced partnership between the EU and the countries of<br />

Central Asia will positively impact the regional prosperity.<br />

36<br />

My Government has developed the National Development<br />

Strategy-2030, which covers all aspects of the development<br />

H.E. Erkinkhon Rahmatullozoda

© Embassy of the Republic of Tajikistan<br />

This platform is supposed to assist Central Asian<br />

countries in gaining better benefits from China’s<br />

New Silk Road initiative. What does Tajikistan<br />

expect from the New Silk Road?<br />

You know well that more than 2.000 years ago the Silk<br />

Road was established to link China to the Middle East and<br />

Europe through Central Asia. The New Silk Road initiative<br />

is supposed to be a modern equivalent, aiming to create a<br />

network of economic, trade and policy cooperation.<br />

Thus, Central Asia has preserved its historical importance<br />

as a bridge between China and Europe. Moreover, in the<br />

recent years, the region has been a zone of close attention<br />

of the world community and business structures, which<br />

undoubtedly is a positive thing.<br />

Several megaprojects have been launched from China to<br />

Europe with the involvement of Central Asian states, which<br />

include new roads, railroads and pipelines. Taking into<br />

account the above mentioned points, cooperation between<br />

the countries of the region and the EU on this platform can<br />

help make the development of Central Asia more effective.<br />

Our leadership attaches great importance to the modern<br />

economic integration processes, therefore, comprehensive<br />

cooperation with the countries of Central Asia, the EU and<br />

China is a strategic goal of my Government.<br />

Tajikistan regards the New Silk Road as a promising<br />

initiative for mutually beneficial cooperation in various<br />

fields. The introduced projects will facilitate economic<br />

transformation, offering multiple benefits to our societies.<br />

Tajikistan can serve as a transit nation in China’s projects<br />

and benefit from it. The construction of the Tajik section of<br />

the Turkmenistan-China gas pipeline is a vivid example.<br />

China has already started, and completed a number of the<br />

New Silk Road projects in Tajikistan and we expect significant<br />

Chinese investment into our infrastructure projects.<br />

Can it again help flourish not only commerce,<br />

but also culture and dialogue of civilizations in<br />

Eurasia?<br />

History, culture, and spiritual values as well as centuries-old<br />

traditions are the basic principles of nations, and they play a<br />

vital role in development of countries.<br />

Such a role has been played by the ancient Silk Road,<br />

where people were involved not only in trade but also<br />

in cultural, intellectual, educational, and religious<br />

exchanges. The Central Asian intellectuals had played<br />

a key role in the development of world nations.<br />

The great poet Abu Abdullah Rudaki, philosopher<br />

and mathematician Al-Farabi, the greatest scholar<br />


Abualli Ibn Sino (Avicenna) and many others had<br />

considerably contributed to the development of world’s<br />

civilizations. Today, globalization processes, in particular<br />

technical and economic development progresses, rapidly<br />

impact on cultural interchange and facilitate global<br />

communications.<br />

Thus, economic and social development of the regions will<br />

significantly expand the possibilities for promoting cultural<br />

and intellectual ties. The realization of the Silk Road<br />

projects, which aim to connect Asia and Europe, will foster<br />

intercultural exchanges and strengthen the relationship<br />

between the nations.<br />

Will this initiative promote stability in the region<br />

and ensure prosperity?<br />

It is noted that Central Asia is in close proximity to unstable<br />

zones, and therefore, ensuring security and stability in the<br />

region is a primary task of the local governments.<br />

Central Asians recognize that socio-economic development<br />

of societies is the most important factor of peace and<br />

stability in the region. Hence, national strategies of the<br />

countries of the region are directed towards the socioeconomic<br />

development to improve the living conditions of<br />

the people of the region.<br />

In Tajikistan, we are confident that strengthening security,<br />

further positive and progressive development, continuation<br />

of the reform of the various sectors of economy, raising the<br />

living standards and a gradual transition to the formation<br />

of the middle class are the main driving factors of stability.<br />

In this regards, the Government is making every effort to<br />

ensure the stable development of the economy, based on the<br />

needs of its population.<br />

To this end, implementation of the One Belt One<br />

Road projects with the involvement of Central Asia<br />

and neighboring regions can open up new possibilities<br />

for promotion of national economies and creation of<br />

employment. This will improve the living conditions of<br />

all societies and contribute to strengthening of peace and<br />

stability in the area.<br />

Barbara Dietrich and H.E. Mr. Erkinkhon Rahmatullozoda<br />

Indeed, we have to recognize that in today’s interdependent<br />

world and globalised challenges a country will not be able<br />

to ensure its security and economic development on its<br />

own. Joint coordination and consensuses will aid in creating<br />

a better environment for addressing regional and global<br />

challenges.<br />

I am of the opinion that a joint action could bring more<br />

benefits for Central Asia. The common history, culture,<br />

traditions, and spiritual values will greatly contribute to<br />

the processes of our development. The regional economic<br />

integration can be a key factor for stable development.<br />

Central Asia has enormous potential, and could act as an<br />

economic bridge between Asia and Europe and provide<br />

opportunities for our prosperity. That would contribute to<br />

Afghanistan’s development as well.<br />

In view of the recent positive developments in the area,<br />

I believe that a joint approach to our regional priorities,<br />

which is in line with the policy and aims of our European<br />

partners, would considerably benefit the countries of<br />

Central Asia.<br />

38<br />

In Europe, some experts think Tajikistan like other<br />

Central Asian countries will gain more benefits<br />

from Europe if there are better relations and<br />

cooperation between the countries of the region.<br />

What is your opinion on this topic?<br />

President Emomali Rahmon has declared 2018 as<br />

the Year of Tourism in Tajikistan. What is the aim<br />

of this initiative?<br />

Thanks to consistent efforts of President Emomali Rahmon,<br />

Tajikistan has made remarkable achievements in its

domestic and foreign affairs. It is of particular importance<br />

to the Government to enhance economic growth through<br />

prioritizing each sector of the national economy.<br />

To that end, the President has signed a decree on declaring<br />

2018 as the Year of Tourism and Folk Crafts in Tajikistan to<br />

promote development of tourism in the country.<br />

In fact, Tajikistan has a fabulous and beautiful landscape<br />

and nature and is one of the best tourist destinations in<br />

the world. The hospitability, climate, weather, landscape,<br />

sky-high mountains, delicious fruits, wonderful glaciers,<br />

healing waters, lakes and springs with pure water, flora and<br />

fauna make the country one of the fastest-growing tourist<br />

destinations. Therefore, it would be appropriate to mention<br />

that the BBC News Agency placed Tajikistan among 10 top<br />

tourist destinations in the field of adventure tourism.<br />

The Government has been making a lot of efforts to develop<br />

tourism infrastructure by constructing new terminals and<br />

hotels. It has adopted the National Tourism Development<br />

Program and created Tourism Development Zones. One of<br />

the practical steps that the Government has taken was the<br />

launch of the electronic visa system “e-Visa” to increase the<br />

number of tourists visiting Tajikistan. This system will allow<br />

foreign citizens to receive Tajikistan visa online, relieving<br />

them from unnecessary arrangements in the Tajikistan<br />

consulates or at the borders.<br />

Tajikistan has the opportunity to develop different types<br />

of tourism, however, since the country has one of the<br />

highest peaks in the world, which is about 7.000 meters<br />

above sea level, the focus is given to mountaineering and<br />

hunting.<br />

The Pamirs — a big node almost in the center of the Asian<br />

continent — is situated among the biggest mountain systems:<br />

Tien Shan, Hindu Kush, Kunlin, and Karakorum. Almost<br />

the entire territory of the Western Pamir is occupied with<br />

ridges of latitudinal directions. A wide high mountain desert<br />

has stretched from the southern slopes of the Zaalay ridge<br />

in the north to the banks of the river Pyanj in the south as<br />

well. The Tajik National Park, which is an UNESCO <strong>World</strong><br />

Heritage Site, is one of the largest mountainous terrains in<br />

the world. Also, the longest and the most powerful glaciers<br />

of Central Asia are nested here.<br />

The country is rich with wonderful lakes that have various<br />

origins. There are many unique areas in Tajikistan such as<br />

the Seven Lakes, which reflect different colors.<br />

The ancient Penjikent City, also known as the Pompeii<br />

of Central Asia, which was once an important historical<br />

town on the Great Silk Road, the Hissar Fortress and other<br />

historical places are the best archeological sites to visit.<br />

Tajikistan has a collection of mineral waters, which<br />

consist of 72 cold, warm, and hot springs of different<br />

chemical composition, saturated with carbon and nitrogen<br />

gases. The temperature in warm and hot springs, such as<br />

Garmchashma, varies from 35° to 62°C. Tourists visit these<br />

and many other balneological resorts to get cured.<br />

Also, tourists can enjoy the beauty of Dushanbe, the capital<br />

of Tajikistan, which is known for its full-grown tree lined<br />

avenues, public parks, museums, and the traditional tea<br />

houses. Kokhi Navruz, the grandest and largest tea house in<br />

Central Asia, is in Dushanbe.<br />

It should be noted that mainly tourists from the European<br />

Union and the USA have visited the country during the last<br />

years. It is gratifying to see the increase in the number of<br />

European tourists coming to Tajikistan.<br />

In March we celebrate Navruz, one of the most important<br />

and beautiful holidays in Tajikistan. You may know that<br />

on these days the people go to the squares to watch shows,<br />

serve guests with traditional dishes, and finally the Tajik<br />

mountains can be seen in their glory.<br />

Well, I invite everyone to visit Tajikistan during the Navruz<br />

Holidays and discover the incredible beauty of my country.<br />

It should be noted that there are about 1450 lakes in the<br />

territory of Tajikistan. Some of them are located at the<br />

height of more than four thousand meters above sea level.<br />

© Embassy of the Republic of Tajikistan<br />






As a Minister of Budget, Sophie Wilmès is coming<br />

to the EU-Budget table with one wish: bringing<br />

Europe and the people closer.<br />

40<br />

What are the main challenges you are facing today<br />

as Minister of Budget in Belgium?<br />

The main challenge that I had to face since I am federal<br />

Minister of Budget is to find the right balance between<br />

the budgetary consolidation and policies supporting the<br />

economic recovery. When this federal government took<br />

power in 2014, our deficit was over 3% and our debt<br />

was increasing endlessly. Now, I’m proud to see that our<br />

deficit was divided by three in only three years. Meanwhile<br />

our debt will be going down close to the line of 100%<br />

of our GDP in the end of this legislature. This is an<br />

accomplishment when we know that we took also a series of<br />

measures whose primary objective was to help our economy.<br />

I, with the government, simply applied my motto: it’s the<br />

economy which supports the budget and not the other way<br />

around.<br />

How is your role impacted as Minister being<br />

member of the European Union?<br />

As member of the EU, I have to work in a specific budgetary<br />

framework. There are two main rules to this framework: the<br />

deficit cannot go over 3% of the GDP and the debt cannot<br />

be higher than 60% of the GDP, without processing to a<br />

reduction of it at a sustained pace. Those rules have a huge<br />

impact on the political decisions we could take on a national<br />

level. But I understand completely their reasons of being.<br />

We need to have clear guidelines to keep everybody on the<br />

same track. However, I’m in favour of a “smart application”<br />

of the European budgetary rules. The budgetary framework<br />

should be flexible enough to allow Member States to answer<br />

to the unpredictable. If we had followed the rules by the<br />

letter in 2016 for example, it would have been impossible for<br />

this Government to make funds available in response of the<br />

terrorist attacks in Brussels. This is proof of necessity to be<br />

rigorous but flexible. In the meantime, ESA2010 codes can<br />

be an obstacle to investments but we know how a country<br />

investing in strategic fields is important to the economy.<br />

We are discussing at the moment with the European<br />

Commission to see how we can make budgetary imperatives<br />

and needs for investment coexist.<br />

Which are the tools for a federal Minister of<br />

Budget to be involved & support cultural &<br />

economic diplomacy in Europe & beyond ?<br />

I am directly involved in the discussions around the<br />

European multiannual framework programme 2021-2027.<br />

Those negotiations are crucial, knowing that, at that time,<br />

the UK will have left the EU. We are talking about a budget<br />

at least 10 billion euros short. This forces us to reconsider<br />

the way we make the EU-Budget, by focusing first on the real<br />

needs of the EU and the policies we have to implement. In<br />

this case, I am coming to the table with one wish: bringing<br />

Europe and the people closer. It demands to look at every<br />

single policy with a fresh eye, determining which has an<br />

added value and which doesn’t anymore. It is absolutely<br />

imperative because, if the EU budget cannot go higher<br />

and higher without any control, we have to be ready to face<br />

new challenges for the next coming years; security<br />

and immigration being both topics extremely important as<br />

well.<br />

Can you tell us the important milestones in your<br />

professional career & what values inspired you to<br />

join the public cause ?<br />

Deep down, I’ve always had the sense of commitment to<br />

the common good. Of course, becoming a Federal Minister<br />

was the main milestone in my political career because you<br />

are the centre of the decision-making process. You take

Sophie Wilmès and Barbara Dietrich<br />

decisions that have a positive impact on the largest possible<br />

number of co-citizens. That might sound scary first but it<br />

is very fulfilling. To be honest, I also have to mention the<br />

first time I was elected in the local council of Uccle. This<br />

is an important milestone because it is the beginning of<br />

everything. This is the first-ever realization of my political<br />

engagement. At that time, I was driven by the wish to<br />

improve people’s lives and making the society a better place<br />

to this generation but, above all, for the next generations.<br />

I guess those commitments still drive me nowadays, as a<br />

Minister.<br />

As Belgian citizen, born in Brussels, married to<br />

an Australian citizen, being a mother with 4<br />

children, how has openness to other (regional)<br />

cultures & languages influenced both your family<br />

and professional life<br />

And you forgot to mention that I’m a French-speaking<br />

Belgian living in the Flemish-part ! Being in contact with<br />

different cultures is always a learning experience. It breaks<br />

every paradigm you might have on things. Reality is never<br />

an one-side story. Living in a country where different<br />

communities live is an asset. On another level, to live<br />

peacefully together, communities have to be able to talk<br />

to each other. Communication is the key. It allows to<br />

find a common ground. That is why I find language skills<br />

particularly important. This is no coincidence if my children<br />

talk to me in French, speak with their father in English and<br />

go to school in Dutch.<br />








42<br />

As Secretary of State you are confronted with many<br />

challenges related to online privacy and to different<br />

audiences. 2018 will be the year of personal data<br />

privacy. Our future generations grow up immersed<br />

in a cloud of data. How to make young people<br />

aware of the importance of online privacy ?<br />

Digital is the new normal and even more the future. And<br />

that is excellent. Daily technological innovation pushes our<br />

society forward. Every new application improves our quality<br />

of life a bit more. The digital sector creates enormous<br />

economic prosperity and social well-being. But above all it<br />

connects people and ideas worldwide.<br />

Younger generations are the canary in the coal mine in this<br />

digital world. They are always the first to follow the latest<br />

trends. This has always been the case. This poses, of course,<br />

a huge challenge for parents, teachers and youth counselors.<br />

How do we protect our young people when they often get<br />

the new technology faster and better? This is one of my<br />

main concerns.<br />

There is also a downside to the medal. The less attractive<br />

side of our society is also making its way to the online<br />

world. Specifically for young people it concerns for example:<br />

bullying, sexually transgressive behavior or strangers with<br />

unsavory intentions that anonymously ask for your personal<br />

details. This is one of my main concerns. I want to make the<br />

youth more aware of underlying dangers.<br />

In this changing context, the new European privacy<br />

regulation must be considered. It wants to give European<br />

citizens more control and protection of their personal data<br />

and focuses emphatically on the better protection of young<br />

people. It is now up to the Member States to determine<br />

when young people get free access to the worldwide web<br />

between thirteen and sixteen years.<br />

As the competent Secretary of State for privacy, I will do<br />

everything in my power to get this age at thirteen years.<br />

First, because raising the minimum age would be evidence<br />

of unworldliness. The illusion that we would be able to shut<br />

youth off in times which every device is connected to the<br />

worldwide web would be naive. The rebellious youngster<br />

does not care about a digital prohibition sign. Secondly,<br />

because we simply do not want to. It also offers added value<br />

to their lives. Social media are an undeniably important part<br />

in the world of young people where they meet peers and<br />

family and celebrate their creativity online.<br />

The fact that we offer young people free access to social<br />

media from the age of thirteen means that we have to<br />

invest in media literacy. I myself am making a tour around<br />

different highschools to educate youngsters about the<br />

possibilities that the internet has to offer but also educate<br />

them about the hidden dangers with regards to their privacy.<br />

We have to teach them the right reflexes so that they can<br />

react appropriately when they are confronted with the<br />

dangers of the anonymous web or the demand for release<br />

of personal information. We need to make them resilient by

Philippe De Backer<br />

consciously learning how to deal with everything they<br />

share online, by requiring them to think about the impact<br />

of messages they post and make them master of their own<br />

data. Just like in the real world, we also support our young<br />

people in the digital world.<br />

In parallel, our oceans are polluted by plastics and<br />

other trash; for Belgium this is also the fact for the<br />

North Sea. With your Sea Trash Plan you make the<br />

first scientifically supported start of a campaign to<br />

prevent and counterattack these pollutions. How will<br />

you coordinate, execute and make this plan work ?<br />

<strong>World</strong>wide the call to take care of our environment sounds<br />

increasingly louder. It shows a concern for the generations<br />

who come after us. That is why I am proud that, as<br />

Secretary of State for the North Sea, I can contribute to this<br />

with my Action Plan for Maritime Litter which registers in<br />

the realization of the UN Sustainable Development Goals.<br />

The scientific, well-founded action plan is a 360° plan<br />

based on international, national and regional cooperation.<br />

It guarantees the strength that is needed to get rid of the<br />

cleaning up of our North Sea, but above all to tackle the<br />

problem at the source. This by focusing on prevention<br />

through communication and awareness-raising, but also<br />

by strictly supervising compliance with legislation. It is<br />

a necessary part of a comprehensive plan if we want to<br />

prevent that we continue to fight a running battle.<br />

A final part of the plan focuses on scientific research. As<br />

a biologist, the well-being of the North Sea is close to my<br />

heart. Plastic is an invention of man. The solution for<br />

the plastic soup in our North Sea and, by extension, the<br />

merging of economics and ecology into a circular economy<br />

will also have to be the result of human creativity.<br />

China is building new economic roads. China’s<br />

Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is not a threat to the<br />

global economic or political order, and could turn<br />

out to become a significant vision that generates<br />

enormous benefits for the world. Which new<br />

opportunities may lay ahead via these new roads for<br />

Chinese investors in Europe, Belgium and Antwerp<br />

and vice versa ?<br />

I always welcome trade. It is unquestionably the historical<br />

engine to which we owe our present-day prosperity. It is<br />

incomprehensible to me that people on the international<br />

stage are raving about mercantilist recipes today.<br />

International trade is not a zero-sum game.<br />

It will not surprise you that I encourage additional trade<br />

routes. <strong>World</strong> trade can only benefit from this. The crucial<br />

condition here is that everyone follows the same rules. The<br />

Chinese “Belt and Road Initiative” seems at first sight to<br />

contribute to the better alignment of policy, infrastructure<br />

works and customs controls. The objectives are therefore<br />

suspiciously similar to those of the European Union.<br />


Philippe De Backer<br />

44<br />

More specific with regard to the port of Antwerp, there<br />

are voices that fear that the “Belt and Road Initiative” will<br />

cause competition. I will not participate in the ballyhoo. We<br />

must consider this new development as a challenge and an<br />

opportunity. China is already investing a huge amount of<br />

money in the port of Antwerp today, via COSCO, its largest<br />

shipping company. As long as we continue to play the trump<br />

cards of our port city and offer space for entrepreneurship, I<br />

don’t see how increased trade could harm our port. On the<br />

contrary.<br />

Antwerp has been a historic crossroads for people<br />

from all over the world. How to use this diversity<br />

today to make Antwerp a successful area and<br />

laboratory for the respectful cohabitation of<br />

different people, cultures and experiences, that<br />

could leverage the City towards an economic,<br />

tolerant and innovative metropolitan area ?<br />

The cross-fertilization and clash of ideas leads to innovation<br />

and eventually to progress. We should therefore also<br />

embrace the presence of many nationalities in Antwerp.<br />

Diversity is an asset that we must use to our advantage. To<br />

achieve this, it is necessary that every inhabitant of Antwerp<br />

also feels as a member of the city. Regardless of your social,<br />

cultural, economic or religious background, you must feel<br />

that you are part of the great Antwerp society. To achieve<br />

this, two conditions must be met.<br />

First, we must make clear to every resident and community<br />

that everyone adheres to the same rules. The principles<br />

of enlightenment must be recognized by everyone as the<br />

directional indicators for social life. They contribute to<br />

a framework in which every Antwerp citizen can freely<br />

believe, speak, work, start up businesses and move around.<br />

Secondly, discrimination should definitely belong to the<br />

past. A diverse city in which a we-side discourse takes<br />

the upper hand inevitably leads to an explosive cocktail.<br />

If distrust and intolerance take the upper hand, there is<br />

no longer any question of cooperation and this harms<br />

innovation, prosperity and growth.<br />

The fight against discrimination cannot be stopped. Every<br />

inhabitant of the city must feel as a part of Antwerp. And<br />

enforcing compliance with the principles of enlightenment,<br />

can make Antwerp one big, warm community. In which<br />

every resident can celebrate his creativity and look for<br />

collaborations. It would make the progress of our city<br />

unstoppable.<br />

From cultural point of view, Antwerp highlights<br />

the Baroque Year and is finishing its Diamond<br />

Year in 2018. How would you relate the cultural<br />

and economic history of the City towards a<br />

future orientation where culture and economics<br />

could thrive again on a European and global<br />

level?<br />

The Golden Age of Antwerp shows us the way to progress.<br />

500 years ago Antwerp was the centre of the world with<br />

unprecedented economic and cultural progress. Antwerp<br />

was the international trade centre. There can be found<br />

several reasons for the Antwerp miracle. Off course it has

something to do with our location along the Scheldt. But<br />

the most important reason was that the Golden Age was an<br />

era of religious tolerance, liberty and free enterprise. If we<br />

want to enjoy another golden age on a European and global<br />

level, we have to embrace the diversity we have and cut red<br />

tapes and taxes for entrepreneurs.<br />

You have just launched the presentation of the<br />

book, ‘Klank van de Stad’, a book for and by<br />

inspiring people from Antwerp. These 22 witnesses<br />

have in common a strong love for and great pride<br />

for Antwerp. In the book, they propose ambitious<br />

ideas and engage in an open dialogue with you.<br />

Through the selection of these conversations, you<br />

are drawing elements that could be entered into a<br />

blueprint for a future city. Can you highlight some<br />

of these ideas that coincide with your vision on the<br />

City of Antwerp.<br />

My book “Klank van de Stad” is first and foremost a<br />

symbolic rendering of the way how I want to do politics.<br />

I refuse to be locked up in a party cocoon to where I am<br />

shielded from opinions and influences from outside. That<br />

would be at odds with every liberal fiber in my body. From<br />

the conflict of ideas, progress develops as I said earlier.<br />

It goes without saying that I myself honor this principle.<br />

The book that I published are the sounds from my city, the<br />

city that I love so dearly. The opinions and influences from<br />

outside that is what I look for. They are often innovative,<br />

they inspire me and consequently feed my political views.<br />

That often becomes very concrete. How do we tackle the<br />

mobility issue? What should the education of the future look<br />

like? How can we play out the diversity that characterizes<br />

Antwerp as an asset?<br />

In the selection process for the themes in the book “Klank<br />

van de Stad” I always started from one question: what is<br />

essential for our children? As a father, of children who will<br />

grow up in this beautiful city, I’m mostly thinking about the<br />

future of our next generations. What are the challenges we<br />

need to tackle now and what are the opportunities that we<br />

need to take on so that our children can be proud of us.<br />

As a politician and secretary of state, you are<br />

playing on multiple fields, both from territory<br />

point of view (Belgium / Antwerp) but also from a<br />

multidisciplinary point of view. It will be difficult<br />

to predict where you will turn up next in the near<br />

future. In general, as a ‘civil servant’, where would<br />

you like that your career brings you and how would<br />

you like to grow in this role.<br />

It’s not a secret that to me becoming the mayor of Antwerp<br />

would be the most beautiful job. On the 14th of October<br />

the Antwerp citizen will choose his new city council and<br />

mayor. I will throw myself in the mix. First of all with a<br />

strong campaign that focuses on fresh, liberal ideas. With<br />

the conscious choice for a substantive debate even though<br />

we live in times of fleeting social media. With attention to<br />

the problems of the city and its inhabitants instead of the<br />

development of strategies in a search for power. Then it is<br />

up to the voter to decide if I will serve in the office of my<br />

dreams.<br />

The Port House “Havenhuis”, Antwerp, with new extension by Zaha Hadid Architects<br />

© Inspiring Culture<br />








Belgium has been economically, culturally and<br />

scientifically strong throughout the years. We<br />

developed from an industrialized nation with stone,<br />

coal and steel into a service nation. Seven world<br />

expositions took place in Belgium: quite amazing for<br />

a ridiculously small piece of territory. The greatest<br />

number of embassies can be found in Brussels,<br />

which is a third more than in Washington, the<br />

‘capital of the world’. Belgium’s discrete presence<br />

and the sheer activity happening on its ground is<br />

often underestimated.<br />

46<br />

Prof. dr. em. Herman De Croo<br />

Minister of State<br />

M.P. and former Speaker of the House<br />

Related to Belgium, there is a ‘golden mediocrity’, ‘a<br />

golden mean’ that makes us never exaggerate and never<br />

do foolish things, also in politics. Our manner is one<br />

of saying enough but not too much and in that way we<br />

metaphorically avoid spilling blood. I often say that in<br />

the north of Belgium they work too much, in the south<br />

of Belgium they enjoy things too much and in the centre<br />

we have found the perfect balance between working and<br />

having fun. Every weekend I am able to attend events at<br />

between ten or fifteen places. The sheer number is quite<br />

unbelievable to notice and is typically Belgian. There is a<br />

Burgundian way of living here, with people fully enjoying<br />

life and taking the small downsides in stride. Belgium has<br />

no hard sides on which you can hurt yourself.<br />


The Belgian need for a freedom of choice, perhaps<br />

comes from the fact that we have always been occupied<br />

throughout history. Occupied, though never beaten.<br />

During the treaty of Verdun in 843, the empire of<br />

Charlemagne was split amongst his three grandsons. The<br />

division was applied the same way you would split up a<br />

piece of farm land: one strip to the West, one strip to<br />

the East, and one strip in the middle of Europe. When<br />

you look at this story and the further history of Europe,<br />

there has always been a ‘squeezing’ of this middle part of<br />

Europe. The West expanded east and the East expanded<br />

west, causing the middle section to constantly change.<br />

On the left side of that map you can see France, Italy,<br />

Spain and also Great Britain; the east is made up of<br />

the Austrian-German empire, with the Russians at the<br />

outside. The fluctuating middle part is what we are.<br />

Belgium has always been the place of encounter where

Barbara Dietrich and Prof. dr. em. Herman De Croo<br />

the major battles happened; the place to get a hold of, to<br />

get under your power and to occupy. In a certain sense,<br />

historically speaking, the territory of Belgium was the<br />

Grand Place where different people would meet and enjoy<br />

life but also the place where they would kill each other.<br />

We were occupied all the time though not always through<br />

war. There were occupants by marriage or bound by war.<br />

I believe that today we are still occupied: by the Flemish<br />

government, by the Walloon government, by the Brussels<br />

government, by the German speaking government and a<br />

few years ago by the Federal government.<br />

A Belgian has the unbearable but understandable reflex<br />

to feel occupied, which means he does not like power,<br />

he does not like the government, he does not like police,<br />

does not like tax controllers, and most of all does not<br />

like rules. That distaste of being controlled is in our<br />

DNA. Elected leaders are considered occupants in a way<br />

and without an understanding of a Belgian’s DNA, there<br />

is no way to understand Belgian society. Belgians are<br />

not cheating taxes, they just do not like to give too much<br />

money to the occupant. They know the money will be<br />

utilized but they have to give away their control in how it<br />

is used.<br />


Why do people come to Belgium? What made big names<br />

like Metternich, Victor Hugo and Karl Marx settle here<br />

for a while? We are small, not nationalistic and<br />

unpretentious; all pleasant characteristics but there is<br />

much more to it. A good way to look at the attraction is<br />

in diplomatic terms.<br />

Our constitution, written in 1831, was the most liberal<br />

one in Europe. So much so that the Vatican put it on the<br />

index because we included freedom of religion in a time<br />

where Protestants and Catholics were killing each other in<br />

Europe. We also decided on freedom of schools, since the<br />

Jesuits were very influential in the middle class and they<br />

could train the teachers of the future. Finally, freedom of<br />

which language you could speak was also included.<br />

By 1845/1846, just before the revolt in France in 1848<br />

against Napoleon, a great number of revolutionary people<br />

were living in Belgium, making newspapers and leaflets<br />

and then carrying them in secret to Paris. Things were so<br />

extreme, there came a law in Belgium to punish insults to<br />

foreign heads of state — one that was abolished only a few<br />

years ago. This law was passed to ensure Belgium could<br />


48<br />

still negotiate with France and do business with other<br />

countries, despite their revolutionaries residing in our<br />

cities.<br />

This liberal attitude and constitution made it difficult for<br />

Belgium to find a king. The Congress of Vienna had taken<br />

place and we had to be careful not to offend any countries.<br />

For instance, Britain was not on board with us selecting<br />

the son of the French king. In addition, the influential<br />

Belgian families could not agree on who to pick out of<br />

their own crowd. Eventually, we decided on a Germanspeaking<br />

British widower, king Leopold I, who saved our<br />

young country thanks to the neutrality of that choice. Our<br />

independence has always been born from our neutrality,<br />

a unique position in Europe, and one that was hard to<br />

maintain. This enabled Belgium to escape the troubles of<br />

1848 and the war between Germany and France in 1870.<br />

Despite all of this, we were brutally attacked in 1914 and<br />

were not respected in our declaration of independence.<br />

The neutrality that has been maintained for almost a<br />

century, has turned Belgium into a kind of international<br />

meeting place. It made us prosperous and it was the<br />

reason Leopold II had enough prestige to get a Belgian<br />

colony in 1909. Every country with ambition wanted a<br />

colony. Belgium got a piece of Africa that was 80 times<br />

the size of Belgium and 5 times the size of France. It<br />

was extravagant, even in the spirit of the time. A colonial<br />

past is no point of pride, but I want to indicate how<br />

extraordinary it is for a small country like Belgium to<br />

acquire such a large and rich colony.<br />


During the liberal age, Belgium became a place where you<br />

could feel safe and where the food was good. A place with<br />

no tensions with a French-speaking intelligentsia — even<br />

the schools in Flanders were French-speaking —, painters,<br />

writers, anything you could ask for. We became something<br />

special fostered by the great powers, a small territory that<br />

was industrialized with the great harbour of Antwerp and<br />

culturally rich. Then finally after the two brutal world<br />

wars, almost everything was taken away with a horrible<br />

occupation. Tiny Belgium incited the British government<br />

to join at the frontier, to defend Belgium. The USA joined<br />

in 1917, to help Belgium in a sense and to win the war.<br />

Now, over a 100 years later, among the many graves in<br />

Western Flanders a relatively limited number of Belgians<br />

were killed. The battlefield was located in our country and<br />

many died, but a great number of them were British and<br />

French. We have the biggest cemeteries of allied forces<br />

from the First <strong>World</strong> War and for British people — quite<br />

strange or reverse how the world works — it is a touristic<br />

destination to visit the cemeteries with tombs of tens of<br />

thousands of people killed during the Great War in the<br />

West of Flanders.<br />

After the First <strong>World</strong> War, Leopold III tried to negotiate<br />

with Sweden to create an axis of neutral countries to avoid<br />

the Second <strong>World</strong> War, as the Dutch had avoided the First<br />

<strong>World</strong> War. We were special in our geopolitical situation<br />

and in 1921 we created the international non-profit<br />

associations, of which there are thousands in Belgium.<br />

This was a technique to attract seats of railways, unions,<br />

and other associations here. It was already in the DNA of<br />

the country to try and attract others to this free, openminded<br />

setting with all the liberties, without nationalism,<br />

avoiding any dictatorship. We have always been a little bit<br />

complicated to rule but this is without danger to anybody.<br />

Leopold III and his advisors were aware that only by<br />

attracting people to settle their headquarters in Belgium,<br />

we would be put on the map.<br />

When Brussels and Antwerp were liberated during the<br />

Second <strong>World</strong> War, the Germans tried to destroy the<br />

harbour of Antwerp to avoid procurement for the 5 to 6<br />

million allied soldiers. Germany was surrendering, so for 4<br />

to 6 years Belgium was booming with supplying the allied<br />

troops in Western Europe. After the Second <strong>World</strong> War,<br />

American firms came to Belgium, knowing that we were<br />

the only way into Europe. Despite the political hazard,<br />

this was one of the things that increased our development<br />

and put Belgium back on the map, very soon after the<br />

Second <strong>World</strong> War.<br />


After the world wars, most countries decided to<br />

nationalize houses or apply very strict building<br />

regulations. People had to live with two or three families<br />

in the same house from 1944 until 1947/1949. After<br />

that period, the new regimes tried to build state houses.<br />

Belgium did not do any of that. We let the house building<br />

market run free by subsidizing it. This created a booming<br />

construction industry, which is still one of the strong<br />

economic elements in its diversity today. In small firms,<br />

there is flexibility, ingenuity and a lot of other things that<br />

were practically invented by the Belgians.

Prof. dr. em. Herman De Croo<br />

When astronauts are turning around the world and they<br />

see an illuminated point, they say: that must be Belgium.<br />

This extraordinary fact is because since the Roman times,<br />

we have been living in one house next to the other until<br />

you meet the houses of the next village. This pattern of<br />

house building is linked to commuting and to putting<br />

industries next to cities.<br />

Belgians are more free and prosperous than ever before,<br />

with 80 to 90 % of the Belgians as the owners of their own<br />

house; something that does not exist anywhere else. The<br />

downside of this is that everyone wants a house that is<br />

different from the others. We have as many different styles<br />

of houses as there are families in Belgium. When your<br />

plane takes off from London, Heathrow, you see millions<br />

of people living in the same type of house. If you want to<br />

find something similar in Belgium, you have to look for<br />

social housing neighbourhoods and even there you can<br />

still see small differences in style.<br />


A third point that made us prosper, next to keeping<br />

safe the harbour of Antwerp and not nationalizing the<br />

housing but instead leaving it free, was that we decided<br />

to create very good technical schools. We did not focus<br />

on universities like France, but also paid attention to the<br />

A4, A3, A2 and A1 technical engineers. With the A1 law<br />

(1937) we have created a lot of skilled workers, middlemen,<br />

team leaders and sea mine engineers. The combination of<br />

freedom of building and free possession of property, the<br />

expansion of the harbour of Antwerp with the arrival of<br />

hundreds of American firms, and the addition of skilled<br />

Belgian workers, all created the golden fifties and sixties.<br />

Even without a planned economy and theoretical approach<br />

we were utilizing the reverse of the handicaps the two wars<br />

had given us in 1914-1918 and 1940-1945.<br />


A final point that worked to our advantage was the period<br />

of exile to London that the Belgian government went<br />

through. During this episode, Lord Beveridge created<br />

our social security and it was implemented when the<br />

government came back to Belgium. We do not have<br />

waiting lists for hospitals, which is an unusual situation in<br />

Europe. In the UK, people have to wait for years before a<br />

certain surgery can be performed.<br />


50<br />

This has caused an influx of over 100.000 foreign<br />

patients a year at our hospitals. The principle that the<br />

choice is free does imply that every service becomes<br />

more expensive. Our federation of Belgian industries has<br />

a department for importing people into Belgium to be<br />

treated and have them pay their bills afterwards.<br />

The Belgian freedom also creates competition in strange<br />

things. Belgium is one of the few countries where you<br />

can freely choose your doctor, hospital, school or notary.<br />

In many of Western countries, your living address<br />

determines the schools, doctors and hospitals that are<br />

available to you. In the UK, for instance, this can be<br />

a giant handicap: when you live on the left side of the<br />

street you can have a good school for your children,<br />

whilst the other side of the street can mean you have to<br />

send them to a ‘bad’ school. People are then motivated<br />

to move or work far away from the place they live, just in<br />

order to have a better school. In Belgium, the freedom<br />

of choice creates a certain competition in these different<br />

areas, which can elevate the quality overall. When your<br />

schools and universities are in competition, all of them<br />

try to be the best at what they do in order to attract<br />

people.<br />


Belgium is a small country but it has been through all<br />

regimes and possibilities. What few people know is that<br />

Belgium was the second industrialized power in the<br />

world in the course of the 19th century. The UK was<br />

first, Belgium second, the USA third and France only<br />

seventh. It was only in 1914, that Belgium went from<br />

the second to the third place: an unbelievable industrial<br />

development.<br />

Belgium is therefore a child of its history. From 1835 to<br />

1865, we have filled Belgium with 5.000 km of railway<br />

lines for trains and 5.000 km of tram lines. People went<br />

to work in the coal mines in the Borinage, in Brussels<br />

and other cities but they did not have to find a home<br />

there. In 1865, the season ticket was introduced by a<br />

liberal government who had decided it was best for<br />

the workers to go home to their village in the evening,<br />

where they were taking care of by the village priest (the<br />

spiritual cement of the village) and/or the mayor of the<br />

village. People went to work in cities, travelled home in<br />

the evening and thus commuting was invented by the<br />

Belgians.<br />

Belgium is still a country of commuters, causing a<br />

major problem of mobility. The railway department in<br />

Belgium, a department I was in charge of for eight years<br />

as minister of transport and communication, can be a bit<br />

provocatively summarized as one big commuting train<br />

full of civil servants on their way to Brussels. 170 years<br />

later this has not changed. In addition, we have about<br />

four times more roads per square kilometre than the<br />

Netherlands and sixteen times more roads per square<br />

kilometre than France. Roads mean cars and many<br />

cars mean congestion. With this we avoided the huge<br />

concentrations of people like in the suburbs of Liverpool,<br />

Manchester, Lille or Paris. The consequence, however, is<br />

that due to congestion people now try to move to the place<br />

where the work takes place. There is a policy of making<br />

so-called ‘industrial zones’, well thought-out areas in every<br />

town and village where small firms are located. The zones<br />

are an alternative to commuting to work in Belgium’s main<br />

cities and enable people to work near their homes.<br />


Brussels is a very strange collection of 19 communes. In<br />

Brussels, the capital of Europe, most ‘slums’ are located<br />

in the centre while the nice quarters are outside of the<br />

city centre. Compared to Paris, London or even Berlin<br />

this is the opposite. They have beautiful city centres<br />

to display but their large suburbs can feel like slums in<br />

Africa, India or Pakistan. Tourists and visitors do not<br />

go further than the centre and are amazed by the place,<br />

whereas in Brussels any troublemaking will happen in the<br />

centre and in the public eye. So people like to flee the city,<br />

increasingly seeking homes in nice and ever expanding<br />

suburbs.<br />

Even when the city of Brussels was building beautiful<br />

town houses at Rue Quatre Bras (the former seat of<br />

Foreign Affairs) in 1880 to rent to the people working in<br />

the city, everyone still commuted to their home outside<br />

of Brussels. Since then nothing has changed, but now the<br />

19 communes of Brussels sometimes try to make it more<br />

difficult to the commuters (over half a million) to get to<br />

their jobs by car or train. In a way, they are trying to force<br />

them to live in Brussels.<br />

During my eight years as minister of Transport, I was<br />

building 20 metro stations. I knew very well what the<br />

railway stations meant to Brussels. In other big cities it is<br />

normal to take the taxi or metro between train stations,

Prof. dr. em. Herman De Croo<br />

like for instance in Paris between Gare du Nord and Gare<br />

de l’Est. Brussels has three train stations: Gare Centrale<br />

(the biggest one), Gare du Nord et Gare du Midi. Midi is<br />

the only place where there is a junction between them.<br />

I decided to build metro stations inside the railway<br />

stations to avoid huge traffic jams in the city. If we did<br />

not build the metro stations, in 10 years no one would<br />

be able to reach Brussels anymore. Putting the metro<br />

stations in dry environments near the stations would<br />

encourage people to take the train without disrupting the<br />

local traveling inside the city. It seems simple and it is<br />

the most logical option but still there was a revolt by the<br />

19 mayors of the communes of Brussels.<br />

Their reason for protesting was that these measures were<br />

advantageous to commuters, who are of no use to the<br />

communes. Commuters are not citizens who vote and<br />

pay taxes. The mayors would much rather we invest in<br />

roads and car travel, for their voters are the people who<br />

use cars in the city. Those eight years were a permanent<br />

fight but we did create a period of calm through the<br />

metro and railway stations. Unfortunately, we started<br />

investing in constructing car infrastructure and now<br />

10 years later Brussels is completely blocked by cars,<br />

as I predicted.<br />


Recently, I was in Congo for 14 days, where I tried to<br />

explain the following issue: for 541 days Belgium had no<br />

full-fledged government. Which other country — in the<br />

turmoil of the Libyan War and with all the problems we all<br />

have — other than Belgium, could survive almost two years<br />

without a new government and avoid major problems,<br />

revolts, and press scandals? I could not name you another<br />

one.<br />

When you look at the 28 European states today, there<br />

are very few who can look back at their governments and<br />

see that they were stable for over 5 years, with only small<br />

tensions interrupting. In my opinion, Belgium passes this<br />

test thanks to an interwovenness that is incomprehensible<br />

to outsiders. For a long time I was mayor and speaker<br />

of the Federal Chamber of Representatives and during<br />

that time the first government was formed by a Socialist-<br />

Liberal coalition and the next one by a Liberal-Christian<br />

Democratic coalition. In my communal council the<br />

opposition was Christian Democratic and my coalition<br />

partner was Socialist, while in the province the three<br />

parties together had formed a coalition. Nationally<br />

versus regionally, everything was different even though<br />


52<br />

sometimes the same people were involved. Someone can<br />

be your alderman in the commune but your opponent in<br />

the parliament, which is something very hard to explain to<br />

anyone who is not in the field. So the logic by which we let<br />

ourselves be seduced in politics is completely strange to<br />

Belgium.<br />

Belgium is richer than ever in terms of medicine and<br />

science. The state, however, is poor and has to stay poor:<br />

it has to have a lot of debts, otherwise it does foolish<br />

things. There is no model for Europe and no one knows<br />

what it will be like in the future. Perhaps Belgium is<br />

somehow a forecast of what Europe could be: a not too<br />

dominant state, where there is room and freedom for<br />

people to go about their business as they see fit. A place to<br />

do business without the accusatory finger that is custom<br />

with some of our Northern neighbours, and without the<br />

class struggles that are present with some of our Southern<br />

neighbours. Many things happen in Belgium that many<br />

Belgians are totally indifferent about: every day over a 130<br />

international meetings take place in Brussels, but they are<br />

of no immediate concern to the average Belgian.<br />

After the elections (note of the editor: in 2019), I intend<br />

to create a forum of all CEO’s in private world companies<br />

that are Belgian together with Herman Daems. The<br />

proportion per square kilometre will amaze everyone. We<br />

have two out of three of the biggest dredging companies in<br />

the world: DEME and Jan De Nul. One of them is a close<br />

friend of mine and when asked which kind of personnel he<br />

is looking for, his response was Belgian engineers. In his<br />

opinion, they are the ones with sufficient feeling with both<br />

the top and the bottom of the enterprise; something other<br />

nationalities lack.<br />


Belgium is a very special piece of this planet, tortured<br />

by history, having resisted again and again, having a very<br />

great view on the world. Yet it also has its handicaps. One<br />

of those is that our national and regional stories easily<br />

become world news because over 1.500 international<br />

journalists are stationed in Brussels. The story of Marc<br />

Dutroux (a convicted criminal who kidnapped and raped<br />

several young girls before he was caught) is known all<br />

over the world, from Belgium to Japan. The events were<br />

of course horrific, but that worldwide attention is in part<br />

due to the presence of international press agencies in<br />

Brussels. When nothing happens at the European level<br />

or with NATO, these journalists look for different stories<br />

and they write about things happening in the countries<br />

they are staying at. That is also part of the explanation<br />

why the Puigdemont story in Catalonia became as big as<br />

Puigdemont wanted it to become. He was at the centre of<br />

attention thanks to his location. Because of the presence<br />

of the press, Belgium is always, despite its small size,<br />

under the scrutiny of the entire world.<br />


In his self-promotion book on the war in Gaulle/De Bello<br />

Gallico, Julius Caesar wrote ‘fortissimi sunt Belgae’ or<br />

‘the strongest are the Belgians’. They were brave, they<br />

were dangerous and fighting the Romans and won a<br />

battle against them. From that moment onwards, the<br />

word ‘Belgian’ is in a certain sense not always linked to a<br />

geographical location but it is rather a concept. I believe<br />

‘Brussels’ is still doing that, more so than Belgium. As a<br />

trademark, one of the best-known names in the world is<br />

‘Brussels’, which has a lot of consequences. Politically, a<br />

great many things happen in Brussels and people often<br />

speak in terms of ‘Brussels has decided…’. In addition,<br />

Brussels is well-known thanks to its connectivity to the<br />

rest of the world. My son-in-law is a leading engineer at<br />

Goodyear and he lived and worked in Paris for 4 years.<br />

He told me it is more difficult to reach middle sized cities<br />

in Europe from Paris than from Brussels. He came back<br />

to live in Brussels, 15 minutes from the airport and now<br />

he can reach Manchester, Liverpool, Toulouse, Bordeaux,<br />

Tallin, any place in Europe which he couldn’t reach as<br />

easily from Paris or any other city. The best way to reach<br />

European cities is via Brussels.<br />

That is my explanation for the extraordinary position<br />

of Belgium. Of course, every country is unique but I<br />

believe this one takes it to the next level. There is only<br />

one country where you can go to Place de Luxembourg<br />

and meet the whole world. Through a combination of<br />

coincidences and hard work, Brussels and Belgium have<br />

become a kind of safe place where everyone feels at home.<br />

A place where a lot of action takes place; politically,<br />

economically and culturally. Through that combination<br />

and perhaps also because there is something undefinable<br />

in the air in Belgium; something that is present all the<br />


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I arrived in Belgrade in the beginning of 2014 and after<br />

a couple of months, in May or June, I went to a classical<br />

concert in the City hall of Belgrade, organized for the<br />

benefit of what I then started to know as BELhospice. I<br />

started being interested in this specific case and a little while<br />

afterwards I was contacted by the fundraiser of BELhospice.<br />

She said: ‘We saw you were there. We understand that you<br />

are the Belgian Ambassador. Would you like to help us<br />

with our work, f.i. by giving a fundraising concert in your<br />

residence?’ So I said: ‘Of course, happily. I am most willing<br />

to do that.’ So we did a fundraising concert in the Belgian<br />

residence in Belgrade. It was not a big thing: we were about<br />

50 or 60 people but it was a lovely event, full of solidarity,<br />

with very good Serbian artists. Serbia has a lot of musical<br />

talent, pianists and violinists, it was a splendid evening.<br />

And then it continued, because I was then approached<br />

by Mr Graham Perolls, the Director of the organization<br />

‘Hospices of Hope’: a British charity organisation that funds<br />

Hospices where terminally ill people are being given hope,<br />

not of getting cured but of passing the last days or weeks<br />

or months of their years in dignity. And this is the whole<br />

concept of Hospices: you are welcome, we know you are<br />

fighting but losing a battle against a terminal illness, but you<br />

count for us, and we know that every day counts for you.<br />

And that is the spirit behind it.<br />

BELhospice, now directed by Vera Madzgalj, was founded<br />

in 2006 by Dr. Natasha Milicevic. As a doctor she saw that<br />

there was an enormous need to help the people in Serbia<br />

who have this critical illness. She started by organizing<br />

the home care service, that means going to these people’s<br />

homes where they are completely lost. A very important<br />

aspect is not only caring for these patients but also caring<br />

for the family members. And that is the unique feature of<br />

BELhospice: they have a global approach by which they<br />

not only take care of the pain which needs to be taken away<br />

with palliative care, they also take care of the psychology<br />

54<br />

Leo D‘aes - Belgian Ambassador in Serbia and Barbara Dietrich<br />

© Dieter Paternoster, Living Tomorrow

Leo D‘aes - Belgian Ambassador in Serbia<br />

© Dieter Paternoster, Living Tomorrow<br />

of knowing that you are dying and also of the helplessness<br />

of the family who all of a sudden learn that ‘my mother, my<br />

father, my brother, my sister’ will live for only six weeks or<br />

months or one year more.<br />

That approach (caring for the patients and their family)<br />

has the active support of the UK ‘Hospices of Hope’,<br />

which has already established a major Hospice in Romania,<br />

where I served as ambassador in 2008-2011. I was active<br />

then in another initiative, together with my wife, helping to<br />

establish a school inside a children’s hospital, working with<br />

an Irish NGO, with a sister Miriam, and with Belgians from<br />

Ghent.<br />

Also in Belgrade, it is a joint effort: we act as a team. The<br />

‘Hospices of Hope’ are a team, they work together with<br />

the BELhospice team. The Honorary Patrons Committee<br />

which I chair is a team of 14 people, doing this together.<br />

How ? How do you maintain a drive, an enthusiasm? You<br />

try to reach out to people who not only have sympathy,<br />

but also have good will in terms of ‘yes, we want to join<br />

in a case in which we believe’. So the importance of<br />

the fundraising cannot be underestimated, but not just<br />

by organizing lotteries or whatever… It is by going to<br />

businesses which believe in this effort. Because some causes<br />

are incredible, because they are amateurish, or because<br />

they are not standing on a sound financial or managerial<br />

basis. BELhospice is now a very sound and well-managed<br />

organization that has earned confidence for what it is<br />

doing and for how it is going about it. Genuine sympathy is<br />

translated into fundraising, from people of goodwill, being<br />

business or private persons, and — very importantly — is<br />

more and more supported by the authorities. You can be<br />

as noble as you want, in the case of such a fundamental<br />

problem you need the active support of the authorities.<br />

The authorities are very interested in this initiative because<br />

they know that it responds to a clear need. But in order to<br />

translate the support into practical cooperation, we need to<br />

go through a number of legalistic and bureaucratic phases,<br />

because we need to legalize the concept of BELhospice into<br />

the medical system. To be sure, such bureaucracy is not<br />

unique for Serbia, this is a process we have to go through<br />

because we are innovating here. Dame Cecile in England,<br />

and sister Leontine in Belgium also had to fight their way<br />

through. So once we have incorporated the idea of Hospice<br />

into the legal system, there is huge potential for active<br />

governmental support. Because taking care of patients<br />

outside a hospital, which is the case for the moment, that<br />

means sending out into the many homes doctors, nurses,<br />

social workers, every day, day-in day-out, requires (at the<br />

present level) around 250.000 € per year.<br />

What is now the aim? The home care is established. The<br />

next stage which we will try to reach in summer, which we<br />


want now to establish legally and in the field, is the day care.<br />

That means building a day care center: we have a house,<br />

which needs to be transformed into office and into day care<br />

center where helpless people who are suffering at home, can<br />

be brought to, for at least the long day. And as you might<br />

have understood: that idea, concept and realization of a<br />

day care is then the precursor for phase 2: the in-patient<br />

unit where you can receive 12 to 14 patients for a longer<br />

time. That is phase 2 on which we are working and which<br />

would require about 500.000 €, just to put it there. And<br />

once it is there we need to make sure that what we have put<br />

there will be sustainable. With my wife we firmly believe<br />

in this project, because it helps people who are desperate,<br />

it helps the family members who are desperate because<br />

they don’t know how to deal with this desperation, it<br />

responds to a need because there are very few palliative care<br />

units in the Serbian hospitals and if there are, they are not<br />

free of charge and very often the people cannot afford it.<br />

As I said, we are certainly not alone. There is the major<br />

force behind this, the idea behind the funds: ‘Hospices of<br />

Hope’ from the United Kingdom and I hope one day you<br />

can meet its Director Graham Perolls. We have generous<br />

help from Norway, which covers quite a lot of money for the<br />

functioning costs of day care, which is not evident because<br />

not many people, countries or organizations want to give<br />

money for running costs. We have obtained, thanks to the<br />

sound management of BELhospice’s CEO Vera Madzgalj a<br />

funding from the European Union, for the amount of nearly<br />

200.000 €, to help us to build Phase 1. That really gives us a<br />

strength, a certainty that we will continue to be there.<br />

But we should never relax, never sit back, never say: ‘we<br />

are there’ or ‘the money is there’. No, it is a continuing<br />

effort. Hence the awareness-campaigns which I explained<br />

to you, the necessity of keeping up the efforts for public<br />

dissemination. There is the yearly marathon: I think every<br />

major capital has a marathon and Belgrade also has its<br />

marathon. In this marathon, thanks to the support of the<br />

mayor and other authorities, there are at least 100/150<br />

volunteers running for BELhospice with a T-shirt of<br />

BELhospice, and by doing so they raise a lot of money.<br />

And this is something that I want to stress: the great<br />

importance of the volunteers. If BELhospice, with the staff<br />

they have, would need to do it alone, it would be impossible.<br />

They have a staff of in total between 10-15 people, with<br />

whom it is impossible to do the daily visits to all patients.<br />

They have around 160 trained volunteers and half of this<br />

group is actively operational and the others can be called<br />

upon. These volunteers are no doctors or nurses, but they<br />

go to the patient to help: they are trained to help with<br />

little daily tasks, to help in the household. If the patients<br />

ask: ‘Can we go out for some fresh air?’, the volunteers go<br />

56<br />

Leo D‘aes - Belgian Ambassador in Serbia and Barbara Dietrich in The Bistronomy<br />

© Dieter Paternoster, Living Tomorrow

Leo D‘aes - Belgian Ambassador in Serbia<br />

© Dieter Paternoster, Living Tomorrow<br />

out with them in a wheelchair. So they are very engaged,<br />

but keeping volunteers engaged takes also effort. So it is a<br />

permanent struggle, as I said, waged on a daily basis by a<br />

very engaged, small management team of BELhospice which<br />

I really admire and in this whole operation the Honorary<br />

Patrons Committee which I chair, plays just a modest<br />

contribution to help this effort of building a Hospice getting<br />

realized. But the main actors are BELhospice, ‘Hospices of<br />

Hope’, the main funders and private sponsors.<br />

We also have collection boxes, notably in the Delhaize<br />

mega-centers in Serbia, called Tempo. Collection boxes are<br />

also in a number of petrol stations, they are in all BENU<br />

pharmacies.<br />

So it is a great mobilization, but as I said, we cannot just<br />

sit back and say: ‘it is running’. It is a constant effort. Every<br />

year there is a charity ball by which around 100.000 € is<br />

collected — a truly great amount for BELhospice — but vital<br />

for its daily operations. It’s a popular event, always sold out,<br />

which is very heartening of course.<br />

What is very beautiful and moving is how this BELHospice<br />

idea came to Vilvoorde (thanks to my wife), how Living<br />

Tomorrow immediately picked it up, showed active interest,<br />

translating sympathy into concrete action, allowing me to<br />

tell this little story in the Bistronomy in Living Tomorrow.<br />

Living Tomorrow, an association with a lot of business<br />

contacts, is hosting the fantastic and unique works of art<br />

called HOOOP: wooden Pinocchio’s next to which we<br />

are sitting for this interview. Each of them is unique and<br />

translates really the beauty of engagement, I would say. I am<br />

very grateful and I want to take this opportunity to thank<br />

profoundly Director Patrick Aertsen and culinary master<br />

Marc Clément, and PR Chief Kaat Van Rentergem and her<br />

team, and Living Tomorrow Arts Curator Barbara Dietrich,<br />

for everything they did and want to do, like the intention of<br />

hosting a fundraising evening for BELhospice, and planning<br />

for a sustained cooperation for the benefit of people in need<br />

of care. I am truly grateful for such a magnificent support,<br />

built on trust and sympathy and a warm solidarity which<br />

touches me deeply.<br />


Indringingsweg 1 - 1800 Vilvoorde-Koningslo - Tel: +32 2 263 01 31 - E-mail: info@thebistronomy.com<br />




On January 29th, the European Corporate Security<br />

Association — ECSA — invited the Security Community at<br />

the Egmont Palace in Brussels for its yearly conference on<br />

the evolving security threats. After a warm welcome by ECSA<br />

Secretary general ir. Yvan De Mesmaeker, Mr. Adam Meyers<br />

— Vice President Intelligence at CrowdStrike and<br />

the Honorable Andrew C. Weber — former Assistant<br />

Secretary of Defense for Nuclear, Chemical and Biological<br />

Defense Programs, lectured on the threat and on the<br />

expected developments. Mr. Paul Van Tigchelt — Director of<br />

the BE Coordination Unit for the Threat Analysis, provided<br />

additional comments. After the presentations, all participants<br />

had the opportunity to talk to the speakers and to liaise with<br />

their counterparts during the ECSA New Year’s Reception.<br />

This yearly event was organised with the kind support of:<br />

Adam Meyers - Vice President Intelligence at CrowdStrike<br />

ir. Yvan De Mesmaeker - Secretary general of the European Corporate<br />

Security Association - ECSA, Honorable Andrew C. Weber - former Assistant<br />

Secretary of Defense for Nuclear, Chemical and Biological Defense Programs<br />


Chris Bombeke - Director Internal Security BELUX - Securitas, Chief<br />

Commissioner Eddy Baelemans - Office of the Minister of Interior & Security<br />

Chief Commissioner Michel Goovaerts - Chief of Police of Brussels Capital<br />

Mr. Paul Van Tigchelt - Director of the BE Coordination Unit for the Threat<br />

Analysis, prof. dr. Willy Bruggeman - Chairman of the BE Federal Police<br />

Council ir. Yvan De Mesmaeker - Secretary general of the European Corporate<br />

Security Association - ECSA<br />

Honorable Andrew C. Weber - former Assistant Secretary of Defense for Nuclear,<br />

Chemical and Biological Defense Programs, Ms. Barbara Dietrich - CEO of<br />

<strong>Diplomatic</strong> <strong>World</strong>, Mr. Peter Tulkens - CEO Politics Matters, Mr. Chris Frech -<br />

Senior Vice President Government Affairs of Emergent Biosolutions<br />

Maj. Gen. ir. Albert Husniaux - Chairman Royal High Institute for Defense<br />

Mr. Wayne J. Bush - Assistant Secretary General NATO, H.E. Ambassador<br />

Peter Martin - Chairman Interministerial Committee for Host Nation Policy<br />

Mr. Gilles de Kerchove - EU Counter-Terrorism Coordinator, Mr. Frédéric<br />

Van Leeuw - Federal Prosecutor, Mr. Guy Rapaille - Chairman Standing<br />

Intelligence Agencies Review Committee<br />

Mr. Rony Dresselaers - Director for Security and Transport of the Federal<br />

Agency for Nuclear Control, ir. Yvan De Mesmaeker - Secretary general of<br />

the European Corporate Security Association - ECSA, Ms. Wendy Bashnan<br />

- Deputy Assistant Secretary General for Security and Director of the NATO<br />

Office of Security<br />

Mr. Chris Frech - Senior Vice President Government Affairs of Emergent<br />

Biosolutions, Mr. Wayne J. Bush - Assistant Secretary General NATO<br />

Maj. Gen. ir. Albert Husniaux - Chairman Royal High Institute for Defense<br />




By 2025, 1/3 of the jobs are going to disappear, and<br />

another 1/3 will completely change. It is the biggest<br />

shift in the history of economy since the industrial<br />

revolution. One difference: the speed. In 5-7 years,<br />

world economy will be unrecognizeable. Most<br />

companies and governments have no idea what to<br />

do, nor where to go. In the best case, they focus<br />

on digitalisation. With the vulnerability to hacking<br />

today, building whole businesses exclusively on<br />

robots, AI, IoT, and digital revolutions is very risky.<br />

On the other hand, numerous new approaches to<br />

value creation are emerging everywhere — mostly<br />

under the radar. From Brussels, we have been<br />

gathering all these tendencies, mapping, clustering,<br />

analyzing and extrapolating them horizon 2025.<br />



60<br />

It is the geographic center of Europe, the HQ of most<br />

lobbies, federations, Nato, European Union, and<br />

multinational companies. But above all, Belgium has a skill<br />

to deal with multicultural issues and multiple agendas,<br />

through a blend of germanic culture, latin and Anglo-<br />

Saxon, and 140 others — combined with a culture of<br />

humble hard work and global engineering (Belgium was<br />

the world’s second economic power till 100 years ago).<br />

Belgians are welcome anywhere in the world, unlike some<br />

other nationalities. Embassies in Brussels are staffed by<br />

the best diplomats on the planet, with open lines with their<br />

heads of state. Moreover, all the good ideas pass through<br />

Brussels sooner or later. It is ideal to export new economic<br />

visions and models. The sandbox of those economic models<br />

will find their markets mostly abroad, as Belgium is quite<br />

conservative. Especially emerging economies with young<br />

populations, eager to learn and empower the next generation<br />

of humanist entrepreneurship serving global challenges.<br />

We need to experiment and empower collaboration between<br />

the players who have the most resources to create change:<br />

large corporations. They start to realize, little by little, that<br />

Michel de Kemmeter

they cannot innovate on their own. They will not be able to<br />

shift drastically before 2025. So, in short, they are big ships,<br />

aware of the iceberg, its size and position, but unable to<br />

turn the wheel in time. Two things should be done: (1) trim<br />

the ship for impact, get down to the basics, and (2) prepare<br />

the lifeboats. The lifeboats are new businesses, based on the<br />

new paradigms (collaborative, serving multiple challenges),<br />

and they will be able to swim in between the icebergs.<br />

These new businesses should be crisis-proof, bringing new<br />

coherence between people and economic activities. They<br />

will thus be able to tackle historical challenges in systemic,<br />

instead of linear ways. A few examples: sustainable rental<br />

housing, waste recycling, next generation education systems,<br />

senior population and sustainable pension funds, illness<br />

prevention, sustainable agriculture and food, greening<br />

deserts, etc…<br />

This experiment was started in Brussels. Half a dozen<br />

companies, twenty extrapreneurs of multiple backgrounds<br />

and generations, were trained on the next economic<br />

paradigms (24 days of action-training), hands-on creating<br />

the next generation businesses. In four months, they came<br />

up with new businesses, validated by stakeholders and<br />

market, all of them fully scalable. In combination with<br />

new systemic thinking and a top-down vision on the next<br />

generation macro-economic models, we have the DNA of<br />

transition.<br />

We have to mobilize the early adopters of new ways of<br />

creating value — those who did try internal innovation,<br />

incubators, without substantial success. Those large<br />

companies are now ready to open the box and share<br />

their resources with others to create the next generation<br />

businesses. We exfiltrate them in a dedicated space, and<br />

train their managers — together with a next generation<br />

entrepreneurs — to a new economic philosophy with brandnew<br />

tools. The first experiment of Extrapreneurs in Brussels<br />

is now ready to be franchised and scaled up.<br />



The next chapter of economic thinking is now being written<br />

all over the world. Thousands of experiments and studies<br />

are done and in process. We are compiling them with the<br />

“Club of Brussels”, and projecting economic vision on<br />

5-10 years. We qualify and quantify job destructions and<br />

creations, and prepare a road book for governments to help<br />

their economies resist global recession, and facilitate the<br />

emergence of new economic spaces. Social economy, digital<br />

economy, sharing- and collaborative economy, green and<br />

circular economies are the big winners. Public authorities,<br />

services, trade, industry are the big losers (studies to be<br />

found in “Shifting Economy”, Brussels 2017, by<br />

Mossay-de Kemmeter).<br />

Thousands of studies have been made on economic<br />

transition, but only very partially. It is now time to put all of<br />

them together to create a new holistic vision on economy.<br />

Following the paradigm shifts going on as we speak, it looks<br />

like public services will be made more efficient with digital<br />

tools, thus cheaper. Healthcare cost will go down, thanks<br />

to more prevention and education. Education will move to<br />

more peer-to-peer learning; it will be much more hands-on,<br />

efficient and cheaper. Mobility will be more shared and thus<br />

cheaper and with lower impact.<br />


62<br />

That culture will create much more societal value and<br />

rely less on public finances. We should quantify all these<br />

systemic shifts to make the figures work. Our taxes should<br />

lower, the value created should be higher, and thus global<br />

progress can be triggered.<br />

But we should not be naive. Such majors shift will take<br />

time. We can — at best — stimulate the creation of “islands<br />

of resilience”, interconnect them, and inspire others to shift<br />

also. This global shift follows the logic of organic mutation.<br />

We will not wake up some morning, in a new world. Shift<br />

happens one by one, company after company, community<br />

after community, city after city. The beauty of it is that<br />

everyone of us can be part of it — nothing will be decided<br />

for us by some higher power.<br />

Another good news is that there will be probably as many<br />

new jobs created in the new economic spaces, than jobs<br />

destructed in the old ones. Boring jobs will be replaced<br />

by empowering ones — much more in tune with peoples’<br />

excellences. Over 75% of the people working do jobs they<br />

don’t like. Burnout and depression rise exponentially. No<br />

surprise. This is just a sign that we do something wrong …<br />

A new coherence is expected to empower people. On micro/<br />

personal level, on company level, on national levels and on<br />

global levels. This is what Club of Brussels will map and<br />

calculate. Create an efficient tool to pilot our economies<br />

through this giant mutation.<br />



The economic challenges are only the top of the iceberg.<br />

The true challenge is the shift in global consciousness.<br />

People start to realize they are one, on a planet which is<br />

their common “mother”. That they cannot go on killing<br />

each other day after day, and destroying their mother earth.<br />

Big words. But what does it mean? It is multidimensional.<br />

We are mutating as humanity. (1) From patriarchal<br />

societies to a combination of patriarchal and matriarchal,<br />

integrating as such, both polarities. Masculine and<br />

feminine. (2) Shifting from dependance models, based on<br />

fear, to autonomy models, based on personal power and<br />

love. (3) From hierarchies to ecosystems. (4) From linear<br />

models (exhausting people and planet) to systemic models<br />

(nourishing people and planet). (5) From formatting and<br />

automation to individual and unique empowerment.<br />

(6) From ownership models to shared and collaborative<br />

models. We can go on and on. Everything is shifting. The<br />

only way we can follow these, understand them and act<br />

coherently, is a personal choice of consciousness. Decide<br />

to go beyond appearances, and use your talents to serve<br />

common good. Beyond ego and possession. It is — in a way<br />

— to be individually and collectively reborn as a fully grown<br />

human being. Humanity is little by little leaving behind<br />

childish behavior.<br />

In economy, it has fundamental impacts, and the first<br />

movers, enlightened leaders, are economically very<br />

successful. They all will tell you the same kind of stories …<br />



Humanity starts to realize it is a part of the (whole) specter<br />

of life. Humanity has the possibility to act consciously,<br />

unlike animal, vegetal and mineral reigns. As such, it has<br />

the capacity to connect reigns and to fulfill itself at its best<br />

potential. In its more mature behavior, humanity can inspire<br />

from the logic of nature, and implement optimal natural<br />

value creation. Studies show that collaboration on existing<br />

resources allow 4 to 5 times better (economic) results. Like<br />

in nature, with 100% efficiency and 0% waste. Those models<br />

have a new intelligence: systemics. It shows and empowers<br />

3D connexions between stakeholders — answering needs<br />

and sharing resources on multiple levels. Economy, in its<br />

basic etymology, “managing household”, has multiple value<br />

creation loops. Monetary transactions only account for a<br />

small part of the economic domain. Systemics allow to map<br />

and empower those connexions. It also takes into account<br />

the positive or negative collateral effects of economic<br />

exchanges.<br />

Systemic human intelligence is located in the prefrontal<br />

brain. Its neurons are 3-dimensional, it has a creative<br />

interconnecting function — there where in the conditioned/<br />

structured brain, the neurons are linear. Human beings only<br />

use around 10% of its brain capacity. Shifting to higher<br />

potential is key here, as a priority, before using Artificial<br />

Intelligence. The risk is that our IQ and discernment lowers<br />

by using more technology, without personal development<br />

and consciousness enhancement. Moreover, relying on<br />

too much technology will create a very new unexpected<br />

vulnerability of our businesses to unreliable and fragile<br />

technology. Hacking, fake news, electricity blackouts,<br />

or hyper complexity could cost entire companies. Very<br />

dangerous.<br />

The next model will ask to develop the capacity of holistic<br />

view. Like walking up the stairs to the first floor, whilst<br />

water and mud is rising at the ground floor and everybody

there struggles to survive. We need to develop the skill<br />

to see things from higher, as well as dive into concrete<br />

matters and make new systemic models work with natural<br />

intelligence.<br />


Of course, the whole operation has a series of ingredients<br />

for success. Constant humble personal development,<br />

constant research on new philosophies of value creation,<br />

learn from the most diverse horizons, search for<br />

coherence and alignment, be aware of emerging potential,<br />

understandable vocabulary and semantics, sense of<br />

timing, empowering systemic links, a strong and coherent<br />

validated methodology … in other words, a new enlightened<br />

leadership based as much on common sense than on sense<br />

of purpose serving common good. I know those people are<br />

there, sometimes under the radar. Maybe you too. Dare to<br />

come up with your deeper intuitions and fulfill your teams.<br />

It is the time to show and mobilize the best.<br />


The big “country” winners will be the countries with<br />

creativity, with young population, with a willpower to serve<br />

common good, cultures who are able to collaborate openly.<br />

The big employment winners in “economic models” will be,<br />

horizon 2025 : social business (will double), green economy<br />

(more than double), circular economy (also more than<br />

double), digital economy and robotisation will only gain +/-<br />

50%, knowledge economy will also gain around 50%, agroecology<br />

will tenfold. Sharing and collaborative economy will<br />

twentyfold — with the open question of employment and<br />

taxes …<br />

The big losers in employment will be services and trade<br />

(-50%), industrial agriculture (-60%), industry, energy and<br />

extraction will lose around 40%. Public services will lose<br />

between 10 and 70%, depending on the political choices<br />

made by their governments.<br />

The next chapter of world economy could be written from<br />

Brussels, in collective intelligence with the best global<br />

visionaries and experts. Eclectic, we need sociologues,<br />

psychologues, scientists, next generation leaders, and even<br />

artists and spiritual leaders, to assist our expert economists.<br />

The outcome will be a true “Growth Explorer” to help<br />

governments to pilot the mutation of their economies.<br />

Coaching the emergence of the new. But let us not be naive,<br />

it will take decennia till the whole economy is tuned into a<br />

new and strong coherence. It will happen in stages, through<br />

the emergence of “islands of resilience”. Those can be cities,<br />

companies, communities, based on new vision, autonomy<br />

and personal leadership. The rest will be more and more<br />

based on fear, stress and dependance. Little by little, people<br />

will diverge from a system they cannot survive inside, and<br />

do their personal coming out, connecting purpose, passion<br />

and new expected competences — to participate in the most<br />

fascinating adventure in human history.<br />

Michel de Kemmeter<br />

extrapreneurs.org - www.wiseholding.net - michel@uhdr.net<br />





“Upper classes can’t, lower classes don’t want to.<br />

Only when the ’lower classes’ do not want to live<br />

in the old way and when the ’upper classes’<br />

cannot carry on in the old way – only then can<br />

revolution triumph.”<br />

V.I. Lenin<br />

A 100 years ago, there was a Revolution throughout the<br />

<strong>World</strong>/in Europe/in Russia. Or as modern innovators would<br />

say: there was a Transformation; a change of a regime,<br />

management and consciousness.<br />

A 100 years ago, revolutionaries of that time met in<br />

apartments and at special events in Switzerland, where<br />

they discussed a new Life in new forms of its manifestation.<br />

Their eyes sparkled, and those sparks could burst to flames.<br />

The things they were uncomfortable with were inequality,<br />

complete political lawlessness, police and legal mayhem.<br />

At the same time of the traditional annual meeting of the<br />

upper classes, in those years, other young people gathered,<br />

very similar to those pioneers.<br />

The upper classes cannot carry on in the old way. Problems<br />

are everywhere and there are no solutions.<br />

A year ago there was a postulate that Capitalism was dead and<br />

technology would save all and everyone.<br />

This year they say that in general everything is bad and that<br />

technology will save no one. Technology is evil, while gender<br />

equality and humanism are the world’s bases.<br />

They wanted issues and problems to be solved collectively, by<br />

everyone, by agreement, and for everyone to be involved in a<br />

new society of equality that would allow even “a lady-cook to<br />

administer the affairs of the state (states)”. As today’s MVP<br />

starters would say, they conducted pre-ICO, a kind of PCO of<br />

that time (Private Coin Offering).<br />

In order to make everything work as it should, they needed<br />

one more thing: the appropriate technological solutions. Like<br />

all pioneers, the first movers had to die for the glory of future<br />

generations (who are often the second movers). After all, the<br />

results have been achieved by those who follow the pioneers’<br />

traces, walk over their bodies, learn from mistakes and have<br />

the latest technology in their hands. Google was not the first<br />

search engine and iTunes was not the first online music store.<br />

That is the pioneers’ fate.<br />

64<br />

100 years on.<br />

The same Switzerland. Davos.<br />

Alexander Shulgin with Joe Lubin (Co-founder of Etherium and<br />


Alexander Shulgin with Chinese crypto moguls at the Crypto Chappel in Davos<br />

“It is not enough for a successful revolution that the lower<br />

classes do not want to live as before. Another requirement is that<br />

upper classes cannot manage and run things as they did before.”<br />

On day one of Davos, Indian Prime Minister Narendra<br />

Modi listed his three most significant challenges to<br />

civilization, as we know it: climate change, terrorism and<br />

the backlash against globalization. He also spoke about the<br />

opportunities and dangers of technology:<br />

“Many societies and countries are becoming more and<br />

more focused on themselves. It feels like the opposite of<br />

globalization is happening. Everyone is talking about an<br />

interconnected world, but we will have to accept the fact that<br />

globalization is slowly losing its lustre.”<br />

(Narendra Modi PM India)<br />

Now look at what technology leaders, who grew up in their<br />

place and are semi-pioneers in part, answer to politicians:<br />

“We are very lucky because the world is in a big<br />

transformation because of technology. New technology will<br />

create interesting careers and a lot of successful people, but<br />

at the same time every new technology will create social<br />

problems.”<br />

“Artificial intelligence is seen as a threat to human beings.<br />

I think AI should support human beings. Technology should<br />

always do something that enables people and not disable<br />

them. The computer will always be smarter than you are;<br />

they never forget and they never get angry. But computers can<br />

never be as wise as humans. The AI and robots are going to<br />

make a lot of jobs obsolete, because in the future they will be<br />

done by machines. Service industries offer hope in this regard<br />

but they must be unique.”<br />

“If we do not align together, human beings are going to fight<br />

each other, because each technology revolution makes the<br />

world unbalanced.” (Jack Ma, Alibaba)<br />


Google chief, Sundar Pichai, repeated a line he first delivered<br />

at an MSNBC event last week, about how artificial intelligence<br />

is more important to humanity than fire or electricity. He said<br />

that despite concerns about AI, the potential benefits cannot<br />

and should not be ignored. “The risks are substantial, but<br />

the way you solve it is by looking ahead and thinking about<br />

AI safety from day one, and by being transparent and open<br />

about how we pursue it,” he said. “We must ensure the Fourth<br />

Industrial Revolution unfolds with humanity at its centre, not<br />

technology.”<br />

Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman of the<br />

<strong>World</strong> Economic Forum, even criticized crypto-currency at<br />

the forum in Davos as a landmark phenomenon. When the<br />

head of the IMF, Christine Lagarde, talked about the damage<br />

to the world energetics from the crypto-currency mining,<br />

Governor of the Bank of Canada, Stephen Poloz, compared<br />

bitcoin with gambling, and George Soros claimed that cryptocurrencies<br />

are a nest for dictators. These commentaries show<br />

how large-scale the use of blockchain has become, if decisions<br />

on its basis attract the attention of such major figures in the<br />

financial world.<br />

Alexander Shulgin with Valery Vavilov, founder and CEO of Bitfury<br />

group, leading Bitcoin Blockchain company<br />

66<br />

With over 400 sessions on the official programme in Davos,<br />

many contradicting things are said. The upper classes do not<br />

know what to do next, or they know, but they are unable to<br />

declare such knowledge.<br />

The lower classes do not want to. 187 blockchain events were<br />

held, when at the same time double that amount of ‘upper<br />

class’ events was being held in Davos during the <strong>World</strong><br />

Economic Forum.<br />

Although the statistics of the ‘upper class’ are impressive, as<br />

you can see below, new revolutionaries do not pay attention to<br />

what they are saying. They are probably following the famous<br />

paraphrasing of Che Guevara: “Give me 30 likeminded people<br />

and I will make a revolution in any country”.<br />

• 6 million individual unique visitors to the <strong>World</strong> Economic<br />

Forum’s website during the week of Davos<br />

• The world’s most influential people shared <strong>World</strong><br />

Economic Forum content on their social media channels –<br />

including French President Emmanuel Macron, UK Prime<br />

Minister Theresa May, German Chancellor Angela Merkel,<br />

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Canadian Prime<br />

Minister Justin Trudeau, and US President Donald Trump.<br />

The combined potential reach of all the accounts who<br />

shared Forum content is over 1 billion.<br />

• Over 150 Davos participants answered a direct question<br />

from the global public, posted to Instagram using the<br />

#sharedfutures tag<br />

• During the week of Davos, more than 33 million minutes<br />

of Forum-produced video were watched by members of the<br />

global public, over 50 million individual video streams.<br />

• 21 million views of over 200 sessions streamed from the<br />

WEF website, on Facebook, and Twitter in 6 languages<br />

• 225.000 stories about the <strong>World</strong> Economic Forum<br />

appeared in the global press during January 2018, over<br />

25% more than 2017<br />

At the same time one of the leaders of decentralized<br />

technologies, the Consensys company, declared that they<br />

are ready to Transform not a country or a continent, but the<br />

whole world.<br />

This was written in Davos in their Pavilion and online media:<br />







Now take a look at what they and their colleagues discussed<br />

in Davos, while the ‘upper classes’ lamented that this was<br />

impossible and there were a lot of dangers around.<br />

The post-pioneers were methodically discussing how to save<br />

the <strong>World</strong>. And the more the ‘upper classes’ lamented, the<br />

more clearly the new future leaders found solutions, while<br />

sitting in the Pavilion:<br />

- Blockchain Beyond Earth<br />

- The Future of Government<br />

- The Future of Education<br />

- The Future of Infrastructure and Transportation<br />

- Simply Vital Health<br />

- Blockchain for Climate Action and Climate Finance<br />

‘We, the People of Blockchain’. Yes, they say that they are a<br />

new nation/race: they are CryptoNation. Let me introduce<br />

a new term that is more mainstream than a capitalist or a<br />

socialist: ‘decentralist’.<br />

At the same time, many relevant issues were discussed in the<br />

large and modern Blockchain Central Pavilion, hosted by the<br />

Global Blockchain Business Council (GBBC):<br />

- Blockchain for Governments and Regulators<br />

- Blockchain in the Developing <strong>World</strong><br />

- Blockchain for the Environment<br />

- Identity (Friday)<br />

Alexander Shulgin with Bill Tai, active investor in Crypto<strong>World</strong><br />

If most people think that a new blockchain-based industry is<br />

just crypto-currency, I think that the issues discussed at this<br />

parallel Davos by the leaders of the crypto industry speak for<br />

themselves. And if most people still think that the leaders<br />

are just boys, students, speculating in the market of cryptocurrencies,<br />

then not only relevant issues that they discussed<br />

point the seriousness of these young revolutionaries, but also<br />

those guests and partners who were with them all the time to<br />

learn new things.<br />


Participants in GBBC events include, but are not limited to:<br />

• The Hon. Carl Bildt — Former Prime Minister of Sweden<br />

• Peteris Zilgalvis — EU Commission<br />

• Matthew Harrington — Edelman<br />

• Alex Petland — MIT Media Lab<br />

• Yorke Rhodes — Microsoft<br />

• Dr. Wang Wei — China Mergers & Acquisitions<br />

• Joel Tepner — Sullivan & Worcester<br />

• Valery Vavilov — The Bitfury Group<br />

• The Hon. Eva Kaili — EU Parliament<br />

• The Hon. Taavi Rovias — Former Prime Minister of<br />

Estonia<br />

• The Hon. Laurent Lamothe — Former Prime Minister of<br />

Haiti<br />

• Jamie Smith — GBBC/Bitfury/WEF Blockchain Council<br />

Co-Chair<br />

• Sandra Ro — UWINCorp<br />

• Elizabeth Rosiello — BitPesa<br />

• Roya Mahboob — Digital Citizen Fund<br />

• Jennifer Zhu Scott — Radian Blockchain Ventures<br />

• Yew Phang Kiat — Chong Sing Holdings Fintech<br />

• Brian Behlendorf — HyperLedger<br />

• Daniel Gasteiger — Procivis<br />

• Xu Ming Xing — OKlink<br />

• Albert Isola — Minister of Commerce, Govt. of Gibraltar<br />

• Tomicah Tillemann — New America/GBBC<br />

• Jim Newsome — Former Chairman of the CFTC<br />

• Meltem Demirors — Digital Currency Group<br />

• Julius Akinyemi — MIT/UWINCorp<br />

• Alan Cohn — Steptoe/Georgetown Law<br />

• Sebastian Vos — Covington<br />

• Mariana Dahan — <strong>World</strong> Identity Network<br />

• Dakota Gruener — ID2020<br />

• Jemma Green — Power Ledger/City of Perth<br />

• Leanne Kempe — Everledger/WEF<br />

• Michael Casey — MIT/CoinDesk<br />

• Ruth Wandhofer — Citi<br />


• Harris Fricker — GMP<br />

• Dante Disparte — Risk Cooperative<br />

• Bill Tai — ACTAI Global<br />

• Nick Cowan — Gibraltar Stock Exchange<br />

• Saruul Ganbataar — Bogd Bank<br />

• Guo Yuhang — Dianrong<br />

• Deng Di — Beijing Tai Cloud<br />

• Catrina Luchsinger Gaehwiler — FRORIEP<br />

• Heinrich Zetlmeyer — Lykke Corp<br />

How very true the Forbes magazine titled their final article<br />

published after the Forum in Davos:<br />

“One Thing Is Clear From Davos, Blockchain Is Out Of Beta”.<br />

I would say more, but I think the genie is out of the bottle.<br />

After all, revolutions may be very quiet.<br />

© Alexander Shulgin<br />


The Global Blockchain Business Council (GBBC) brings<br />

together founding members from over 30 countries to<br />

advance global understanding of Blockchain technology.<br />

Conceived on Sir Richard Branson’s Necker Island by a<br />

group of innovators, the GBBC launched formally during<br />

the 2017 Annual <strong>World</strong> Economic Forum Meeting in<br />

Davos, Switzerland. The organization is dedicated to<br />

furthering adoption of Blockchain technology through<br />

engaging and educating business leaders, regulators,<br />

and global change makers on how to harness this<br />

groundbreaking tool to create more secure, equitable, and<br />

functional societies.<br />

Just as the internet enabled the frictionless peer-to-peer<br />

exchange of information, blockchain has the potential to<br />

usher in the frictionless exchange of assets. Blockchain<br />

technology is the most secure way to transfer digitized<br />

assets and information peer-to-peer or organizationto-organization<br />

through the use of distributed ledgers.<br />

The adoption of Blockchain technology will enable<br />

businesses, governments, and organizations to ensure<br />

data integrity and create records, transactions, and<br />

systems that are highly secure, transparent and<br />

significantly more resilient against manipulation and<br />

corruption. The GBBC helps maximize the benefits of<br />

Blockchain for industry and society.<br />

The GBBC educates business leaders on blockchain<br />

technology, provides a forum for businesses and<br />

technology experts to collaborate on blockchain-based<br />

business solutions, supports businesses interested<br />

in implementing blockchain technology in their<br />

operations and advocates for the global adoption of this<br />

transformative technology.<br />

In providing a global survey of blockchain projects<br />

and regulation, the GBBC is establishing a baseline<br />

to evaluate future policy actions, and a framework for<br />

assessing progress in what will be a generational effort<br />

to deploy blockchain solutions. As an organization, we<br />

look forward to working with partners around the world<br />

to share the benefits of this powerful new technology<br />

and to replenish the reservoir of trust that irrigates our<br />

collective endeavors.<br />

“Education is a core component of our mission, as<br />

education leads to meaningful action in every space<br />

including the regulatory and corporate world,” said Jamie<br />

Smith, CEO of the Global Blockchain Business Council.<br />

“We are so grateful to our partners for sharing their<br />

incredible expertise and insight in this annual report.”<br />


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CRC_05954_Adv_<strong>Diplomatic</strong> <strong>World</strong>_Assistentiewoning_B230x300mm_UK.indd 1 20/02/18 14:52<br />



From 23th till 26th of January 2018, the 48th Global<br />

Economic Forum in Davos took place and suffered the<br />

heaviest snowfall in the meeting’s 48-year history. But this<br />

year, even more government leaders from all over the world<br />

braved the snow and were present in the Swiss mountains,<br />

than the year before. This year’s forum carried the theme<br />

“Creating a Shared Future in a Fractured <strong>World</strong>”. This<br />

Global event wants to “unite” every year more and more<br />

intensively, because all country leaders claim to be globalists,<br />

no protectionists, even Trump? We will find out how strong<br />

Trumps words were at the closing speech of the WEF.<br />

70<br />

After Trump started his Presidency in January 2017, the<br />

US Dollar weakened significantly during his first year of his<br />

leadership and gave the US export sector a boost. According<br />

to European Central Bank President Mario Draghi this<br />

drop of the USD was not driven by the economy, but a<br />

consequence of “public” statements. And this is “not” in<br />

line with the G-20 Commitment to refrain from competitive<br />

devaluations. Trump told CNBC at the WEF that he<br />

“ultimately would like to see a stronger dollar”.<br />

The message in his closing speech was clear; “when America<br />

grows, so does the world”. The drive for excellence, creativity<br />

and innovation in the US has led to important discoveries<br />

and help people everywhere to live more prosperous and<br />

healthier lives. This should be the lesson for all political<br />

leaders. Governments have to stimulate growth and countries<br />

have to work together. Prosper words, but how is the real<br />

praxis? Trump’s tax reform appears to be good for business,<br />

as companies will invest more and increase wages. The tax<br />

cuts are presenting European countries with a dilemma: Do<br />

they follow the U.S. and cut their own corporate tax rates,<br />

risking a race to the bottom? Or do they stay back and risk<br />

losing business to the U.S.? German Chancellor Angela<br />

Merkel talked about Europe taking some responsibility for<br />

its own future and French President Emmanuel Macron<br />

has made a pitch to investors on France’s behalf. But there<br />

doesn’t seem to be a clear European consensus on what to<br />

do going forward. Trump’s move into the White house a year<br />

ago with his “America First” agenda pushed EU policymakers<br />

to keep markets open worldwide. The EU continued building<br />

on existing European free-trade pacts with partners like<br />

Singapore, Vietnam and South Korea and the Mercosur<br />

group of Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay. “America<br />

first does not mean America alone”.<br />

At Davos this year we saw a clash of visions, or even<br />

ideologies. Europe’s message is that social democracy doesn’t<br />

only deliver lower levels of inequality, but also delivers<br />

growth and stable politics. America First is about higher<br />

walls and lower taxes and a state that is looking mainly after<br />

the corporate sector. Can the two coexist comfortably?<br />

The move to work strongly together and create a sustainable<br />

growth is one of the important lessons we read in Marga<br />

Hoek’s book “The Trillion Dollar Shift” launched at the WEF.<br />

Marga Hoek is working her whole life, helping and creating<br />

a more sustainable growth, because in the end only a<br />

sustainable business model is profitable for all of us. We<br />

constantly have to work on “awareness” of this sustainable<br />

business model and the politicians have to create the context,<br />

not “against” each other but “cooperating” with each other.<br />

There is no Plan B, because we do not have a Planet B.<br />

The Trillion Dollar Shift by Marga Hoek (2018) documents<br />

the contributions of the various businesses to the 17<br />

Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s) as created by<br />

the United Nations. It also shows the opportunities for all<br />

businesses to impact those SDG’s on a Global scale. The<br />

book is a call to action for both business and capital to reach<br />

the SDG’s by 2030.<br />

The Paris Climate Agreement and the Sustainable<br />

Development Goals (SDGs) drive change and offer a<br />

narrative and an opportunity to all to speak in one language

on sustainability. They provide us with a clear set of targets<br />

for 2030. Through following the SDGs, opportunities<br />

abound for business and capital to unlock markets which<br />

offer endless potential for profit, while at the same time<br />

working towards the Sustainable Development Goals. This<br />

book illustrates for business how to make the much-needed<br />

“Trillion Dollar Shift”.<br />

Human Rights, Labor, Environment and Anti-Corruption are<br />

important achors in this story. The SDG’s focus on a strong<br />

reduction of poverty and hunger, good health, a responsible<br />

consumption and production, gender equality, climate action<br />

and strong justice and institutions. This book sets out how<br />

business and capital now have a real opportunity to help<br />

resolve these problems.<br />

In 50 case studies, concrete business examples, the book<br />

vividly describes the impacts on and contributions to the<br />

various SDG’s.<br />

The first example Unilever is proving that there is no<br />

contradiction between sustainable and profitable growth.<br />

IKEA measures their sustainability Impact by tracking the<br />

sales of products that are categorised as enabling a more<br />

sustainable life at home. Another case study shows that<br />

many solar energy entrepreneurs in devloping countries are<br />

waiting to be able to scale their businesses with fair loans<br />

at reasonable prices. The Sanivation case emphasises that<br />

innovative ideas not only provide safe, affordable and clean<br />

energy, they also unlock a whole new market. The GAP<br />

example shows how gender equality can pay dividends both<br />

for core business as well as for society at large.<br />

© Shutterstock<br />

Technology is a very important driving force behind<br />

innovation, connectivity, productivity and efficiency in nearly<br />

every sector. Financial institutions and large enterprises<br />

have been working on blockchain-based solutions, or so<br />

called distributed ledger technology, for some years, but<br />

most activity has been in the development and testing<br />

stages. 2018 will be the start of many starting the tests in<br />

production and this will facilitate secure and transparent<br />

financial transactions and has the potential to rock economic<br />

foundations. In the short term, such blockchain applications<br />

will reduce costs and increase quality of outcomes, primarily<br />

for the enterprises themselves.<br />

But in the long term the same applications will connect<br />

manufacturer-creator-provider and consumer and end user<br />

directly, removing the need for additional participants<br />

in the supply chain. The blockchain technology is for<br />

example already used for energy transactions in smart grids<br />

providing a means to keep track of electricity consumed and<br />

delivered. Huawei believes investment in technology is a key<br />

accelerating factor to help nations achieve the SDG’s and<br />

Siemens smart grid solutions make it possible to modernise<br />

and adapt existing power grids to future expectations. And<br />

finally Thermo-Systems developed a system to process the<br />

sludge in an environmentally safe way using automated robots<br />

to “do the dirty work”.<br />

This highly readable book is a must-read for businesses (large<br />

and small) that wish to genuinely support the delivery of the<br />

SDGs.<br />

Dorin Deelen<br />

Owner Merit Capital AG/Swiss Family office<br />





“A blockchain is a digital and distributed ledger of<br />

transactions, recorded and replicated in real time<br />

across a network of computers or nodes. Every<br />

transaction must be cryptographically validated<br />

via a consensus mechanism executed by the nodes<br />

before being permanently added as a new “block”<br />

at the end of the “chain”. There is no need for a<br />

central authority to approve the transaction, which<br />

is why blockchain is sometimes referred to as a<br />

peer-to-peer trustless mechanism.” (Deloitte;<br />

February 06, 2018 in Blockchain: A technical<br />

primer).<br />

72<br />

Blockchain revolutionizes the way we store and exchange<br />

values. Will it be a major game changer? Will the<br />

combination of internet and blockchain have similar<br />

effects on society, political structures and economy as the<br />

invention of book printing had in the 16th century? The<br />

following essay is going to point out arguments in advantage<br />

or against the use of blockchain.<br />

Blockchain is in the perception enormously linked to<br />

cryptocurrencies. Furthermore, there is a debate arising<br />

whether the cryptocurrencies will become a real currency<br />

in the economy. The role of money is to be a means of<br />

exchange in transactions of goods and services and giving<br />

them a price. It has as well the function to store values<br />

between two transactions. The big question will be whether<br />

cryptocurrencies could replace fiat money, which is created<br />

by the central banks and the credit business of commercial<br />

banks. This debate started and became also emotional, but<br />

there are no clear results yet.<br />

One of the raised arguments is the lack of regulation of<br />

cryptocurrencies. We can be sure that bank supervisors<br />

and financial service authorities will try to regulate it.<br />

What effect it will have on cryptocurrencies is still open.<br />

On the one hand, it can give credibility, on the other<br />

hand, it can frustrate innovation, flexibility, efficiency and<br />

competitiveness. A major advantage of cryptocurrencies is<br />

the increasingly new competition created for fiat money.<br />

Today’s monetary system is enormously based on<br />

institutions and as well the government. The only reason<br />

that there has not happened a larger crisis yet, is that the<br />

society still trusts in institutions. Cryptocurrencies can<br />

certainly not heal these huge dependencies, but they can<br />

support in creating competition and due to that forcing<br />

solutions. Ironically, the expansion of fiat money to cover<br />

financial deficits are also creating bubbles which could again<br />

lead to crisis. The low to zero interest rates in this context<br />

is destroying savings and pension reserves. Irrelevant<br />

of the development of the present monetary system,<br />

cryptocurrencies will be part of the future economy.<br />

Blockchain and its revolutionary transaction system is<br />

the basis. But financial services only part of the possible<br />

users of blockchain technology. Blockchain will cause an<br />

elimination of intermediaries which leads to reducing costs,<br />

increasing efficiency and speed. You can use smart contracts<br />

which would mean, that not only the contract is confirmed<br />

and is stored, but it can also trigger consequences of the<br />

contract immediately, such as payment. In case of a lease

contract — for instance for an apartment — no lawyers, no<br />

notaries would be needed any more. It could be directly<br />

agreed, in an undeletable way between the person renting<br />

and the landlord.<br />

But it is even more efficient for centralized business models,<br />

which are important in a world of a sharing economy.<br />

These models need large aggregators at present that control<br />

systems and information and which risk to unequally or<br />

even arbitrary redistribute value among all contributors.<br />

Blockchain can easily replace these aggregators and the<br />

value chain in a shared economy becomes a lot more<br />

efficient. Some other examples could be improvements in<br />

the supply chain management. Products can be traced from<br />

manufacturing (including raw material, semi-finished goods,<br />

manufacturing process) to the final usage by consumers or<br />

customers. In the energy sector, the different participants<br />

in the value chain can speed up the processes. In trade,<br />

blockchain can link all different participants but it can<br />

also offer platforms to improve, accelerate and enforce the<br />

security of the financing of international trade. Especially<br />

here blockchain will facilitate verification and confirmation.<br />

There are also a lot of applications in the health care area<br />

and as mentioned before in the public sector.<br />

All sectors of business are now suffering from a high density<br />

of red tape, excessive regulatory framework and as well<br />

lots of controls. Furthermore, legal costs are skyrocketing.<br />

Blockchain can help a lot to facilitate and will make several<br />

regulations and controls obsolete.<br />

However, there are not only advantages but also risks and<br />

today’s society is still suspicious of new technologies,<br />

especially the anonymity of blockchain which increases<br />

criminal misuse. Even though, there is an enormous and<br />

fast development. We should acknowledge one thing,<br />

that any system can be misused by criminals. However,<br />

the undeletable inscriptions can also help prosecution.<br />

Regulations and restrictions of the government can reduce<br />

the risk but allow an undue violation of the right to privacy<br />

by authorities. The most important part to secure yourself<br />

is your digital key. The skill will be how to store and protect<br />

this key, so that nobody else can misuse it. In the balancing<br />

mechanism, damaging and corrupt monopolies can<br />

theoretically be created, with the objective to manipulate<br />

blockchain in favor of some third party.<br />

In our society one of the biggest drivers of progress<br />

and common good were the property rights. In theory,<br />

blockchain should have the capacity to strengthen property<br />

rights and to reduce the costs of owning and exchanging<br />

property. During transactions, legal costs can be reduced<br />

drastically, legal security increased and in consequence<br />

there should be much less room for litigation. Excessive<br />

litigation has become a basic problem for property rights,<br />

but it also adds unnecessary costs and lack of planning<br />

security for the economy.<br />

As it is a good incorruptible system to record transactions<br />

and values, it will also reduce corruption in public life.<br />

People will become a lot less dependent of public agencies<br />

for registration and other public services. The less public<br />

agencies are needed in the economic life, the less corruption<br />

exists.<br />

Prince Michael of Liechtenstein, Founder and Chairman of<br />

Geopolitical Intelligence Services AG, Vaduz<br />

Blockchain as well as other technological development,<br />

e.g. robotics and artificial intelligence, will not replace the<br />

human factor in the economic value chain. It will certainly<br />

change jobs, but it will also make jobs a lot more productive<br />

and a lot more efficient.<br />







Congo is a country of contradictions. It calls to<br />

mind words like corruption, poverty and unrest<br />

but at the same time it is rich with resources and<br />

has a vast array of tribal cultures. It has everything<br />

it needs to succeed in becoming a leading force in<br />

lifting the African continent to new heights.<br />

Félix Antoine Tshilombo explains what he believes<br />

needs to be done to make Congo a success story.<br />


Congo has many problems that started with Mobutu and<br />

towards the end of Mobutu’s reign, and became even worse<br />

with Kabila. There will be a lot of work to cleanse the system.<br />

Congo has a school system but a fragmented and unravelled<br />

one. People graduate from university but their competence<br />

level is simply not good enough, which is an incredible<br />

shame. French is Congo’s official language but the graduates<br />

hardly know how to speak, write or even align three correct<br />

sentences. In addition, the system is corrupt at every level.<br />

The teachers are not paid or very poorly paid, so they pass<br />

the students according to the principle of “those who pay,<br />

pass”.<br />

put in place, will never work. Our country is messed up<br />

at this point. First, we have to install structures again,<br />

something that has been demolished for over 30 years<br />

now. Today, the country works without structure and is<br />

in a non-state situation. Second, there needs to be a fight<br />

to restore morality and install an honest administration.<br />

That brings me to another big problem: everything goes<br />

wrong when you do not pay people for their services.<br />

Especially in the administration, which is where taxes come<br />

in. When the people working there are not compensated<br />

for their services, they start serving themselves. In the end,<br />

there is nothing left and there is no way to make a decent<br />

budget. In a system like this health, education and security<br />

are the first elements to suffer.<br />

74<br />

A major project will be to change the mentality. There are<br />

many anti-values that have become integrated in our society.<br />

People live in corruption and have come to see it as a<br />

normal thing. We are afraid of everyone and we doubt each<br />

other because everyone is in competition and wants to win.<br />

The Congo should not be regarded as a traditional country.<br />

We cannot apply readymade programs, which is why<br />

all the therapies that the IMF and similar organisations<br />

Félix Antoine Tshilombo Tshisekedi

Barbara Dietrich and Félix Antoine Tshilombo Tshisekedi<br />

Only when we have restored a rule of law, we can work on<br />

policies to straighten the economy so that we can increase<br />

purchasing power because the people need it. The Congo is<br />

a rich country so it is possible to give people a decent and<br />

prosperous life.<br />

Once we reinstall good values and create a secure climate,<br />

investors can come in and see that their interests are<br />

safe and guaranteed. This will create an influx of new<br />

investments and an economic revival that will lift the<br />

revenue. New investments will create jobs and at the same<br />

give the government the necessary funding to improve<br />

health, education, etc.<br />


The family unit is another very important factor we have<br />

to consider. The family unit, which is the very core of our<br />

nation, no longer matters in the Congo today. Fathers are<br />

often not paid and neglect their children. More and more<br />

women today work to feed the children, but they do not<br />

always find honest work. Girls as young as nine years old<br />

are prostituting themselves to feed the family. Traditionally,<br />

things should be reversed and it is the father’s task to<br />

provide for his family. These situations are often seen in<br />

military families, for example. In the army, the soldier does<br />

not have the right to work, they can only settle for their<br />

wages. Wages are meagre and sometimes not even paid so it<br />

falls to the women who are working to feed the family.<br />

It is necessary to rethink the family unit and to restore the<br />

purchasing power. By giving value to employment, by giving<br />

the people work will in turn help them find their dignity and<br />

automatically restore the traditional Congolese values of the<br />

close family unit.<br />


Of course, installing security is the most important and<br />

a priority. We must secure our borders and secure our<br />

citizens. All this traffic of gold and coltan by the border is<br />

a shortfall for our country. The way to stop it is to explain<br />

to the people living or working there that they have an<br />

interest in selling the products to their own country. By<br />

paying taxes on the items they sell, they can help the<br />

country become prosperous again and help us. Of course,<br />

they need to be reassured that we restored a rule of law.<br />

Now their idea is that since people at government level are<br />

stealing, then so do we. To them this is perfectly normal.<br />

Once the corruption is gone, we can give back a sense of<br />

patriotism. People need to understand that it is pointless<br />

to cross the border and sell Congolese gold in Uganda,<br />

coltan in Rwanda, etc. Our country and our people will not<br />


Vegetable and fruit market at the outskirts of Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo<br />

© Shutterstock<br />

76<br />

win anything. Now there is only a short win for a limited<br />

amount of people that quickly evaporates. If we can process<br />

the coltan in Congo, we can start rebuilding the country<br />

with roads and decent housing. We need to fix and renew<br />

the power system, install electricity and provide clean water<br />

in every village.<br />

We need not only revive construction but concentrate on<br />

agriculture as well. Congo is a very fertile land. We need to<br />

build partnerships in developing agriculture in our country.<br />

Not only will this solve the problem of starvation in our<br />

country, but we will even be able to export. We have the<br />

land and we have the products but now lack the means to<br />

sell them to the rest of the world.<br />


It is vital that future leadership is responsible leadership.<br />

That is what we want to accomplish after all those years of<br />

misfortune that we experienced after independence. It is<br />

time for the Congolese to invest in responsible leadership<br />

that will be able to show the right direction and ensure<br />

democracy. We do not want one single conviction ruling<br />

and imposing its ideas. We need a democratic debate.<br />

Without democratic debate we will never find out what<br />

the people’s needs are. Congo has more than 400 tribes,<br />

which means there are over 400 customs and different<br />

ways of living. Congo’s official language is French now, but<br />

each tribe has its dialect. Those dialects have been divided<br />

into 4 linguistic families so we can choose 4 additional<br />

national languages. You have to take all 400 tribes into<br />

consideration if you want to improve this country; a thing<br />

we already know by tradition because we have a culture of<br />

debate. Traditionally, we had the African ‘palabre’ or talk.<br />

Unfortunately, it has not evolved and was not modernized.<br />

It remained at the village level. Nowadays, with society<br />

broken into pieces, even these values are lost. There is a<br />

way to bring them back but for that we need a leader who<br />

accepts these traditions and who tackles these problems<br />

seriously.<br />

Once peace is restored, it is necessary to create a cultural<br />

revival. To obtain peace between the tribes and the cultural<br />

resourcing of people, we need to solve the problem of<br />

poverty and education. When we achieve that, people<br />

will be interested in getting to know each other and<br />

exchange culture. It is an effective way of bringing people<br />

together. Artists today are among the poorest and most<br />

deprived people, especially artists who make art objects like<br />

sculptors and painters.<br />

The cultural value of Congo deserves to be known all<br />

over the world. We can achieve this but it will have to<br />

be implemented at a later stage. Today some cultural

exchange already exists within our country. There are a lot<br />

of intercultural marriages which brings people together<br />

in some ways. Simply by intertribal weddings, things are<br />

evolving well. For example, my wife and I, we are not from<br />

the same tribe. She is from the east, from Bukavu, while I<br />

am from the Kasai.<br />


Before we can proceed to cultural interchange, we have<br />

to fight poverty. Poverty is one of the main causes of the<br />

escape of our young people. They flee to countries like<br />

Libya where we see massacres being done. People leave their<br />

country for different reasons but the most important one is<br />

no hope to end poverty. It is human nature to go elsewhere<br />

seeking to survive. When something is not going well when<br />

in one place, we try to go somewhere else.<br />

At times we see tribal quarrels over poverty. There can<br />

be jealousy of those that are richer and that is what kills<br />

solidarity. It happens even in the countries where people<br />

are generally better off. You can live in a country with a<br />

democratic tradition for centuries and generations but<br />

as soon as there is a crisis the first instinct is to protect<br />

oneself. They will say ‘the migrant’ is the problem and that<br />

immigration has to stop. It is the human reflex to say ‘us<br />

first’, to withdraw into oneself.<br />


Once security is handled, tourism will thrive. We have a<br />

beautiful country, well worth visiting and it can bring lots<br />

of tourists. The success of this endeavour depends on one<br />

thing: installing the rule of law. We must restore a rule<br />

of law, an honest administration, secure the citizens, and<br />

reinstall the traditional values that are now totally upside<br />

down. Those must be restored so that Congo will again be<br />

the engine and the heart of Africa.<br />

Congo is sick today. Germany’s neighbours benefit<br />

from the magnitude and greatness of Germany, but our<br />

neighbours take advantage of Congo’s weakness. I have<br />

already mentioned the coltan that travels across the river.<br />

In Rwanda there is a refinery to treat coltan while they are<br />

not producers. The coltan comes from Congo and leaves<br />

the country without taxes. The same happens with the gold<br />

coming out of Ituri that goes to Uganda and the copper that<br />

goes to Zambia. Copper, cobalt, coltan and gold leave the<br />

country almost for free nowadays.<br />

If the Congo succeeds in changing all this, the country will<br />

win and everyone can benefit. It is the beginning of peace,<br />

for if everyone benefits there will be no reason for war or<br />

tribal warfare. Today everything is based on poverty or lack<br />

of prosperity. Still, there is opportunity to be seen in our<br />

bad luck. We have seen how some countries have advanced<br />

and how others have made mistakes. We have learned those<br />

lessons and can now move forward and avoid the mistakes<br />

others have made.<br />

Unfortunately, I wonder whether our neighbours really<br />

want the same thing as we do. I am convinced that if Congo<br />

prospers, everyone will benefit. We are trying to explain to<br />

our neighbours that they have an interest in Congo doing<br />

well, because then we can create a vast free trade area, much<br />

like the model of the Benelux or even the European Union.<br />

It can be done at the scale of Central Africa with all its<br />

countries and all countries will benefit from this force that<br />

will also revive Congo. Eventually, they will get the message<br />

because in most of these countries, there are problems as<br />

well. Most of the Central African countries are dictatorial in<br />

nature, with the exception of Zambia. Rwanda, Burundi and<br />

Brazzaville are in a similar situation as we are.<br />


The first step is a mindset towards change but implementing<br />

change also takes purchasing power. When people can live<br />

in peace, they can keep the peace. When you remove their<br />

means to live, people become corrupt and start to steal,<br />

forcing the government to impose security. There is a lot<br />

of work to be done but it is possible to achieve it in a short<br />

amount of time.<br />

First, the leadership itself has to be severe and demanding<br />

with itself and require the same from its subjects. Once this<br />

is implemented, it will work because people will quickly<br />

understand that seriousness has arrived. Unfortunately, we<br />

have seen this happen before in Congo. At first, Laurent<br />

Désiré Kabilla looked like he meant serious business. He<br />

came and enforced the law, a bit brutal, a little violent,<br />

but the people kept quiet. But then we started to see the<br />

corruption and came to see he is just like all the others,<br />

which is similar to what happened with Mobutu. People<br />

understood that, again, it was not a serious try.<br />

At this moment we have a power that is dictatorial, which<br />

suppresses every move towards change. When we have<br />

demonstrations, we are bullied and arrested each time. On<br />


November 30h, for example, I wanted to go to the protest<br />

and was prevented from leaving my house by police officers.<br />

The police officers stayed in front of my house to prevent<br />

me and the demonstrators who were outside waiting for me<br />

from demonstrating. They were scattered rapidly and some<br />

were wounded. Most of the media support Kabila and are<br />

paid by him. Free journalists who try to oppose this and<br />

report freely and truly, are often punished. They are falsely<br />

accused with fabricated stories.<br />

A journalist I know was arrested and tortured on November<br />

29th. He was abducted and tortured for two days, whilst<br />

I had met him only hours before. Afterwards he was<br />

presented to the media and was forced to say that he had<br />

not been threatened or tortured. Some journalists and<br />

human rights defenders have it even worse and are killed;<br />

the best known is Floribert Chebeya who was killed in June<br />

2010. This is everyday life in Congo.<br />

In this context there is no point in talking about elections<br />

because they seem impossible. How are we supposed to go<br />

to elections with a government that forbids us from making<br />

peaceful demonstrations? They forbid us to go to our bases<br />

and militants to speak to them and discuss with them. We<br />

do not even have the right to do that since they banned all<br />

political gatherings. Any gatherings. There is no way to fully<br />

function like this.<br />

To have legal and honest elections, we must expel the<br />

current leaders from power and hope that things will evolve.<br />

We have two ways to achieve this. The first is with the<br />

population, through endless demonstrations asking for his<br />

departure. The second way is a call to the International<br />

Community. We hope that the world will finally understand<br />

that it is not possible to have elections with Kabila. He does<br />

not want elections in Congo because he does not want to<br />

leave power.<br />

HOPE<br />

Angola is a very good example of how things can change.<br />

Angola had 25 years of war which produced a generation<br />

of young people who did not have the chance to go to<br />

school. The country set up a group of executives that<br />

function in a company’s framework during the day and<br />

that teaches young people at night, organizing courses to<br />

help them upgrade. I think there is a way to find solutions<br />

similar to this. Congo could also benefit from foreign<br />

experience and we are no longer excluding this, since we<br />

saw this approach was successful in Rwanda. The Rwandese<br />

population was decimated so a lot of foreign experts came<br />

to help put an administration back together. What works for<br />

Congo can be judged when the time comes.<br />

Congo’s greatest treasure are the youth, that I know for<br />

sure. We have roughly 60% to 70% of the population that<br />

is made up of young people, which is a real plus for the<br />

future. Young people are eager to learn and they learn very<br />

quickly. There will be a way to set up remittance programs<br />

to try to make up for the delay we are living through now.<br />

But as I said before, the trick is to have the right framework<br />

to make all of this happen. If the framework is serious,<br />

everyone will move in the same direction, but if we continue<br />

in the same way as today, it will not work.<br />

A government’s focus should not be on how everyone can<br />

fill their pockets. The challenge for the next President is<br />

to bring change for the better. For us it is an honour to<br />

be there and witness the first steps of a new Congo. I am<br />

certain that many teachers, schoolteachers, technicians,<br />

engineers, farmers, etc. will want to work in Congo, even<br />

if only for weeks or months to teach. For this country has<br />

everything it needs to succeed!<br />

78<br />

The Constitution is clear: a president can stay for a<br />

maximum of 2 terms and then it is over. A first mandate<br />

can be renewed one time, no more. Therefore, we ask the<br />

International Community to help us make Kabila leave by<br />

sanctions. In our view, we must sanction him and his family<br />

because they are the ones stealing from our country. It will<br />

take targeted sanctions against him, his brothers and his<br />

sisters. We think that the pressure we put on him internally<br />

and pressure from the International Community will make<br />

him leave power. Nobody doubts that we need change but it<br />

takes more than thinking or believing.<br />


• Son of celebrated opposition leader Etienne<br />

Tshisekedi, who defied Presidents Mobutu and<br />

Kabila.<br />

• Has described as “Stalinesque” the government<br />

attempts to muzzle the opposition.<br />

• Relative political newcomer, criticised by some for<br />

inexperience.<br />

• Lived in Belgium for many years before entering<br />

politics at home.

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Highlighted in <strong>Diplomatic</strong> <strong>World</strong> 55, the Impact Investment<br />

Summit 2017 in Zug, co-hosted by the Swiss Impact<br />

Investment Association (SIIA) and the Alliance of Religions<br />

and Conservation (ARC), set a new standard for faith and<br />

value based investing. The signing of the Zug Guidelines<br />

to Faith-Consistent Investment and the Zug Declaration<br />

represents official commitments of faith-based investors and<br />

philanthropies to invest their assets in environmentally and<br />

socially sound projects. At their parallel event, ARC worked<br />

closely with representatives of eight major global religions<br />

to write the Zug Guidelines that are to serve the faiths as<br />

principles for investing their assets, and furthermore, serve<br />

as a platform to publicise these principles. Founded in<br />

1995 by HRH The Prince Philip, ARC engages the faiths in<br />

dialogue and helps them develop environmental programs<br />

based upon their beliefs. For over 20 years, they havwe<br />

linked religions to environmental organisations, creating<br />

powerful, effective alliances. <strong>Diplomatic</strong> <strong>World</strong> had the<br />

chance to interview Martin Palmer, Secretary General of<br />

ARC, following the SIIA Investment Summit.<br />

80<br />

Please describe the process leading up to the Zug<br />

Guidelines and the goal of the faiths’ pledge in<br />

impactful investment. Did the idea emerge from<br />

a momentary, incendiary thought or ripen over a<br />

longer time? How was the collaborative process<br />

with the faiths?<br />

In 1999, I went to a meeting in Washington DC with WWF<br />

USA. They were the most resistant WWF branch to the idea<br />

of working with religions. Ironically, they were all practicing<br />

Hindus, Christians, or Jews, but it was a step too far for<br />

them to consider religion in their field of work. I expected<br />

a hostile reception as I was sitting outside the main board<br />

room, when I heard a passerby say, ‘I don’t know why we are<br />

bothering with this meeting about religion. If they wanted<br />

to, they could use their wealth and buy a company like<br />

Monsanto and turn it to be an environmental organisation.<br />

Why don’t they?’ I thought, ‘O bother, are enemies in the<br />

camp.’ Then I thought, it is actually a good idea. Therefore,<br />

in response to a new version of the classic, dismissive<br />

argument that if only the religions could give away all their<br />

wealth, they could solve all the problems in the world, in<br />

2000 we did an audit of what major faiths owned. Land,<br />

buildings, schools, hospitals, farmland, forestry, and<br />

investments. We were absolutely astonished, how much<br />

money and investments the faiths actually had. Far more<br />

than I had expected, and I belong to the Church of England<br />

and we have an awful amount of money and land. We own<br />

10% of England.<br />

There is a long tradition of what faiths will not invest in. For<br />

example, Muslims would traditionally not invest in anything<br />

that would charge interest, or the Quakers in anything to

Mr. Martin Palmer<br />

do with armaments. And so, challenged by this off-hand<br />

comment that I had overheard, we asked, ‘We know what<br />

you are against, what are you for?’ Interestingly, we were too<br />

early in asking that question. What we actually discovered,<br />

as we first held a meeting with faith investors in 2001 in<br />

New York, was that less than 25% of the faith funds that<br />

we were in touch with, had developed a negative screening<br />

process. The majority needed still to develop a negative<br />

screening process.<br />

In 2015 we were asked by the UN, if we would co-host the<br />

main meeting between the religions and the UN on the<br />

Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Twenty-eight<br />

faith commitments resulted from that meeting. The UN<br />

noticed that nine of these said they were thinking about<br />

shifting their investments into environmentally sustainable<br />

development. The UN was terribly excited and asked us,<br />

whether the religions have any money. We affirmed they did.<br />

We wrote a paper for the UN called “Faith in Finance” that<br />

we launched last December in China at a multi-faith and<br />

multi-government event.<br />

Now it became very clear that the faiths had shifted, 75%,<br />

maybe even 80% have now got well-developed negative<br />

screening processes.<br />

In January 2017 we asked them again, ‘We know what you<br />

are against, what are you for?’ They were ready. They were<br />

ready, but they had not thought it through. They were aware<br />

of the fact that the UN were asking for the SDGs to be<br />

funded primarily by investment, they were thinking about it,<br />

but they had not really done much about it. We at ARC were<br />

a little outrageous really, we said, if they wanted to come to<br />

this meeting, they would have to write and have us officially<br />

approve a set of guidelines. They must tell us what they own,<br />

and in what classes of investment. They must tell us their<br />

theology and philosophy about wealth. What is it for, where<br />

does it come from, where does it fit into their understanding<br />

of God, or humanity, or the cycle of karma, et cetera?<br />

They must give us their guidelines, for themselves and for<br />

members of their religion, as to what they now will invest in.<br />

Where will they put their money to make a difference?<br />


82<br />

I have to be honest, when we said this in January,<br />

I thought, we were being too outrageous and was worried<br />

they would not reply. Well, to my absolute amazement, and<br />

the amazement of my colleagues, every single religion we<br />

invited said ‘Yes’. A couple of them had done it before, the<br />

Protestant German churches, as had the Swedish Lutheran<br />

churches, but the others were new, completely new. This<br />

led to tremendous internal discussions, debates and<br />

questioning.<br />

We gave funding where it was necessary to enable the faiths<br />

to gather their key thinkers, their key finance people, and<br />

to our delight, we were able to launch 30 faith guidelines at<br />

Zug. Of those 30, four are guidelines for collective groups,<br />

for example, JLens, the major advisory body to Jewish<br />

foundations in the United States. They have one hundred<br />

Jewish foundations, synagogues, and schools in their<br />

network. Therefore, these guidelines actually influence about<br />

one hundred people, and the same reach is extended in the<br />

Hindu and Muslim networks. So although there are only 30<br />

guidelines, they will influence over 500 religious investment<br />

groups around the world from eight major religions.<br />

I give much credit to the United Nations. The Assistant<br />

Secretary General apologised at the Impact Summit in<br />

Zug for not asking the religions for their view on the<br />

SDGs until the very last moment (which they did then<br />

with ARC’s guidance). Ironically, the faiths were ignored,<br />

although they are the fourth largest investment group in<br />

the world. The fact that the UN said that the sustainable<br />

development of the planet cannot take place through the<br />

old system of giving a grant here and another grant there,<br />

but that it has to involve the business and investment<br />

world, had already moved many of the faiths to consider<br />

their involvement.<br />

What ARC did, is to speed the process up quite<br />

considerably and to show them, without any of them<br />

losing their own autonomy, that they can be much stronger<br />

together than alone. Some secular finance organisations,<br />

were already handling money for Catholic or Muslim<br />

foundations, but had not asked their faith foundations,<br />

what as venture capitalists they would do for a sustainable<br />

planet. We brought them together, and they were delighted<br />

to discover that they were not alone.<br />

How can the faiths bring innovation to investment?<br />

What values and approaches do you see<br />

creating change in the industry?<br />

The main innovation is something that has been much<br />

discussed, but I do not see much happening, namely valuedriven<br />

investing. In other words, not just asking, ‘How<br />

much money can we make? How quickly can we make it?<br />

Are our shareholders happy?’, but actually using finances<br />

to fund the values they want to see, whether religious,<br />

secular, artistic, or philanthropic. What the faiths are, and<br />

I think this is the exciting thing about the new alliance we<br />

are creating after Zug, is the largest identifiable group with<br />

clear values. When you look to the Zug Guidelines, you<br />

will see each guideline begin with a theological statement<br />

of why they care, based on their own traditions, their own<br />

teachings, their sacred books, and their holy people.<br />

There are 500 faith investment groups who have clearly<br />

set out the values that will drive them. Now, they can be<br />

approached and asked, ‘Why not invest in this? It meets<br />

your values as you set out on pages two and three.’ This is<br />

what they bring, a major focus on value-driven investing.<br />

And that is important, because now the philanthropies<br />

are saying they should do the same. In Zug, over a dozen<br />

Swiss foundations issued the Zug Declaration, which is an<br />

early stage of creating their own guidelines. I think, what<br />

we are seeing, and what we are being asked to set out in the<br />

alliance, is an alliance of value-driven investing, which at<br />

its heart will have religions, the philanthropies walking at<br />

their side, and in the background the NGO world. I think<br />

we are on the cusp of launching an alliance, that will mean<br />

that not only religious groups talk about values, so will<br />

secular groups. This is very exciting.<br />

Also, this is very interesting, unfortunately the UN had no<br />

money to fund this event, so on very short notice we had<br />

to raise a lot of money. We had wonderful philanthropies<br />

in the United States, Japan, Britain, and the Netherlands<br />

who supported us, but we still needed further funding. So<br />

for the first time in my professional life, and I have been<br />

fundraising for nearly forty years, we went to the secular,<br />

commercial world. We had nine or ten finance houses<br />

interested, who agreed to sponsor us. The guidelines were<br />

written by the middle of August, when our international<br />

steering group suggested to ask the secular finance houses<br />

what their values were. It was complete panic. Only one<br />

group had set out their values, the others said, they do<br />

not have any values, they only reflect the values of their<br />

customers. We said, “Rubbish! That is absolute rubbish!”<br />

Others had come into being precisely to be value driven,<br />

but had not worked out what the values were other that<br />

they were not the same as the others that did not have

values. It was an extraordinary month, where people from<br />

the secular world were sending in their values, and I was<br />

sending them back and saying, “No, sorry, those are not<br />

values, try again, start it all over again.” And they did.<br />

I think we are setting standards right across the border,<br />

and one of the great things was the partnership with SIIA.<br />

SIIA, from the very beginning invited us to Zug, because<br />

they saw that this could change the ball game. Instead of<br />

just talking about impact investing, which could mean<br />

anything, as every investment is an impact, the question<br />

that needs to be asked is, ‘Is it good impactful?’ To know,<br />

you must look at the values that you are looking to serve.<br />

The partnership with SIIA has been fundamental to this.<br />

They kept us taking the secular financial world seriously,<br />

in the same way that they have taken the faithful financial<br />

world seriously. It has been a wonderful partnership.<br />

What are your goals, moving forward with the<br />

Zug Guidelines, towards effecting change in<br />

conservation and sustainability? What are the next<br />

steps for ARC?<br />

It comes in three different stages. Firstly, we are already<br />

having new guidelines being sent to us. We have triggered<br />

an awareness within the faiths. We have compiled three<br />

new major guidelines in the last two weeks. My guess is<br />

that when we come to re-issue the guidelines, in about<br />

six months time, I would be surprised, if we were not up<br />

to 40, reaching out to about 600 faith investment groups.<br />

We have now set a standard, if you like, for what any selfrespecting<br />

faith investment group should have. If you have<br />

not got your guidelines, people will now be asking, “Why<br />

not? Because the other group has.”<br />

The second stage is the creation of the new alliance. We<br />

were asked at the end of the event by the philanthropies,<br />

by the UN, by the secular finance houses, and the faiths,<br />

whether we would create an alliance that would enable<br />

this energy, these levels of commitment, this potential for<br />

putting together baskets of projects. We have a pipeline<br />

of investible projects that we have been developing with<br />

Arnold Schwarzenegger’s R20 organisation and Leonardo<br />

di Caprio’s organisation. So we not only have the faiths<br />

as investors, we also have faith driven projects and big<br />

infrastructure projects that they can invest in as well.<br />

The weekend at the Summit, we had over 40 comments,<br />

ideas, and suggestions, as to what this alliance should look<br />

like. My job in the next week is to draw up a blueprint.<br />

We will hold these groups together and enable them to<br />

become investment partners. We will enable them to<br />

undertake research work. Princeton University has offered<br />

to join in as the major academic centre. The University<br />

of Winchester here in the UK is offering to create a new<br />

chair in faith consistent investing. We are talking to the<br />

Dartington Hall Centre, a big international centre in<br />

Devon, who are offering to host three or four major think<br />

tank events every year. SIIA will annually host a whole<br />

section on philanthropy and religious investment. But<br />

beyond that we need to set up a structure that can broker<br />

partnerships, that can for example enable a cluster of faiths<br />

to invest in sustainable forestry or alternative energy.<br />

The third stage is to be representatives of better finance<br />

to the wider world. For example, the United Nations<br />

Development Program is now in discussion with the<br />

Norwegian government about potential funding for a<br />

new unit within UNDP on faith-consistent investing and<br />

the SDGs. Major philanthropies are considering setting<br />

up similar structures. I think the ripple effects will be<br />

enormous. In my understanding and experience, finance<br />

managers are herd animals, if the front cow turns into<br />

a different direction, then the rest of the herd comes up<br />

behind. I think we are very close to being able to turn the<br />

herd, and that is terribly exciting.<br />

Brita Achberger<br />

Martin Palmer is the Director of the International<br />

Consultancy on Religion, Education and Culture<br />

(ICOREC) and Secretary General of the Alliance of<br />

Religion and Conservation (ARC).<br />

An Anglican Christian, Palmer studied theology and<br />

religious studies at Cambridge University and has<br />

translated several popular books on Sinology, giving<br />

popular and controversial interpretation of early<br />

Chinese Christianity.<br />

He is a regular contributor to the BBC on religious,<br />

ethical, and historical issues, appearing regularly on<br />

BBC Radio 3 and 4, BBC <strong>World</strong> Service and presenting<br />

on BBC TV. He is Co-Chair of a joint ARC-UNDP<br />

programme on the faiths, climate change and the<br />

environment.<br />




Dr Pierre-Emmanuel Thomann<br />

Geopolitician - President - Eurocontinent<br />

China is a major demographic and nation-size<br />

civilization. With the New Silk Road initiative,<br />

China positions itself on territory and in time as<br />

a central player on the Eurasian and global scales.<br />

The objective of the project also called Belt and<br />

Road Initiative (BRI) is to connect China to the<br />

world through rail, road, maritime, airport, energy<br />

and technology connections. The project has a longterm<br />

horizon since it is expected to be completed by<br />

2049. If it is implemented, even partially, the project<br />

is likely to change the global geo-economic and<br />

geopolitical balance of power.<br />

Europeans have no choice but to position themselves in<br />

relation to these plans, putting forward their own interests<br />

and ambition for strategic autonomy. The New Silk Road<br />

initiative, if conducted taking into consideration the<br />

interests of European nations, but also those of China’s<br />

global Eurasian neighbours and other global powers, is<br />

likely to contribute to the stability and prosperity of the<br />

Eurasian continent.<br />

A geopolitical approach is useful in examining<br />

European interests regarding this initiative. The<br />

geopolitical angle has two modes. Geopolitics is a<br />

tool for making a diagnosis that highlights the stakes<br />

of a geopolitical situation. Then, the elaboration of a<br />

geopolitical strategy (applied geopolitics) helps to develop<br />

priorities on territory and in time in the service of an<br />

objective.<br />

a political objective is a decisive advantage and a central<br />

element of sovereignty. This mastery depends on the<br />

capacity to appreciate the space and time constraints of<br />

others.<br />


China seeks to regain global geopolitical centrality through<br />

the New Silk Road project. Although various elements of<br />

the project are still largely in a virtual state, some projects<br />

are already under way, or aim to renovate connections that<br />

already exist.<br />

Not all projects will materialize and succeed but the<br />

multitude of transport bundles imagined in this long-term<br />

plan will lead to the implementation of at least some of<br />

them.<br />

84<br />

In the twenty-first century, in order to navigate in a<br />

world that is in a state of flux, a geopolitical strategy,<br />

conceived as a spatio-temporal whole and functioning as<br />

a means of balancing other powers, is required. This is<br />

because the mastery of territory and time in the service of<br />

The New Silk Road initiative responds to several issues at a<br />

number of geographical scales:<br />

At the national level, China’s western-oriented<br />

infrastructure of the initiative aims to develop areas west<br />

of its territory. These regions, particularly the Xinjiang


86<br />

Autonomous Region and the Tibet Autonomous Region<br />

are economically lagging in relation to the maritime<br />

facades. Their development should consolidate the<br />

territorial unity of the country.<br />

Further, at the Eurasian continental level, the New Silk<br />

Road initiative involves connecting the two ends of the<br />

Eurasian continent, Europe and China, through Russia<br />

in the North and Central Asia further South by a bundle<br />

of lines of communication, including goods, people, and<br />

energy transport.<br />

Finally, the maritime component aims to consolidate the<br />

energy and trade connections between China and the<br />

Middle East but also with Africa and Europe through the<br />

Straits of Malacca. The Northern Route linking China to<br />

Europe via the Arctic Ocean is also envisaged as a shorter<br />

and alternative route.<br />

At a global level, for China, this is a geo-economic strategy<br />

of opening up the country through continentalisation,<br />

because it depends too heavily on its maritime facade.<br />

From the point of view of the Chinese geopolitical<br />

perspective, the Middle Kingdom seeks to surround itself<br />

with allies, and position itself at the center of a geopolitical<br />

space structured for its own security and prosperity. The<br />

aim of the Chinese project is to place the country at the<br />

center of the geopolitical map once again. In this respect,<br />

the Chinese geopolitical objective is not different from<br />

other world powers.<br />

On the geostrategic level, the project can also be<br />

interpreted as a strategy of counter-encirclement resulting<br />

from the positioning of military infrastructures by the<br />

USA and its allies. The map (map: The New Silk Road<br />

Initiative) highlights the perception of encirclement of<br />

China and Russia, which comes from the presence of US<br />

and NATO bases as well as from the anti-missile defense<br />

infrastructure around Eurasia.<br />

This location of military infrastructure is primarily a<br />

legacy of the Cold War, which was characterized by the<br />

containment of the USSR but also of China by the US.<br />

After the fall of the USSR, the Unipolar project of the US<br />

and their allies aimed to westernize the Eurasian continent<br />

and to ascertain the prevalence of a system of Western<br />

alliance, associated with a strategy of roll-back.<br />

However, with the come back of Russia and the rise of<br />

China, the world has evolved towards a more polycentric<br />

structure. A new containment strategy can now again<br />

be expected, because we can once more witness a rise<br />

of the geopolitical rivalries between the US, China and<br />

Russia. The missile shield project has been pursued and<br />

the new US security strategy (2018) explicitly designates<br />

Russia and China as its main adversaries. This looming<br />

confrontation might jeopardize Eurasian stability and<br />

therefore European stability itself. Europeans, as close<br />

allies of the USA should avoid further polarization of<br />

global alliances as they will not be in a position to defend<br />

their own interests. Europeans should rather find a way to<br />

play the role of moderators between USA and China but<br />

also Russia.<br />

China is combining two approaches, one is geostrategic,<br />

and the other is geo-economic.<br />

In the China Sea, China claims sovereignty over the<br />

Paracel and Spartley Islands, and is in competition<br />

with its neighbours (Vietnam, Brunei, Malaysia, the<br />

Philippines and Taiwan). China also wants a reunification<br />

with the island of Taiwan, separated from them in 1949.<br />

The various actors have entered a race of “Polderization”<br />

to claim sovereignty over the different islands. This area<br />

is a growing commercial and energy hub for China. Its<br />

control also aims to counter the pressure exerted in the<br />

geographical proximity of its territory by the US and its<br />

allies in the Pacific Ocean. US military bases are set up<br />

in Japan, South Korea and in the Philippines. The US<br />

fleet is sailing in the Pacific near its territory, and around<br />

Taiwan.<br />

In the event of a serious conflict, China’s energy supply<br />

routes through the China Sea and the Strait of Malacca<br />

may be disrupted by US naval dominance in the Pacific<br />

and by their bases, which are all close to the shores of<br />

China.<br />

The Silk Roads including the Northern Sea Route and<br />

the continental infrastructures are alternative routes to<br />

the Southern seaway from the China Sea to the Indian<br />

Ocean, on which China now depends. In addition, the<br />

development of western China, the Achilles heel of the<br />

country’s security, helps to stem the destabilization<br />

coming from the western flank, subject to waves of radical<br />

Islam from Southeast Asia, and to the external support of<br />

regional separatism.<br />

The New Silk Road project also allows the development of<br />

the China-Kazakhstan-Russia corridor, the China-Central-

Asia-Iran-Turkey corridor, as well as the Eurasian links<br />

between China and Europe. It is part of a multicentered<br />

vision of the world, where China is at the center of a new<br />

system of economic and political cooperation, and not a<br />

subset of Western-centered globalization with the US as<br />

the main power of the Eurasian continent.<br />

During his visit to China in January 2018, French<br />

President Emmanuel Macron announced his intention to<br />

participate in projects on the Silk Road routes in Eurasia<br />

and Africa on a case-by-case basis. He insisted that the<br />

New Silk Road should evolve towards a shared project and<br />

does not provoke a new hegemony.<br />



The enormous cost of the projects is a first obstacle,<br />

even if China has the financial means to initiate many<br />

infrastructures. To be implemented successfully outside the<br />

Chinese territory, the infrastructure projects will also have<br />

to be co-financed by the partners of China. It is also an<br />

opportunity to internationalize the project and promote a<br />

better balance of interests.<br />

Secondly, geopolitical instabilities along these corridors<br />

are an obstacle to investment. If a project leads to distrust<br />

in some countries, opponents to this project might have an<br />

interest in a destabilization of the territories of transit.<br />

Some countries like the USA and India would also like a<br />

reorientation of the connections to have a more North-<br />

South direction than East-West. These rivalries on the<br />

geopolitical orientation of the Eurasian infrastructures<br />

highlights the need for the New Silk Road initiative to take<br />

into consideration the interests of the different countries<br />

likely to be impacted by the project.<br />

Finally, there is the ambivalence of the Europeans<br />

themselves, who are divided on the position to take<br />

regarding Chinese economic power. Indeed the fear of<br />

Europeans is to see trains filled with goods in the direction<br />

of China-Europe, returning to China empty.<br />

Yet some European states are already positioning<br />

themselves to take advantage of the New Silk Road project.<br />

This is the case in the Balkans with Serbia and Greece,<br />

and the Visegrad group, at the heart of the 16 + 1 format,<br />

which includes the countries of Central and Eastern<br />

Europe who seek to connect themselves to the Chinese<br />

project. The 16 + 1 format was conceived after the first<br />

China-Central and Eastern European Countries Economic<br />

and Trade Forum, held in Budapest in 2011. The countries<br />

included are China, 11 EU members: Bulgaria, Croatia,<br />

the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania,<br />

Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, and five EU<br />

candidates: Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia,<br />

Montenegro and Serbia.<br />

It has been said, Geopolitics is anticipating the space-time<br />

of others powers.<br />

The European project, mainly embodied by the European<br />

Union, needs to be renewed today. Its paradigms are still<br />

too entrenched in the last century. The project was born in<br />

the context of the Cold War, at a time of the containment<br />

of the Soviet Union, and in a context where Communist<br />

China had not yet reached its current power. After the<br />

end of the Cold War, the project should today adapt itself<br />

further to the emergence of a multicentered world. EU<br />

could evolve towards an alliance of European nations<br />

driven by a geopolitical strategy to reaffirm their own<br />

centrality in the future global balance of power.<br />

It would be wise for Europeans to engage this Chinese<br />

project in a constructive way. The New Silk Road is an<br />

opportunity for the Europeans to position themselves on<br />

the Eurasian continent. It is also a way to ascertain the<br />

project leads to a better balance of interests.<br />

Europeans are so far positioning themselves in a dispersed<br />

way in order to reap the benefits. Therefore, a better<br />

coordination between them would be required. The<br />

project is above all an opportunity for Europeans to think<br />

on a Eurasian scale. They would need to identify their<br />

geopolitical interests as part of a reformed European<br />

project according to geopolitical principles.<br />

For the cooperation projects and alliances of European<br />

nations, geography suggests a better balance between the<br />

Euro-Atlantic, Euro-Mediterranean and African areas and<br />

also Euro-Arctic and Euro-Asiatic spaces.<br />

According to the recent historical perspective, the Eastern<br />

flank of Europeans has been neglected during the Cold<br />

War. The rivalry with the USSR and communist China<br />

held back trade between Europe and large parts of Eurasia<br />

and the shift of the geopolitical center of gravity was<br />

located in the Euro-Atlantic space.<br />

Today, the project of the New Silk Road is an opportunity<br />

for Europeans to connect with the East of the Eurasian<br />


continent. This means anticipating and negotiating an<br />

articulation between the European project, the New Silk<br />

Road initiative and the Eurasian Economic Union along<br />

the Europe-Russia-China axis.<br />


EUROPE<br />

The materialization of the Northern Sea Route would<br />

facilitate access to Siberian resources and is the shortest<br />

sea connection with China and the Far East. The<br />

continental corridor transiting through Russia would<br />

reconnect Western Europe with Russia, and trains<br />

could unload goods in Russia, before going to China.<br />

The Southern continental corridor would facilitate a<br />

rapprochement between Europe and Central Asia.<br />

There is a growing necessity to rethink the links<br />

between the European project, Russia and China. It is<br />

counterproductive today to pursue a policy of isolating<br />

Russia, and pushing it ever more towards an exclusive<br />

Russian-Chinese alliance that keeps the nations of the EU<br />

in an exclusive Euro-Atlantic area. This approach makes<br />

Europe a periphery of this Euro-Atlantic entity. Moreover,<br />

as a pivotal space, Europe risks being fragmented between<br />

emerging rival Euro-Atlantic and Euro-Asiatic geopolitical<br />

alliances.<br />

The Connection to the Silk Road Initiative should push<br />

European nations towards engaging more deeply in a<br />

dialogue on the finality of the European project. Hopefully,<br />

a better coordination between European states would<br />

benefit Europe as a whole. This means that a reformed EU<br />

should establish relations with the Shanghai Cooperation<br />

Organization (OCS) but also the Eurasian Economic<br />

Union (EEU). The geopolitical complementarities between<br />

Europe and Central Asia, with Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan<br />

as pivots, can be strengthened to stabilize this strategic<br />

zone for the benefit of the entire Eurasian continent.<br />

and regulating its exchanges with the outside. It is also<br />

necessary for the maintenance of the national identity. A<br />

border filters what is good for the nation and rejects what<br />

threatens it. Any economic exchange should be of benefit<br />

to all partners and that is why the issue of reciprocity<br />

should be addressed.<br />

The nations of the European continent, from Brest to<br />

Vladivostok, that is all members of the Council of Europe,<br />

have to play a moderating role in the face of growing<br />

geopolitical rivalries in Eurasia. It would be better for them<br />

to avoid being obliged to align themselves blindly in the<br />

case of a global US-Chinese confrontation. They should<br />

equally avoid a Chinese-American condominium (G2), in<br />

which they would be excluded from major decisions.<br />

Finally, nations of the Eurasian continent also have the<br />

urgency to contain the Islamist push originating from the<br />

arc of crisis along a belt from Africa to the south-Western<br />

part of the Eurasian continent.<br />

In the end, the project of the New Silk Road Initiative<br />

has not only a geostrategic and economic dimension, but<br />

also a civilisational dimension. The exchanges between<br />

cultures on the Eurasian continent may potentially make<br />

the Old <strong>World</strong> an important geopolitical axis of the world<br />

again. The project therefore also implies a new approach<br />

of globalization. European nations and China should share<br />

the geopolitical goal of a multicentered world based on<br />

geopolitical balances and the respect for sovereignty, but<br />

also the balance between civilizations.<br />

88<br />

The major interest of Europeans in a stronger engagement<br />

in the New Silk Road initiative is more strategic reflection<br />

on the future model of globalization, in order to better<br />

influence it, rather than to be undergone by it. It is time<br />

to challenge the ultra-liberal ideology dogmas and to<br />

push back the excesses of globalization, which requires<br />

for European nations to address the issue of borders<br />

and territorial control more deeply. A border is an<br />

organic envelope necessary for the survival of a nation,<br />

Pierre-Emmanuel Tomann

Financial Management<br />

SINCE<br />

1996<br />





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Freddy Opsomer is an international entrepreneur living in<br />

Antwerp who was intensively involved in the redevelopment<br />

of the Lithuanian economy after the re-independence of that<br />

country in 1990. As the Chairman of the Free Economic Zone<br />

of Kaunas he was able to organise a strong local management<br />

team for the development of a 500 ha greenfield that was<br />

located in central Lithuania: a tri-modal site adjacent to an<br />

international airport, nearby a new European logistic railway<br />

hub, where the Russian 1.520 mm broad railway gauge meets<br />

the new Trans European network corridor Rail Baltica. Rail<br />

Baltica aims to integrate the 3 Baltic countries Estonia, Latvia<br />

and Lithuania via Poland with the European 1.435 mm railway<br />

network. It is a supranational project of great economic and<br />

political importance for these countries and for the EU.<br />

In this new period of re-independence of Lithuania Freddy<br />

Opsomer took also attention for issues of social corporate<br />

responsibility and he founded the Sugihara Diplomats for Life<br />

Foundation and the museum — in memory of the Japanese<br />

diplomat Sugihara who saved the lives of more than 6.000<br />

people from the Nazi death camps. The saved people, mostly<br />

Jewish, could receive a special transit visa issued by the<br />

Japanese diplomat. Doing so, he risked his life and career as<br />

his country had in 1940, together with fascist Italy, signed<br />

the Tripartite agreement with Nazi Germany. The Japanese<br />

Schindler is now rehabilitated in Japan and is honoured<br />

amongst the Righteous among the Nations in Israel.<br />

Kaunas Free Zone attracted so far 31 local and international<br />

companies who invested 489 M euro and created 3.450 jobs. The<br />

free zone has also a special IT and mega data centre development<br />

zone nearby the 900MW Kruonis Hydro Pumped Storage Power<br />

Plant. Here more than 100 MW of power load is available and<br />

the site is at the crossroads of diverse European dark fiber paths.<br />

In 2017 two large German companies in the automobile sector<br />

decided to establish a manufacturing base in the Kaunas Free<br />

Economic Zone. The multinational, family owned German<br />

company Hella with a sales volume of 6,6 Bn euro in 2016-<br />

2017 and 38.000 employees producing lighting and electronic<br />

components for all car brands. The company will invest 30 M<br />

euro in Kaunas in a first phase of three and employ 250 skilled<br />

workers for the production of sensors, actuators and control<br />

modules for the automotive industry.<br />


Freddy Opsomer signs with Mr Xu Yongjun - General Manager of China Merchants Logistics – between the 2 signatories : Mr Li Jianhong – Chairman of the<br />

China Merchants Group / in the back Prime Minister Butkevicius from Lithuania and Ministers of Economy and Transport)<br />

Another German group also decided to choose the Kaunas<br />

Free Economic Zone: Continental. Continental invests<br />

95 M euro and will create 1.000 jobs in Lithuania, making<br />

this the largest green field investment project in Lithuanian<br />

history. Continental will produce in the new factory door and<br />

seat control units, gateways, intelligent glass control units,<br />

radar sensors for adaptive cruise control and emergency<br />

braking assistance systems.<br />

One of the first companies that came into the Free Economic<br />

Zone was the company Elinta — a spin-off from the Kaunas<br />

University of technology — who is famous in laser technologies<br />

but also very active in electro-vehicles and electricity charger<br />

networks.<br />

Freddy Opsomer is convinced that this brings Lithuania<br />

and Kaunas FEZ in a real position to become an e-car and<br />

e-mobility cluster in Northern Europe. According to him these<br />

companies can under special regime of shared production<br />

under custom supervision reach two important consumer<br />

markets: the EU with 500 million people and the CIS (now<br />

Eurasia market) with 180 million people.<br />

Freddy Opsomer has only at a distance of 280 km discovered<br />

the city of Minsk, capital of Belarus, a vibrant city with nearly 2<br />

million inhabitants. Here the Government of China is actually<br />

developing the Great Stone park, located near the Minsk<br />

international airport. It is the largest industrial park outside<br />

China. It has a solid Chinese partnership with the China<br />

Merchants Group and Sinomach as reference shareholders.<br />

Freddy Opsomer is finalising negotiations with the Belarus<br />

government and the Chinese side to integrate a European hub<br />

in this park. Doing so he hopes to have a real concept of twinparks<br />

— one of them located in the EU (Kaunas) and one in<br />

the CIS (Belarus, Russia and Kazakhstan). He does hope that<br />

Kaunas and Minsk will develop fruitful city relationships and<br />

cooperation. In logistic terms that may result in a green trade<br />

corridor between the 2 industrial logistic zones.<br />

The Great Stone park in Minsk is only a small part of an<br />

ambitious Chinese Government project called OBOR — one<br />

Belt one Road. This should become a global network of<br />

multimodal transport infrastructures connecting the Atlantic<br />

and Pacific oceans — Europe-Africa and Asia. OBOR embraces<br />

70% of the world population, 55% of world GDP and 75% of<br />

world energy reserves. Not only China but also countries like<br />

Japan announced plans to invest in such global networks.<br />

Already in 2011, BMW organized regular container trains all<br />

the way from Leipzig to Shenyang in China. The trains were<br />

transporting more than 8.000 components to the assembly<br />

plants of BMW in China. In Leipzig a logistic center was built<br />

of 63.000 m 2 as logistic nexus to this new silk road — nearly 600<br />

new jobs were created to support the German silk road project.<br />

From 2014 on, the Ports of Antwerp and Rotterdam also<br />

received regular long block trains that took the same land<br />

route; all the way from central China via Russia or Kazakhstan<br />

— on a journey of less than 14 days compared to the nearly 40<br />

days by ocean transport.<br />

Although at first sight, a TEU container costs substantially<br />

more by rail than by sea — companies have discovered that<br />

for high valued consumer goods — the time gains, security<br />


easons, as well as the journey via major cities: all of that<br />

offers a number of advantages. HP uses now cargo trains to<br />

ship products to and from China. Another global player DHL<br />

has weekly express service trains originating in Chengdu via<br />

Kazakhstan to Poland. The short rail connections between<br />

Chongqing and Duisburg (10.800 km – 10 days) have a<br />

bright future. It is therefore time of the essence for the<br />

EU Commission and for the EU Parliament to develop an<br />

ambitious plan: a connecting facility between the TEN-T<br />

networks and these new Silk Roads according to Opsomer.<br />

At the <strong>World</strong> Economic Forum in Davos in 2016 and 2017<br />

much attention was given to these new China Silk Roads. It was<br />

stressed that the new Silk Roads should not just be maritime<br />

routes or multimodal rail-, road corridors; but that this new<br />

global network should become an information e-network.<br />

Such silk road information highway could play an important<br />

role in further developing e-commerce and accelerating the<br />

4th industrial revolution: industry 4.0 and logistics 4.0. Last<br />

year the Davos <strong>World</strong> Economic Forum made this even more<br />

practical by focusing on new technologies like blockchain that<br />

can connect business processes and different actors along the<br />

Silk Road value chain in a safe way.<br />

Freddy Opsomer anticipated this statements and took at<br />

the Hannover Industry Messe in 2015 the initiative to bring<br />

regions, free zones and industrial parks together in an<br />

association “Silk Road parks” — for his Silk Road Initiative,<br />

3 parks and a strategic partner signed a memorandum of<br />

understanding. These were the Kaunas Free Economic Zone,<br />

the mega industrial China park “Great Stone” in Minsk and<br />

Jiashan, the economic industrial expansion area of Shanghai.<br />

The parks want to promote each other along the same value<br />

chain of the Silk Road; they want to become sustainable and<br />

to be connected in this global network of the 4th industrial<br />

revolution: the e-silk road. As Germany’s industry is a<br />

forerunner in the automatization, the robotisation, the internet<br />

of things, industrial 3-D printing — Opsomer wants now to<br />

set up the international association with a strategic German<br />

anchorage. But in addition he will invite also other parks on<br />

the silk road to join the new silk road initiative: West European<br />

and Baltic ports, inland ports like Duisburg and industrial<br />

parks and free zones in Russia (for example Yekaterinburg<br />

located on the border between Europe and Asia) and in<br />

Kazakhstan. Russia’s Transsiberian railway or the TSR is still<br />

today the longest railway line of nearly 10.000 km connecting<br />

St Petersburg with Vladivostok. This silk road “avant la lettre”<br />

already started in 1891 and forms today as a heroic mega<br />

rail line, part of the new railway land corridors that connect<br />

Western Europe and Asia. The new Silk Roads will really boost<br />

regional economies and will be therefore accelerators of welfare<br />

and economic wealth.<br />

Freddy Opsomer is convinced that history repeats itself.<br />

He makes attention to the old historical silk roads where<br />

for example already in The meeting point between the East<br />

(inspired by communist and confucianist thinking) and the<br />

West (socially corrected market economy) should now create<br />

unique opportunities to work out new visions for the promotion<br />

of growth within a broadly supported social, cultural and<br />

economic model and an environmentally sound platform: a<br />

new model for the future of humanity.<br />

Freddy Opsomer concludes with a dream which he hopes may<br />

come true: silk road trains not carrying cargo all the way from<br />

China to Europe — but silk road passenger trains that will<br />

stop in the cities and regions along the Silk Road — inviting<br />

people to join the multicultural adventure of the Silk road<br />

and facilitated by a real “Silk Road Visum” politically made<br />

possible through multilateral agreements between the EU,<br />

Russia and China.<br />


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On July 2016, the President of the European<br />

Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, and the<br />

Prime Minister of the People’s Republic of<br />

China, Li Keqiang, jointly declared 2018 to<br />

be the official EU-China Tourism Year. This<br />

initiative was inaugurated earlier this year, on<br />

19 January, in the Doge’s Palace of the<br />

UNESCO <strong>World</strong> Heritage city of Venice.<br />

The blocs’ strong interest for this initiative was evident in<br />

the lead-up and throughout unravelling of the event.<br />

On this occasion, Elżbieta Bieńkowska, EU Commissioner<br />

for the Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and<br />

SMEs — also responsible for tourism — officially opened<br />

the 2018 EU-China Tourism Year together with<br />

Qi Xuchun, Vice-Chairman of the National Committee<br />

of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative<br />

Conference.<br />

each other’s places, cultures, and traditions. And we both<br />

want to stimulate new investment opportunities in the<br />

European Union and China alike.”<br />

There are three specific objectives the EU is striving to<br />

achieve during this special year. As a first priority, the<br />

EU aims to promote sustainable tourism and attract more<br />

Chinese travellers lesser-known destinations. Secondly,<br />

In her opening speech, Commissioner Bieńkowska<br />

underlined the importance of EU-China relations and<br />

the Year of Tourism. She stressed how Europe and China<br />

represent some of the oldest civilizations in the world<br />

and, as a result, strong historical relations. Marco Polo,<br />

the most prominent resident of Venice went on his epic<br />

journey to China over 750 years ago, paving the way for<br />

“greater and greater exchanges between our people”.<br />

94<br />

Today, this outlook continues. According to Elżbieta<br />

Bieńkowska, initiatives like the 2018 EU-China Tourism<br />

Year, are “good for both the EU and China. We both<br />

want to improve mutual understanding between European<br />

and Chinese peoples. We both want to encourage more<br />

Europeans and Chinese to visit, discover and appreciate<br />

Alexander Alles

Doge’s Palace of the UNESCO <strong>World</strong> Heritage city of Venice<br />

© <strong>Diplomatic</strong> <strong>World</strong><br />

the EU is looking to increase investment towards the<br />

tourism industry. As such, the EU is continuing to work<br />

with Chinese authorities to eliminate the existing barriers<br />

which hinder bilateral relations in this sector. And thirdly,<br />

the EU hopes that the ongoing negotiations on EU-China<br />

visa facilitation and air connectivity, will advance<br />

smoothly.<br />

From the Chinese side, during the opening ceremony,<br />

Prime Minister Li Keqiang sent a message to the audience<br />

underlining that the importance of fostering a solid<br />

and strategic partnership in this sector is twofold. On<br />

one hand, strengthening bilateral ties enhances cultural<br />

exchanges while, on the other, it foster international<br />

friendship between both blocs.<br />

According to Mr Li, this initiative will “extend China-<br />

EU tourism cooperation and personnel exchanges and to<br />

promote dialogue, development and mutual benefits.”<br />

In general, economic relations between the EU and<br />

China are not always easy. Tourism, however, offers<br />

a wide range of opportunities for both sides, and the<br />

developments go to show that it is, indeed a profitable<br />

sector. Specifically in the case of Chinese outbound<br />

tourism, it is important to look back to the political<br />

context surrounding this sector — only thirty-five years<br />

ago.<br />

In 1983 the Chinese government took the first step<br />

towards liberalizing travel, allowing citizens to leave the<br />

country under the strict condition that they visit relatives<br />

abroad. This policy lasted for over a decade when, in<br />

1997, travel restrictions were dropped for all citizens,<br />

marking the official start of outbound travel from China.<br />

This is where Chinese start discovering traveling for<br />

leisure. Today, the country is the largest market source of<br />

international tourists in the world.<br />

This change has been exponential, shifting global<br />

travel movements and strongly impacting the economic<br />

landscape. According to the China Daily, 69.5 million<br />

people travelled to China in 2017. On the flipside, in<br />

2016, Chinese travellers accounted for 136.8 million of<br />

international tourism abroad, spending over USD 200<br />

billion. 48.8% of border crossings were within the Greater<br />

China, while 51.2% of the total were outside. This switch<br />

was particularly evident in 2016, the first year in which<br />

more Chinese tourists travelled to destinations beyond<br />

Greater China than to those within it.<br />


Trends in travel destinations for the Chinese are also<br />

quickly changing. While the majority of Chinese travellers<br />

tend to move around Asia, others are increasingly<br />

choosing Europe as their destination. Among long-haul<br />

destinations, high-profile Western European countries<br />

such as France, Germany and the Netherlands are seeing<br />

modest annual growth. Nevertheless, Eastern, Central and<br />

Northern European destinations as diverse as Finland,<br />

Poland and Serbia are continuing to enjoy dramatic<br />

growth rates, benefitting from the perception that they are<br />

safer, and from their reputation as more “unconventional”<br />

destinations in Europe.<br />

The travel and tourism sector is also having a ripple effect<br />

at national level. As outbound travel experience grows<br />

in China, greater awareness in travel preferences from<br />

different parts of the country are starting to emerge. Often,<br />

these are influenced by a number of factors, ranging from<br />

geographical location, to convenient flight connections.<br />

First and second tier city residents — who currently make<br />

up the majority of Chinese outbound travellers — are<br />

generally moving away from more popular destinations in<br />

favour of more exotic, less-visited locations.<br />

Irma Orlandi<br />

Centre will offer several workshops across the EU helping<br />

local companies understand Chinese tourists — namely<br />

through their traveling and spending trends — in order<br />

to target their services accordingly, and benefit from this<br />

phenomenon in a win-win business context.<br />

96<br />

At the same time, residents from third and fourth tier<br />

cities are starting to take their first trips abroad. Like the<br />

60% of Chinese outbound tourists, they typically travel in<br />

groups. This trend is rapidly increasing also due to the fast<br />

development of international flights and visa centres in<br />

third and fourth tier cities as well.<br />

As a result of China’s booming outbound tourism, an<br />

important question for European counterparts is how<br />

to best benefit from this trend. This is especially true<br />

for SMEs who observe spending tendencies of Chinese<br />

outbound travellers, and are looking to find a healthy<br />

balance from which both parties can bear fruit.<br />

The 2018 EU-China Tourism Year offers a unique<br />

opportunity for companies who operate in the sector<br />

to deepen their understanding of EU-China tourism<br />

relations, and benefit from it.<br />

The year will be filled with events and activities taking<br />

place in China and across the EU, furthering the<br />

collaboration of the many stakeholders and key actors<br />

involved. One such player, is the EU SME Centre, an<br />

initiative of the European Commission aiming to help EU<br />

SMEs to expand their China-business. Together with the<br />

China Outbound Tourism Research Institute, the EU SME<br />

This article was written by Alexander Alles, Senior<br />

Project Officer at EUROCHAMBRES, the Association<br />

of European Chambers of Commerce and Industry. At<br />

EUROCHAMBRES, Alexander Alles is responsible<br />

for the outreach strategy of the EU SME Centre<br />

across the 28 Member States of the EU. Before joining<br />

EUROCHAMBRES, he was based in Frankfurt am<br />

Main, Germany and was working for the Honorary<br />

Consulate General of Nepal and the German-Asian<br />

Business Circle, promoting business opportunities<br />

between Germany and Asia.<br />

Editorial contributions from Irma Orlandi — PR,<br />

Communications and Events specialist based in<br />

Barcelona. Irma Orlandi currently works as Events<br />

and Partnerships Manager at the Association of<br />

Mediterranean Chambers of Commerce (ASCAME),<br />

actively representing the organization and securing<br />

strategic partnerships with key stakeholders. Prior<br />

to ASCAME, Irma Orlandi was Outreach Project<br />

Officer at the Association of European Chambers of<br />

Commerce (EUROCHAMBRES), actively promoting<br />

EU-Internationalization projects supporting SMEs enter<br />

foreign markets. Born in the US, and grown up between<br />

Singapore, China, Italy and Belgium, Irma breaths<br />

multi-culturalism and thrives on diversity.

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OF THE EU<br />

China, in the past few years, has been actively<br />

expanding its economic horizons. It is developing,<br />

among others, a railway project in Africa, a multibillion<br />

dollar fund to develop infrastructure in<br />

most sectors in Brazil, a transport link in East<br />

Africa and a railroad through Asia 1 . Europe is also<br />

not forgotten, with China currently working on<br />

establishing the Belt and Road Initiative.<br />

The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is a Chinese<br />

development strategy which promotes co-operation and<br />

connectivity between more than 60 countries through<br />

Asia, the Middle-East and Europe. Accounting for 60% of<br />

the world’s population and 35% of total trade, the BRI is<br />

modern China’s most ambitious foreign project yet. 2<br />

As of yet, the EU’s stance is not yet unified and the BRI still<br />

raises controversial debates. However, the advantages that<br />

a co-operation can bring can no longer be ignored, thus, a<br />

plan needs be created detailing the Union’s opinion on the<br />

matter. Until this is done, proceeding with the initiative will<br />

prove difficult, even for individual member states.<br />

It was not until 2017 that the BRI started to gain<br />

considerable traction across the globe, bringing the question<br />

of whether the EU should become part of the initiative,<br />

to the forefront. Recently, the benefits of the BRI, such<br />

as the development of infrastructure in crisis-hit member<br />

states and the creation of new jobs, has started to outweigh<br />

concerns put forward by Brussels.<br />

Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) created over 250.000 new<br />

jobs in Europe in 2016 alone, this with 35 billion euros (or<br />

a 77% increase since 2015) coming straight from China 3 . If<br />

China were to increase their investment to further develop<br />

the BRI then the amount of jobs could only grow.<br />

98<br />

When the BRI was initially put forward in 2013, Brussels<br />

was unfavorable towards the idea of a large trade route<br />

with China, due to, among others, concerns that the<br />

whole construction would only work one way (European<br />

companies would still face considerable difficulties in<br />

penetrating the Chinese market). Additionally, until<br />

recently, the EU has been marred with crises, such as:<br />

immigration, populism, the Russian resurgence, Brexit,<br />

and the Catalonian crisis. All of Brussels’ resources were<br />

focused internally rather than on foreign trade.<br />

A large part of FDIs (up to half in 2015) went towards<br />

southern European countries such as Portugal, Greece, and<br />

Spain, thus offering a potential solution to their economic<br />

predicaments and to the economic crisis in general 4 .<br />

Another important factor, especially in eastern and southern<br />

European states, is that the ultimate destination of both<br />

major trade routes is Europe. Therefore, while Brussels itself<br />

is not particularly clear on its stance towards this initiative,<br />

individual member states have become more receptive<br />

towards it. 5

While there are countries who are in favor of the BRI, there<br />

is no consensus. The Nordic community has not shown<br />

much interest as of yet, mainly due to their well-connected<br />

nature coupled with lower levels of transit. Moreover, even<br />

countries which are interested in the initiative, such as<br />

Germany and the Netherlands, have raised concerns about<br />

the long-term implications that the BRI would have in the<br />

EU. 6<br />

It is clear that such extensive foreign investment, although<br />

in general beneficial, does not come without its downsides<br />

for Europe, especially due to a lack of regulations and a<br />

unified position 7 . This internal division is already impacting<br />

European politics and decisions. In July 2017, EU member<br />

states with major Chinese backing, opposed the notion that<br />

China’s claims to resources in the South China Sea were<br />

illegitimate and contrary to international law. This was not<br />

the only case. Weeks before, Greece opposed a declaration<br />

that China was not respecting human rights, as well as<br />

a proposition to tighten screening measures for Chinese<br />

investments. 8<br />

Furthermore, allowing unregulated foreign goods into<br />

Europe could create a domino effect and start a race to the<br />

bottom. It is indisputable that the EU has very elaborate<br />

consumer protection legislation as well as high quality<br />

standards for products, which should be preserved. Thus, if<br />

the EU and China want to guarantee sufficient standards;<br />

international regulations and safeguards are pivotal to this.<br />

If these standards are neglected, then either country could<br />

suffer from a loss of quality.<br />

This lack of safeguards is also one of the reasons why<br />

Brussels has been reluctant towards the BRI: it is too<br />

young of an initiative, with many unclear features. Such<br />

a project would require a clear basis in three aspects:<br />

economic, political, and legal. The benefits of having the<br />

BRI, however, do not have to be overshadowed by these<br />

disadvantages. The EU can turn this uncertainty into an<br />

advantage if they manage to coordinate with the member<br />

states and shape the future policies of the initiative. The<br />

European acquis communautaire, as it currently exists,<br />

could serve as a standard to establish the regulations of<br />

the BRI.<br />

Certain EU member and non-member states have gotten<br />

ahead of the curve and started negotiating with the Chinese.<br />

The 16+1 summit (between China, Central and Eastern<br />

European countries) has already met 6 times with usually<br />

fruitful results such as the agreement to redevelop the<br />

Budapest-Belgrade Railway; yet, Brussels still lags behind.<br />

A reason for this is that if China develops its initiative fully,<br />

the EU-dominating countries such as Germany, France, and<br />

Italy would lose a large portion of their influence. However,<br />

this can also be easily remedied if there is supranational<br />

coordination from the start. The longer the EU waits before<br />

participating and intervening, the more it will fall behind<br />

and lose influence at the negotiating table.<br />

To gain influence, Brussels has applied pressure to have<br />

more say in BRI-related institutions such as the Asian<br />

Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), which provides<br />

investment for related infrastructure undertakings. Although<br />

not used for this purpose yet, it would allow the EU to<br />

actively impact the project. As it currently stands, European<br />

countries hold a total of 20% of the bank’s executive board,<br />

yet the AIIB remains firmly controlled by China (75%). 9<br />

Thus, if the EU took advantage of its representation in the<br />

AIIB, it could exert its influence over the guidelines that<br />

affect the BRI’s financing. 10 This sort of plan of action<br />

needs to continue for the Union to be able to actively<br />

participate in the initiative’s decisions.<br />

Europe should start by negotiating fallback measures in<br />

case of political instability along the Belt and Road routes,<br />

this includes outside and inside of the EU. As an example,<br />

a significant number of BRI countries, such as Thailand,<br />

Russia and Indonesia will face elections in 2018, and<br />

without an international agreement, the EU could witness<br />

the collapse of the BRI in a set of events that would be<br />

completely out of its control. 11<br />

Additionally, the expansion of the EU’s trade links and<br />

liaisons with Asian and Middle-eastern countries has<br />

to be coupled to a control system that could guarantee<br />

that its security will not be jeopardized by the initiative.<br />

This control is essential to avoid problems arising from<br />

the “who” and “what” enters Europe, otherwise there is<br />


potential for crises related to an influx of contraband which<br />

would increase the amount of counterfeits and dangerous<br />

products.<br />

This is directly linked to the next issue, transparency. The<br />

transparency of the BRI has to be ensured too, not just with<br />

what goes in and out, but also with how it complies with<br />

western values. The rules and regulations related to the<br />

initiative need to be clear in a way that allows the public to<br />

be informed, so as to promote an open and healthy debate<br />

on the subject.<br />

Aside from its push in the AIIB however, the EU is not<br />

without further bargaining chip. As China’s biggest trade<br />

partner, the EU has weight that it can throw around.<br />

This can be used to promote the sort of transparency and<br />

stability that the Union is looking for. At the end of the<br />

day, if the EU successfully manages to hinder Chinese<br />

investment (as they have already tried) in the Union, then<br />

no one benefits. Therefore both parties are dependent on<br />

each other.<br />

ultimately hinder developing trade between the two entities.<br />

But on the other hand, the EU also relies on China as a<br />

major trade partner, and it is very unlikely that China would<br />

succumb to European demands seeing as it has to maintain<br />

its foothold as a global power. A balance would need to<br />

be struck, and if successful, then the EU and China would<br />

potentially enter a new era of prosperity.<br />

The Belt and Road initiative is not a simple one, being the<br />

most ambitious initiative of its kind in the modern day and<br />

age. Brussels is faced with a challenge: either they get on<br />

board and make their terms and conditions heard, or they<br />

opt out and lose an opportunity to develop their trade and<br />

further boost the European economy. Success is a choice<br />

and if Brussels can unite itself on the initiative, then it will<br />

have chosen to succeed.<br />

For more information, feel free to send an email to<br />

Philippe.Billiet@billiet-co.be<br />

On the one hand, if the EU does not want the BRI to<br />

succeed then China will find it difficult to do so, and it will<br />

Flávia Miari Cançado, Intern at Billiet & Co Lawyers.<br />

Aviel Sokolovsky, Intern at Billiet & Co Lawyers.<br />

100<br />

1 BBC, “5 Ambiciosos Projetos de Infraestrutura com os quais a China<br />

quer sacudir a Ordem Econômica Mundial” (2017), in English “5<br />

Ambitious Projects with which China wants to shake the <strong>World</strong><br />

Economic Order”.<br />

See in http://www.bbc.com/portuguese/internacional-39976899.<br />

2 Belt and Road official website, short infographic video number 1.<br />

See in https://beltandroad.hktdc.com/en/belt-and-road-basics<br />

3 EY, “Record Foreign Direct Investment in Europe sparks job creation<br />

boom” (2017).<br />

See in http://www.ey.com/gl/en/newsroom/news-releases/news-eyrecord-foreign-direct-investment-in-europe-sparks-job-creation-boom<br />

4 Anders Fogh Rasmussen, “China’s investment in Europe offers<br />

opportunities - and threats”, (2017).<br />

See in https://www.ft.com/content/9e7428cc-c963-11e7-8536-<br />

d321d0d897a3<br />

5 Mercy Kuo, “Belt and road initiative: EU strategic interests in Asia,<br />

insights from Richard Ghiasy”, (2017)<br />

See in https://thediplomat.com/2017/10/belt-and-road-initiative-eustrategic-interests-in-asia/<br />

6 Mercy Kuo, “Belt and road initiative: EU strategic interests in Asia,<br />

insights from Richard Ghiasy”, (2017)<br />

See in https://thediplomat.com/2017/10/belt-and-road-initiative-eustrategic-interests-in-asia/<br />

7 F. William Engdahl, “Will China’s Belt and Road (BRI) Trigger and<br />

East-West Rupture Within the EU?”, (2018). See in<br />

https://www.globalresearch.ca/will-chinas-belt-and-road-bri-trigger-aneast-west-rupture-within-the-eu/5627681<br />

8 Astrid Pepermans, Leia Wang, Stephan Klose, “An uphill struggle?<br />

Towards coordinated EU Engagement with China’s Belt and Road<br />

Initiative” (2017). See in http://www.egmontinstitute.be/uphillstruggle-towards-coordinated-eu-engagement-chinas-belt-road-initiative/<br />

9 Astrid Pepermans, Leia Wang, Stephan Klose, “An uphill struggle?<br />

Towards coordinated EU Engagement with China’s Belt and Road<br />

Initiative” (2017). See in http://www.egmontinstitute.be/uphillstruggle-towards-coordinated-eu-engagement-chinas-belt-road-initiative/<br />

10 Ujvari, B., “The European Union and the China-led transformation of<br />

Global Economic Governance”, (2016). See in<br />

http://www.egmontinstitute.be/content/uploads/2016/06/ep85.<br />

pdf?type=pdf.<br />

11 Chuchu Zhang and Chaowei Xiao, “China’s Belt and Road Initiative<br />

Faces New Security Challenges in 2018”, (2017). See in: https://<br />


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102<br />

The UK gave its official notification to leave the European<br />

Union on March 29 2017, invoking article 50 of the TEU.<br />

When the UK first announced Brexit, it was stated that<br />

Britain would restore its self-determination and be free to<br />

establish its own trade agreements. However, for nearly a<br />

year, no measure was taken to that effect. Discussions for new<br />

agreements have started to take place only recently, when<br />

Theresa May made her first official visit to China after the<br />

Brexit referendum at the end of January 2018. 1<br />

The new situation generated by Brexit creates the possibility<br />

of a hit to UK-EU trade, making it crucial for Britain to seek<br />

new overseas markets, and China offers a prospect of major<br />

business relations and opportunities. In the past few years,<br />

China has been actively expanding its economic horizons<br />

and has been investing in several infrastructure projects<br />

worldwide, revealing itself to be a very interesting trade<br />

partner for the UK. 2<br />

UK-China’s trade is already significant and the British<br />

industry is based not only on the export of a myriad of<br />

different products to China, but also on Chinese imports,<br />

which account for the UK’s third largest source of imports. 3<br />

The country with the largest population and a consumer<br />

market that is growing exponentially clearly represents an<br />

opening for Britain after the EU.<br />

In this perspective, the prime minister of the UK declared<br />

on her way to meet Xi Jinping that the UK is free to strike<br />

their own trade deals, revealing an attempt by the country to<br />

develop an Anglo-Chinese trade after Brexit. 4 May used her<br />

predecessor David Cameron’s words, stating that the trip<br />

would expand the “Golden Era” between the countries. 5<br />

It was announced that in the three day visit a series of trade<br />

agreements were made, representing a total amount of over<br />

£9.3 billion that can potentially create more than 2.500 jobs<br />

in the UK. In addition, the Chinese government agreed to<br />

end in the coming six months its ban on UK beef, which has<br />

lasted for over 20 years. Consequently, UK dairy producers<br />

and firms will be able to penetrate the Chinese market. 6 The<br />

trade between China and the UK is currently worth over £59<br />

billion per year. 7<br />

As of yet, however, it is not clear how the new trading<br />

relationship between the governments will proceed. The IMF<br />

predicts that China’s import market will be higher than US$3.6<br />

trillion by 2020, and China’s investors in 2017 increased their<br />

capital in Britain to a total amount of $20.8 million. 8 The<br />

advantages the UK could gain by getting closer to China are<br />

clear, but the advantages for China could be questioned.<br />

China’s interest in the UK can be associated with the<br />

opportunity to get closer to the EU, considering London has<br />

been one of the gateways to the EU market. 9 However, now<br />

that Britain would be separated from the EU’s 500 million<br />

consumers, it may not be the same promising trade-partner to<br />

China as it used to be. It is to be seen how the UK economy<br />

will react to Brexit, but the temporary political instability<br />

could be used to China’s advantage to reach a successful<br />

commercial agreement. 10<br />

The UK can be interesting to China to support projects to<br />

which Brussels has shown reluctance, thus becoming the<br />

partner that China seeks in Europe. 11 The Belt and Road<br />

Initiative (BRI) could be seen as China’s most ambitious<br />

foreign project, being a major infrastructure strategy with<br />

the purpose of promoting connectivity and co-operation<br />

between Asia, the Middle-East and Europe, encouraging new<br />

trades and potentially accounting for 35% of world trade.<br />

Nevertheless, the EU has as yet no uninform view on BRI 12 ;<br />

while there are some countries, especially in southern Europe,<br />

such as Greece, Spain and Portugal, that support BRI, other<br />

countries, such as the Nordic states, have not shown much<br />

interest thus far. 13 The lack of a unitary position within the<br />

EU has created internal divisions which are already impacting<br />

policies and decisions in Brussels. 14

Since the EU has not yet achieved a resolution, the UK can<br />

use this opportunity to get closer to China and support the<br />

initiative. During Theresa May’s recent visit, president<br />

Xi Jinping presented the prime minister with a memorandum to<br />

allowing the UK to declare its support for BRI. However, May<br />

has not yet embraced the opportunity for Britain to become the<br />

first western country to formally encourage the initiative. 15<br />

The UK’s resistance can be understood: the project is not yet<br />

detailed, with unclear standards that still have to be defined. 16<br />

In addition, EU-UK negotiations to define their trade<br />

relationship following Brexit are ongoing. There are three<br />

possible scenarios that could shape China’s interest in the UK:<br />

(i) an EEA membership for the UK; (ii) a relation governed<br />

only by the WTO rules; or (iii) a tailor-made agreement. 17<br />

The uncertainties in the UK’s future prejudice its position in<br />

any potential new trade until it comes to an agreement with<br />

the EU. China may question whether expanding its trade to<br />

the UK now would be beneficial. Indeed, China may not want<br />

to jeopardize its future relations with the EU. 18<br />

China is currently interested in reaching a bilateral agreement<br />

with the EU and if the UK establishes a limited trade<br />

agreement with the EU, it could create a different block<br />

of trading partners for China. On the one hand, if there is<br />

still a relatively open market with the EU, China could have<br />

access to the entirety of Europe. On the other hand, if the UK<br />

distances its trade from the EU with the Brexit agreement, it<br />

could face difficulties in finding new trade partners.<br />

China’s market and partnership can be the solution for the<br />

UK after the EU. The outcome of the UK-China relations may<br />

depend on the evolution of the UK-EU relations. While it is<br />

likely that a trade agreement with China could be positive for<br />

Britain, the next steps in Brexit will define whether it could<br />

also be interesting for China.<br />

For questions, feel free to send an email to<br />

Philippe.Billiet@billiet-co.be<br />

Flávia Miari Cançado, Intern at Billiet & Co Lawyers.<br />

1 Chris Buckley and Stephen Castle, “As Theresa May Pursues Deals in<br />

China, Her Own Troubles Follow”, (2018)<br />

See in https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/31/world/asia/theresa-maychina.html<br />

2 BBC, “5 Ambiciosos Projetos de Infraestrutura com os quais a<br />

China quer sacudir a Ordem Econômica Mundial” (2017), in<br />

English “5 Ambitious Projects with which China wants to shake the<br />

<strong>World</strong> Economic Order”. See in http://www.bbc.com/portuguese/<br />

internacional-39976899.<br />

3 Jake Liddle, “China-UK Trade: The Effects of Brexit”, (2017)<br />

See in http://www.china-briefing.com/news/2017/03/03/china-uk-tradethe-effects-of-brexit.html<br />

4 BBC, “Theresa May hails ‘first step’ to trade deal after Xi Jinping<br />

talks”, (2018)<br />

See in http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-politics-42897705<br />

5 Chris Buckley and Stephen Castle, “As Theresa May Pursues Deals in<br />

China, Her Own Troubles Follow”, (2018)<br />

See in https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/31/world/asia/theresa-maychina.html<br />

6 Oscar Rousseau, “China to end decades-old UK beef ban in six<br />

months”, (2018)<br />

See in https://www.globalmeatnews.com/Article/2018/02/01/China-toend-decades-old-UK-beef-ban-in-six-months<br />

7 China Briefing, “May Leaves China with Trade Deals amid Brexit<br />

Uncertainty”, 2018<br />

See in http://www.china-briefing.com/news/2018/02/02/may-leaveschina-trade-deals-amid-brexit-uncertainty.html<br />

8 Chris Buckley and Stephen Castle, “As Theresa May Pursues Deals in<br />

China, Her Own Troubles Follow”, (2018)<br />

See in https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/31/world/asia/theresa-maychina.html<br />

9 Andrew Parmley, “London is the gateway to the world for the EU<br />

business”, (2017)<br />

See in http://www.cityam.com/267678/london-gateway-world-eubusiness<br />

10 Alex Gray, <strong>World</strong> Economic Forum, “The world biggest economies in<br />

2017”, (2017)<br />

See in https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2017/03/worlds-biggesteconomies-in-2017/<br />

11 Jake Liddle, “China-UK Trade: The Effects of Brexit”, (2017)<br />

See in http://www.china-briefing.com/news/2017/03/03/china-uk-tradethe-effects-of-brexit.html<br />

12 Belt and Road official website, short infographic video number 1.<br />

See in https://beltandroad.hktdc.com/en/belt-and-road-basics<br />

13 Mercy Kuo, “Belt and road initiative: EU strategic interests in Asia,<br />

insights from Richard Ghiasy”, (2017)<br />

See in https://thediplomat.com/2017/10/belt-and-road-initiative-eustrategic-interests-in-asia/<br />

14 F. William Engdahl, “Will China’s Belt and Road (BRI) Trigger and<br />

East-West Rupture Within the EU?”, (2018).<br />

See in https://www.globalresearch.ca/will-chinas-belt-and-road-britrigger-an-east-west-rupture-within-theeu/5627681<br />

15 China Briefing, “May Leaves China with Trade Deals amid Brexit<br />

Uncertainty”, 2018<br />

See in http://www.china-briefing.com/news/2018/02/02/may-leaveschina-trade-deals-amid-brexit-uncertainty.html<br />

16 China Briefing, “The Beijing Belt-Road Forum: What we learned About<br />

China’s Intention”, (2017)<br />

See in http://www.china-briefing.com/news/2017/05/23/beijing-beltroad-forum-learned-chinas-intentions.html<br />

17 European Parliament, Directorate-General for Internal Policies,<br />

“Consequences of Brexit in the Area of Consumer Protection”, (2017)<br />

See in http://www.europarl.europa.eu/RegData/etudes/<br />

STUD/2017/602055/IPOL_STU(2017)602055_EN.pdf<br />

18 Ralph Jennings, “All Eyes Are On Theresa May To Sell A Doubtful<br />

China, Belt And Road On Post-Brexit UK”, (2018)<br />

See in https://www.forbes.com/sites/ralphjennings/2018/01/31/<br />

chinas-economic-expansion-hits-a-roadblock-at-the-far-end-ofeurope/#47a53696c6e1-<br />





Some reflections on and a summary of a one-day<br />

workshop (19 December 2017 - http://www.ucip.be/<br />

Events/), organized by the UCIP 1 project (funded<br />

by INNOVIRIS), BACES 2 , BDA 3 and the Confucius<br />

Institute at VUB.<br />

104<br />

“Artificial Intelligence” (AI) used to be the privileged<br />

playground of universities and research institutes. They were<br />

steering the progress in the field. Nowadays this is slightly<br />

different. AI has also become a field of competition between<br />

large companies and power blocks. Multinational companies<br />

have become a major source of progress and innovation,<br />

with immense societal and economic impact. AI is also of<br />

considerable interest to governments, policy makers and the<br />

public at large. Regulations are being designed, sometimes<br />

driven by fear, ethical and security considerations but also<br />

with the objective of improving the quality of life, both at<br />

the societal and the individual level.<br />

In the workshop, the recent AI (r)evolution was analyzed<br />

and discussed from the point of view of research and<br />

development as well as its economic impact. The emphasis<br />

was on the China/Europe/USA perspective. Currently,<br />

China and the USA are battling to become the world’s<br />

first AI superpowers. The USA is still the leading nation,<br />

while Europe seems to be absent or at least less visible,<br />

in this race. Companies like Facebook, Google, Amazon<br />

and Microsoft are being challenged by the likes of Baidu,<br />

Alibaba and Tencent (B.A.T.). Analyzing the reasons why,<br />

in the future, the use of AI in China could surpass the<br />

USA and definitely Europe was a central question in the<br />

debate. As AI will impact our lives profoundly in the coming<br />

10 years, are we comfortable buying Chinese products<br />

powered with Chinese AI? Would we buy a self-driving car<br />

or intelligent fridge made by a Chinese company? Are we<br />

OK with having eye surgery or accepting a cancer diagnosis<br />

from a Chinese AI robot? How can we best cope with the<br />

realities of China’s AI trends, ambitions and globalization<br />

plans? How can we assess the benefits and risks of Chinese<br />

Intelligence getting into our lives undetected? What is<br />

Europe doing to secure a leading role in the AI field and<br />

capitalize on university research results? What role can EU-<br />

China relations play here? How can we overcome barriers<br />

in language and data regulation when collaborating with<br />

China? Is there an inherent danger over collaboration with<br />

China? How can we address Chinese market opportunities<br />

and risks? What is the role of the three big tech companies,<br />

B.A.T.? Given the huge size of the Chinese market, how<br />

should we adapt our scale of thinking? These are but a few<br />

consumer and policy questions that enlightened the debate.<br />

Setting the tone for the rest of the workshop, Tias Guns<br />

highlighted some aspects of the broader AI context by<br />

reminding us of fundamental questions about the nature and<br />

the societal impact of the current AI revolution (or is it a<br />

bubble 4 ): Is AI a new type of human-created intelligence or<br />

is it a research field in computer science that develops smart<br />

algorithms? While the first option is still a dream, the second<br />

one is reality. Prediction and reasoning have penetrated<br />

the world of computer science: decision support systems<br />

propose action and autonomous systems act. “Big data” has<br />

become a container concept for diverse disciplines in data<br />

science and the playground for an evolution from knowing<br />

(collecting heterogeneous data to analyze the present —<br />

information extraction), prediction (learning from the past<br />

to predict the future — machine learning) and reasoning<br />

(planning and acting according to the now and predicted<br />

future — artificial intelligence). Can AI outsmart people?<br />

Yes, a person is limited in space and time while AI is limited<br />

in neither because it can rely on parallel computing and the<br />

cloud. Is AI. Dangerous? Potentially yes, AI systems are like<br />

savants who are unusually good at doing one thing, but with<br />

no context, no morality, no knowledge of side effects. Tias<br />

Guns concluded his talk with the statement: “AI can make

wishes come true, after investments in infrastructure and<br />

data. Let’s hope these wishes are leading to human-oriented,<br />

sustainable solutions.”<br />

Pascal Coppens gave an inspiring talk on “Artificial<br />

Intelligence: China’s new normal”. China’s ambition is to<br />

become the leader in AI by 2030.<br />

Noteworthy in President Xi Jinping’s speech at the 19th CPC<br />

National Congress in 2017 was the following statement: “We<br />

will work faster to build China into a manufacturer of quality<br />

and develop advanced manufacturing, promote further<br />

integration of the internet, big data, and artificial intelligence<br />

with the real economy”. In terms of numbers of companies<br />

involved, investment and attracting talent, China seems to be<br />

well on its way. The Chinese government plans to win the AI<br />

race against the USA. Whereas the USA is mainly focused on<br />

horizontal generic platforms that provide long term benefits,<br />

China is focused primarily on vertical platforms that bring<br />

rapid financial returns, e.g. in specific areas such as speech<br />

and face recognition, computer vision and intelligent robotic<br />

systems. AI technology platforms are being built by the<br />

Chinese internet giants, as in the USA. Looking at the key<br />

performance indicators — AI companies, AI investments and<br />

AI talent — the USA is still ahead with a factor ranging from<br />

1.5 to 3 compared to China, followed by the UK.<br />

The Chinese government sees AI as an effective way to<br />

solve the huge challenges facing the country, as well as an<br />

accelerator for its economic growth. The Chinese consumer<br />

is an early adopter of AI-driven products because of China’s<br />

particular cultural context, and Chinese attitudes towards<br />

privacy, confidentiality, trust, man-machine-relationships<br />

and the urge for more convenience. European consumers<br />

are more reluctant and hesitant. China will become an AI<br />

economic power because it has the four critical ingredients<br />

like the USA: availability of data, infrastructure (e.g.<br />

supercomputing combined with the cloud), talent and, in<br />

the near future, advanced chip designs and implementation<br />

facilities. The real disruption in AI will come from the<br />

hundreds of well-funded new generations of global Chinese<br />

start-ups, especially those creating the latest consumer<br />

devices built in Shenzhen. Note of the author: It is unclear<br />

if universities will be able to play a broader role than just<br />

talent creation for these start-ups. Most of them are not yet<br />

well prepared for systematic spin-off creation through wellestablished<br />

technology transfer processes. Therefore, also<br />

in VUB’s UCIP project, new types of contacts are currently<br />

being established in China, directly with match-making<br />

companies (IP brokers) and with companies located within<br />

the partner university’s ecosystem, bypassing the university’s<br />

technology transfer units.<br />

Pascal Coppens ended his talk with the unanswered<br />

question: But where is Europe? Note of the author: There<br />


106<br />

are several successful European start-ups that have a<br />

potential for growth but, globally speaking, there is a lack<br />

of scale. The investment fund Atomico predicts: “The<br />

probability that the next Google will emerge in Europe<br />

has never been greater than now”. Europe produces two<br />

times more PhDs in the STEM disciplines than the USA<br />

and China, and has built entrepreneurial skills into the<br />

attainment targets of higher education curricula. Unlike in<br />

the USA and Asia, Europe is actively building ecosystems,<br />

open research and innovation platforms, in which traditional<br />

companies, young start-ups and universities collaborate.<br />

Daniel Wong elaborated his talk around the rise of<br />

consumer AI in China. He described his journey as CEO of<br />

Rokid 5 , the voice assistant (cfr. Amazon’s Echo) of China.<br />

In China everything goes faster, even faster than in the<br />

USA. “From concept to mass production in 18 months”<br />

can only happen in China. China has more early adopters.<br />

In 2015, western Venture Capitalists (VCs), business<br />

leaders and consumers were very cautious, even in Silicon<br />

Valley, whereas Chinese VCs, industry and consumers were<br />

enthusiastic about AI. Now, in 2018, there are hundreds of<br />

voice assistants. In the USA, you can stay unique for a long<br />

time. In China, as soon as you launch an innovation, you<br />

have dozens or hundreds of competitors, who automatically<br />

force you to remain innovative. China is also a very special<br />

market where, for example, you can raise the selling price<br />

and still sell more units! Consumers are seeking the newest<br />

and the most valuable, and are willing to pay for it. China<br />

offers a lot of advantages, such as consumer fascination,<br />

data, speed, funds and government support. What about<br />

Europe? The natural partners for Chinese companies are<br />

situated in Silicon Valley. Europe does not cross the mind<br />

of most entrepreneurs in China. AI innovation in China is<br />

driven by the new start-ups, not necessarily the big guys<br />

like B.A.T.<br />






Note of the author: Dan Wong visited some VUB<br />

laboratories on Big Data, AI and Robotics and was<br />

extremely surprised to find interesting technologies and<br />

horizontal technology platforms emanating from VUB’s<br />

excellent strategic research portfolios, despite their longer<br />

creation-time-to-market expectation.<br />

Tom Vandendooren: gave us insights into how Sentiance,<br />

a Belgian start-up, became active in the Chinese market.<br />

Sentiance’s AI platform turns IoT (Internet of Things) and<br />

smartphone sensor data into rich insights about people’s<br />

behaviour and real-time context: sensing, mining connected<br />

devices, understanding and predicting behaviour in the real<br />

world and in real time. These insights help companies engage<br />

with their customers and users in a hyper-personalised way.<br />

Sentiance’s technology is used in the following verticals:<br />

life-style based insurance, contextual commerce, connected<br />

health, smart mobility and fleet management, connected<br />

cars, smart home and smart city http://www.sentiance.com/<br />

Tom Vandendooren characterized Sentiance’s China<br />

experience as “good, bad and scary”. The good is about the<br />

market size, smart spaces, O2O 6 , the social credit system<br />

designed to increase trust in the Chinese market, the<br />

receptiveness of the ecosystem towards new practices, the<br />

widespread mobile services. The bad is about restrictions on<br />

data for western companies which hamper their participation<br />

in the market — like having to use local datacenters for data<br />

storage, privacy regulations, IP transfer requests, … The<br />

scary is more about how the Chinese compete in ways that<br />

do not always correspond to the European understanding of<br />

fairness, as well as the big B.A.T. brothers. Recently, Plug<br />

and Play (PNP), one of the world’s largest open innovation<br />

platforms, entered into a partnership with Sentiance, to<br />

exploit the vast opportunities in the Chinese market. As<br />

Sentiance’s local partner, PNP China will utilize its extensive<br />

network of corporate, government and investment partners<br />

in China to drive and accelerate growth in the market.<br />

Salvatore Spinello focused on opportunities for AI<br />

multidisciplinary research and the possibilities of EU-China<br />

collaboration within the EU’s programme Future and<br />

Emerging Technologies — FET. Within the Horizon 2020<br />

programme budget of 74,8 billion Euros, excellent science<br />

represents 24,2 billion Euros and, within the latter, FET has<br />

a budget of 2,6 billion Euros dedicated to novel ideas for<br />

radically new technologies. The financials of projects with<br />

Chinese involvement are summarized in the following table.

Proposals<br />

in H2020<br />

Budget FET Budget<br />

2014 247 31,5M€ 5 316K€<br />

2015 352 40,5M€ 3 822K€<br />

2016 513 54,5M€ 2 62K€<br />

2017 648 75,3M€ 1 370K€<br />

Note from the author: Considering the number of partners<br />

in EU proposals, their multi-year nature, the figures in the<br />

table represent a mere drop in a vast ocean. Nonetheless,<br />

these grants are very important because they enable Chinese<br />

researchers, enterprises, institutions and universities to team<br />

up with their European partners to participate in Horizon<br />

2020 projects, also providing an excellent opportunity to get to<br />

know the state-of-the art beyond official publications in both<br />

parts of the world.<br />

In summary, the workshop concentrated on the positive<br />

opportunities of collaboration with China in the field of AI<br />

and provided valuable insight into Chinese ambitions and<br />

the many on-going societal processes within China that are<br />

combining to produce an explosive growth in AI.<br />

However, I’ve also been reflecting on Tias Gun’s quotation,<br />

“AI can make wishes come true, … let’s hope these wishes<br />

are leading to human-oriented, sustainable solutions.” It is,<br />

however, a worry that AI technologies can also be used to<br />

make evil wishes come true. This cannot be ignored: a striking<br />

example is the election process that produced President<br />

Donald John Trump. This happened in a democracy, the<br />

USA. The interplay of different components (i) money,<br />

(ii) lies and (iii) manipulation is rooted in a spider web of<br />

companies with know-how on big data, AI and media. Central<br />

in the spider web is Robert Mercer, initially a scientist at<br />

IBM dealing with natural language processing, which is the<br />

historical breeding ground for contemporary AI scientists.<br />

He has also worked on algorithmic trading and stock market<br />

prediction, before moving to the Renaissance Technology<br />

Hedge Fund in the early nineties and becoming a billionaire.<br />

Here is component (i), the money. The SCL group (Strategic<br />

Communication Laboratories) is a private British behavioural<br />

research and strategic communication company. Through its<br />

affiliate Cambridge Analytica, it performs data mining and<br />

data analysis on selected target audiences. On its website,<br />

Cambridge Analytica advertises “Cambridge Analytica<br />

uses data to change audience behaviour” and mentions a<br />

commercial and political division within the organisation.<br />

Communications specifically target key audience groups to<br />

influence and modify behaviour in accordance with the goals<br />

of SCL’s client. The company describes itself as a “global<br />

election management agency”. This is the basis for component<br />

(ii) the lies. It is estimated that Trump’s completely true<br />

statements account for only 5 % of all his election statements.<br />

Again, the company’s know-how is rooted in scientific<br />

research, e.g. behavioural psychology, personalised and usually<br />

innocent questionnaires and surveys. The fusion of these<br />

personalised data (eventually grouped into a limited number of<br />

categories of personality types) with data that can be acquired<br />

or bought from banks, IT companies like Google, Amazon, …<br />

has turned the USA election process into a real data-driven<br />

campaign through personal communication, targeting three<br />

crucial US states and convincing the 80.000 voters needed to<br />

win the elections. This is component (iii) the manipulation.<br />

The core technology of SCL can, of course, be used in various<br />

ways but if these technologies are capable of disrupting<br />

a democracy, the question that arises is, what effects can<br />

they have in a society based on “Socialism with Chinese<br />

Characteristics”? The information used in the above paragraph<br />

comes from the web and a documentary “Unfair Game” …<br />

but then again, is it fake or real news information? In any<br />

case, it describes a picture that goes beyond NETFLIX’s<br />

fiction series “House of Cards”, and illustrates that, as for any<br />

breakthrough scientific research, there is a potential dark side<br />

in its application which, however, should not prevent us from<br />

doing good research.<br />

Jan Cornelis<br />

Academic Attaché CIDIC and<br />

Emeritus Professor Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB)<br />

1 UCIP: University centered International platforms on innovation and<br />

knowledge transfer – INNOVIRIS: Brussels Institute for Research and<br />

Innovation.<br />

2 BACES: Brussels Academy for China European Studies<br />

3 BDA: Brussels <strong>Diplomatic</strong> Academy<br />

4 Author’s note: AI has experienced several hype cycles, followed by<br />

disappointment and criticism, followed by funding cuts, followed by<br />

renewed interest, sometimes decades later (see, https://en.wikipedia.<br />

org/wiki/AI_winter). It is my opinion that this time, the congruence of<br />

massive computing power (supercomputers, cloud computing and the<br />

perspectives of quantum computing), and progress in big data and deep<br />

learning will make AI part of our daily lives. Previous hypes might not<br />

have achieved the expectations, but nevertheless they also produced<br />

substantial progress in science and its applications.<br />

5 https://www.rokid.com/en/index.html The company’s product line-up<br />

includes smart speakers called Rokid Pebble and Alien, which are<br />

currently sold in China (see also CES - Consumer Electronics show<br />

https://www.ces.tech/). In 2018, Rokid debuted its newest offering:<br />

augmented reality glasses with incorporated voice control and AI.<br />

6 O2O stands for “online to offline.” It is a term used to describe a<br />

variety of e-commerce services that provide online information,<br />

services, or discounts to consumers to enhance their offline shopping<br />

experiences.<br />





If you have met Hans De Wolf before, you can never<br />

forget him. If you have worked with him, the taste<br />

for intellectual adventure stays with you. If you<br />

don’t know him yet, it is not easy to find him on the<br />

internet. It is through his project portfolio that you<br />

can trace him most easily.<br />

108<br />

Hans Maria De Wolf (1961) is an art historian who<br />

focuses on modern and contemporary art, philosophy<br />

and aesthetics. He studied at the Vrije Universiteit<br />

Brussel (VUB) and Columbia University in New York.<br />

His PhD degree concerned one of Marcel Duchamp’s<br />

major works, “La mariée mise à nu par ses célibataires,<br />

même”. He conceived and organized various exhibitions<br />

in the Neue Nationalgalerie im Hamburger Bahnhof, the<br />

Museum of Contemporary Art in Berlin. He has been<br />

giving theoretical art seminars at the Kunsthochschule<br />

Berlin-Weissensee since 2002. In 2004 he joined VUB as<br />

a professor of Art History and Aesthetics and became a<br />

senior consultant at BOZAR — the Centre for Fine Arts<br />

in Brussels. In 2005 he was mandated to create a platform<br />

for the implementation of artistic research (known as the<br />

“Brussels model”). He then launched a whole series of<br />

prestigious research projects involving some of Belgium’s<br />

most famous artists, bringing them to cities such as<br />

Beijing, Hangzhou, Seoul, Gwangju, Chengdu. Over the<br />

years, he developed a unique methodology for Cultural<br />

Diplomacy.<br />

The research work and impressive worldwide project<br />

portfolio of Hans De Wolf is rooted in an original<br />

interpretation of the concept “cultural diplomacy”. All<br />

of his projects are wake-up calls for the local economic,<br />

academic and cultural communities that are intensively<br />

involved with their realization. In doing so, these<br />

communities acquire insights into completely new<br />

creative methods and approaches. To reach this goal,<br />

Hans De Wolf and his team have developed a specific and<br />

original methodology using a participatory grass-roots<br />

approach.<br />

The preparation of each project starts very carefully<br />

with the development of a human network in each city,<br />

connecting local artists, curators, universities and business<br />

people, who are ready to question the feasibility of the<br />

initial plans. “This methodology intertwines cultural and<br />

academic diplomacy and ensures that the opening of an<br />

exhibition is also the celebration of a first constructive<br />

phase of an emerging relationship and not, as often<br />

happens, a first encounter with a new public.” I was lucky<br />

to be Vice-Rector for International Policy at VUB when<br />

Hans De Wolf was refining his cultural diplomacy concept,<br />

so I was able to incorporate it into the central university’s<br />

overall policy as an important vehicle for establishing<br />

sustainable international partnerships.<br />

Hans De Wolf, we started working together on a<br />

project for cultural diplomacy almost eight years<br />

ago. As Vice-Rector for International Policy of<br />

VUB, I saw the value of supporting your activities<br />

and incorporating them into the university-wide<br />

policy agenda — and you were the creative<br />

content provider and organiser. We both had the<br />

feeling that we knew what we meant by “cultural<br />

diplomacy”, but I’m still not sure that we have the<br />

same understanding when it comes to a detailed<br />

definition. So, please tell me what does cultural<br />

diplomacy mean to you?<br />

We’ve been calling our project the intertwining of academic<br />

reflection, arts and diplomacy. To be honest, I must say<br />

that over the last few months I’m moving away from the<br />

terminology cultural diplomacy. I’ll try to explain why.<br />

We called it cultural diplomacy because our projects<br />

were mostly for local governments such as the Brussels

© The Central Academy of Fine Arts (CAFA), Beijing<br />

regional government, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and<br />

for institutions that have an international agenda. And<br />

so, on that basis, we’re advocating the idea that Brussels<br />

is a major hub for the visual arts. Nobody ever thought of<br />

creating a tool to bring this idea to other countries. Brussels<br />

is one of the most interesting cities in terms of visual arts,<br />

but nobody knows it. Internationally nobody knows except<br />

for a few people with special interests, and what is even<br />

worse, also at home nobody knows. Therefore, we started<br />

an initiative that began in 2009 on the invitation of Minister<br />

Jean-Luc Van Raes who sent us to Shanghai to set up an<br />

exhibition in 2010. I must say that we’ve been very lucky<br />

because, from the first exercise onwards, we were able to<br />

develop the right methodology.<br />

What is the right methodology? Especially in China, it is<br />

one that is based on interest, respect and equality. Here I<br />

must explain a few things. What I did, from the first moment<br />

I set foot in Shanghai, was to take more than 40 taxis to<br />

meet with as many people as possible: academics, critics,<br />

artists, gallerists, really all the people who were dealing with<br />

the idea of culture. Very rapidly, I understood that I was<br />

touching upon a reality that was fundamentally different<br />

from the art world in Brussels and I experienced this as<br />

an interesting tension. So, what we’ve done from Shanghai<br />

onwards, is to shape each exhibition that we organise to<br />

fit the characteristics of the place where it takes place. In<br />

other words, we never make an exhibition in Beijing that is<br />

identical to an exhibition in Shanghai.<br />

The exhibition we organised in Beijing, the capital with<br />

which every Chinese citizen can identify him- or herself, was<br />

based on a completely different mindset from the one we<br />

organised in Shanghai, a city of commerce open to the<br />

world, a city of ambition, a city with a huge historical past<br />

that we also wanted to capture. That is the basis of our<br />

approach. We always work from the grassroots upwards and<br />

outwards: for every location we try to find out who the key<br />

players on the ground are, and what is at stake. Let me give<br />

you a little example: the case of Seoul. In Seoul, we found<br />

a city that wasn’t at all comparable with Chinese cities.<br />

We always do research on the cities we go to — and that<br />

constitutes a complementary academic research component<br />

in our exercises. What we found out about Seoul was that<br />

it might well be the most traumatised city in the world.<br />

Koreans fall completely in between two major identities:<br />

the Chinese and the Japanese. What they want to prove<br />

every day is that they exist, … that they are not Chinese,<br />

that they are not Japanese. Their whole history is marked by<br />

this traumatic situation, this dramatic geographic situation.<br />

On top of that, they have had that incredible disaster, the<br />

Korean war, that completely destroyed the country and<br />

ended up in the most incredible situation: with a split up<br />

country, with the most archaic communist country in the<br />

north and a hardcore capitalistic society in the south. So, it<br />

was starting from that knowledge, that we made our project.<br />

The project we did in Seoul was about Wanderlust. Why<br />

Wanderlust? Because that’s the only thing Koreans will<br />

never experience, will never have, will never do. Wanderlust<br />

is about leaving your village, going to the hilltop,<br />

experiencing what the other side of the hill is all about. It’s<br />

about walking away, about taking distance. But, it‘s also<br />

about other new and challenging conventions and that’s<br />


Installation view of “Master Mould and Copy Room”<br />

© The Central Academy of Fine Arts (CAFA), Beijing<br />

110<br />

exactly what Koreans are reluctant to be confronted with.<br />

They’re born in their convention; if your dad died in the<br />

Korean war, then you must become a doctor, you know?<br />

The whole society is coded like that, so Wanderlust has<br />

no place at all. And there you have an interesting starting<br />

point. So, we decided to make an exhibition in which we<br />

would bring five wonderful Wanderlust artists from Belgium<br />

to Korea. And that worked fantastically, because at the end<br />

of the year 2012, an art magazine in Korea asked fifteen<br />

critics to discuss the exhibitions that had taken place that<br />

year and nine times Wanderlust ended up being number one<br />

in the list.<br />

In your analysis work, to find a good approach<br />

for your events in other continents, how can you<br />

be so self-assured that you are right? Take Korea,<br />

the image you convey is that “leaving their village,<br />

going to the top of the mountain and looking<br />

across” is something Koreans will never do. How<br />

do you explain then the international embedding<br />

and fabulous export performance of the big Korean<br />

multinationals?<br />

In my view, that has a lot to do with the fact that they<br />

imported their economic model. Let me try to explain.<br />

It’s interesting that in the seventies North Korea was<br />

much more prosperous than the South. So, “the Korean<br />

multinational” is a relatively recent phenomenon, because<br />

the country was completely destroyed and they had to<br />

build everything from scratch. That gives a lot of space to<br />

entrepreneurs, it gives lots of space to a kind of complicity<br />

between governments and economic players … and that is<br />

very strongly present in Korea. I mean, everything is really<br />

borderline corruption, right? We’ve seen that now with<br />

the Samsung scandal … I was not surprised at all. These<br />

corporations in Korea are considered the vital bodies of<br />

the society and, since they emerged from scratch, imported<br />

Japanese models were the most appropriate. What does<br />

that mean? It means that your “real” family name is not<br />

your name but the corporation’s name. Koreans have an<br />

incredible labour ethic, they’re all living for the prosperity<br />

of their firm and their whole lives are determined by that.<br />

They live in conditions in which the “individual” worker<br />

is hardly considered, only the prosperity of the firm is<br />

considered important.<br />

I’d like to come back to my first question on<br />

cultural diplomacy, when you said that you’re<br />

now taking more and more distance from this<br />

terminology. You recounted an extremely<br />

interesting story, but you didn’t fully answer the<br />

question why you’re now distancing yourself from<br />

the term cultural diplomacy. Can you pinpoint more<br />

exactly why you’re doing that?<br />

The fact is that by using a term such as cultural diplomacy<br />

we accept the idea that there can be confusion. Why?<br />

Because diplomacy is a well described activity that’s<br />

part of the international relations between countries and<br />

culture plays a crucial role in that. So, when you use the<br />

term cultural diplomacy, governments stick to the term<br />

diplomacy and glue culture on top of that. Hence, you’re<br />

automatically incorporated into an official network of<br />

relations, but we’re not working in an official network of<br />

relations. We’re working for governments, we’re offering<br />

services to governments but our base is the university, not a<br />

government authority. It should be like that.<br />

Since we’re based in the university and the university<br />

network, we have the freedom and the framework that<br />

allows us to come up with the best possible projects and<br />

to execute those projects as a mandate of a government.<br />

But we’re not part of the original diplomatic body itself.<br />

We deliver added value but we do it starting from the<br />

university’s background. I think that is an important<br />

difference. In that sense, we’re a bit closer to institutions

Cao Fei, Whose Utopia - My Future is Not a Dream<br />

© Bozar<br />

like the Goethe Institut or the British Council. For us, the<br />

primary value is culture, and so we work intensively with<br />

artists and all the players in the cultural field. Diplomacy<br />

is still something different, although in what we do the<br />

bilateral bridges are, of course, extremely important.<br />

You said that your home base is the university<br />

and indeed community services and the creation<br />

of societal, economic and cultural impact beyond<br />

our peers has become an integral part of the<br />

university’s mission. It’s therefore assumed that<br />

this impact is based on unique university know-how,<br />

insights and research results. The obvious next<br />

question is: how is the activity you sketched rooted<br />

in your research?<br />

This is a very good question, and the answer is complex.<br />

The projects that we do, allow us to develop new formats<br />

of research that are often rooted in art history but that lead<br />

to new opportunities. I’ll give some examples. If I teach my<br />

students in the classroom, and I do that in the most open<br />

and creative way, I’ll still stick to articles and projections<br />

of powerpoints with images. Now, those exercises, those<br />

projects that I outlined before, allow me to enlarge the field<br />

of experience and experiment on the museum floor. And<br />

that’s extremely interesting. Why? Because we’re going to<br />

work with the real artworks, with artists. We combine art<br />

historical knowledge with artistic knowledge. And it’s that<br />

combination which makes the project so rich. By creating<br />

and enabling environment for close collaboration between<br />

the museum and the world of academic reflection, we<br />

allow some difficult artworks to be explained in depth. Our<br />

projects are very didactic. I want every Chinese person who<br />

comes to our exhibition to understand what those artworks<br />

are about and not to feel excluded. That’s fundamental.<br />

Now, to come back to the idea of research, let me give<br />

another example to make my point. I remember that, for the<br />

exhibition we did in Milan in 2015 called “Forme e Anti<br />

Forme”, we wanted to stress the fact that the very famous<br />

paintings by Lucio Fontana, called Concetto Spaziale,<br />


Pastoral Life, 1989, Liu Xiaodong Pink Phoenix, 2011, Liu Xiaodong © Bozar<br />

112<br />

were an act of aggression. They’re canvasses cut through<br />

by a cutter, so they have an iconoclastic value. Now, what<br />

happens fifty years after they were made? They’re conserved<br />

in museums and private collections and adored as icons<br />

of painting. We were once at a collector’s home where we<br />

wanted to borrow a Fontana and we saw that it was hanging<br />

under a plexiglass. It was as if just the church chair was<br />

missing. We decided, because it was impossible to borrow<br />

such a Fontana, to make a fake one. Here, we got into the<br />

experiment. We engaged an artist and a filmmaker. I wrote<br />

a scenario and the artist played that scenario, based on our<br />

research. The research showed us how Fontana had created<br />

his paintings, and so our artist-actor demonstrated the way<br />

Fontana created his paintings and the filmmaker filmed the<br />

whole process, making a beautiful little film.<br />

In the exhibition we presented the Fontana as a fake and<br />

we never pretended it was a real one, because we had the<br />

film next to it where the creation of the fake was explained.<br />

Now, can you imagine what you can learn from such an<br />

experience? First, we learned that when you cut into a<br />

canvas, the canvas opens a bit but then closes again. If you<br />

hang it on a wall, you can’t see anything, you just see a black<br />

line. So, what did Fontana do to open the cuts? He cheated,<br />

of course, he had to cheat. One of the possibilities he had<br />

was to wedge the cut canvas on an iron wire at the back<br />

of the canvas to keep the cut in the painting open. There<br />

are other possibilities too. So, this is already interesting,<br />

because that’s something you can’t learn in a book or from a<br />

powerpoint.<br />

And the second thing which was even more interesting is<br />

that, if you have a fake, you can do whatever you like with<br />

that fake. If it’s a real painting, you can’t even touch it. You<br />

need to put on gloves and ask a conservator to manipulate<br />

it. If you have a fake, you can move it from the wall anytime,<br />

and since I always had a battery of master students in my<br />

exhibition to explain it to the visitors, they kept taking it off<br />

the wall. And why did they take it off the wall? Well, if you<br />

move the fake Fontana from the wall you get unexpected<br />

fantastic experiences … the light comes from the back<br />

and the whole three-dimensional structure lights up. Then<br />

you understand why those paintings are called “Concetto<br />

Spaziale”, a spatial concept, because it’s not about painting<br />

anymore, it’s about the third dimension, and it’s no<br />

longer confined to two dimensions. It was a quite mystical<br />

experience that Fontana had and that mystical experience<br />

was born out of an iconoclastic idea directed against<br />

American abstract art.<br />

Isn’t that fantastic? You see, for me, those are new fields<br />

of research. This enlarged field of art historical research is<br />

being opened up precisely because we aren’t in a classroom<br />

anymore but we’re in a museum and we can deal with those<br />

works directly.<br />

So, if I understand you well, it’s your research<br />

methodology that bridges gaps. You are not just<br />

making an exhibition, but you and the involved<br />

students are part of a creation, a happening, often<br />

with the active involvement of the visitors.

The Waste, Wang Jiuliang<br />

© Bozar<br />

This seems to me real project work and it touches<br />

upon the rather new concepts of citizen science. So,<br />

how would you qualify your role in this? Are you the<br />

teacher, the curator, are you an artist, are you a<br />

performer?<br />

The first thing I’d like to stress is the fact that this is indeed<br />

teamwork. For myself, I think I combine several functions<br />

in this new job. First, I’m a professor of art history which<br />

provides me with a lot of opportunities because being a<br />

university professor already opens doors more easily to<br />

governments and other relevant forums. Second, I apply<br />

the research that comes from my art historical background.<br />

I apply it within the museum, so there is a dimension of<br />

curatorship.<br />

Curatorship, from my experience, is one of the most<br />

beautiful activities that you can do, because it is a sensegiving<br />

experience that is outside the field of academia but<br />

cannot be carried out without the knowledge of academia.<br />

It requires a high degree of creativity, it gives access to<br />

something fantastic, which is the possibility of establishing<br />

a dialogue between artworks along a curatorial line, a<br />

curatorial idea to confront artworks and to confront ideas.<br />

And then you are in something very vital, you see? That is<br />

also why I want to include academic reflection. We do that<br />

by using several academic formats such as a colloquium,<br />

symposium, workshop … But, most importantly, for every<br />

exhibition I train a group of masters students from the local<br />

universities and they are present every day in the exhibition,<br />

so that they can make the content of the exhibition<br />

accessible to each spectator. If you work like that, you can<br />

make difficult exhibitions. You can bring to China works<br />

by Marcel Duchamp and Marcel Broodthaers, … but you<br />

shouldn’t bring them in isolation, you need to let them land<br />

in the heart and soul of the public, and there the students<br />

are crucial. They are the ambassadors, they are bringing the<br />

ideas to land.<br />

Is it your ambition to create a new art school?<br />

Not really, I don’t want to create a school. The exercises,<br />

as we pursue them, are extremely difficult in their creation<br />

and practical implementation, but they’re rewarding enough,<br />

without need for a school. The latest event that we organised<br />

in Berlin, “Gemischte Gefühle”, illustrates that our project<br />

format provides an ideal framework for new and unexpected<br />

creative events. We felt at every different level that it works,<br />

that it opens windows, that you reach the local art world.<br />

Fifty artists came to the opening and were intrigued by<br />

what they saw because, by bringing young artists from<br />

Brussels, we succeeded in proving to the Berlin art world<br />

that we have a very different and unique story.<br />

At the same time, you can open the minds of politicians<br />

… we had four ministers at the opening and they were all<br />

truly impressed. We had the mayor of Berlin who stayed<br />

for two hours and had plenty of questions. Success in<br />

achieving all this is, of course, very satisfying. So, I don’t<br />

think that I want to create a school because that would lead<br />

to useless dissipation of the spontaneous energy like in a<br />

treadmill, and the risk of becoming a formalist is too high.<br />


Xu Bing, 2012, Character of Characters<br />

114<br />

What makes the strength of these projects, is that they<br />

start off from scratch every time, and that for every city<br />

you must find a new strategy, a new approach, a new<br />

answer to the question “what should we do?”. But what<br />

they all have in common is that we also want to provoke, to<br />

tease.<br />

They must be a little bit nasty and bring all participants<br />

out of their comfort zone, because only then you learn<br />

something new and you wake up your public, don’t you?<br />

When your public asks itself “what the hell is happening<br />

here?”, then you create the basis for a true dialogue. In<br />

Berlin, we absolutely succeeded in achieving that. We will<br />

now have the Berliners coming over to Brussels for their<br />

exhibition with young artists who are based in Berlin.<br />

And what makes me truly happy is that we awakened the<br />

Brussels government: they feel involved and concerned<br />

about our exercises everywhere in the world and they’re<br />

willing to invest in those young artists working in Brussels.<br />

That is the very first time. I’m convinced that this is<br />

a direct consequence of the exercise we did in Berlin.<br />

Now we can say that all the people surrounding Minister<br />

President Rudi Vervoort and Minister Guy Vanhengel<br />

and the administration of the Brussels Government are<br />

completely aware of the fact that Brussels is a top city for<br />

visual arts in the world.<br />

If I look at the number of projects that you do<br />

every year, it is clear that you are a passionate<br />

workaholic. In many of your endeavours, I see much<br />

respect, friendship and love towards Asia, more<br />

particularly the Far East. You mentioned Korea,<br />

Japan, China. Can you explain rationally why that<br />

is so?<br />

Well, it’s something that was not intentional from the start.<br />

In 2010, I was asked to go to Shanghai by Minister Jean-Luc<br />

Van Raes who was aware of the projects that I did<br />

together with artists at the university. To be honest, first I<br />

had no intention of going there because Asia was not on<br />

my agenda. But he kind of politely forced me to go, and I<br />

went. I arrived in Shanghai and visited forty people and it<br />

was clear that I felt a kind of unknown energy as well as<br />

the need to dive into this intriguing society that I gradually<br />

learned to appreciate … an appreciation that has never left<br />

me. Before I went to Shanghai — this is a small anecdote — I<br />

went to see my only friend with China experience, Michel<br />

Baudson. Michel said to me “Hans, be careful because the<br />

first time you go to China, it takes your little finger, then<br />

it takes your hand, then it takes your arm and then it takes<br />

your heart”. Now, I’ve been there more than 40 times.<br />

Michel was right.<br />

But what is it that constitutes the passionate relationship<br />

that I have with China, and to a certain extent also with

© Bozar<br />

Korea and Japan? … but China is different because its<br />

history is different. I’m full of admiration for the unique<br />

achievements of the first generation of Chinese liberated<br />

artists in just three decades, when Deng Xiaoping gave them<br />

the total freedom to do what they wanted to do as artists.<br />

The first generation of pioneers such as Xu Bing, Wang<br />

Xinwei, Liu Xiaodong and many others made this huge step<br />

from prehistory to avant-garde and they did it all with their<br />

belly. First of all, they just felt that they had to go in that<br />

direction, and second, they knew they had to find their own<br />

Chinese alternative. They did that brilliantly. Third, they<br />

also all felt that, even if their art is now at the top of avantgarde,<br />

one of the basic concerns was the reconfiguration<br />

of the Chinese DNA, which was completely lost in the<br />

cultural revolution. So, that is one part of the answer. I’m<br />

now completely aware of the incredible excellence that those<br />

generations of liberated artists succeeded in creating. But<br />

since this all happened on “belly intuition”, they completely<br />

missed the theoretical debates that accompanied modern art<br />

in Europe and which are absent or insufficiently known in<br />

China …<br />

One of the most intellectually satisfying experiences is<br />

giving seminars to PhD students in China, because they<br />

feel things, they have a very good intuition but the theory is<br />

not there yet. So, if you can bring the theory or theoretical<br />

frameworks in which this modern art came to life, then you<br />

fill in a gap that’s still fundamental for them. And this, for<br />

an academic, is one of the most beautiful things that can<br />

happen to you.<br />

You mentioned the avant-garde in China: how does<br />

the Chinese government react to these provoking<br />

contemporary artists?<br />

I must explain this, because Europe is full of preconceptions<br />

and mistaken ideas about China. I can’t say it otherwise.<br />

My good friend, Liu Xiaodong, once told me “you have to<br />

understand that you have three types of artists in China, you<br />

have red artists, grey artists and black artists”. The profile of<br />

the red artists is clear. They work for the government, there<br />

are enough buildings to be constructed, enough local party<br />

committees that need their meeting rooms decorated, there<br />

are enough publications that have to be edited, and so on.<br />

They all have a good life, a lot of work, and they work for<br />

the party, mainly in the field of propaganda. So those are<br />

the red artists.<br />

Then you have the black artists. The black artists, who<br />

are the most popular in Europe, are the dissidents. We all<br />

know Ai Weiwei, and only him. That’s the problem. It’s as if<br />

Europeans don’t want to know the other artists, because his<br />

profile corresponds exactly with an idea that the majority of<br />

the public wants to have about China, namely, that China is<br />


116<br />

an evil regime against which stands a knight-like hero. That’s<br />

a bit of a caricature of the European perception of China,<br />

but still it’s more or less true. What most people don’t know<br />

is that Weiwei is the son of Ai Qing, a famous poet who was<br />

one of the founding members of the communist party, so<br />

he is also, so to speak, a red prince. Nevertheless, Weiwei<br />

is an interesting personality, there’s nothing that I could<br />

say against that. His influence on a whole generation of<br />

Chinese artists is obvious. He’s also a very gifted architect,<br />

he made his first architectural project in Caochangdi, the<br />

artist village that is home to a diverse group of residents,<br />

including migrant workers, farmers, students and artists, on<br />

the outskirts of Beijing. Those are all obvious merits.<br />

What I get irritated by is this kind of very limited European<br />

attitude of wanting to know only this one artist and the lack<br />

of interest in any others. And I can tell you that in this grey<br />

zone you have a whole group of wonderful artists whom<br />

I consider among the best of their generation, worldwide!<br />

Let me stress that for those artists, their behaviour and<br />

their functioning as artists are no different from the way<br />

European or Belgian artists function.<br />

The university is your home base, you said.<br />

Personally, I’m convinced that the university should<br />

be an excellent biotope for exceptional creativity<br />

and out-of-the box thinking. Sometimes university<br />

leadership and certainly Faculty leadership tend<br />

to forget this, and should be reminded about it.<br />

You don’t fit into any box. I don’t know anything<br />

equivalent or similar to what you’re doing. Do you<br />

still believe that the university is the only right place<br />

for you?<br />

I very much presume so, but let me first tell you this: if<br />

you’re a pioneering type of person, which I think I am,<br />

you also must question the place where you work. I always<br />

consider the university as a free haven; it was born and<br />

meant to be like that. Remember what is written on the<br />

gate of the main building of Heidelberg university: “Dem<br />

lebendigen Geist”. This is also my motto. When I look<br />

at my field of research in general, it’s in a miserable state<br />

because it hasn’t succeeded in finding an interesting place<br />

in a rapidly changing world. It’s also the university’s task to<br />

question its own operational models and I believe that I’m<br />

contributing to that. But, of course, I’m also thankful for the<br />

freedom to operate in the field I have chosen as my focus of<br />

attention. I travel a lot, I’m very much interested in bridging<br />

gaps between cities and refining of my experimental form of<br />

making exhibitions and, yes, life is short.<br />

I’ve followed your activities closely and interacted<br />

with several of your team members. They’re all<br />

very special personalities, creative and willing to<br />

think out-of-the box. But, how do you manage to get<br />

finances for all this?<br />

Well, let me put it this way. When I did Brussels Body<br />

Speech in 2010, it opened a lot of windows in the minds of<br />

Belgian diplomats in China. So, immediately afterwards they<br />

invited me to do a project in Beijing commemorating 45<br />

years of diplomatic ties between Belgium and China; so we<br />

succeeded in entering CAFA, the Central Academy of Fine<br />

Arts, which is probably the most performing art campus<br />

in the world. I‘m still very proud that we succeeded in<br />

partnering with them because it is really not easy. Since that<br />

moment, we’ve done four or five projects for the Brussels<br />

regional government and they’ve financed a large part of<br />

those grassroot projects.<br />

I must say that, looking at their global impacts, I’m quite<br />

satisfied with what we succeeded in doing. If I say we, it’s<br />

again a question of teamwork and personalities that are<br />

critical to creating success. But we can say that over the<br />

last few years, with all those projects in China, Korea,<br />

Japan, Germany and Italy, we succeeded in creating a<br />

deep awareness among all those key political figures in the<br />

Brussels region.<br />

It’s strange that the awareness has been raised here<br />

in Brussels while almost all your projects are taking<br />

place somewhere else, in an international context.<br />

Well, we also did two big projects in BOZAR. It’s true that<br />

we’re now thinking of turning this initiative into a kind<br />

of hub, a lightweight structure embedded in the Brussels<br />

Capital Region. The first thing I want to do is to open a<br />

completely new field of action that’s complementary to the<br />

international projects, because the challenge isn’t only to<br />

work globally on what cultural diplomacy is supposed to be,<br />

but also to work locally.<br />

Thank you, Hans De Wolf, for this most fascinating<br />

story that reveals various aspects of your<br />

personality, ambitions and achievements. Is there<br />

anything you’d like to add to the story?<br />

Yes, in times that are very much marked by short term<br />

benefits and returns on investments, times when people<br />

are very often under pressure to deliver all kinds of<br />

things, I’d like to thank all those people whose minds<br />

were open enough, whose understanding of what we were<br />

doing was good enough to accompany us on this road.

I know of a dozen of civil servants and colleagues who<br />

really engaged themselves, who were really behind us<br />

and supported us and one of them was yourself. I want<br />

to thank them, because we’ve done all this in a difficult<br />

context and it wasn’t easy. We’ve had several projects that<br />

were financially tight due to low budgets and last minute<br />

financing. So, if you show the results afterwards, you<br />

might think that this was paradise, that everything was<br />

fantastic and wonderful but the birth of each project, its<br />

organisation and also its closure, is often very hard and<br />

complicated.<br />

© The Central Academy of Fine Arts (CAFA), Beijing<br />

Well, I guess hard work is at the origin of all<br />

successful research. It’s one of the conditions to<br />

earn a good place in paradise on earth.<br />

Jan Cornelis, Emeritus Professor VUB and Academic<br />

Attaché CIDIC<br />

Acknowledgement:<br />

Many thanks to Aude Tournaye, who made an excellent<br />

initial speech-to-text transcription, and Jennie De Pryck for<br />

revising the manuscript thoroughly.<br />


Hans Maria De Wolf’s contemporary art project portfolio<br />

is impressive:<br />

• BRUSSELS BODY SPEECH, Minsheng Art Museum,<br />

Shanghai 2010 (a project confronting transhumanism<br />

with the celebration of the body)<br />

• FIRST CAFA BIENNALE, Central Academy of<br />

Fine Arts Museum, Beijing 2011 (CAFA is the<br />

most prominent arts institute place in China — and<br />

a structured partnership with VUB is now wellestablished<br />

with 5 projects and collaborations on<br />

teaching)<br />

• JEFF WALL, THE CROOKED PATH, Centre of Fine<br />

Arts - BOZAR, Brussels 2011<br />


University, Beijing 2011<br />


Minsheng Art Museum, Shanghai 2011<br />

• WANDERLUST, Artsonje Center Seoul, 2012<br />


Museum of Art, Gwangju 2013<br />


Contemporary Art (MOCA), Chengdu 2013<br />

• OUR MEMORY?, Jiao Tong University, Shanghai 2014<br />


Academy of Fine Arts Museum, Beijing 2014 (a project<br />

in which the tension between the original and the copy<br />

in China and the West was discussed)<br />


Palazzo Nani Mocenigo, Official program of the Venice<br />

Biennale 2015<br />


ELEPHANTS, Centre of Fine Arts - BOZAR, Brussels<br />

2015 (contextualizing the work of 8 major Chinese<br />

artists)<br />

• FORME E ANTI FORME, Fonderia Artistica<br />

Battaglia, Milano 2015<br />


GODS, Triennale, Milano 2016<br />


PhD seminar in CAFA, June 2016<br />

• EXPERIMENT’L, Tokyo, Intermediatèque Museum,<br />

October 2016<br />


Beijing, PhD seminar in CAFA, April 2017<br />

• GEMISCHTE GEFÜHLE, Berlin, Flughafen Tempelhof/<br />

Künstlerhaus Bethanien, October 2017 (presenting to<br />

the powerful art world in Berlin the qualities of Brussels<br />

based art through its youngest generation of artists)<br />

New projects for New York and Chengdu are being<br />

developed for 2018 while in 2020 Hans De Wolf will<br />

organize an exhaustive Marcel Duchamp exhibition at<br />

CAFA in Beijing.<br />


The European Institute for Asian Studies (EIAS) is<br />

a leading Think and Do Tank based in Brussels, the<br />

capital of the European Union, focusing on EU-Asia<br />

relations since its founding in 1989. As a policy<br />

research centre, its aim is to promote understanding<br />

between the European Union and Asia.<br />

In addition, it aims to strengthen ties between Asia and<br />

Europe and to ensure in-depth, comprehensive research<br />

and information exchange platforms between policymakers,<br />

members of academia and think tanks, and civil society.<br />

Geographically, EIAS focuses on South Asia, North-East<br />

Asia and South-East Asia, and has recently broaden its<br />

geographical scope to include Central Asia as well, covering<br />

a wide range of policy-related domains. By doing so, EIAS<br />

seeks to provide information to policy makers in Europe<br />

and Asia, as well as on a global scale, offering academic and<br />

hands-on expertise to bear on decision-making processes<br />

with regard to EU-Asia affairs and developments in Asia,<br />

such as free trade and strategic partnership agreements,<br />

and other key developments. EIAS also acts as a forum<br />

for discussion, dialogue and frequent exchanges of ideas,<br />

bringing together all relevant stakeholders from the<br />

institutional level, diplomatic missions, academia, the<br />

corporate sector, civil society, the media and all other<br />

important segments of society.<br />


By undertaking research, carrying out (commissioned)<br />

research projects and providing in-depth information<br />

through research papers, newsletters, news updates and<br />

other publications, EIAS seeks to act as a focal point for<br />

EU-Asia relations and studies in Europe. Essential for EIAS<br />

is its keenness to improve understanding of developments<br />

in Asia and the appreciation of the importance of the EU’s<br />

relations with Asia, by acting as a forum for discussion,<br />

organising research and disseminating information.<br />

The research and project activities of EIAS cover a<br />

wide range of issues, with a focus on trade, finance,<br />

economics, industrial and technological innovation, R&D,<br />

CSR, migration, sustainable development, geopolitics,<br />

connectivity, and a major emphasis on improving people-topeople<br />

ties through education, cultural and other exchanges.<br />

In particular, EIAS also focuses in identifying long-term<br />

potentials and niche areas for the further development<br />

of EU-Asia relations. The institute is very committed to<br />

implementing the results and outcomes of its research<br />

activities.<br />

EIAS also organises training programmes and capacity<br />

building activities for government officials, civil society<br />

and professionals from the corporate sector on EU-Asia<br />

relations, with a specific focus on the European institutions<br />

and policies.<br />


Reaching out to the wider public and all stakeholders<br />

involved, EIAS regularly organises events, workshops and<br />

book talks in cooperation with academic, diplomatic and<br />

institutional partners. Speakers often include representatives<br />

from Asian missions in Brussels, representatives from the<br />

European institutions, officials from non-profits and the<br />

corporate sector, academics and journalists, in order to give<br />

a broad overview of all relevant actors in EU-Asia relations.<br />

Some of the high-level policymakers and academics to<br />

have spoken at EIAS in 2017 include Khurram Dastgir<br />

Khan, former Commerce Minister of Pakistan; Prakash<br />

Sharan Mahat, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Nepal; Asian<br />

Development Bank Chief Economist Yasuyuki Sawada;<br />

Ruslan Davletov, Uzbekistan’s Minister of Justice; Md.<br />

Shahriar Alam, State Minister for Foreign Affairs of<br />

Bangladesh; political commentator and analyst Richard<br />

Heydarian; and Vasantha Senanayake, State Minister of<br />

Foreign Affairs of Sri Lanka.<br />

EIAS also travels regularly to Asia to participate in<br />

summits and academic conferences. This year EIAS has<br />

participated in the “International Conference on Migration<br />

and Displacement” held at Government College University<br />

in Lahore (Pakistan); the annual meeting of the Asian<br />

Development Bank in Yokohama (Japan); and the highlevel<br />

conference “Central Asia: One Past and a Common<br />

Future, Cooperation for Sustainable Development and<br />

Mutual Prosperity” in Samarkand (Uzbekistan).<br />

© EIAS<br />


The EIAS team combines the experience and networks of<br />

senior specialists in EU-Asia relations, including academics,<br />

diplomats and professionals of the private sector, with the<br />

enthusiasm and skills of the junior team members. EIAS<br />

participates in Europe-Asia networks of research and<br />

analysis, drawing on an active network of several hundred<br />

collaborators and contacts across the EU and Asia, at leading<br />

Universities, as well as within Think Tanks and specialised<br />

research centres. The EIAS network comprises a rich<br />

cross-section of disciplines and sectors, officials and civil<br />

society actors, policy makers and policy shapers, scholars<br />

and diplomats, from all over the world. For specific research<br />

projects, conferences and seminars, this constitutes a unique<br />

intellectual resource, built up during more than 25 years.<br />

Some of the think tanks and institutions that EIAS<br />

has collaborated with include the German Institute for<br />

International and Security Affairs (SWP), the International<br />

Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IDEA), the<br />

Brussels Academy for China-Europe Studies (BACES), the<br />

China Arts Festival in the EU, the University of East Anglia<br />

and the EU-India Chamber of Commerce, to name a few.<br />

www.eias.org<br />




The word “negotiate” has acquired a mystique,<br />

implying that it is a discrete activity relating<br />

to business deals, the freeing of hostages, or<br />

settlements of disputes between people, companies<br />

or nations. At the other extreme, the word conjures<br />

up images of haggling over a rug or a brass pot in a<br />

bazaar or flea market. But the reality is that we all,<br />

typically, negotiate in some shape or form every day<br />

of our lives.<br />

120<br />

Too often, we are guided by our gut instincts and our<br />

experience of negotiation as children in the playground<br />

or as tourists in a street market. Too often, we look on<br />

negotiation as a competitive sport where the sole objective<br />

is to win.<br />

Such an approach may produce satisfying results some of<br />

the time, but defeated opponents may not want to deal with<br />

you in the future, and you may have missed opportunities<br />

that a more cooperative approach could present.<br />

The first priority is to have a clear vision of your goals.<br />

What precisely is the desired result? Good advocates start<br />

their planning for a trial by writing an outline of their<br />

closing address to the court and then plan their case so that<br />

every action is aimed at being able to deliver the proposed<br />

closing address. For negotiators, only when one has a goal<br />

is it possible to develop a strategy and then the tactics to<br />

execute the strategy.<br />

There are a few home truths that too many people ignore<br />

when they embark on a negotiation.<br />

First, we should always put ourselves in the other person’s<br />

shoes and try to think about what he or she is looking to get<br />

out of the negotiation. This requires us to ask questions and<br />

find out as much as possible about our negotiation partner’s<br />

interests.<br />

Secondly, we should examine precisely what our own<br />

interests are and not limit ourselves to the most obvious<br />

headline objective. While the ultimate goal needs to be very<br />

clear, the more issues that can be brought into play that<br />

are potential areas for negotiation for both parties and can<br />

be prioritised, the more opportunity there is for mutually<br />

beneficial trading.<br />

A third point to remember is that obtaining our share of a<br />

“fixed-pie” is not always the limit of what we can achieve.<br />

It often won’t be possible, but we should always look<br />

for opportunities to expand the pie and create value in<br />

a negotiation; so that both parties have the opportunity<br />

to walk away from the table with a sense of satisfaction<br />

that they have achieved more from the negotiation than<br />

they would have by following a different course of action.<br />

Realistically, almost all negotiation outcomes are a<br />

combination of claiming value (i.e. one party’s gain is the<br />

other’s loss) and creating value.<br />

Negotiation gurus will spend years poring over the<br />

negotiations currently underway between the European Union<br />

and the United Kingdom and drawing lessons from them.<br />

While strategically, Michel Barnier and his team appear to<br />

have played a better game so far than David Davis and the<br />

British Brexiteers, the overall lessons from both sides largely<br />

demonstrate how not to negotiate.<br />

The UK has broken countless negotiation rules, but some<br />

stand out.<br />

First, is to have unity on one’s own side, but the cabinet<br />

and the Conservative Party remain split, as do the rest of<br />

Parliament and the population at large.

Tim Cullen<br />

Another prerequisite is to agree with the other side on<br />

ground rules. These should have stipulated that everything<br />

should be negotiated together, providing maximum<br />

opportunities for both sides to create value by making<br />

concessions and achieving gains, based on the different<br />

values and costs to each side of each item to be negotiated.<br />

Instead, the UK allowed an intransigent EU to stall the big<br />

Single Market and Customs Union talks until the “divorce<br />

bill” (with a very big opening price tag) had been agreed.<br />

In other substantive ways, the approach has been<br />

amateurish. Theresa May’s talk of “red lines,” notably on the<br />

jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice was an unwise<br />

threat from which she will almost certainly have to climb<br />

down. Above all, both the UK and the EU broke the first rule<br />

of negotiation, referred to above, which is to put yourself in<br />

the other sides shoes. Juvenile hostile rhetoric from both<br />

Brussels and London has created a toxic atmosphere.<br />

the EU took seven years to negotiate and has more pages<br />

than the complete works of Shakespeare and the Old and<br />

New Testaments of the Bible combined. Such agreements<br />

will not be quick or easy.<br />

Every May, I visit Brussels to conduct a one-day negotiation<br />

Masterclass as part of the highly regarded “Grand Tour”<br />

series. In 2018, there will be a certain poignancy about<br />

a Brit teaching such a session in Brussels. We must hope<br />

that both sides in the Brexit negotiations will by then be<br />

preceding down a more pragmatic path.<br />

Tim Cullen<br />

Tim Cullen MBE is an Associate Fellow of the Saïd<br />

Business School at the University of Oxford, where he<br />

directs the Oxford Programme on Negotiation. He also<br />

heads the international negotiation advisory firm, TCA Ltd.<br />

Unrealistic promises of speedy trade deals with the rest<br />

of the world have further weakened the UK’s negotiating<br />

position. The recent trade agreement between Canada and<br />


for more information and deadlines go to<br />

www.globalmagevents.com<br />


The Grand Tour<br />

<strong>Diplomatic</strong> <strong>World</strong> presents two remarkable events in Brussels:<br />

One regarding people management and leadership whereby diplomats, civil servants and<br />

managers are confronted with world authorities<br />

from no less than 4 of Europe’s leading business schools:<br />

London Business School, Insead, Esade Barcelona, London School of Economics.<br />

One regarding Advanced Negotiation Techniques with Prof Tim Cullen, Oxford University<br />

Go to www.globalmagevents.com<br />






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THE NEW BMW X3<br />


The BMW X3 was the car that launched the midsize<br />

SAV (Sports Activity Vehicle) segment in 2003.<br />

Since then, BMW has recorded more than 1.5<br />

million new registrations of the X3 across the two<br />

model generations so far. And now the new BMW<br />

X3 is set to write the next chapter in this success<br />

story with an even more striking, dynamic design<br />

language, powerful yet also efficient drive systems<br />

and luxurious appointments. Like all members of<br />

the successful X family, it blends standout driving<br />

qualities on any terrain with unrestricted everyday<br />

usability.<br />




The third generation of the BMW X3 follows in its<br />

predecessors’ tyre tracks by combining rugged off-road<br />

looks with a sporting presence. Its familiar proportions,<br />

including very short front and rear overhangs, shine the<br />

spotlight on the perfect 50:50 distribution of weight<br />

between the front and rear axle. The potent dynamic<br />

intent of the new BMW X3 is highlighted by a chunky<br />

kidney grille and foglamps featuring a hexagonal design<br />

for the first time on a BMW X model. At the rear, the<br />

light clusters (whose three-dimensional look in optional<br />

full-LED guise give them considerable visual impact),<br />

markedly downward-sloping roof spoiler and twin exhaust<br />

tailpipes bring matters to a suitably muscular conclusion.<br />

The xLine, M Sport and Luxury Line trim variants<br />

(the latter is a new addition to the line-up) and the<br />

range of BMW Individual items enable the appearance<br />

of the BMW X3 to be adapted even more precisely<br />

to the customer’s personal tastes. In addition to the<br />

standard 18-inch light-alloy wheels (previously: 17-inch),<br />

customers can dip into the options list for wheel/tyre<br />

combinations in sizes up to 21-inch. As well as making<br />

various exterior tweaks, the three trim variants also adapt<br />

the ambience inside the car to their particular themes.<br />

The interior of the new BMW X3 displays unbeatable fit<br />

and finish and material quality, and is even classier and<br />

more luxurious than its predecessor. Comfort levels are<br />

further elevated by a host of new equipment options like<br />

three-zone automatic climate control, the Ambient Air<br />

package, active seat ventilation, the cargo function of the<br />

standard 40:20:40 split/folding rear seat backrests and<br />

the panoramic glass roof that brings extra airiness to the<br />

interior and further enhances perceived quality.<br />

Another new equipment item is the optional BMW<br />

Display Key, which not only locks and unlocks the BMW<br />

X3 by radio remote control, but also shows a variety of<br />

status information on the car and serves as the control<br />

unit for the optional auxiliary heating, for example.<br />


126<br />



The BMW engineers have employed far-reaching chassis<br />

modifications to significantly improve the driving<br />

dynamics, directional stability and steering feel of the new<br />

BMW X3. The car that emerges is even sportier than its<br />

predecessor, yet avoids compromising on ride comfort.<br />

Chassis options include M Sport suspension, Dynamic<br />

Damper Control, M Sport brakes and variable sport<br />

steering.<br />



Two diesel engines and three petrol units will be available<br />

from launch (or shortly afterwards) for the new BMW X3.<br />

• The 265 kW/360 hp BMW X3 M40i (combined fuel<br />

consumption: 8.4 – 8.2 l/100 km [33.6 – 34.5 mpg<br />

imp]; combined CO2 emissions: 193 – 188 g/km)*<br />

gives the X3 range its first M Performance Automobile<br />

and is joined by a second petrol model in the shape<br />

of the BMW X3 xDrive30i producing 185 kW/252 hp<br />

(combined fuel consumption: 7.4 l/100 km [38.2 mpg<br />

imp]; combined CO2 emissions: 168 g/km)**.<br />

• The two diesel models are the BMW X3 xDrive20d<br />

with 140 kW/190 hp (combined fuel consumption:<br />

5.4 – 5.0 l/100 km [52.3 – <strong>56.</strong>5 mpg imp]; combined<br />

CO2 emissions: 142 – 132 g/km)* and the BMW X3<br />

xDrive30d developing 195 kW/265 hp (combined fuel<br />

consumption: 6.0 – 5.7 l/100 km [47.1 – 49.6 mpg<br />

imp]; combined CO2 emissions: 158 – 149 g/km)*.<br />

• The BMW X3 20i with 135 kW/184 hp (combined<br />

fuel consumption: 7.4 – 7.2 l/100 km [38.2 – 39.2 mpg<br />

imp]; combined CO2 emissions: 169 – 165 g/km)**<br />

and choice of all-wheel drive or rear-wheel drive (not in<br />

Europe) will follow shortly after the launch of the new<br />

X3.<br />

* Fuel consumption figures are based on the EU test cycle and may vary<br />

depending on the tyre format specified.<br />

** Fuel consumption figures are provisional, based on the EU test cycle<br />

and may vary depending on the tyre format specified.

All the engine variants will team up as standard with an<br />

optimised version of the eight-speed Steptronic transmission.<br />

The rigorously applied BMW EfficientDynamics<br />

development strategy for the new BMW X3 includes both<br />

fuel-economy-optimising powertrains and the extensive<br />

application of intelligent lightweight design measures. For<br />

example, the increased use of aluminium components in<br />

the engine and suspension has reduced the weight of the<br />

relevant assemblies.<br />

Consequently, the new BMW X3 is up to 55 kilograms<br />

lighter than the respective predecessor models in similar<br />

specification. At least 50 per cent of the aluminium<br />

components in the BMW X3 vehicles produced at BMW<br />

Group Plant Spartanburg (USA) are made from recycled<br />

material. From 2018 this will also be the case for examples<br />

of the X3 built in Rosslyn (South Africa) and Shenyang<br />

(China). The new BMW X3 boasts a class-beating drag<br />

coefficient of Cd = 0.29.<br />



When it comes to the BMW Personal CoPilot features<br />

focusing on driver assistance and (semi-)automated<br />

driving, the new BMW X3 can be specified as an option<br />

with the latest generation of Active Cruise Control and<br />

the Driving Assistant Plus safety package, including<br />

Steering and lane control assistant, Lane Change<br />

Assistant and Lane Keeping Assistant with side collision<br />

protection. This extensive line-up of assistance systems<br />

puts clear water between the new BMW X3 and its<br />

direct rivals.<br />

The second pillar of BMW ConnectedDrive — alongside<br />

the BMW Personal CoPilot driver assistance systems —<br />

is formed by BMW ConnectedDrive Services and apps.<br />

As a result, the new BMW X3 now also features BMW<br />

Connected. Working on the basis of a flexible platform,<br />

the Open Mobility Cloud, this new integrated digital<br />

concept for enhanced personal mobility, uses various<br />

touchpoints (such as smartphones and smartwatches) to<br />

integrate the car seamlessly into the user’s digital life. This<br />

means, for example, that it can transfer mobility-related<br />

information, such as addresses from calendar entries, from<br />

a smartphone into the car, enter them automatically as<br />

destinations into the navigation system and calculate the<br />

optimum departure time for the journey.<br />

Gesture control allows various navigation and infotainment<br />

system functions to be operated intuitively using finger<br />

and hand gestures. Meanwhile, the likewise optional<br />

Voice Assistant lets the driver use everyday language to<br />

have their requests turned into the appropriate actions<br />

instead of having to use set spoken commands. And the<br />

optional Head-Up Display enables the most important<br />

driving-related information to be projected directly into<br />

the driver’s field of vision. The Head-Up Display in the<br />

new BMW X3 is unrivalled in its segment for graphics,<br />

resolution and display options.<br />


<strong>Diplomatic</strong> Sales, Lodderstraat, 16, 2880 Bornem – Belgium<br />

Mail : diplomaticsales.belux@bmw.be, Tel. : +32 (0)3 890 97 02<br />

The fuel consumption and CO2 emissions figures shown were determined according to the European Regulation (EC) 715/2007 in the version applicable<br />

at the time of type approval. The figures refer to a vehicle with basic configuration in Germany and the range shown considers the different size of the<br />

selected wheels and tires. The values of the vehicles labelled with (**) are already based on the new WLTP regulation and are translated back into<br />

NEDC-equivalent values in order to ensure the comparison between the vehicles. With respect to these vehicles, for vehicle-related taxes or other duties<br />

based (at least inter alia) on CO2 emissions, the CO2 values may differ to the values stated here (depending on national legislation).<br />

The CO2 efficiency specifications are determined according to Directive 1999/94/EC and the Pkw-EnVKV, and based (for classification) on the fuel<br />

consumption and CO2 values as per the NEDC cycle.<br />

Further information on official fuel consumption figures and specific CO2 emission values of new passenger cars is included in the following guideline:<br />

“Leitfaden über Kraftstoffverbrauch, die CO2-Emissionen und den Stromverbrauch neuer Personenkraftwagen” (Guideline for fuel consumption, CO2<br />

emissions and electric power consumption of new passenger cars), which can be obtained free of charge from all dealerships and at https://www.dat.de/<br />

en/offers/publications/guideline-for-fuel-consumption.html.<br />





MARGINS OF EXCESS (2018)<br />

In Margins of Excess the notion of how personal<br />

imagination conflicts with generally accepted beliefs is<br />

expressed through the narratives of six individuals. Every<br />

one of them momentarily received nationwide attention in<br />

the US press because of their attempts to realize a dream<br />

or passion, but were presented as frauds or deceivers by the<br />

mass media’s apparent incapacity to deal with idiosyncratic<br />

versions of reality.<br />

which takes into account the subjective and fictitious nature<br />

of the categories we use to perceive and define it. And then<br />

again: not to celebrate superficiality and contingency, but to<br />

pierce through the noise, buzz, pulp, lies, dreams, paranoia,<br />

cynicism and laziness and to embrace ‘reality’ in all its<br />

complexity.<br />

ABOUT<br />

128<br />

Herman Rosenblat became well-known because of a selfinvented<br />

love-story set in a concentration camp during<br />

WWII, the private detective Jay J. Armes appears to be a<br />

real-life superhero, Darius McCollum drew media attention<br />

by compulsively highjacking trains, Richard Heene would<br />

have staged an elaborate television hoax, Rachel Doležal<br />

would have pretended to be ‘black’, and Ali Alqaisi would<br />

have tried to make people believe that he was the ‘hooded<br />

man’ in the iconic photo from Abu Ghraib prison. This<br />

book weaves together their stories through personal<br />

interviews, press articles, archival footage and staged<br />

photographs.<br />

The current era of ‘post-truth’, in which truths, half-truths,<br />

lies, fiction or entertainment are easily interchanged, has<br />

produced a culture of ‘hyper-individual truths’, demanding<br />

a new approach to identify the underlying narratives that<br />

structure our perception of reality in a world where there is<br />

no longer a generally accepted frame of realism. Embedding<br />

the stories of the six main protagonists into a clustering<br />

tale of cloned military dogs, religious apparitions, suspect<br />

vehicles, fake terrorist plots, accidental bombings and<br />

fictional presidents, this book follows an associative logic<br />

akin to the indiscriminate way a paranoid mind connects<br />

unrelated events, or the hysteria of the 24-second news cycle.<br />

In Margins of Excess reality and fiction are intertwined. Not<br />

to fool us, but to reveal a more intricate view of our world,<br />

Max Pinckers (°1988, Brussels) is a photographer based in<br />

Brussels, Belgium. He has produced various photobooks<br />

such as Lotus (2011), The Fourth Wall, (2012), Will<br />

They Sing Like Raindrops or Leave Me Thirsty (2014)<br />

and Margins of Excess (2018). He is currently a doctoral<br />

researcher in the Arts at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts<br />

(KASK) in Ghent. Pinckers has had exhibitions at the<br />

MOCAK in Poland (2016), the Philadelphia Museum of<br />

Art in the United States (2015) and the Centre for Fine<br />

Arts - Bozar in Belgium (2015), among others. Awards<br />

include the Edward Steichen Award (2015) and the City of<br />

Levallois Photography Award (2013). In 2015 he founded<br />

the independent publishing imprint Lyre Press.<br />

www.maxpinckers.be<br />

Margins of Excess<br />

The new book ‘Margins of Excess’ is now available:<br />

Self-published by Max Pinckers<br />

Softcover, 192 x 246 mm, 352 pages<br />

Edition of 1500, ISBN 9789082465549<br />

Design by Rudy Latoir and Max Pinckers<br />

Printing and production by Bruno Devos at Stockmans<br />

Pages 129-135<br />

Margins of Excess<br />

© Max Pinckers

21<br />

katerns Margins of Excess 192x246_01.indd 21 08/01/2018 16:33

The New Republic, December 25, 2008<br />




Berkley Books, the mass-market division of the<br />

Penguin Group, is slated to publish a Holocaust<br />

memoir titled ‘Angel at the Fence: The True Story<br />

of a Love That Survived’. Herman Rosenblat<br />

recounts his experience as a teenage boy during<br />

the Holocaust at Schlieben, a sub-division of the<br />

infamous Buchenwald concentration camp.<br />

pagina 009 Margins of Excess 192x246_01.indd 1 02/01/18 15:54

katerns Margins of Excess 192x246_01.indd 9 08/01/2018 16:32

Holocaust survivors tell love story<br />

Los Angeles Daily News, October 13, 2008<br />

NORTH MIAMI BEACH, Fla. – In the beginning, there was a boy, a girl and<br />

an apple.<br />

He was a teenager in a death camp in Nazi-controlled Germany. She<br />

was a bit younger, living free in the village, her family posing as Christians.<br />

Their eyes met through a barbed-wire fence and she wondered<br />

what she could do for this handsome young man.<br />

She was carrying apples, and decided to throw one over the fence. He<br />

caught it and ran away toward the barracks. And so it began.<br />

As they tell it, they returned the following day and she tossed an apple<br />

again. And each day after that, for months, the routine continued. She<br />

threw, he caught, and both scurried away.<br />

They never knew one another’s name, never uttered a single word, so<br />

fearful they’d be spotted by a guard. Until one day he came to the fence<br />

and told her he wouldn’t be back.<br />

“I won’t see you anymore,” she said. “Right, right. Don’t come around<br />

anymore,” he answered. Their brief, innocent tryst came ended.<br />

Before he was shipped off to a death camp, before the girl with the apples<br />

appeared, Herman Rosenblat’s life had already changed forever.<br />

His family had been forced from their home into a ghetto. His father<br />

fell ill with typhus. They smuggled in a doctor, but there was little he<br />

could do to help. The man knew what was coming. He summoned his<br />

youngest son. “If you ever get out of this war,” Rosenblat remembers<br />

him saying, “don’t carry a grudge in your heart and tolerate everybody.”<br />

Two days later, the father was dead. Herman was just 12.<br />

The family was moved again, this time to a ghetto where he shared a<br />

single room with his mother, three brothers, uncle, aunt and four cousins.<br />

He and his brothers got working papers and he got a job painting<br />

stretchers for the Germans.<br />

Eventually, the ghetto was dissolved. As the Poles were ushered out,<br />

two lines formed. In one, those with working papers, including Rosenblat<br />

and his brothers. In the other, everyone else, including the boys’<br />

mother.<br />

Rosenblat went over to his mother. “I want to be with you,” he cried.<br />

She spoke harshly to him and one of his brothers pulled him away. His<br />

heart was broken.<br />

“I was destroyed,” Rosenblat remembers. It was the last time he would<br />

ever see her.<br />

It was in Schlieben, Germany, that Rosenblat and the girl he later called<br />

his angel would meet. Roma Radziki worked on a nearby farm and the<br />

boy caught her eye. Bringing him food — apples, mostly, but bread,<br />

too — became part of her routine.<br />

“Every day,” she says, “every day I went.”<br />

pagina 017 Margins of Excess 192x246_01.indd 1 02/01/18 15:59

Rosenblat says he would secretly eat the apples and never mentioned a<br />

word of it to anyone else for fear word would spread and he’d be punished<br />

or even killed. When Rosenblat learned he would be moved again<br />

— this time to Theresienstadt, in what is now the Czech Republic — he<br />

told the girl he would not return.<br />

Not long after, the Soviets rolled in on a tank and liberated Rosenblat’s<br />

camp. The war was over. She went to nursing school in Israel. He went<br />

to London and learned to be an electrician.<br />

Their daily ritual faded from their minds.<br />

“I forgot,” she says.<br />

“I forgot about her, too,” he recalls.<br />

Rosenblat eventually moved to New York. He was running a television<br />

repair shop when a friend phoned him one Sunday afternoon and said<br />

he wanted to fix him up with a girl. Rosenblat was unenthusiastic: He<br />

didn’t like blind dates, he told his friend. He didn’t know what she<br />

would look like. But finally, he relented.<br />

It went well enough. She was Polish and easygoing. Conversation<br />

flowed, and eventually talk turned to their wartime experiences. Rosenblat<br />

recited the litany of camps he had been in, and Radziki’s ears<br />

perked up. She had been in Schlieben, too, hiding from the Nazis.<br />

She spoke of a boy she would visit, of the apples she would bring, how<br />

he was sent away.<br />

“That was me,” he said.<br />

Rosenblat knew he could never leave this woman again. He proposed<br />

marriage that very night. She thought he was crazy. Two months later<br />

she said yes.<br />

In 1958, they were married at a Bronx synagogue, a world away from<br />

their sorrows, more than a decade after they had thought they were<br />

separated forever.<br />

It all seems too remarkable to be believed. Rosenblat insists it’s true.<br />

Even after their engagement, the couple kept the story mostly to themselves,<br />

telling only those closest to them. Herman says it’s because they<br />

met at a point in his life he’d rather forget. But eventually, he said, he<br />

felt the need to share it.<br />

Now, the Rosenblats’ story has inspired a children’s book, “Angel<br />

Girl.” And eventually, there are plans to turn it into a film, “The Flower<br />

of the Fence.” Herman expects to publish his memoirs next year.<br />

Herman is now 79, and Roma is 76; they celebrated their 50th anniversary<br />

this summer. He often tells their story to Jewish and other groups,<br />

believing the lesson is the one his father imparted.<br />

“Not to hate and to love — that’s what I am lecturing about,” he said.<br />

“Not to hold a grudge and to tolerate everybody, to love people, to be<br />

tolerant of people, no matter who they are or what they are.”<br />

The anger of the concentration camps, Herman says, has gone away.<br />

He forgave. And his life has been filled with love.<br />

pagina 017 Margins of Excess 192x246_01.indd 2 02/01/18 15:59

13<br />

katerns Margins of Excess 192x246_01.indd 13 08/01/2018 16:32

Une Femme<br />

Note ga-16278<br />

Annonce dans L’Orient-Le Jour, le 19 mai 1976<br />

Automobiles<br />

Diplomate voudrait acheter une voiture diplomatique<br />

Tel.: 303161 de 9h à 14h.

Une Femme<br />

Enregistrement 89-34512, dans la rue à Mar Mikhaël<br />

Bruit de moteurs de voitures, et bruit de klaxons.<br />

« M. Khiar, un instant s’il vous plaît, je voudrais photographier ça. »<br />

« Cette publicité si laide ? »<br />

« Pardon ? »<br />

« Non rien. »<br />

« Excusez-moi, je n’ai pas entendu. »<br />

« Non, non, rien. Prenez votre photo. »<br />

Un scooter passe.<br />

« Vous prenez votre temps vous, pour photographier ! »<br />

« Oui. »

Une Femme<br />

Enregistrement 56-46476, dans un bar à Mar Mikhaël<br />

Musique arabe hachée par les commentaires d’un animateur télé<br />

« Deux autres Jameson s’il vous plaît. »<br />

Pause<br />

Le présentateur télé est de plus en plus excité.<br />

Longue pause<br />

« Avez-vous été marié ? »<br />

« Mais je vous emmerde vous et vos questions personnelles !<br />

Ne me posez plus de questions ! C’est fini ! Amol marouf l’ehseb ! »<br />

Une main claque sur le bar<br />

« Je m’en vais. »<br />

« Je suis désolé, ne vous emportez pas. »<br />

« Assez ! Je m’en vais, ne me contactez plus. »

Une Femme<br />

Enregistrement 17-61861, chez M. Khiar<br />

« Pourquoi aimez-vous tant les chats ? »<br />

« Je ne sais pas. C’est comme ça. »<br />

Pause<br />

« Ce sont des êtres nihilistes gais. Ils mangent, ils dorment, ils se promènent et jouent un peu.<br />

Ce qu’ils n’ont pas envie de faire, ils ne le font pas, même s’ils peuvent.<br />

Un être sans dogme. Un être parfait. »

Une Femme<br />

Note hi-17289<br />

A chaque fois qu’on passe devant une publicité sur laquelle une femme est représentée,<br />

comme toutes ces pubs pour les produits de coiffure, M. Khiar demande très sérieusement<br />

« Qui est cette femme ? ».<br />

C’est son sens de l’humour.<br />

On voit des milliers de femmes anonymes promouvoir des produits.<br />

M. Khiar est très gentleman, très classique, il est protecteur vis-à-vis des femmes.<br />

Un jour, je lui ai dit que les femmes pouvaient très bien se défendre seules.<br />

Il l’a mal pris, il m’a dit que je ne comprenais rien.





The central figure in Une Femme is composed of different<br />

characters. There is Khiar, a handsome, elderly Lebanese<br />

gentleman who lives in Beirut, a city scarred by decades of<br />

religious tension. The wars that arose from those tensions<br />

do not appear in the book, but we sense the presence of an<br />

‘elephant in the room’. Then there is the photographer, who<br />

makes images of traffic lights changing, or of the planters<br />

that are found everywhere in Beirut, and who finds beauty<br />

in a pile of sand or in the banality of a barber’s sign or a<br />

grocer’s shop full of food.<br />

ABOUT<br />

Jeroen Robert Kramer (°1967, Amsterdam) lives and works<br />

in Beirut, Lebanon and Amsterdam, the Netherlands. After<br />

studying French literature in France, in 2000 he started<br />

working in the Middle East as a documentary photographer<br />

for Getty Images, de Volkskrant, Der Spiegel, the New<br />

York Times, Vanity Fair, and others. His photographs were<br />

used in articles on the Middle East, Africa, Afghanistan,<br />

Myanmar and the Philippines.<br />

“I want to make work about ordinary life. I want subtlety,<br />

poetry, the gentleness of the banal. I’ve had enough of the<br />

spectacular, of what I did when I was working for the New<br />

York Times,” says the photographer to Khiar. He wants to<br />

transform ugly memories of war into art, and to go from<br />

shocking spectacle to silence. We are given no portraits of<br />

either protagonist; their presence is evoked by photographs<br />

of their surroundings, the marks on an abandoned drinks<br />

glass, a glimpse of someone’s back in a plastic chair, or<br />

photos of cats. When Khiar shows that he is not interested<br />

in having his picture taken, for the photographer their<br />

friendship becomes an obsession; he starts photographing<br />

hundreds of objects from Khiar’s house. But are these really<br />

Khiar’s things? Is the old gentleman in fact an idée-fixe, a<br />

composite, the photographer himself, or some sort of alter<br />

ego? “C’est le prix à payer pour avoir vécu sur la misère des<br />

autres” (That’s the price you pay for having lived off other<br />

people’s misery), says Khiar, after the photographer relates<br />

a terrible nightmare. Or do these thoughts actually come<br />

from his own mind?<br />

After an unremitting study of life and death in the barren,<br />

war-torn Middle East, his work began to reflect his inner<br />

struggles with human fallibility, aesthetic constraints, and<br />

the harsh perceptions of his profession. In 2008 Kramer<br />

decided to stop working as a documentary photographer<br />

and in war zones, and to embark on a new, more poetic<br />

journey. This led to the book Room 103 (2010), in which<br />

images of daily life in the Middle East are intermingled with<br />

images of terrible violence. This book won the Dutch Doc<br />

Award and the New York Photo Book Festival Award. In<br />

2012 Kramer published the book Beyrouth Objets Trouvés,<br />

which in retrospect he regards as a preliminary study for<br />

Une Femme.<br />

Une Femme<br />

Published by Editions Flatland and Jeroen R. Kramer<br />

Softcover, 154 x 220 mm, 344 pages<br />

First Edition of 333<br />

Second Edition of 667<br />

ISBN 9789490503055<br />

Design by Jeroen R. Kramer<br />

Printing and production by Bruno Devos at Stockmans<br />

Une Femme shows that ‘truth’ is irrelevant. Une Femme<br />

is an enigmatic and evocative story with a remarkable<br />

dénouement. It is also a beautiful exhibition, in which<br />

the present and the past are interwoven in Jeroen Robert<br />

Kramer’s poetic photographs of Beirut.<br />

Pages 136-140<br />

Une Femme<br />

© Jeroen R. Kramer<br />





Stockmans as a company, with its first roots<br />

dating back to Antwerp in 1875, is still nurtured<br />

and stimulated to grow by the great tradition and<br />

heritage of the printer and publisher family<br />

Plantin-Moretus (Antwerp, 1548-1876), one of<br />

the leading printing companies in the world<br />

during the golden age of Antwerp.<br />

142<br />


Anno 2018, communication and information are ruled<br />

and biased by the digital world we live in and big data<br />

will continue to affect us more and more. Screens are a<br />

constant attack on our eyes, brains and nervous system.<br />

We need to compensate for this imagery overflow and<br />

give our creative brain a rest once in a while with a real,<br />

tangible item … a slow old-school book, which takes time<br />

to activate and stimulate all our senses. From the origin of<br />

a book until its final existence, the creation process is still<br />

a ‘slow process’ compared to the communication hysteria<br />

via other media.<br />

The publishing business in general is under a lot of<br />

pressure from digital platforms, and large publishing<br />

houses that concentrate on magazines and newspapers<br />

are feeling the pressure of media agencies and advertising<br />

partners to transform its business model. Paradoxically,<br />

at the same time a tangible and beautifully designed<br />

and printed book, turned into an object of art, seems<br />

to have more impact today than eleven years ago when<br />

printing became a commodity and the overload of printed<br />

communication played its role.<br />

Today Stockmans as a printer and publisher is embedded<br />

in the printing group of the De Bie family, a 4th generation<br />

company, originally from Lier (BE). The company is now<br />

situated in Duffel, and as a commercial printing company it<br />

has grown to 110 FTE and an estimated turnover for 2018<br />

of 23 M euro. Antilope De Bie Printing is a construction of<br />

7 companies that have been added to the original printing<br />

house. The fact that several independent companies have<br />

joined forces has to do with the technological evolutions<br />

within the graphic industry, where capital investments are<br />

extremely high and the competition of digital media and<br />

innovation have put pressure on the total paper volume in<br />

the market. There is a contradiction and imbalance in the<br />

business model, where digital media evolve at the speed of<br />

light while high-end printing technology has an accounting<br />

depreciation rate of 5 to 7 years to earn back important<br />

investments into new technology.<br />

From a strategic point of view, Stockmans has made the<br />

choice to specialise in 2 niches as a total service company:<br />

the creation, the making and distribution of art books and<br />

calendars. For Stockmans, this choice means to produce<br />

sustainable products with a longer life cycle, apart from the<br />

production process which is driven by ecological factors in<br />

the production facilities of Antilope De Bie. Most of the<br />

time a calendar rarely surpasses its 12 months calendar<br />

period, but when turned into an art object, it can easily<br />

survive for years. Naturally, the art books produced by<br />

Stockmans are meant to easily surpass the buyer’s lifetime.<br />


As a publishing company and a production consultant for<br />

artists, galleries, institutions and companies, Stockmans<br />

engages in an intense and profound process with its<br />

partners. For many a book has a special and unique touch,<br />

often related to the history or future of the individual

Max Pinckers in full collaboration with masterprinters at Stockmans - Antilope De Bie<br />

person or company, loaded with history and life stories.<br />

The value and emotion that is related to the production<br />

process and the final result, is unique in the world<br />

of printing. It demands a very specific approach and<br />

competence, which Stockmans has built up during its<br />

history.<br />

As makers, the publishing house and the ateliers create<br />

added value, putting the creativity of the authors into<br />

our own energy and design to reflect the creator’s vision,<br />

passion and story. Bruno Devos, who has been in the<br />

printing business since 1991, and is engaged in several<br />

international art projects, tries to feel and encapsulate<br />

these compelling stories into a publication. He specifically<br />

created his own function to describe what he does and<br />

loves to do, curating art books. Taking care of the artists<br />

is part of his role. Today, many artists create books that<br />

are an integral part of their practice. The book is another<br />

medium for the artist to experiment and build his artistic<br />

story. Many publications at Stockmans go beyond the<br />

regular exhibition catalogue or monograph and are<br />

connected as a presentation tool to a specific artistic<br />

approach or series of an artist. This creates an extra<br />

dimension for both the artist and for Bruno and his team.<br />

Books like Margins of Excess, self-published by the young<br />

Belgian photographer Max Pinckers, or Wesley Meuris’s<br />

book Exhibition Types are compelling examples of this<br />

approach. Jeroen R. Kramer’s photo novel Une Femme<br />

is also a beautiful example of the book as an artwork. It<br />

is the only comprehensive tool for the artist to tell his<br />

artistic story. Older publications full of adventure are also<br />

an illustration of Stockmans’ vision, for example Lost<br />

Angels by Italian photographer Alfredo Falvo, who spent<br />

4 months photographing in Skid Row, Los Angeles. But<br />

also an historic book on the history of Cuban cacao or<br />

the rediscovery of Flemish artworks in the Museum of<br />

Fine Arts in Havana are projects that were initiated in the<br />

house. The most recent publication, A layer for my throat<br />

came out 11 March. This vegetarian extravaganza between<br />

a food stylist, a fashion photographer, a typography geek<br />

from Amsterdam, and the Stockmans team, finds its<br />

inspiration in recent opera plays performed on stage by the<br />

Flemish Opera House. “These projects are so wonderful<br />

because they bring creative people together, all enjoying<br />

and creating what we are best at. The sum of all of us<br />

brings such an energy to this latest project, the book itself<br />

is a joy to all senses,” comments Bruno Devos.<br />

In the same trend, recent limited edition art publications<br />

include Danielle van Zadelhoff’s series Survivors, which<br />

is filled with portraits of AIDS survivors from the late<br />

eighties that were recently presented at the London City<br />


Peter de Cupere, Scent in context - Olfactory Art Pascal Van Loenhout, UN/CUT Erik Vernieuwe & Kris De Smedt, A layer for my throat<br />

144<br />

Hall during <strong>World</strong> Aids Day. Another collector’s item is<br />

Thomas Vandenberghe’s journey to Bangkok which leads<br />

to a conceptual publication where the art photos are well<br />

hidden at first glance. In 2018, Stockmans will publish − in<br />

cooperation with Opera Ballet Flanders − a prestigious<br />

publication about the Aviel Cahn years at the Opera. The<br />

book Opera/Out of the Box will be presented in October<br />

and shares Aviel Cahn’s broader vision on the complete<br />

process of Opera and its stakeholders, in Flanders and<br />

beyond.<br />

The attachment to the project creates a very personal<br />

bond between the publishing house and its protagonists,<br />

the artists. “For every book we make, I can write at least<br />

one other book that tells the story of the ‘making of’<br />

process, of the interactions and gives insight into many<br />

lives”, shares Devos. Devos’s private life, full of passion<br />

for Art is intertwined with his art and book projects.<br />

Recent art projects brought him to Cuba, Argentina and<br />

Brazil, travelling with 40 top Belgian contemporary artists<br />

to prestigious museums for his project, The Importance of<br />

Being.<br />

“We find motivation in that bond and in the reactions of<br />

the people involved in the process and of course those of<br />

the public.” Recently, Royal Opera House De Munt/La<br />

Monnaie in Brussels commented on Stockmans’ luxurious<br />

edition of Danielle van Zadelhoff’s hardcover photobook :<br />

“… The book is an example of how dark full bodied photos<br />

should be printed … the love for making books is reflected<br />

by the finishing touch … delivering a pair of gloves with<br />

the book, to protect the fragility and luxury of the dark<br />

printed images. This respect and love for printed matter<br />

is connected to our vision on the arts.” When reading this<br />

comment from De Munt/La Monnaie, Devos comments<br />

that, “It made my day because it is wonderful to share<br />

these publications with the right people, people who<br />

appreciate art, process, quality and true beauty.”<br />


The financing of an artbook is always an intense exercise<br />

when a project starts. Sometimes the book is completely<br />

financed via the budget of an institution, gallery or<br />

sponsor. But often this is not the case, so it is always a<br />

10.000 pcs puzzle (or even jigsaw) to realize a project<br />

and not lose money on the investment of the book.<br />

Traditional distribution models mean that the books are<br />

put into the market with 40 to 65% discounts to shops and<br />

international distributors. Recently we published a book

Danielle van Zadelhoff, Monography<br />

with a therapeutic goal, for a young woman. Thanks to<br />

crowdfunding she was able to bring in the basic amount<br />

to start the production of the book. It was beautiful to see<br />

how Maaike Ottoy was able to create her own community<br />

that supported her dream to publish a lovely and colourful<br />

book.<br />

catches some of the visiting audience or organizing a popup<br />

high-end hairdressing environment with famous hair<br />

stylist Pascal Van Loenhout. These type of events create a<br />

buzz and awareness that is necessary in our niche.<br />


One of the biggest challenges for a publisher of art books<br />

is channelling their books into the market. Per definition,<br />

the market is niche oriented, hence small, and limited<br />

to an audience that engages and is passionate about<br />

art. The internet and web shops put a lot of pressure<br />

on the traditional bookshops, but generating traffic can<br />

be stimulated when stories and events complete the<br />

experience of a book. The idea is to make it worthwhile for<br />

the audience and readers to come out to the bookstore and<br />

bypass the internet sale of books. Stockmans collaborates<br />

with bookshops like Copyright Bookshop (in Antwerp<br />

and Ghent) and Theoria (in Kortrijk) and creates events<br />

to highlight some of its publications via traditional book<br />

signings, talks, performances and even art expositions.<br />

During the Antwerp Book Fair in 2017 (which attracted<br />

143.000 visitors), Stockmans created a sense of belonging,<br />

for its artists, team and visitors. Performances included<br />

instant drawings with Jarno Kettunen from Finland who<br />

As a publisher and calendar maker with a strong personal<br />

approach, focusing on content and quality, we believe that<br />

organic growth is the path to follow for Stockmans. We<br />

are already surpassing the borders of Belgium and intend<br />

to continue this. Again, all of this goes in parallel and is<br />

simultaneously a paradox with the search for economies<br />

of scale in the graphic industry where critical mass and<br />

production speed are key words. When Bruno Devos<br />

indicates that we are protagonists of “slow printing”, it<br />

does not mean the production of a book takes ages, on the<br />

contrary.<br />

A good illustration is the creation and production of<br />

Peter de Cupere’s 3 kg heavy olfactory bible, 472 pages,<br />

filled with 1.500 illustrations and more than 500 art works,<br />

including 11 scratch and sniff smells. This hefty task took<br />

only 5 weeks in total to design, print and bind, which<br />

nobody else could perform in the publishing sector.<br />


Book signing by Jeroen R. Kramer, Une Femme<br />

Book signing by Nick Claeskens, Bus Stop<br />

Book signing by Jan Bosschaert<br />

Pop-up hair styling at Antwerp Book Fair<br />

by Pascal van Loenhout<br />

Bruno Devos and Danielle van Zadelhoff<br />

Live drawing performance by Jarno Kettunen<br />

146<br />

Being close to our production facilities, sourcing from<br />

the scale of the printing group, gives Stockmans a unique<br />

position in the industry and enables us to master the<br />

complete process. Vision, competence and passion merge<br />

with technology, the virtual touches the tangible.<br />

As a business-to-business player for calendars, Bruno<br />

Devos believes a calendar is price/attention wise the best<br />

tool to communicate to customers for 365 days about a<br />

company and its products and services. An aesthetic or<br />

practical calendar still has its value in an age where the<br />

digital agenda rules. Again tangibility, ease of comfort and<br />

sometimes beauty play its role for the calendar anno 2018.<br />

During the 2000-2009 period, Stockmans, in collaboration<br />

with Franky Claeys and Jean-François Carly, designed<br />

amazing calendar projects with photographers, visual<br />

and performing artists, and fashion designers like Dries<br />

Van Noten, Raf Simons, Chanel, Vivienne Westwood,<br />

Hussein Chalayan or Christian Lacroix and a luxury<br />

brand like Delvaux, but also Nike. These projects were a<br />

testimonial of experimental product design with high-end<br />

production techniques.<br />

Bruno Devos is also associated with Barbara Dietrich for<br />

<strong>Diplomatic</strong> <strong>World</strong>, where he curates the art and cultural<br />

diplomacy section of the magazine since March 2017.<br />

Early 2017, the magazine was completely redesigned by<br />

Bruno and his team, and he also advises the publisher<br />

about strategy and content. “I truly believe that art and<br />

culture are the defining and universal factors to bridge<br />

people from all around the world, but also our close<br />

neighbours. The solution when questioning the role of the<br />

European Union, when trying to look for solutions to the<br />

refugee and immigration crisis, is to bond people, learning<br />

one’s cultural language and respect people by sharing and<br />

discovering one’s culture. Definitely a curious but above<br />

all openminded approach, full of humanism, where the<br />

wonder of diversity plays its part on our micro or macro<br />

stage.”<br />

More information via<br />

stockmans.be<br />

stockmansartbooks.be<br />

visionfragments.be<br />

copyrightbookshop.be<br />


Stockmans Art Books at the Antwerp Book Fair (2017)<br />



The Plantin-Moretus Museum is a printing museum in<br />

Antwerp, Belgium which focuses on the work of the 16th<br />

century printers Christophe Plantin and Jan Moretus.<br />

It is located in their former residence and printing<br />

establishment, the Plantin Press, at the Vrijdagmarkt<br />

(Friday Market) in Antwerp and has been a UNESCO<br />

<strong>World</strong> Heritage Site since 2005. The printing company<br />

was founded in the 16th century by Christophe Plantin,<br />

who obtained type from the leading typefounders of the<br />

day in Paris. Plantin was a major figure in contemporary<br />

printing with interests in humanism; his eight-volume,<br />

multi-language Plantin Polyglot Bible with Hebrew,<br />

Aramaic, Greek and Syriac texts was one of the most<br />

complex productions of the period.<br />

The original residence and workshop of the Plantin and<br />

Moretus publishing dynasty offers a unique historical<br />

experience. The building’s creaking oak planks and<br />

panels seem imbued in the history of books, the art of<br />

printing and the story of a family’s entrepreneurial flair.<br />

The oldest printing presses in the world can be found<br />

here, and much more besides.<br />

www.museumplantinmoretus.be<br />




Brussels offers an intercultural and historical<br />

fertile ground with a highly mobile and international<br />

population. It is in this rich environment of 62 %<br />

foreign-born residents that the vibrant musical heart<br />

of the School of Arts, the Koninklijk Conservatorium<br />

Brussel, beats. Its student and teacher population<br />

matches the intercultural metropolitan mix with 60%<br />

international musicians. Within the cultural and<br />

musical history of this capital over the last 200 years,<br />

and maintaining Flemish presence over the last 50<br />

years, the Flemish Brussels Conservatory — Koninklijk<br />

Conservatorium Brussel — unfolded a long, sometimes<br />

difficult but glorious trajectory. How to secure, by<br />

never-ending economic demands of production and<br />

efficiency, the continuation of such unique European<br />

music heritage in Brussels? How to incite political<br />

and cultural actors to sustain this ‘slow science’ at an<br />

autonomous Flemish conservatory, in collaboration<br />

with all Brussels’ partners? How to cope artistically<br />

with the challenges of a 21th century setting?<br />



148<br />

“Brussels is a European center where Germanic and<br />

Latin cultures draw boundaries and enable assimilation<br />

processes. It is the task of the Koninklijk Conservatorium<br />

Brussel to underpin this rich musical event, an invitation<br />

to respond to it. The challenge is to enable the professional<br />

requirements of this music education center, to tune<br />

them to the highest level and to use all the opportunities<br />

the artistic-cultural and economic circuit has to offer. In<br />

this perspective, the training at the Conservatorium is<br />

particularly stimulated while, at the same time, a special<br />

contribution is expected from it.”<br />

(Kamiel D’Hooghe, 1987)

CONSERVAMUS, an enthusiast organisation working<br />

with public funding, recently started the renovation of<br />

the windows, and an official political agreement has been<br />

signed for the entire restoration of the site.<br />



From the first director on, François-Joseph Fétis, in<br />

1833, the conservatory aimed at a high-quality institution<br />

for music education with an international reputation.<br />

The specific commitment of the musicians, the unique<br />

intercultural Brussels context and the later Flemish support<br />

for an excellent and autonomous higher music education,<br />

have contributed to develop this goal. The Flemish<br />

emancipation under director Kamiel D’Hooghe, resulted<br />

in a music institution of high quality, endorsing<br />

its international position in multilingual Brussels.<br />

A specific recruitment policy was and still is one<br />

of its pillars: the resolute choice for great international<br />

musicians with an established reputation, to whom the<br />

opportunity is given, next to their high quality teaching,<br />

to continue an artistic career as cultural ambassadors of<br />

the institution. For example, the Brussels Conservatoire,<br />

together with the Conservatoire of Paris, lies at the<br />

birth of the great Franco-Belgian violin school. This<br />

tradition, started by Eugène Ysaÿe, Henrik Wieniawski<br />

and Arthur Grumiaux, still resonates in Brussels,<br />

complemented by other rich traditions.<br />

A unique Ysaÿe manuscript, recently donated to the<br />

conservatory library, will be produced by our students and<br />

teachers in May 2018. Another example is the connection<br />

between the conservatory and the famous Queen<br />

Elisabeth competition of which many teachers still<br />

today are laureates. While other music teachers combine<br />

their exceptional pedagogical qualities with positions<br />


in renowned orchestras operating from Brussels,<br />

the institution is also exceptionally considered for its<br />

tradition in counterpoint and fugue and honored for its<br />

specific artistic approach to the doctorate in the arts.<br />

Historically interested musicians such as the family<br />

Kuijken created an internationally recognized Early<br />

Music department in the nineties, which today gets a<br />

new international image. While other music institutions<br />

in Flanders diminish their parts in early music, Brussels<br />

continues to expand artistic bridges over time. The<br />

presence of the music library, with its important 17th<br />

and 18th century music, in particular the two private<br />

collections Westphal and Wagener, contributes to this fully.<br />

In the middle of the capital of Europe, melting pot<br />

of countless cultural movements, its jazz department<br />

reflects this cultural synergy both intra muros and<br />

outwards in the socio-artistic landscape, leading<br />

in Flanders and throughout the world. Every year,<br />

the Koninklijk Conservatorium Brussel grants the<br />

Toots Thielemans Jazz Award, with the explicit approval<br />

of Belgian and Flemish jazz icon Toots himself. The<br />

flourishing department of Musical at the Koninklijk<br />

Conservatorium Brussel — the only one in Flanders —<br />

offers another vibrant answer to the growing demand<br />

for other western traditions, rivaling Dutch and<br />

German institutions on a high artistic level.<br />

However, there is a deep artistic concern how to master<br />

art, economic efficiency and productivity: which<br />

amount of subsidies to give to art, how many orchestras<br />

to retain, how autonomous music institutions are to<br />

be? The word ‘production’ entails a paradox. From an<br />

artistic point of view, a production is a shared outcome<br />

and presentation of an esthetic work, realised through<br />

collaboration between artists. Production from an<br />

economic perspective points to the making of goods<br />

and processes, closely linked to fast consumption and<br />

profit. However, the Latin ‘producere’ in the sense of ‘to<br />

develop, realize, expand, strengthen, lead further’ offers us<br />

the right educational perspective: developing young people,<br />

realizing ideals, expanding knowledge, making expertise<br />

stronger, leading the world further. The pedagogical<br />

complexity of music education sharpens that paradox.<br />

On the one hand, art is at odds with the economic,<br />

technological and mediatized society. The art of music<br />

is a challenge in and for society: music is a ‘slow<br />

science’ (a concept from Isabelle Stengers), growing<br />

from within hard labour, experience and exchange. An<br />

artistic development asks for time, takes time — within<br />

a society that is more and more characterized by<br />

everything that is fast. Music is an art that exorcises time:<br />

The fame of the Koninklijk Conservatorium Brussel<br />

also resonates through its symphony and harmony<br />

orchestras, its collaborations with the cultural field in<br />

Brussels and abroad, with embassies and music houses.<br />

Numerous small ensembles of chamber music, jazz or<br />

early music spread their art on the Brussels stages —<br />

MIM, Flagey, the Markten, ... and internationally — Porto,<br />

Santander, .... The level of artistic excellence leads to an<br />

almost natural flow of its young talents on the professional<br />

artistic scene, in renowned orchestras, at international<br />

positions and competitions.<br />



150<br />

The 50th jubilee this year shows that the Koninklijk<br />

Conservatorium Brussel has been able to move forward<br />

with artistic councils, in which many staff members and<br />

cultural partners participate, being focal points for<br />

initiative and dialogue.

dancing on the tight rope between old and young,<br />

between exploring personality and mastering tradition.<br />

Music is an art that cannot be fixed nor put in a museum,<br />

as it is lived and revived by each new generation, again and<br />

again by way of transmission, interpretation and creation.<br />

On the other hand, society needs artists: people<br />

who share a rich cultural tradition and offer new<br />

aesthetic perspectives, who open unexplored domains<br />

and lift a veil of daily worries. That is why the<br />

Koninklijk Conservatorium Brussel meets society with<br />

its music practices, with its own slow science, its<br />

capacity to question the prevailing view of the<br />

world in an artistic way. Therefore it is important<br />

to preserve its autonomy concerning artistic choices and<br />

policy and to develop its international resonance. That is<br />

why it is exemplary in being traditional and rebellious, in<br />

being a conservatory and a laboratory, in being a house<br />

and an open space.<br />

Finally, Koninklijk Conservatorium Brussel is ready for<br />

another 50 years to be a lively artistic biotope,<br />

with international identity and music excellence. The heart<br />

of the Koninklijk Conservatorium Brussel continues to<br />

beat in Brussels and you are invited to share its music!<br />

Rendez-vous!<br />

Kathleen Coessens,<br />

Director of the School of Arts,<br />

Koninklijk Conservatorium Brussel<br />



For the 3rd time the Global Media Innovator was<br />

given out during the annual All Nations Gala of the<br />

<strong>Diplomatic</strong> Council in Frankfurt this February.<br />

Again, the Innovator received an object of art by<br />

internationally acknowledged artist Ulrike Bolenz, in<br />

addition to a lifelong fellowship in the global think tank.<br />

This year it was titled “Vitruvian Human”, again combining<br />

graphics, classic painting and plexiglass reflections.<br />

“I looked up the history of this topic and it is really<br />

amazing. I’m really thrilled to have received this object”,<br />

said Simon Ingram, founder and CEO of London based<br />

iocono Holdings and its daughter company RTAd Ltd. that<br />

is marketing the real time advertising solutions of Adgile<br />

software suite, after receiving this year’s honors.<br />

152<br />

“Amazing – and clever” that was also the summary of<br />

the independent GMI Board within the DC that had the<br />

challenging job picking this year’s Innovator. And it was<br />

a truly hard pick this year with three out of five of the<br />

shortlisted contestants being very close together throughout<br />

the nomination process. “What made the difference with<br />

RTAd? The fact checking: It already proved that it works on<br />

a regular basis”, says Ian Whightman of worldwide business<br />

intelligence group IHS Markit and member of the GMI<br />

board from the very beginning.<br />

The Adgile suite, that is a production feature that allows<br />

to compile audiovisual TV spots in a very fast and costeffective<br />

way, almost in real time. “We soon found out that<br />

we also had to include planning and scheduling tools”,<br />

explains Ingram. Only recently added to the Adgile Suite<br />

of products, Adgile Play, is used for the 24/7 playout of<br />

dynamically controlled infomercial channels, allowing the<br />

client to change prices and offers on products through<br />

an online control panel, in real time. This was the main<br />

reason of the GMI board to decide for RTAd: “This enables<br />

advertising in near or actual real time using data from live<br />

sources. It delivers files to broadcasters that are compliant<br />

with technical and legal standards, all in an automated<br />

process. Clever!”<br />

The highly exclusive Global Media Innovator is designed<br />

to launch wide discussion on the positive impact of such<br />

Simon Ingram, Ulrike Bolenz & Dieter Brockmeyer<br />

clever ideas and innovations on our disrupted industries and<br />

more so our societies. No company or individual can apply<br />

to become the Innovator. The organizations and networks<br />

behind the GMI board members come up with suggestions<br />

that totaled 18 in this round. The board than narrows in<br />

first on the shortlist and on the innovator in later steps.<br />

Members of the 2018 GMI board were: Ijeoma Onah,<br />

founder, Nigerian International Film Summit (Lagos),<br />

Dato’ Ng Wan Peng, COO, Malaysia Digital Economy<br />

Corporation, MDEC (Kuala Lumpur), Moeed Ahmad,<br />

head of Incubation & Innovation Group, Al Jazeera Media<br />

Network (Doha), Blair Westlake, principal, MediaSquareup<br />

(Seattle), Ian Wightman, VP Research and Operations at<br />

IHS Markit Inc. (Austin), Ed Hall, managing partner Expert<br />

Media Partners (London), Robin Eckermann, principal,<br />

Eckermann Associates (Canberra) and Jo Groebel, director,<br />

Deutsches Digital Institut (DDI, Berlin).<br />

Dieter Brockmeyer,<br />

Chairman DC Global Media Forum and initiator<br />

and curator of the annual Global Media Innovator


Enjoy a unique eating experience<br />

Distinctive dishes made with innovative techniques<br />

Innovative culinary concepts by topchef Marc Clément<br />

Various works of art by renowned artists are integrated symbiotically<br />

Easily accessible large parking lot<br />

Innovative gastronomy<br />

You will be cooked for by top chef Marc Clément, who has certainly<br />

earned his stripes in the world of gastronomy. The dishes are prepared<br />

using innovative techniques based on Marc’s latest passion.<br />

The Bistronomy team serves affordable gastronomic delights in the<br />

form of fresh, distinctive creations that will surprise even the most<br />

refined palates.<br />

In short, gastronomy with a nod to the future.<br />

Opening times<br />

Open from Monday to Saturday (from 6 pm on Saturday).<br />

Monday & Tuesday from 6 pm by reservation for groups of 20<br />

people or more.<br />

Sunday closed.<br />

Info & reservations<br />

www.thebistronomy.com<br />

02 263 01 31<br />

Indringingsweg 1, 1800 Vilvoorde<br />





Through the artworks of contemporary artists<br />

Panamarenko, Koen Vanmechelen, Fred Eerdekens,<br />

Peter de Cupere, Nick Ervinck, Ulrike Bolenz,<br />

Athar Jaber and Sergey Dozhd, meet the artwork of<br />

artists of PsycArt: Bruno Gérard, Nils Dieu, Mireille<br />

Dubois, Frédéric Etienne, Luc Derck, Nancy Oliver,<br />

Vital Van Kriekinge, Kim De Veylder en Philippe<br />

Da Fonseca. The exhibition will confront the<br />

audience with the immaterial activity of the artistic<br />

brain and its reflection via artistic output. The<br />

exhibition challenges the art world to go beyond<br />

known scientific facts that lead the audience into<br />

unknown dimensions. The expo plays constantly on<br />

the border of the immaterial and the material, starting<br />

from a perfume bottle from Kazimir Malevich.<br />

154<br />

Art has always taken its place in Living Tomorrow as a<br />

concept that refers to human creativity in thinking about<br />

the future. Under guidance of curator Barbara Dietrich, two<br />

partners — LIVING TOMORROW and PSYCART — want to<br />

give art a place in the exhibtion TOGETHER IN LIGHT @<br />

DARK 2.0 to confront the audience with the creativity of the<br />

human brain and how to become reflection and innovation.<br />


Through creativity. But you can’t just buy creativity and you<br />

can’t enforce no one’s creativity.<br />


By inspiration. But that inspiration rarely comes by itself.<br />


When a person takes the time and space to see actively<br />

around itself, he can get inspired. This is how it works for<br />

artists who challenge themselves to work out a unique idea, to<br />

continue in being innovative.<br />

Art can invite a person to take the time and space to look<br />

around and to get inspired by something a person doesn’t<br />

know yet, something never seen before, that can inspire.<br />

For each future project in which people want to get<br />

challenged in the search for innovation, art can help to look at<br />

what they didn’t know yet, at what they haven’t seen yet.<br />

And when people take the time and space to try to look in a<br />

different way, at that moment inspiration and imagination can<br />

arise and change into creativity and finally into innovation.<br />

In this exhibition every artist leads the audience into a new<br />

way of looking at and thinking about living as a human being<br />

in the constantly changing world.<br />

PsycArt is a non-profit association dedicated to artists with<br />

a mental or social vulnerabilty to guide and support them<br />

in various ways so that they can present their creative work<br />

to a broad audience. PsycArt looks at the creative work nor<br />

merely as “creation itself”. It is a non-profit association that<br />

focuses on the meaning of artists to create in life by offering

© Athar Jaber<br />

opportunities that lead to present their work in a qualitative<br />

and ethically correct manner.<br />

Although the non-profit association PsycArt was founded<br />

recently (July 2013), the PsycArt project celebrates its<br />

twentieth birthday in 2018. Initially, this project set up by<br />

a pharmaceutical company specialised in psychiatry and<br />

neurology, consisted of organizing exhibitions for health care<br />

professionals working in mental health institutions.<br />

Since 1998, the two main action areas of the project are as<br />

follows:<br />

• Support to artists with a mental or social vulnerability<br />

through exhibitions and other creative projects, ensuring<br />

an ethical and secure environment around the sale and<br />

rental of their artworks<br />

• Expertise in artistic management as to support exhibition<br />

projects in the sector of mental health care and social<br />

reintegration.<br />

An underlying goal remains the elimination of any stigma<br />

around artists with a vulnerability.<br />

With the support of volunteers, following activities are now<br />

part of the daily operation:<br />

1. Organizing and coordinating exhibitions, debates and<br />

symposia (artistic management) through projects on<br />

location in Brussels, Flanders and Wallonia<br />

2. Organizing exhibitions, lecturers, debates and workshops<br />

for groups at the fully equipped location where PsycArt<br />

has its administrative seat (Schaerbeek)<br />

3. Managing the art library: rental and sale of the art<br />

collection of more than 400 works to individuals,<br />

businesses and other associations.<br />

So far, PsycArt is one of the few NPAs in charge of a sociocultural<br />

project at (inter)national level, focusing the greatest<br />

part of its work on the three Belgian regions and the Grand-<br />

Duchy of Luxembourg.<br />

Over a period of almost 20 years, PsycArt has exhibited over<br />

500 artists. The most part of the money raised from sales has<br />

been returned to the participating institutions and the artists<br />

themselves.<br />

The success and reputation of PsycArt has grown steadily over<br />

the years, extending well beyond the medical environment.<br />

In particular the project has on several occasions won<br />

Prométhéa’s Caïus awards, which it won twice in 1999 and<br />

2012, and for which it received a special mention in 2003.<br />

PsycArt vzw, www.psycart.eu<br />

https://www.facebook.com/Psycart.be<br />

Thiéfrystraat 51–53, 1030 Schaerbeek (Brussels)<br />

Contact: Stefanie De Weirdt<br />

stefanie.de.weirdt@psycart.eu, T + 32 472 92 66 03<br />




For the first time after 25 years, the Städtische<br />

Galerie im Lenbachhaus and the Gabriele Münter<br />

and Johannes Eichner Foundation showed an<br />

extensive exhibition surveying the complete oeuvre<br />

of Gabriele Münter (1877-1962).<br />

For most art lovers, Münter’s name immediately evokes the<br />

german expressionism with the “Blue Rider” — a group of<br />

artists formed in Munich in 1911 with Kandinsky, Münter,<br />

and Franz Marc (1880-1916) at its score —, Wassily<br />

Kandinsky (1866-1944) or the small town of Murnau in<br />

the Alpine foothills. These associations are not wrong, but<br />

they reduce the artist’s rich oeuvre to only a brief period<br />

and narrowly focus our view on a few facets of her long<br />

career. Münter’s creative achievements, even more than<br />

those of other female artists, have been interpreted and<br />

evaluated through the lens of her life and her relationship<br />

with Kandinsky. The exhibition seeks to draw attention<br />

to the complexity and distinctive autonomy of her art by<br />

examining it in light of art-historical questions. Its main<br />

emphasis is on Münter’s paintings, which, unlike in earlier<br />

shows, is presented in thematically focused sections rather<br />

than in chronological sequence.<br />

156<br />

Gabriele Münter, Bildnis Marianne von Werefkin, 1909,<br />

Pappe, 81 x 54,8 cm, Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus und Kunstbau<br />

München, Inv.-Nr. GMS 656<br />

Gabriele Münter, Dame im Sessel, schreibend (Stenographie.<br />

Schweizerin in Pyjama), 1929, Textiler Bildträger, 61,5 x 46,2 cm<br />

Gabriele Münter- und Johannes Eichner-Stiftung, München,<br />

Inv.-Nr. P 39

Gabriele Münter, Vom Griesbräu-Fenster, 1908, Pappe, 33 x 40,1 cm, Gabriele Münter- und Johannes Eichner-Stiftung, München, Inv.-Nr. L 142<br />

As Gabriele Münter was a photographer before she was a<br />

painter, the presentation opens with a small selection of<br />

photographs she took during her sojourn in the United<br />

States in 1899–1900. The following sections examine<br />

her creative engagement with the medium of painting.<br />

Complementing the classic genres of portraiture and<br />

landscape painting, themes such as the interior and<br />

Münter’s work in series are explored. They illustrate her<br />

playful approach to the visualization of spatial depth and<br />

her experimentation with different ways to capture the<br />

essence of a scene. An extensive section is dedicated to the<br />

“primitivism” in the painter’s oeuvre, which is rooted in<br />

her sustained interest in folk art, non-Western cultures, as<br />

well as in children’s experience.<br />

The representation of the world of labor is not something<br />

we readily associate with Münter, but such scenes do<br />

appear in her art. The paintings in the style of the New<br />

Objectivity she created in the late 1920s refute the widely<br />

held simplistic view of the artist as unperturbed by the<br />

upheavals of the Great War and who carried on in the<br />

manner her “Blue Rider” period. As well, and although<br />

Münter is said to have felt on uncertain ground in the<br />

realm of abstraction, she made abstract paintings that are<br />

highly diverse and sometimes strikingly modern.<br />

The exhibition would not be complete without a section<br />

surveying Gabriele Münter’s work through the lens of her<br />

exhibition history and her role as an important donor of<br />

art. Held one hundred and forty years after Münter was<br />

born, it also celebrates the sixtieth anniversary of her<br />

donation of “Blue Rider” works to the Städtische Galerie<br />

im Lenbachhaus in 1957. The majority of the works<br />

displayed in the exhibition are drawn from the artist’s<br />

estate, which is administered by the Gabriele Münter and<br />

Johannes Eichner Foundation Munich. These paintings<br />

have never been on public view or were last exhibited<br />

decades ago. These are supplemented by international<br />


and rarely exhibited works on loan. One important goal<br />

of the Foundation is to prepare a catalogue raisonné of<br />

Gabriele Münter’s paintings that will document all oil<br />

paintings created by the artist with information about their<br />

provenance, exhibition history, and the relevant literature.<br />

A key part of the estate is the Münter House in Murnau.<br />

Münter and Kandinsky frequently stayed in the house<br />

in the years 1909-1914. She lived there from 1931 to<br />

her death in 1962, from 1936 on with her companion<br />

Johannes Eichner (1886-1958). After renovations in 1998-<br />

99, it now appears as it did between 1909 and 1914. Richly<br />

appointed and decorated with paintings and reverse glass<br />

paintings by Kandinsky and Münter and popular art from<br />

their collection as well as the artists’ own hand-painted<br />

furniture, the house is now a museum which vividly<br />

conveys the atmosphere that prevailed here before<br />

<strong>World</strong> War I.<br />

During the National Socialist’s reign of terror, Münter<br />

hid her works in the basement of the house in Murnau,<br />

along with numerous others by Kandinsky, the “Blue<br />

Rider” protagonists, and their circle. Thus she was able<br />

to rescue them from certain seizure and perhaps even<br />

destruction. Kandinsky had to leave Germany in such<br />

haste at the outbreak of war in 1914 that most of his<br />

belongings, including his entire collection, had to be left<br />

behind in Munich. His efforts to reclaim his possessions<br />

— the paintings especially — once the war was over led to a<br />

protracted legal battle with Münter, which was not resolved<br />

until 1926. While Kandinsky had some of his paintings<br />

restored to him, Münter was allowed to retain the vast bulk<br />

of them. For many years, the collection was left to languish<br />

in a warehouse in Munich; but once the threat posed by<br />

the National Socialists became imminent, Münter retrieved<br />

the works in storage and took them back to Murnau with<br />

her. There they remained, hidden from view, right up to<br />

the nineteen-fifties.<br />

158<br />

Gabriele Münter, Landschaft mit gelbem Haus, 1916, Öl auf Leinwand, 41,5 x 52,7 cm, Privatsammlung

Ausstellungsansicht Gabriele Münter. Malen ohne Umschweife im Kunstbau, 2017<br />

Foto: Simone Gänsheimer, Ernst Jank, Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus und Kunstbau München<br />

What induced Münter to unlock her “basement of<br />

millions” — as it was later called — was an encounter with<br />

Hans Konrad Roethel (1909–1982), then the director of<br />

the Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus, Munich from<br />

1957 on. In 1957, Gabriele Münter marked her own<br />

eightieth birthday by making an unparalleled gift of large<br />

parts of this same collection to the Lenbachhaus, thus<br />

transforming it over night into a world-class museum.<br />

The Lenbachhaus has now the world’s largest collection<br />

of art of the “Blue Rider”. It includes extensive holdings<br />

of outstanding works by the leading “Blue Rider” artists<br />

— first and foremost, Kandinsky and Münter, but also<br />

Alexej Jawlensky, Marianne von Werefkin, Franz Marc and<br />

August Macke.<br />

The exhibition is organized by the Gabriele Münter- und<br />

Johannes Eichner-Stiftung and the Städtische Galerie<br />

im Lenbachhaus und Kunstbau München in cooperation<br />

with the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Humlebæk<br />

and the Museum Ludwig, Cologne. The curators are<br />

Isabelle Jansen — Curator and Chief Executive of the<br />

Gabriele Münter- und Johannes Eichner-Stiftung — and<br />

Matthias Mühling — Director of the Städtische Galerie<br />

im Lenbachhaus und Kunstbau München. An exhibition<br />

catalogue is published by Prestel Verlag.<br />



Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus und<br />

Kunstbau München, Munich, Germany<br />

October 31, 2017 to April 8, 2018<br />

Louisiana Museum of Modern Art,<br />

Humlebæk, Denmark<br />

May 3 to August 19, 2018<br />

Museum Ludwig, Cologne, Germany<br />

September 15, 2018 to January 13, 2019<br />





The juxtaposition of two oil painting studies<br />

and their completed large-format paintings<br />

offers us a glimpse into the creative imagination<br />

of the artists and allows us to follow the<br />

development of their ideas.<br />

Peter Paul Rubens, 1577-1640, has left us countless studies<br />

in oil. Some of them are drafts made employing a fleeting<br />

painting technique, others are complete, well-presented and<br />

bursting with colours, submitted to the clients’ attention<br />

and then used as a starting point to create the largeformat<br />

works. More than one study was found for specific<br />

paintings. Indeed, numerous drafts would be needed<br />

sometimes until the artist reached a satisfying outcome.<br />

These may include changes made by Rubens himself or<br />

requested by the client. A huge demand for these drafts<br />

meant they could all be sold well, reaching the houses of<br />

private collectors.<br />

the consul’s battle stallion and the priests consecrating<br />

Decius Mus. He’s draped in a red toga, bowing his body<br />

forward in reverence to the priests and receiving the last rite<br />

before the fight where he will die. The space of both groups<br />

elevates the death ritual in the modello. Other changes in<br />

the modello can be seen in the priest, who’s accompanied<br />

by another person in the painting, as well as in the group<br />

accompanying the consul. In the modello, only the horse<br />

On 9 November 1616, Rubens signed a contract with carpet<br />

weavers Jan Raes, Frans Sweers and Italien merchant<br />

Franco Cattaneo to deliver templates for tapestries be<br />

used in a Cycle regarding the life of Roman Consul Decius<br />

Mus, as described by Titus Livy in his History of Rome.<br />

Rubens finished the drafts in oil, and his most gifted pupil,<br />

Anthony van Dyck, helped him with transposing them onto<br />

a larger format. Ultimately the drafts, als known as ‘carton’,<br />

were laterally reversed and completed for the weavers. In<br />

following years, numerous tapestries completed Decius Mus<br />

cycles.<br />

160<br />

In this example, depicting the painting in the version by<br />

the Gobelin family, we can compare the adaptation with its<br />

representation of the consecration of Roman Consul Decius<br />

Mus by the High Priest Marcus Valerius as a death offering<br />

for the battle to come. Luckily enough, a small modello was<br />

found in Dublin in the 1970s. It was painted on wood and<br />

only measured 21,2 x 61,3 cm. This modello is, however,<br />

slightly different from the completed painting. What really<br />

leaps out is the gap between the right group, accompanying

tender and the lictor are represented, the latter being a civil<br />

servant who carried the rods decorated with fasces, the<br />

symbol of power, for the consul. Another soldier is missing<br />

in the modello. We have therefore discovered yet another<br />

early idea of the artist and its development.<br />

We only have one oil study by Anthony van Dyck, 1599-<br />

1641, where he goes through the motions of developing<br />

the ‘Saint Sebastian Bound for Martyrdom’ painting. It’s<br />

located in the Scottish National Gallery in Edinburgh.<br />

In the Alte Pinakothek in Munich we find a repetition of<br />

the same theme. The draft was painted by van Dyck in oil<br />

colours on paper, and this was then fitted onto a canvas.<br />

The study measures 63,7 x 56 cm and until now was titled<br />

‘St. Sebastian; Andromeda und andere Studien’. A specialist<br />

paper on the undressed beauty of Andromeda is currently<br />

being prepared by art historians who want to put forward<br />

important research results which is why in this article<br />

we’re only assessing the drafts on the Sebastian painting in<br />

Edinburgh.<br />

painting. The study in oil at hand served the function<br />

of being an aid to his thought process which he kept to<br />

implement ideas at a later stage in time.<br />

I’ve always been interested in the sketches, drafts, and<br />

drawings of painters. I see their creative handwriting<br />

enclosed in such works. Many years ago, I talked with art<br />

historians Justus Müller Hofstede and Erik Larsen about<br />

the oil studies of Rubens and van Dyck, especially about the<br />

two works of this article. I received plenty of information<br />

during friendly conversations that have made it into this<br />

article. I would therefore like to thank both researchers and<br />

experts for allowing me to pass some of that knowledge on<br />