Diplomatic World_nummer 56.








of China to the

European Union




of State

Former President

of the Chamber




of Belgium

to Serbia





Ambassador of

Saudi Arabia





of Belgium

to Cuba




of Italy





of Greece



Federal Minister

of Budget

of Belgium





of Tajikistan




of State

Belgian Federal


Spring 2018 www.diplomatic-world.com Quarterly edition

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










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Address: Beiaardlaan 25

1850 Grimbergen I Belgium

T +32 2 770 03 06



Barbara Dietrich



ir. Marc Kintaert


Barbara Dietrich


Bruno Devos I Philippe Billiet I Marc Kintaert

Pierre-Emmanuel Thomann I Pick Keobandith

Alexander Shulgin I Dorin Deelen I Freddy Opsomer

Alexander Alles I Jan Cornelis I Els Merckx

Barbara Dietrich I Brita Achberger I Stefanie De Jonge

Sylvie Van Cutsem I Lorenz Kintaert I Lejton Vokshi

Liberta Vokshi I Maarten Vermeir I Ulrike Haen




Stockmans I Bruno Devos I Wouter Van der Wangen


Stockmans I www.stockmans.be


Stockmans at Antilope De Bie Printing


redaction@diplomatic-world.com I T +32 2 770 03 06

ISBN 2995-3655

The texts were written in English or Dutch and translated in the other

language. Some expressions can change by the translation. To safeguard the

language and tone of all authors, the author’s initial choice of spelling has

been maintained as much as possible. The editorial staff has done its utmost

to identify and mention sources and beneficiaries of the text and images used.

The publisher has made every effort to secure permission to reproduce the

listed material, illustrations and photographs. We apologize for any inadvert

errors or omissions. Parties who nevertheless believe they can claim specific

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Opinions in this magazine belong to the writers and are not necessarily

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©2018 Diplomatic World Magazine

As the Europe 2025 strategy makes clear, to overcome the current crisis

we need to stimulate a more creative and smarter Europe, a greener

economy, where our prosperity will come from research, innovation,

creativity and a better (mental) health. Science is a basis for a better

future and the bedrock of a knowledge-based society and a strong

economy, but if we talk about science we must also talk about art simply

because art predates science (i.e. the prehistoric cave drawings in

Lascaux). Both science and art propose models of the world that, when

refracted through the medium of technology, can reveal amazing new

vistas. We are now entering a new world where art, science and technology

collide. This new vista will be an open door to the unimaginable.

Knowing the price of everything and the value of nothing.

Types of values include ethical and moral values, doctrinal and

ideological (religious, political) values, social values, aesthetic values,

cultural and economic values, the value of time, et.al.

Thinking about the “Nature of Value” raises more questions than

answers. Is value solely based on the relationship between satisfying

needs and expectations and the resources required to achieve? Maybe all

forms of value are socially constructed?

Value seems to be a hybrid, something hovering between the real and

the virtual, the actual and potential, it’s objective and subjective at the

same time. Value and economy, and the role that art can play therein, is

the nexus of the exhibition proposition. In the aftermath of the global

economic crisis increasingly urgent questions arise that are related

to neoliberal values seeping into almost every aspect of our lives. In

addition to the known financial and economic criteria, can we articulate

different ideas about the concept of value? What are other possible

forms of (economic) exchange? And what do these alternatives mean for

how value manifests itself?

Art and Culture

Art and culture reinforce divergent thinking, playfulness, taking risk,

tolerating ambiguity, art surprises us, it tells us something about ourself

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

to provoke us, poke us, to say things that a normal citizen or politician

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

The arts help us to converse across countries, political lines,

language barriers; it unifies. Nevertheless, the public value of the arts

has been a topic of debate since the culture wars of the early 1990s.

Today’s prevailing view is that the arts have public value because they

promote broad social and economic goals, such as economic growth and

better academic performance. These benefits are called “instrumental”

because the arts are seen as an instrument for achieving them.

The intrinsic benefits of the arts experience, such as aesthetic pleasure

and captivation, are viewed as having strictly private — some of them

also contribute to the public welfare — and personal value. They are

primarily qualitative and thus less amenable than the instrumental

benefits to the increasingly results-oriented, quantitative approach that

characterizes public policy analysis.

As individuals we mainly participate in the arts for the intrinsic benefits

of the art or cultural experience, not to improve our test scores or to

stimulate our economy but rather to create meaning, to be stimulated,

to be surprised or inspired. On the other hand; the value derived from

an appreciation of intrinsic characteristics of art is not to be deemed as

strictly individual, as they can indeed contribute to the creation of social

bonds and the expression of communal meaning.

Barbara Dietrich




















Prince Michael

of Liechtenstein






































Dr Pierre-Emmanuel














Michel de Kemmeter







Freddy Opsomer











Alexander Shulgin



OF THE 2018



Alexander Alles

Irma Orlandi










Dorin Deelen






Billiet & Co Lawyers


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Sheba International

Impacting healthcare worldwide








Hans Maria De Wolf








Tim Cullen









































International Consultation Division

International Training Center































Bruno Devos


















Prof. Dr. Jan De Maere










Any developed economy that wants to remain

dynamic and vibrant must be flexible and innovative

to adapt to the ever-changing conditions of the

global economy. Vision 2030 is Saudi Arabia’s

ambitious agenda, which will diversify and

restructure the Kingdom’s economy, improve the

governance of Saudi resources, and improve quality

of life for all Saudi citizens. This socio-economic

roadmap, master-minded by the Crown Prince

Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud and approved

by the Saudi government and King Salman bin

Abdulaziz, is already under implementation.

In April 2016, the Saudi Cabinet, led by Custodian of the

Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz, approved

the country’s Vision 2030, an economic roadmap which will

end the Kingdom’s dependence on oil revenue.

The historic vision was developed by the Council of

Economic and Development Affairs, which is chaired by

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud. It includes

a number of goals and reform strategies for the Kingdom’s

long-term economic success, including reductions in

subsidies, the creation of a sovereign wealth fund, opening


Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud:

© Embassy of Saudi Arabia

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

energy needs. Gold, phosphate, uranium, and many other valuable minerals are found beneath

our land. But our real wealth lies in the ambition of our people and the potential of our

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

will amaze the world again.”

Saudi Aramco to private investment through a partial IPO,

and reforms to several industries including tourism and


“We are determined to reinforce and diversify the

capabilities of our economy, turning our key strengths into

enabling tools for a fully diversified future,” said Prince

Mohammed. “We are determined to build a thriving country

in which all citizens can fulfill their dreams, hopes and


The vision is built around three primary themes: a vibrant

society, a thriving economy and an ambitious nation.

In order to achieve a vibrant society, Saudi Arabia will focus

on its people and the Islamic faith. This will happen through

a series of commitments, including:

• Increasing the number of Umrah visitors from 8 million to

30 million annually.

We have been given the privilege to serve the Two Holy

Mosques, the pilgrims and all visitors to the blessed holy

sites. In the last decade, the number of Umrah visitors

entering the country from abroad has tripled, reaching

8 million people. This is a noble responsibility. It requires

us to spare no effort in seeking to offer pilgrims with all

they need, so we fulfil our duty to provide good hospitality

to our brothers and sisters. In this context, we have

begun a third expansion to the Two Holy Mosques, as

well as modernizing and increasing the capacities of our

airports. We have launched the Makkah Metro project

to complement the railroad and train projects that will

serve visitors to the Holy Mosques and holy sites. We have

reinforced the network of our transport system to facilitate

access and help pilgrims perform their visits with greater

ease and convenience. At the same time, we will enrich

pilgrims’ spiritual journeys and cultural experiences while

in the Kingdom. We will establish more museums, prepare

new tourist and historical sites and cultural venues, and

improve the pilgrimage experience within the Kingdom.



By increasing the capacity and by improving the quality

of the services offered to Umrah visitors, we will, by

2020, make it possible for over 15 million Muslims per

year to perform Umrah and be completely satisfied with

their pilgrimage experience. We will achieve this by

improving visa application procedures which will smooth

the visa process with the aim of full automation. We

will also further integrate e-services into the pilgrims’

journey, which will enrich the religious and cultural

experience. Both the public and private sectors will

play a crucial role in this project as we work to upgrade

accommodation, improve hospitality and launch new

services for pilgrims.

• Establishing the largest Islamic museum in the world.

We have always taken — and will continue to take — great

pride in our heritage. Mohammad, the Last of Prophets,

Peace Be Upon Him, was from Makkah, the birthplace

of Islam. Medina is where the first Islamic society was

born. We will build an Islamic museum in accordance

with the highest global standards, equipped with the

latest methods in collection, preservation, presentation

and documentation. It will be a major landmark for

our citizens and visitors, where they will learn about

the history of Islam, enjoy interactive experiences and

participate in cultural events. Using modern technology,

visitors to the museum will take an immersive journey

through the different ages of Islamic civilization, as well

as its science, scholars and culture. It will also be an

international hub for erudition and include a world-class

library and research center.

• Doubling the number of Saudi heritage sites registered

with UNESCO.

• Promoting the growth of cultural and entertainment

opportunities within the Kingdom.

Vision 2030 is not a tactical quick-win for Saudi Arabia

to boost its economy in the short-term; it goes beyond

the question of oil. It is an ambitious long-term strategy

that is set to bring about important lasting change to

our country and a positive future for the population.

Culture and entertainment are indispensable to a

high quality of life. We shall acknowledge that the

cultural opportunities currently available in the

kingdom do not reflect the rising aspirations of our

citizens and residents. To reflect this aspiration,

government funds and partnerships with local and

international investors will be harnessed to make land

available for cultural and entertainment projects, and

talented writers, authors and directors will be better

supported. Ultimately, this too will also contribute

to our economy and will result in the creation of

many job opportunities. To ensure that the richness

of Saudi history and culture is recognized, we aim to

double the number of Saudi heritage sites registered

with UNESCO — process has already begun with the

recognition by UNESCO of ancient rock art in the

Hail region. Most recently, the Kingdom has allocated

around €0.9 billion to preserving its cultural heritage

and is investing in tourism, aiming to increase spending

by Saudis at home.

• Encouraging healthy lifestyles so that the number of

citizens who exercise once a week increases from 13

to 40 percent.

A healthy nation needs a healthy population and so

the Saudi government has committed to encouraging

healthier lifestyles so that the number of citizens who

exercise once a week increases from 13 to 40 percent,

through widespread and regular participation in sports

and athletic activities, working in partnership with the

private sector to establish additional dedicated facilities

and programs.



• Developing Saudi cities so that three are recognized in the

100 top-ranked cities in the world.

Our cities already enjoy high levels of security and

development. Despite the current turmoil in the region

and the wide expanse of our territories, our country and

citizens are safe and secure. Our cities are among the

safest in the world with annual crime rates that are less

than 0.8 per 100.000 people, far below the international

rate of 7.6. We will maintain our safety and security

by supporting ongoing efforts to fight drugs abuse, as

well as by adopting further measures to ensure traffic

safety, reduce traffic accidents and minimize their tragic


Our cities have grown significantly in recent decades;

a growth which has been accompanied by the steady

development of their infrastructure. To ensure we can

continue to enhance the quality of life for all and meet

the needs and requirements of our citizens, we will

continue to ensure high quality services such as water,

electricity, public transport and roads are properly

provided. Open and landscaped areas will also be

developed further, to meet the recreational needs of

individuals and families.

• Diversifying the Kingdom’s economy through the ongoing

privatization of state-owned assets, including establishing

a sovereign wealth fund that will be financed through the

partial IPO of Saudi Aramco.

The ongoing privatization of state-owned assets, including

leading companies, property and other assets, will bring in

new and more diverse revenues for the Saudi government.

This will further enhance our financial resources and

economic stability, which will be reinvested for long-term

impact. We will develop further the sophistication of our

investment vehicles, particularly after transferring the

ownership of Aramco to the Public Investment Fund,

which will become the largest sovereign wealth fund in

the world. We will increase the efficiency of the fund’s

management and improve its return on investment,

with the aim of diversifying our government resources

and our economy. The Public Investment Fund will not

compete with the private sector, but instead help unlock

strategic sectors requiring intensive capital inputs. This

will contribute towards developing entirely new economic

sectors and establishing durable national corporations.

• Unlocking underdeveloped industries such as

manufacturing, renewable energy and tourism.

In order to achieve a thriving economy, Saudi Arabia will

diversify its economy and create dynamic job opportunities

for its citizens. This will happen through commitments to

education, entrepreneurship and innovation, including:

We will support promising sectors and foster their

success so that they become new pillars of our economy.

In the manufacturing sector, we will work towards

localizing renewable energy and industrial equipment

Aqua desert of Saudi Arabia

© Shutterstock


sectors. In the tourism and leisure sectors, we will create

attractions that are of the highest international standards,

improve visa issuance procedures for visitors, and

prepare and develop our historical and heritage sites. In

technology, we will increase our investments in, and lead,

the digital economy. In mining, we will furnish incentives

for and benefit from the exploration of the Kingdom’s

mineral resources. At the same time as diversifying

our economy, we will continue to localize the oil and

gas sector. As well as creating a new city dedicated to

energy, we will double our gas production, and construct

a national gas distribution network. We will also make

use of our global leadership and expertise in oil and

petrochemicals to invest in the development of adjacent

and supporting sectors.

• Modernising the curriculum and standards of Saudi

educational institutions from childhood to higher learning.

We will close the gap between the outputs of higher

education and the requirements of the job market. We

will also help our students make careful career decisions,

while at the same time training them and facilitating their

transition between different educational pathways. In the

year 2030, we aim to have at least five Saudi universities

among the top 200 universities in international rankings.

We shall help our students achieve results above

international averages in global education indicators.

To this end, we will prepare a modern curriculum

focused on rigorous standards in literacy, numeracy,

skills and character development. We will track

progress and publish a sophisticated range of education

outcomes, showing year-on-year improvements. We will

work closely with the private sector to ensure higher

education outcomes are in line with the requirements

of job market. We will invest in strategic partnerships

with apprenticeship providers, new skills councils from

industry, and large private companies. We will also

work towards developing the job specifications of every

education field. Furthermore, we will build a centralized

student database tracking students from early childhood

through to K-12 and beyond into tertiary education

(higher and vocational) in order to improve education

planning, monitoring, evaluation, and outcomes. We will

also expand vocational training in order to drive forward

economic development. Our scholarship opportunities

will be steered towards prestigious international

universities and be awarded in the fields that serve our

national priorities. We will also focus on innovation in

advanced technologies and entrepreneurship.


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

© Shutterstock

© Shutterstock


• Refocusing on small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs)

by encouraging financial assistance. Increasing the

contribution of SMEs to GDP from 20 to 35 percent by


To make the country less dependent on its oil reserves

and secure a thriving economy, Saudi Arabia will

diversify to create more dynamic job opportunities for

its citizens. This will happen through commitments to

entrepreneurship, innovation and education. Concretely

we are striving to lower the rate of unemployment from

11.6% to 7%; increase SME contribution to GDP from

20% to 35%, and increase women’s participation in the

workforce from 22% to 30%. By privatising state-owned

assets such as Saudi Aramco and also refocusing on small

and medium-sized enterprises through enhanced financial

assistance, the kingdom will unlock underdeveloped

industries such as manufacturing, renewable energy

and tourism and make our economy more robust.

Furthermore, by modernising the curriculum and

standards of Saudi educational institutions, the aim is to

propel at least five Saudi universities into the top 200 in

the world, delivering a well-equipped workforce. Beyond

these reforms, achieving our desired rate of economic

growth will require an environment that attracts the

necessary skills and capabilities from beyond our national

borders. To attract and retain the finest foreign minds,

the government plans to improve living and working

conditions for non-Saudis by extending their ability to

own property in certain areas, improving the quality of

life, permitting the establishment of more private schools

and adopting an effective and simple system for issuing

visas and residence permits.

Opening up the kingdom in this way will contribute to

economic development and attract foreign investors who

can be confident in the resilience and potential of our

national economy. By easing restrictions on ownership

and foreign investment and creating a smoother flow of

goods, people and capital, we aim to increase foreign

direct investment from 3.8% to the international level

of 5.7% of GDP. This is of course a great opportunity


Kaaba in Masjid Al Haram in Mecca Saudi Arabia

© Shutterstock

Makkah Clock Tower

© Shutterstock

for European entrepreneurs eager to benefit from Saudi

Arabia’s potential as a strategic location that links

Europe to Asia and Africa.

In order to be an ambitious nation, Saudi Arabia will focus on

accountability, transparency and effectiveness in its governing

strategy. Sustainable success can only be achieved with solid

foundations. In order to realize this potential, the Kingdom


• Boost transparency by expanding online services and

improving governance standards.

In order to sharpen the ambition of our nation, Saudi

Arabia will focus on accountability, transparency and

effectiveness in its governing strategy. We shall have

zero tolerance for all levels of corruption, whether

administrative or financial. We will adopt leading

international standards and administrative practices,

helping us reach the highest levels of transparency

and governance in all sectors. We will set and uphold

high standards of accountability. Our goals, plans and

performance indicators will be published so that progress

and delivery can be publicly monitored. Transparency

will be boosted and delays reduced by expanding online

services and improving their governance standards, with

the aim of becoming a global leader in e-government.

• Establish the King Salman Program for Human Capital

Development in order to train more than 500.000

government employees in best practices.

We have yet to identify and put into effect the best

practices that would ensure that public sector employees

have the right skills for the future. However, by 2020, we

aim to have trained, through distance learning, 500.000

government employees. All ministries and government

institutions will be required to adopt best practices in

human capital development. We will continue to hire

individuals according to merit and work towards building

a broad talent base, so they may become leaders of the

future. The King Salman Program for Human Capital


Development will establish HR centers of excellence in

every government agency, and provide training. We will

work to raise the productivity of employees to the highest

levels possible, by implementing proper performance

management standards, providing continuous training for

professional development, and sharing knowledge. We

will develop targeted policies to identify and empower

future leaders, and will furnish a stimulating environment

that provides equal opportunities and rewards for


careers. We will encourage the businesses that follow

through on this commitment to participate in our

country and to address national challenges.

• Being responsible to society

The values of giving, compassion, cooperation and

empathy are firmly entrenched in our society. We have

already played an influential role in providing social aid

locally, regionally and globally.

• Bolster the non-profit sector through increased efficiency

and impact.

We aspire to have businesses that contribute to

developing our society and our country, not be geared

solely towards generating profits. We expect our

companies to observe their social responsibilities and

contribute to creating a sustainable economy, including

by creating the stimulating opportunities for young men

and women that can help them build their professional

In the future, we will formalize and strengthen the

organization of our social and compassionate work

so that our efforts have the maximum results and

impact. Today, we have fewer than 1.000 non-profit

foundations and associations. In order to increase the

resilience and impact of this sector, we will continue

to develop regulations necessary to empower nonprofit

organizations. We will review our regulations to

encourage endowments to sustainably fund the sector and

to encourage corporations and high net worth families to


Saudi Arabia, Sakaka, sunset on the Qasr Za’abel fortress

© Shutterstock

His Excellency Ambassador Abdulrahman bin Suleiman Al Ahmed and Barbara Dietrich

© Embassy of Saudi Arabia

establish non-profit organizations. Government support

will be directed to the programs with highest social

impact and we will support training workers to encourage

volunteering and careers in the non-profit sector.

Enabling non-profit organizations to attract the best

talents in order to ensure best management practices and

the transfer of knowledge, which will strengthen these

institutions over the long term. This will ensure that the

non-profit sector plays an enhanced and more efficient

role in critical sectors such as health care, education,

housing, research, and cultural and social programs.

lives of citizens. But it’s an important departure to overhaul

its all-oil economic model and open the kingdom to bolder

investment flows and international cooperation.

Our commitment to achieving the goals of these pivotal

programs and our collective contribution shall be the first

step towards achieving Saudi Arabia’s vision for 2030. We

will continue to launch new programs in the upcoming years

as required, and we will continuously review and assess our

performance in achieving this vision.

The Vision 2030 plan is the first step towards achieving

Saudi Arabia’s economic aspirations and transforming the

For more details on Vision 2030, please visit the official

website www.vision2030.gov.sa


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

performances were staged at BOZAR, Center for Fine

Arts in Brussels, to celebrate the 2018 China-EU Tourism

Year and the Chinese Spring Festival. The event was cohosted

by the Chinese Mission to the EU and the Chinese

Embassy to Belgium with the support of the Chinese

Ministry of Culture and the Shenzhen Municipal People’s

Government. Nearly 2.000 people attended the event,

including Chinese Ambassador to the EU Mr. Zhang

Ming, Chinese Ambassador to Belgium Mr. Qu Xing,

Commissioner Tibor Navracsics for Education, Culture,

Youth and Sport of the European Commission, General

Mikhail Kostarakos, President of the EU Military

Committee, other EU and Belgian representatives,

diplomats to the EU and Belgium, Chinese entrepreneurs,

the Chinese community in Belgium, as well as Chinese

and foreign journalists.


H.E. Ambassador Zhang Ming

Ambassador Zhang sent his New Year’s greetings and

said to the guests that it is of special significance to

ring in the Chinese New Year with them like a family.

Ambassador Zhang pointed out that throughout the

2018 China-EU Tourism Year, the two sides will hold

various activities to enhance mutual understanding,

strengthen existing cooperation and look for new areas of

cooperation that benefit people of both sides, and bring

more certainty to the world. The year 2018 is the Year

of Dog. Like President Juncker, Ambassador Zhang also

hopes that this year will be a year of loyalty, sincerity

and harmonious relationship between China and the EU,

and looks forward to greater prosperity in China-EU


Commissioner Navracsics said that spring is the time to

plan for the whole year and that it is a great delight to

get together with Chinese and European friends on the

eve of the Chinese New Year. The year 2018 is the EU-

China Tourism Year and the European Year of Cultural

Heritage. This will be a good opportunity for both

China and the EU to showcase their cultural treasures.

Commissioner Navracsics hopes that the EU and China

will continue growing their relations in the coming year

and bring cooperation and friendship to a new level.

After the reception, guests watched the gala show

themed “China Impression” presented by an art troupe

from Shenzhen. The show, featuring traditional Chinese

folk music, dances, fascinating acrobatics and martial

arts, brought out the beauty of traditional Chinese

culture, the vigor of Chinese young people, as well as

the openness and diversity of Shenzhen as a frontrunner

in China’s reform and opening-up. The show resonated

strongly with the audience and left with them a deep


© Mission of China to the EU










the staging of the exhibition at the Diamond Vessel of Zaha

Hadid, Head Quarters of The Antwerp Port Authority.

We feel blessed by their great support.

We were happy to present Dialogue with Emperor Qin:

China-EU, an ambitious and philanthropic exhibition. It aims

at generating exchanges and conversations around the theme

of international cultural dialogue. Dedicated to all art lovers

and to all those who want to build peace through cultural

exchange; this event answers a long-lasting need and raises an

artistic bridge between China and Europe.

We arrived at the end of our epic journey with Dialogue with

Emperor Qin and we were able to truly close the circle with

Antwerp has a long and outstanding tradition regarding

the ancient Silk Road. In 1722 the company “Generale

Keizerlijke Indische Compagnie” also called the Oostendse

Compagnie was founded. This company was owned by

several famous shareholders and due to the influence of

Emperor Charles VI had a monopoly of the commerce

between Southern Netherlands and Asia. Today Antwerp

is, in addition to this maritime tradition, very active on the

new rail land-bridge that connects the Atlantic and Pacific



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

© Inspiring Culture

In 2010, as we were creating this China-EU sculpture

exhibition, the Port of Antwerp, the second largest port in

Europe, was embarking on establishing further links with

China through the twinning of its port with the port of

Guangzhou. Guangzhou, one of the most important ports

along the historic Maritime Silk Road also boasts of having

China’s largest repeat-flowering rose garden.

In Summer 2011, a container was shipped from Antwerp

port to Tianjin, filled with 27 sculptures from European

artists (one from each European country). From there they

were transported to Xi’an, home of the original Terracotta

Warriors and starting point of the ancient Silk Road, where

3 sculptures from 3 Chinese artists were waiting. The 30

soldiers, each almost two metres high, represent an army

that neither threatens, nor looks to conquer. It erases

frontiers and cherishes freedom. It embraces the universal

theme of “Messengers of Peace and Generosity”.

With this exhibition, our ambition is to present and to

demonstrate the many cultures which form a collective


Tsinandali (Georgia), Lisbon, Bucharest, Sofia, London,

Edinburgh, Brussels and now Antwerp. A sculpture was

added when Croatia joined the EU and we were happy to

finish this long journey in two Kingdoms, with both the UK

and Belgium each staging the exhibition in two cities.

The army that accompanied the Emperor in his everlasting

sleep has come to life again in Antwerp, “The Diamond

Capital,” of the world! The city and Antwerp Port continue

to build upon their historic links with China through

contemporary trade relations and through sustained

diplomatic projects with recent highlights including the visit

of China’s former vice-president now President Xi Jinping

in 2009 and the establishment of the “One Belt One Road

taskforce”. Dialogue With Emperor Qin, with its focus

on international collaboration is uniquely positioned to

compliment and to build upon these diplomatic projects.

The exhibition, a physical manifestation of the continued and

sustained relationship between Antwerp, the rest of Europe

and China must therefore be seen amongst these other forms

of diplomacy.

In 2012, the exhibition was awarded the “EU-China

Intercultural Dialogue” label by the European Union and

after touring in eight Chinese museums between 2011 and

early 2013, it entered its European phase travelling to Tallinn,


In the very pristine Zaha Hadid designed Port House,

the curation using “hard power” and “soft power” gently


introduces the shock of two civilisations allowing the general

public to familiarize themselves and to value both of the two

worlds which inspired the curation of the works in Antwerp.

It is noticeable in the scenography of the exhibition that

the Founder of Inspiring Culture and International Curator

of the exhibition Dr Pick Keobandith, wishes to invoke the

rich past of two Empires; the Imperium Romanum and the

ancient Chinese Empire of the Qin and Han dynasty who

were in contemporary existence. As leading world powers,

the two empires controlled half of the entire population of

the world. But they had minimal interaction and developed

independently of each other.

It would be 100 years later, after Alexander’s conquest

that the unification of China under its first Emperor Qin

Shihuang laid the development of long distance trade routes

commonly known as the “Silk Road”. The curation which

combines elements from both civilisations is an original way

to make the parallel between the two worlds in this exhibition

“Dialogue with Emperor Qin”.

For Keobandith: “The idea for the placement and curation

of the works at The Port House came from my studies. In

order to improve my French, I studied Latin at the end of

secondary school for which I had to translate lots of texts

about the Roman army and their leadership. It was very

strange for me, someone who loves Proust and Musil.

I very much enjoyed reading about their strategy and tactics

however the vocabulary was very poor concerning the army.

It was also interesting to note that in the Emperor Qin’s army

and the Roman Army there were no female soldiers.

I discovered the word strategist has its origins in the Greek

“stratgos” meaning “Chief of Army”. A closer look at the

definition of strategist included the word Victori - Strategy &

Tactics. Victori is the Latin word for “The conquerors”.

With all of this in mind, I based my scenography on the

formation of the Roman Army as if they were preparing

their troops to fight. They were the best army at that time

and most of the soldiers in the Roman Empire came from

countries outside Italy: from Africa, France, Germany, the

Balkans, Spain and the Middle East.

The structure of the Roman Army before the battle had

the ambition focusing and keeping its troops in order. They

believed that one could fight more effectively and generally in

a staggered arrangement (en quinconce in French), from the

Latin quincunx, by five.

And so, placed in rows each consisting of five sculptures,

the works in the exhibition prepare for their mission. Their

ambition however is not to conquer but instead to bring a

message of peace, to effectively and strategically bring their

unique dialogue of cultural exchange to as many different

audiences as possible.


‘Veteran’ — Shao Jun Wang — One of 3 artists representing China

‘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

© Inspiring Culture

Let’s say I am a Fine Strategist. Leading my troupe of 31

artists of Peace Builders and their sculptures through China

and Europe with a stop in Tsinandali helped by the Silk Road

Group in Georgia.”


The exhibition “Dialogue with Emperor Qin” seeks to

redefine and to shape the image of China and the EU in a

different way. It is an initiative which allows for and actively

encourages a positive dialogue between the two powers as

well as providing a rewarding project for the private sector

actors to be a part of and to help to strengthen cultural


This travelling exhibition instigated in 2011 by Dr Pick

Keobandith has taken a long and complex route before

arriving at its final destination in the Port of Antwerp. This

inter-cultural exchange is of particular relevance in today’s

shifting and often dangerous political landscape, helping as it

does to promote understanding and debate through the arts.

Art is often described as a unique language and like all

languages, it has its own rhythms, its own depths and

of course its own complexities. Sometimes art is easy to

understand, instantly readable, accessible for all. At other

times it takes multiple viewings and dedicated attention

to allow for its message to be fully understood. Inspiring

Culture believes that only through art and the use of art’s

distinctive language it is possible to speak to the world about

the collective issues that we face today. Inspiring Culture

is extremely proud to support this touring exhibition and

continue to encourage people to look, listen and learn about

other cultures. It is inspiring to find others who want to

dedicate their energies to focus on the positive aspects of

what makes each of us different from the other.





International cultural exchanges are part of our DNA, as we

are convinced that Art only reaches its full potential when it

travels across political and cultural borders. When the core of

the artistic creation, the very personal and unique expression

of the artist becomes universal and speaks to the humanity.

As a private organization, Inspiring Culture balances

philanthropic initiatives like the “Dialogue with Emperor Qin”

exhibition with more commercial missions, always focusing

on international cultural initiatives.


H.E. Natalie Sabanadze (Georgia’s Ambassador to Belgium, Luxemburg

and the EU), Dr. Pick Keobandith (Inspiring Culture), Marc Van Peel

(Chairman Antwerp Port Authority) and Jacques Vandermeiren (CEO

Antwerp Port Authority)

H.E. Natalie Sabanadze (Georgia’s Ambassador to Belgium, Luxemburg

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

Dr. Pick Keobandith (Inspiring Culture), Marc Van Peel (Chairman

Antwerp Port Authority) and Tom Monballiu (Deputy Port Ambassador)

Cathy Berx (Governor of Province of Antwerp), H.E. Zhang Ming (Head

of China Mission to EU), Marc Van Peel (Chairman Antwerp Port

Authority) and Jacques Vandermeiren (CEO Antwerp Port Authority)

Director, Founder Inspiring Culture Dr. Pick Keobandith showing guests

works in the exhibition at the opening


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

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

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

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

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

(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

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

We contribute to the “Cultural Diplomacy” policy of

our clients or we generate our own and modest “Cultural

Diplomacy” where the only interests we serve are those of


The deep understanding of these diplomatic objectives is

essential for the success of our initiatives. Through multiple

elements, sometimes unnoticed by most visitors, we work on

the alignment of the exhibition and its associated events with

the objectives of our partners.

George Ramishvili (Chairman of Silk Road Group)

Is it morally acceptable to use the work of artists to serve

diplomatic, and often ultimately economical interests of

organizations or countries? We are regularly faced with this


Our position is that competition will always exist between

groups of human beings on this planet and that using

cultural exchange to influence is certainly progressive if

compared to much more aggressive strategies. We cannot

control all possible hidden agendas of our partners. What we

control is the sincerity of the cultural initiatives we manage

and the fact that they enable thousands of citizens from

various countries to be exposed to a large variety of artistic

propositions. That alone, is making our planet a better place.




The Port of Antwerp is Europe’s second largest port and acts

as a bridge between Europe and all other continents. With

a volume of over 223 million handled goods in 2017, the

companies within the port area are serving over 60 percent

of the European population, living in a range of 500 km from

Antwerp. The port connects the wider European hinterland

with the world by sea going vessel, train, barge and road.

From a more symbolic point of view, this introduction

also tells that the Port of Antwerp is a crossroad of goods

and cultures, connecting people and ideas, and a source

of inspiration for entrepreneurs and artists. The latter is

demonstrated in the high number of artworks in which the

port plays a role. And again, this role is very diverse. The port

acts as the background, is in the center of the art piece or

inspired the artist. This connecting idea is what struck me in

the “Dialogue with the Warriors of Emperor Qin” exhibition

as the sculptures reflect the dialogue between ancient and

modern art and connect the rich Chinese culture with the

European views. In an ever globalizing world the intercultural

dialogue contributes to a better mutual understanding and

respect. In this regard I am grateful that this exhibition is a

result of the cooperation between the Mission of the People’s

Republic of China to the EU and the Antwerp Port Authority.

Another demonstration of connecting cultures.

Marc Van Peel




Silk Road Group (SRG), a privately held investment

company, owned and run by Georgian and European

partners, is active in Energy, Transportation, Hospitality,

Entertainment, Real Estate and Telecommunications.

Every SRG business has been established with the vision

that Georgia is an integral part of the historic Silk Road

trading route, the ancient geopolitical axis connecting Asia

with Europe, where currents from the East link to those

from the West, diverse ideas are exchanged and differences

bridged by common values.

In a push to rediscover Georgian heritage through the

revival of the country’s wine making traditions, SRG

invested in a project to restore and promote the famous

Tsinandali estate and gardens in the Kakheti region, the

19th Century Chavchavadze family manor house, its

landscaped garden, a historic winery, wine cellar, hotel,

museum and café, operating as a cultural and educational

center. Tsinandali hosts numerous events and exhibitions,

including an international classical music festival of

growing importance.

George Ramishvili, a Chairman of Silk Road Group:

“We are grateful for the opportunity of being a part of this

project. We believe that modern business is a part of the

world’s social and cultural community and we are proud

to contribute by sponsoring the sea transportation of the

Army of Peace and Dialogue.”


After Ecole du Louvre, Dr. Pick Keobandith received her

Doctorate in Art History from Rennes II. A distinguished

career in Paris followed where amongst other roles, she

was an advisor to Sydney Picasso, was an exhibition

commissioner with Galerie Piltzer and Galerie Anne de

Villepoix. Later she worked at Gallery Templon and taught

Contemporary Art Market at Christie’s Education. After

Paris, Dr. Keobandith chose Brussels to be the platform

to share her vision of International Art. She founded

Inspiring Culture in August 2016.

Working internationally, Inspiring Culture specialises in

contemporary and modern sculpture. The main activities

include: Exhibition conception and production, Public

and private sculpture commissions, Academic research,

Writing and lecture presentation, Critical Writing, and

Artist & Art Institution development.


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Relations between Italy and Belgium are rooted in

the past. The Italian Residence where I have the

privilege to dwell, a beautiful neo-classic palace

where the engagement between Marie-José and

Umberto II was celebrated, is the symbol of the

common history between the Belgian Royal house

and the House of Savoy. As it is well known,

King Philippe of Belgium is the son of Paola Ruffo

di Calabria. Italy and Belgium can count on an

excellent relationship in all fields, from political

to economic one, from cultural to scientific

cooperation, moving on through consolidated and

automatic patterns.

In the European framework, as founding Members of the

European Union, Italy and Belgium are both committed

to re-launch the European Union as a more integrated,

united and effective organization on the international

scene. It is paramount to bring the EU Institutions closer

to the citizens in order to reverse the on-going trend of

estrangement and disillusionment, which has indeed

contributed to the (re-)emergence of populism in many

Countries of Europe.


Italy, together with like-minded EU partners, is

contributing to set in motion the reform of the European

Union in order to provide collective answers to the threats

and challenges of our days, from economic crisis to

terrorism, from migration to climate change. We would like

to realize, with our like-minded partners, a Eurozone based

on a more accentuated equilibrium between responsibility

and solidarity. It is also important to realise the

completion of the Banking Union and to have a European

Union budget able to ensure adequately financed policies

in sectors where Europe can bring its added value, such as

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

security and defense, migration, research and development,

the so-called “European goods”.

Italy’s efforts to tackle the on-going migration crisis in

the Mediterranean were widely acknowledged. Thanks to

the EU “Surveillance & Rescue” missions, along with the

daily work of the Italian “Guardia Costiera”, many lives

are saved every day. However many continue to be lost and

unfortunately the obstacles that the reform of the Dublin

mechanism (the obligation for the Country of first entry to

examine the asylum application) is encountering, it is an

indication that there is still a long way to go. A common

EU migration and asylum policy, the goal established

already at the 1999 European Council in Tampere, has not

yet been reached.

From an economic perspective, Italy’s presence in Belgium

is solid and long-standing. Companies such as Ferrero,

Burgo, Vitrociset and Mapei have important operations

in the Walloon Region, while CNH Industrial and Saviola

Group have concentrated their activities in the Flemish

Region. Many liaison offices are present in Belgium and

represent the most important Italian enterprises and trade

associations like Confindustria, ENI, ENEL, FCA and


The “Made in Italy” is wide-spread and appreciated in

Belgium, from food to fashion, from furniture to cars. With

a trade exchange of about 30 Bn Euro in 2017, the two

countries are closely linked, ranking in each other’s top ten

list of economic partners. Next to traditional export areas

such as agri-food, textile and machinery, Italy-Belgium

trade relations are growing, in particular, thanks to the

exchange of pharmaceuticals, chemicals, medical devices

and bio-tech. Both Countries share the same industrial

backbone, composed primarily by Small and Medium

Enterprises (SMEs). In Italy, SMEs have developed a very

strong expertise in high-tech sectors (for instance robotics,

mechatronics, nanotechnologies and bio-science) which

are particularly complementary to Belgium’s flagship


Despite the historical and excellent relations existing

between the two Countries, there are still many


potentialities to explore: From the innovation of the

traditional “Made in Italy” to the attention to high-tech

cooperation in sectors such as ICT, bio-technologies and

space, with a particular regard to the start-up world.

With reference to scientific cooperation, last November we

have organized the first meeting of the Italian researchers

in Belgium, in the presence of Philippe Busquin, former

Belgian European Commissioner for Research from 1999

to 2004, and Massimo Inguscio, President of the Italian

National Council for Research (Consiglio Nazionale della

Ricerche, CNR). We have mapped out a very high number

of professors, senior and junior researchers, who are a

great asset for our work and represent natural bridges

between the two Countries.

Italian language is wide-spread in Belgium. It is taught

in all the schools which are covered by the Partnership

Charter signed between Italy and the Wallonia-Brussels

Federation, but also by the courses organized by the

Italian Institute of Culture in Brussels, along with other


The historical and cultural links between Italy and Belgium

are well known. The reciprocal influence of Italian and

Flemish Renaissance is one of the many examples that we

can take into consideration. The exhibition “Spanish Still

Life”, which is currently at Bozar, shows how the Flemish

and Italian models of “still life” had a great influence on

the wider development of painting in Europe.

We have a very active Italian Institute of Culture and

our goal is to organize as many cultural events as we

can in cooperation with Belgian cultural institutions.

For instance, we are working together with the Vrije

Universiteit Brussels (VUB) to present the legacy of Rocco

Chinnici, the Italian judge who set up the judiciary and

investigative mechanisms which are still used today in the

fight against organized crime. The event will include a

panel discussion between Italian and Belgian experts and

the screening of the movie on Rocco Chinnici, interpreted

by famous Italian actor Sergio Castellitto.

This year, we would also like to bring to Belgium a theatre

piece called “Italiens. Quand les émigrés c’etait nous”,

which will be shown in Brussels and Liège. The show,

by telling the stories of many Italian migrants that have

crossed the oceans and seas in the last centuries, has also

an educational value by reminding us the never-ending


Venice, Italy, gondolas with snow in front of the Basilica of San Giorgio Maggiore

© Shutterstock

Rome, Saint Peter’s Basilica after snowfall © Shutterstock

importance of solidarity and respect for human rights.

My mission is of course influenced by the extremely

high number of second or third generation-Italians who

are still living in the Country. Italians were traditionally

concentrated in the Walloon Region, primarily Liège

and Charleroi, to be employed in the coal mines. The

catastrophe that occurred in Marcinelle on August 8, 1956,

where 262 miners, of which 136 Italians, lost their lives

is commemorated every year as the saddest page of the

history of Italians in Belgium.

Community in the Belgian society. Italians are active in

every sector, from construction to catering, from academia

to politics. Our aim is to map out the Italians currently

working in the Belgian institutions, convinced as we are

that the community of Italians in Belgium is a powerful

network of contacts and a crucial tool for the promotion of

our Country.

Italian migration to Belgium is a story of suffering, but also

of great success. Former Prime Minister Elio Di Rupo is

the symbol of the well-succeeded integration of the Italian


This interview took place before the elections of 4 March 2018.






2018 is the European Year of Cultural Heritage

which invites us to celebrate our cultural diversity

and, at the same time, to encourage our peoples

to discover and engage with Europe’s cultural

heritage, in order to reinforce a sense of belonging

to a common European space.

As ambassador of Greece, what are the main

focus points for you today in Brussels? Bilateral

agreements, Economic diplomacy, cultural

diplomacy, education. Depending on the focus

points, could you highlight these with specific


I strongly believe that the Greek culture, no matter where

it comes from, belongs to all humanity. It enriches us in a

unique way, thanks to its anthropocentric approach, which

was absolutely novelty back then, but also vital and highly

I would say that, given the fact that our principle aim

is the strengthening of bilateral cooperation in various

fields, a combination of political, economic and cultural

diplomacy is what we are looking for. It is a known fact

that Greece is quickly recovering after many years of

fiscal difficulties and is back on the growth track. In this

context, the Greek Embassy is focusing on establishing

mutually beneficial relations with the Belgian business

sector, hoping both to attract Belgian investments in

Greece and to promote Greek investments in Belgium.

As far as cultural diplomacy is concerned, our Embassy

seeks to promote the Greek language and Greek culture

in Belgium through various initiatives and by supporting a

number of cultural events.


Without any doubt Greece and its cultural heritage

are the fundaments of Western civilisation and

relate to all cultural developments that have

defined our cultural history until today. How do

you look back to this phenomenon, and how would

you contextualize the history and heritage as a

bridge to our contemporary life and culture in the

context of a European and even global culture?

H.E. Eleftheria Galathianaki

© Diplomatic World

H.E. Eleftheria Galathianaki

© Diplomatic World

important for our consumption-oriented society, today. Its

pan-anthropic values can correspond to the spiritual needs

of all of us. This is why classical Greek literary production

has been followed, studied and translated not only by

modern Greek scholars, but also by brilliant minds all

over the world. I also believe that Greek culture, because

of its universality, is a quintessential tool for approaching

peoples. It is the connective tissue in the quest for

common origins and historical ties with other countries.

Modern Greece attributes a great importance to the

dialogue of cultures and cultural diplomacy. In 2017,

on the initiative of Greek Minister of Foreign Affairs

M. Nikos Kotzias, The Ancient Civilizations Forum took

place in Athens with the participation of Bolivia, China,

Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Italy, Peru and our country. Its aim is to

serve as a platform for dialogue and cultural cooperation

among the participating States.

The diversity in Europe today, defined by a continuous

diaspora for millennia, is dying to find a common

cultural ground for the European Union. With

everything mentioned above, could you create and

propose a cultural framework that nurtures this longing

for connection in between Europe?

2018 is the European Year of Cultural Heritage and we

are all invited to celebrate our cultural diversity and,

at the same time, to encourage our peoples to discover

and engage with Europe’s cultural heritage, in order to

reinforce a sense of belonging to a common European

space. It is an ideal opportunity for all of us to strengthen

the dialogue with the cultural heritage stakeholders, to

identify and implement coordinated policies and actions

for the sustainable management and development of

cultural heritage and to raise public awareness on the

potential of cultural heritage.


© Diplomatic World

Let us be guided by the successful Greek-inspired initiative

“European Capitals of Culture”, an integral part of the

Creative Europe programme 2014-20, whose ambition is to

promote Europe’s cultural diversity and cultural heritage

and to reinforce the competitiveness of our cultural and

creative sectors.

Brussels is at the heart of international economic

diplomacy, which is a growing area in diplomacy.

What particular role do you see for diplomats in

relation to the facilitation of future economic deals?


© Diplomatic World

If we think of economic relations as links interconnecting

people, organizations, regions and countries, then Brussels

is the right place for a diplomat. Economic diplomacy

is, perhaps, the most important long-term instrument for

achieving international cooperation. Here, in Brussels we

have the most obvious example and one of the greatest

success stories of our recent history: The creation and the

function of the EU. In this context, I can not think of a

better place for establishing strong economic partnerships

than in the actual capital of Europe.

H.E. Eleftheria Galathianaki and Barbara Dietrich

© Diplomatic World

How and to what extend may Chinese investments

have helped Greece to deal with the crisis?

After years of financial troubles, Greece is returning

to a growth path which opens up remarkable

opportunities for investment and trade. Our dynamic,

comprehensive and strategic partnership with

China sets a solid basis for expanding our role as

an important regional hub in the fields of trade,

transport, energy. telecommunica-tions, logistics,

culture and tourism. My country is once again taking

full advantage of its unique geopolitical position as a

country of Europe, the Mediterranean, the Balkans,

but also, as a maritime country with great potential

for advancing relations; far beyond its


Specialists provide guidance to Chinese investors

in Europe. Think for instance of the guidance that

KA Legal frequently provides to foreign investors

in Greece. How important is such specialist

intervention to achieve the intended transactions?

Greece is aware of the important role of specialists’

intervention in achieving foreign investments. Therefore,

we are trying to inform them on the major recent

reforms in Greece, the positive economic climate and the

hospitable environment which is being created for investors

and businesses that can contribute towards growth and job


Which new opportunities may lay ahead for

Chinese investors in Europe and vice versa?

As a leading maritime country, looking for new trade

routes, we see new great opportunities in the 21st Century

Maritime Silk Road. An increasing number of Greek

shipowners build their ships in China, while our biggest port

— the port of Piraeus where a very important investment by

COSCO has been made — is becoming a global gateway to

Europe for products coming from Chinese and other Asian

ports, including through the Suez Canal. From Piraeus port,

the merchandise can easily be transported by rail to many

destinations in the Balkans and in Central Europe.






The realization of the New Silk Road project could

foster a role model that has been played by the

ancient Silk Road, where people were involved not

only in trade but also in cultural, intellectual,

educational, and religious exchanges.

Mr. Ambassador, On November 10, 2017, the

EU High Representative and foreign ministers

of Central Asian countries, including Tajikistan

gathered in Samarkand (Uzbekistan) for a new

regional rapprochement. What is the importance

of this event for your country?

Well, I would like to begin by reminding that a quarter

century ago the countries of Central Asia and the European

Union embarked on the formation and development of their

relations based on the principles of mutual respect and trust

to each other.

of Tajikistan, to improve the well-being of the people of

the country. This document identifies the role of foreign

partners’ significance in the implementation of the NDS.

Tajikistan expects that foreign partners will increase their

contribution to the priority areas of the Strategy.

Therefore, Tajikistan considers strong regional and

international ties as the main factor to impact the socioeconomic

development of our region as whole, and each

country individually.

Since then, the countries of Central Asia and the EU have

experienced different stages of cooperation, however, the

Samarkand meeting expressed the sides’ intention to jumpstart

their relations and give them the attention they deserve.

The Central Asian countries’ vision to leverage their potential

for drastic transformation and the EU’s strong interest in

stable and economically prosperous regions are the factors

that drive both sides towards the completion of common tasks.

The importance of this event for Tajikistan was the

affirmation of a strong willingness of all participants to pursue

and enhance further regional and bilateral cooperation. We

consider this political development as an important element

in our relations and believe that a comprehensive and

enhanced partnership between the EU and the countries of

Central Asia will positively impact the regional prosperity.


My Government has developed the National Development

Strategy-2030, which covers all aspects of the development

H.E. Erkinkhon Rahmatullozoda

© Embassy of the Republic of Tajikistan

This platform is supposed to assist Central Asian

countries in gaining better benefits from China’s

New Silk Road initiative. What does Tajikistan

expect from the New Silk Road?

You know well that more than 2.000 years ago the Silk

Road was established to link China to the Middle East and

Europe through Central Asia. The New Silk Road initiative

is supposed to be a modern equivalent, aiming to create a

network of economic, trade and policy cooperation.

Thus, Central Asia has preserved its historical importance

as a bridge between China and Europe. Moreover, in the

recent years, the region has been a zone of close attention

of the world community and business structures, which

undoubtedly is a positive thing.

Several megaprojects have been launched from China to

Europe with the involvement of Central Asian states, which

include new roads, railroads and pipelines. Taking into

account the above mentioned points, cooperation between

the countries of the region and the EU on this platform can

help make the development of Central Asia more effective.

Our leadership attaches great importance to the modern

economic integration processes, therefore, comprehensive

cooperation with the countries of Central Asia, the EU and

China is a strategic goal of my Government.

Tajikistan regards the New Silk Road as a promising

initiative for mutually beneficial cooperation in various

fields. The introduced projects will facilitate economic

transformation, offering multiple benefits to our societies.

Tajikistan can serve as a transit nation in China’s projects

and benefit from it. The construction of the Tajik section of

the Turkmenistan-China gas pipeline is a vivid example.

China has already started, and completed a number of the

New Silk Road projects in Tajikistan and we expect significant

Chinese investment into our infrastructure projects.

Can it again help flourish not only commerce,

but also culture and dialogue of civilizations in


History, culture, and spiritual values as well as centuries-old

traditions are the basic principles of nations, and they play a

vital role in development of countries.

Such a role has been played by the ancient Silk Road,

where people were involved not only in trade but also

in cultural, intellectual, educational, and religious

exchanges. The Central Asian intellectuals had played

a key role in the development of world nations.

The great poet Abu Abdullah Rudaki, philosopher

and mathematician Al-Farabi, the greatest scholar


Abualli Ibn Sino (Avicenna) and many others had

considerably contributed to the development of world’s

civilizations. Today, globalization processes, in particular

technical and economic development progresses, rapidly

impact on cultural interchange and facilitate global


Thus, economic and social development of the regions will

significantly expand the possibilities for promoting cultural

and intellectual ties. The realization of the Silk Road

projects, which aim to connect Asia and Europe, will foster

intercultural exchanges and strengthen the relationship

between the nations.

Will this initiative promote stability in the region

and ensure prosperity?

It is noted that Central Asia is in close proximity to unstable

zones, and therefore, ensuring security and stability in the

region is a primary task of the local governments.

Central Asians recognize that socio-economic development

of societies is the most important factor of peace and

stability in the region. Hence, national strategies of the

countries of the region are directed towards the socioeconomic

development to improve the living conditions of

the people of the region.

In Tajikistan, we are confident that strengthening security,

further positive and progressive development, continuation

of the reform of the various sectors of economy, raising the

living standards and a gradual transition to the formation

of the middle class are the main driving factors of stability.

In this regards, the Government is making every effort to

ensure the stable development of the economy, based on the

needs of its population.

To this end, implementation of the One Belt One

Road projects with the involvement of Central Asia

and neighboring regions can open up new possibilities

for promotion of national economies and creation of

employment. This will improve the living conditions of

all societies and contribute to strengthening of peace and

stability in the area.

Barbara Dietrich and H.E. Mr. Erkinkhon Rahmatullozoda

Indeed, we have to recognize that in today’s interdependent

world and globalised challenges a country will not be able

to ensure its security and economic development on its

own. Joint coordination and consensuses will aid in creating

a better environment for addressing regional and global


I am of the opinion that a joint action could bring more

benefits for Central Asia. The common history, culture,

traditions, and spiritual values will greatly contribute to

the processes of our development. The regional economic

integration can be a key factor for stable development.

Central Asia has enormous potential, and could act as an

economic bridge between Asia and Europe and provide

opportunities for our prosperity. That would contribute to

Afghanistan’s development as well.

In view of the recent positive developments in the area,

I believe that a joint approach to our regional priorities,

which is in line with the policy and aims of our European

partners, would considerably benefit the countries of

Central Asia.


In Europe, some experts think Tajikistan like other

Central Asian countries will gain more benefits

from Europe if there are better relations and

cooperation between the countries of the region.

What is your opinion on this topic?

President Emomali Rahmon has declared 2018 as

the Year of Tourism in Tajikistan. What is the aim

of this initiative?

Thanks to consistent efforts of President Emomali Rahmon,

Tajikistan has made remarkable achievements in its

domestic and foreign affairs. It is of particular importance

to the Government to enhance economic growth through

prioritizing each sector of the national economy.

To that end, the President has signed a decree on declaring

2018 as the Year of Tourism and Folk Crafts in Tajikistan to

promote development of tourism in the country.

In fact, Tajikistan has a fabulous and beautiful landscape

and nature and is one of the best tourist destinations in

the world. The hospitability, climate, weather, landscape,

sky-high mountains, delicious fruits, wonderful glaciers,

healing waters, lakes and springs with pure water, flora and

fauna make the country one of the fastest-growing tourist

destinations. Therefore, it would be appropriate to mention

that the BBC News Agency placed Tajikistan among 10 top

tourist destinations in the field of adventure tourism.

The Government has been making a lot of efforts to develop

tourism infrastructure by constructing new terminals and

hotels. It has adopted the National Tourism Development

Program and created Tourism Development Zones. One of

the practical steps that the Government has taken was the

launch of the electronic visa system “e-Visa” to increase the

number of tourists visiting Tajikistan. This system will allow

foreign citizens to receive Tajikistan visa online, relieving

them from unnecessary arrangements in the Tajikistan

consulates or at the borders.

Tajikistan has the opportunity to develop different types

of tourism, however, since the country has one of the

highest peaks in the world, which is about 7.000 meters

above sea level, the focus is given to mountaineering and


The Pamirs — a big node almost in the center of the Asian

continent — is situated among the biggest mountain systems:

Tien Shan, Hindu Kush, Kunlin, and Karakorum. Almost

the entire territory of the Western Pamir is occupied with

ridges of latitudinal directions. A wide high mountain desert

has stretched from the southern slopes of the Zaalay ridge

in the north to the banks of the river Pyanj in the south as

well. The Tajik National Park, which is an UNESCO World

Heritage Site, is one of the largest mountainous terrains in

the world. Also, the longest and the most powerful glaciers

of Central Asia are nested here.

The country is rich with wonderful lakes that have various

origins. There are many unique areas in Tajikistan such as

the Seven Lakes, which reflect different colors.

The ancient Penjikent City, also known as the Pompeii

of Central Asia, which was once an important historical

town on the Great Silk Road, the Hissar Fortress and other

historical places are the best archeological sites to visit.

Tajikistan has a collection of mineral waters, which

consist of 72 cold, warm, and hot springs of different

chemical composition, saturated with carbon and nitrogen

gases. The temperature in warm and hot springs, such as

Garmchashma, varies from 35° to 62°C. Tourists visit these

and many other balneological resorts to get cured.

Also, tourists can enjoy the beauty of Dushanbe, the capital

of Tajikistan, which is known for its full-grown tree lined

avenues, public parks, museums, and the traditional tea

houses. Kokhi Navruz, the grandest and largest tea house in

Central Asia, is in Dushanbe.

It should be noted that mainly tourists from the European

Union and the USA have visited the country during the last

years. It is gratifying to see the increase in the number of

European tourists coming to Tajikistan.

In March we celebrate Navruz, one of the most important

and beautiful holidays in Tajikistan. You may know that

on these days the people go to the squares to watch shows,

serve guests with traditional dishes, and finally the Tajik

mountains can be seen in their glory.

Well, I invite everyone to visit Tajikistan during the Navruz

Holidays and discover the incredible beauty of my country.

It should be noted that there are about 1450 lakes in the

territory of Tajikistan. Some of them are located at the

height of more than four thousand meters above sea level.

© Embassy of the Republic of Tajikistan






As a Minister of Budget, Sophie Wilmès is coming

to the EU-Budget table with one wish: bringing

Europe and the people closer.


What are the main challenges you are facing today

as Minister of Budget in Belgium?

The main challenge that I had to face since I am federal

Minister of Budget is to find the right balance between

the budgetary consolidation and policies supporting the

economic recovery. When this federal government took

power in 2014, our deficit was over 3% and our debt

was increasing endlessly. Now, I’m proud to see that our

deficit was divided by three in only three years. Meanwhile

our debt will be going down close to the line of 100%

of our GDP in the end of this legislature. This is an

accomplishment when we know that we took also a series of

measures whose primary objective was to help our economy.

I, with the government, simply applied my motto: it’s the

economy which supports the budget and not the other way


How is your role impacted as Minister being

member of the European Union?

As member of the EU, I have to work in a specific budgetary

framework. There are two main rules to this framework: the

deficit cannot go over 3% of the GDP and the debt cannot

be higher than 60% of the GDP, without processing to a

reduction of it at a sustained pace. Those rules have a huge

impact on the political decisions we could take on a national

level. But I understand completely their reasons of being.

We need to have clear guidelines to keep everybody on the

same track. However, I’m in favour of a “smart application”

of the European budgetary rules. The budgetary framework

should be flexible enough to allow Member States to answer

to the unpredictable. If we had followed the rules by the

letter in 2016 for example, it would have been impossible for

this Government to make funds available in response of the

terrorist attacks in Brussels. This is proof of necessity to be

rigorous but flexible. In the meantime, ESA2010 codes can

be an obstacle to investments but we know how a country

investing in strategic fields is important to the economy.

We are discussing at the moment with the European

Commission to see how we can make budgetary imperatives

and needs for investment coexist.

Which are the tools for a federal Minister of

Budget to be involved & support cultural &

economic diplomacy in Europe & beyond ?

I am directly involved in the discussions around the

European multiannual framework programme 2021-2027.

Those negotiations are crucial, knowing that, at that time,

the UK will have left the EU. We are talking about a budget

at least 10 billion euros short. This forces us to reconsider

the way we make the EU-Budget, by focusing first on the real

needs of the EU and the policies we have to implement. In

this case, I am coming to the table with one wish: bringing

Europe and the people closer. It demands to look at every

single policy with a fresh eye, determining which has an

added value and which doesn’t anymore. It is absolutely

imperative because, if the EU budget cannot go higher

and higher without any control, we have to be ready to face

new challenges for the next coming years; security

and immigration being both topics extremely important as


Can you tell us the important milestones in your

professional career & what values inspired you to

join the public cause ?

Deep down, I’ve always had the sense of commitment to

the common good. Of course, becoming a Federal Minister

was the main milestone in my political career because you

are the centre of the decision-making process. You take

Sophie Wilmès and Barbara Dietrich

decisions that have a positive impact on the largest possible

number of co-citizens. That might sound scary first but it

is very fulfilling. To be honest, I also have to mention the

first time I was elected in the local council of Uccle. This

is an important milestone because it is the beginning of

everything. This is the first-ever realization of my political

engagement. At that time, I was driven by the wish to

improve people’s lives and making the society a better place

to this generation but, above all, for the next generations.

I guess those commitments still drive me nowadays, as a


As Belgian citizen, born in Brussels, married to

an Australian citizen, being a mother with 4

children, how has openness to other (regional)

cultures & languages influenced both your family

and professional life

And you forgot to mention that I’m a French-speaking

Belgian living in the Flemish-part ! Being in contact with

different cultures is always a learning experience. It breaks

every paradigm you might have on things. Reality is never

an one-side story. Living in a country where different

communities live is an asset. On another level, to live

peacefully together, communities have to be able to talk

to each other. Communication is the key. It allows to

find a common ground. That is why I find language skills

particularly important. This is no coincidence if my children

talk to me in French, speak with their father in English and

go to school in Dutch.









As Secretary of State you are confronted with many

challenges related to online privacy and to different

audiences. 2018 will be the year of personal data

privacy. Our future generations grow up immersed

in a cloud of data. How to make young people

aware of the importance of online privacy ?

Digital is the new normal and even more the future. And

that is excellent. Daily technological innovation pushes our

society forward. Every new application improves our quality

of life a bit more. The digital sector creates enormous

economic prosperity and social well-being. But above all it

connects people and ideas worldwide.

Younger generations are the canary in the coal mine in this

digital world. They are always the first to follow the latest

trends. This has always been the case. This poses, of course,

a huge challenge for parents, teachers and youth counselors.

How do we protect our young people when they often get

the new technology faster and better? This is one of my

main concerns.

There is also a downside to the medal. The less attractive

side of our society is also making its way to the online

world. Specifically for young people it concerns for example:

bullying, sexually transgressive behavior or strangers with

unsavory intentions that anonymously ask for your personal

details. This is one of my main concerns. I want to make the

youth more aware of underlying dangers.

In this changing context, the new European privacy

regulation must be considered. It wants to give European

citizens more control and protection of their personal data

and focuses emphatically on the better protection of young

people. It is now up to the Member States to determine

when young people get free access to the worldwide web

between thirteen and sixteen years.

As the competent Secretary of State for privacy, I will do

everything in my power to get this age at thirteen years.

First, because raising the minimum age would be evidence

of unworldliness. The illusion that we would be able to shut

youth off in times which every device is connected to the

worldwide web would be naive. The rebellious youngster

does not care about a digital prohibition sign. Secondly,

because we simply do not want to. It also offers added value

to their lives. Social media are an undeniably important part

in the world of young people where they meet peers and

family and celebrate their creativity online.

The fact that we offer young people free access to social

media from the age of thirteen means that we have to

invest in media literacy. I myself am making a tour around

different highschools to educate youngsters about the

possibilities that the internet has to offer but also educate

them about the hidden dangers with regards to their privacy.

We have to teach them the right reflexes so that they can

react appropriately when they are confronted with the

dangers of the anonymous web or the demand for release

of personal information. We need to make them resilient by

Philippe De Backer

consciously learning how to deal with everything they

share online, by requiring them to think about the impact

of messages they post and make them master of their own

data. Just like in the real world, we also support our young

people in the digital world.

In parallel, our oceans are polluted by plastics and

other trash; for Belgium this is also the fact for the

North Sea. With your Sea Trash Plan you make the

first scientifically supported start of a campaign to

prevent and counterattack these pollutions. How will

you coordinate, execute and make this plan work ?

Worldwide the call to take care of our environment sounds

increasingly louder. It shows a concern for the generations

who come after us. That is why I am proud that, as

Secretary of State for the North Sea, I can contribute to this

with my Action Plan for Maritime Litter which registers in

the realization of the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

The scientific, well-founded action plan is a 360° plan

based on international, national and regional cooperation.

It guarantees the strength that is needed to get rid of the

cleaning up of our North Sea, but above all to tackle the

problem at the source. This by focusing on prevention

through communication and awareness-raising, but also

by strictly supervising compliance with legislation. It is

a necessary part of a comprehensive plan if we want to

prevent that we continue to fight a running battle.

A final part of the plan focuses on scientific research. As

a biologist, the well-being of the North Sea is close to my

heart. Plastic is an invention of man. The solution for

the plastic soup in our North Sea and, by extension, the

merging of economics and ecology into a circular economy

will also have to be the result of human creativity.

China is building new economic roads. China’s

Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is not a threat to the

global economic or political order, and could turn

out to become a significant vision that generates

enormous benefits for the world. Which new

opportunities may lay ahead via these new roads for

Chinese investors in Europe, Belgium and Antwerp

and vice versa ?

I always welcome trade. It is unquestionably the historical

engine to which we owe our present-day prosperity. It is

incomprehensible to me that people on the international

stage are raving about mercantilist recipes today.

International trade is not a zero-sum game.

It will not surprise you that I encourage additional trade

routes. World trade can only benefit from this. The crucial

condition here is that everyone follows the same rules. The

Chinese “Belt and Road Initiative” seems at first sight to

contribute to the better alignment of policy, infrastructure

works and customs controls. The objectives are therefore

suspiciously similar to those of the European Union.


Philippe De Backer


More specific with regard to the port of Antwerp, there

are voices that fear that the “Belt and Road Initiative” will

cause competition. I will not participate in the ballyhoo. We

must consider this new development as a challenge and an

opportunity. China is already investing a huge amount of

money in the port of Antwerp today, via COSCO, its largest

shipping company. As long as we continue to play the trump

cards of our port city and offer space for entrepreneurship, I

don’t see how increased trade could harm our port. On the


Antwerp has been a historic crossroads for people

from all over the world. How to use this diversity

today to make Antwerp a successful area and

laboratory for the respectful cohabitation of

different people, cultures and experiences, that

could leverage the City towards an economic,

tolerant and innovative metropolitan area ?

The cross-fertilization and clash of ideas leads to innovation

and eventually to progress. We should therefore also

embrace the presence of many nationalities in Antwerp.

Diversity is an asset that we must use to our advantage. To

achieve this, it is necessary that every inhabitant of Antwerp

also feels as a member of the city. Regardless of your social,

cultural, economic or religious background, you must feel

that you are part of the great Antwerp society. To achieve

this, two conditions must be met.

First, we must make clear to every resident and community

that everyone adheres to the same rules. The principles

of enlightenment must be recognized by everyone as the

directional indicators for social life. They contribute to

a framework in which every Antwerp citizen can freely

believe, speak, work, start up businesses and move around.

Secondly, discrimination should definitely belong to the

past. A diverse city in which a we-side discourse takes

the upper hand inevitably leads to an explosive cocktail.

If distrust and intolerance take the upper hand, there is

no longer any question of cooperation and this harms

innovation, prosperity and growth.

The fight against discrimination cannot be stopped. Every

inhabitant of the city must feel as a part of Antwerp. And

enforcing compliance with the principles of enlightenment,

can make Antwerp one big, warm community. In which

every resident can celebrate his creativity and look for

collaborations. It would make the progress of our city


From cultural point of view, Antwerp highlights

the Baroque Year and is finishing its Diamond

Year in 2018. How would you relate the cultural

and economic history of the City towards a

future orientation where culture and economics

could thrive again on a European and global


The Golden Age of Antwerp shows us the way to progress.

500 years ago Antwerp was the centre of the world with

unprecedented economic and cultural progress. Antwerp

was the international trade centre. There can be found

several reasons for the Antwerp miracle. Off course it has

something to do with our location along the Scheldt. But

the most important reason was that the Golden Age was an

era of religious tolerance, liberty and free enterprise. If we

want to enjoy another golden age on a European and global

level, we have to embrace the diversity we have and cut red

tapes and taxes for entrepreneurs.

You have just launched the presentation of the

book, ‘Klank van de Stad’, a book for and by

inspiring people from Antwerp. These 22 witnesses

have in common a strong love for and great pride

for Antwerp. In the book, they propose ambitious

ideas and engage in an open dialogue with you.

Through the selection of these conversations, you

are drawing elements that could be entered into a

blueprint for a future city. Can you highlight some

of these ideas that coincide with your vision on the

City of Antwerp.

My book “Klank van de Stad” is first and foremost a

symbolic rendering of the way how I want to do politics.

I refuse to be locked up in a party cocoon to where I am

shielded from opinions and influences from outside. That

would be at odds with every liberal fiber in my body. From

the conflict of ideas, progress develops as I said earlier.

It goes without saying that I myself honor this principle.

The book that I published are the sounds from my city, the

city that I love so dearly. The opinions and influences from

outside that is what I look for. They are often innovative,

they inspire me and consequently feed my political views.

That often becomes very concrete. How do we tackle the

mobility issue? What should the education of the future look

like? How can we play out the diversity that characterizes

Antwerp as an asset?

In the selection process for the themes in the book “Klank

van de Stad” I always started from one question: what is

essential for our children? As a father, of children who will

grow up in this beautiful city, I’m mostly thinking about the

future of our next generations. What are the challenges we

need to tackle now and what are the opportunities that we

need to take on so that our children can be proud of us.

As a politician and secretary of state, you are

playing on multiple fields, both from territory

point of view (Belgium / Antwerp) but also from a

multidisciplinary point of view. It will be difficult

to predict where you will turn up next in the near

future. In general, as a ‘civil servant’, where would

you like that your career brings you and how would

you like to grow in this role.

It’s not a secret that to me becoming the mayor of Antwerp

would be the most beautiful job. On the 14th of October

the Antwerp citizen will choose his new city council and

mayor. I will throw myself in the mix. First of all with a

strong campaign that focuses on fresh, liberal ideas. With

the conscious choice for a substantive debate even though

we live in times of fleeting social media. With attention to

the problems of the city and its inhabitants instead of the

development of strategies in a search for power. Then it is

up to the voter to decide if I will serve in the office of my


The Port House “Havenhuis”, Antwerp, with new extension by Zaha Hadid Architects

© Inspiring Culture








Belgium has been economically, culturally and

scientifically strong throughout the years. We

developed from an industrialized nation with stone,

coal and steel into a service nation. Seven world

expositions took place in Belgium: quite amazing for

a ridiculously small piece of territory. The greatest

number of embassies can be found in Brussels,

which is a third more than in Washington, the

‘capital of the world’. Belgium’s discrete presence

and the sheer activity happening on its ground is

often underestimated.


Prof. dr. em. Herman De Croo

Minister of State

M.P. and former Speaker of the House

Related to Belgium, there is a ‘golden mediocrity’, ‘a

golden mean’ that makes us never exaggerate and never

do foolish things, also in politics. Our manner is one

of saying enough but not too much and in that way we

metaphorically avoid spilling blood. I often say that in

the north of Belgium they work too much, in the south

of Belgium they enjoy things too much and in the centre

we have found the perfect balance between working and

having fun. Every weekend I am able to attend events at

between ten or fifteen places. The sheer number is quite

unbelievable to notice and is typically Belgian. There is a

Burgundian way of living here, with people fully enjoying

life and taking the small downsides in stride. Belgium has

no hard sides on which you can hurt yourself.


The Belgian need for a freedom of choice, perhaps

comes from the fact that we have always been occupied

throughout history. Occupied, though never beaten.

During the treaty of Verdun in 843, the empire of

Charlemagne was split amongst his three grandsons. The

division was applied the same way you would split up a

piece of farm land: one strip to the West, one strip to

the East, and one strip in the middle of Europe. When

you look at this story and the further history of Europe,

there has always been a ‘squeezing’ of this middle part of

Europe. The West expanded east and the East expanded

west, causing the middle section to constantly change.

On the left side of that map you can see France, Italy,

Spain and also Great Britain; the east is made up of

the Austrian-German empire, with the Russians at the

outside. The fluctuating middle part is what we are.

Belgium has always been the place of encounter where

Barbara Dietrich and Prof. dr. em. Herman De Croo

the major battles happened; the place to get a hold of, to

get under your power and to occupy. In a certain sense,

historically speaking, the territory of Belgium was the

Grand Place where different people would meet and enjoy

life but also the place where they would kill each other.

We were occupied all the time though not always through

war. There were occupants by marriage or bound by war.

I believe that today we are still occupied: by the Flemish

government, by the Walloon government, by the Brussels

government, by the German speaking government and a

few years ago by the Federal government.

A Belgian has the unbearable but understandable reflex

to feel occupied, which means he does not like power,

he does not like the government, he does not like police,

does not like tax controllers, and most of all does not

like rules. That distaste of being controlled is in our

DNA. Elected leaders are considered occupants in a way

and without an understanding of a Belgian’s DNA, there

is no way to understand Belgian society. Belgians are

not cheating taxes, they just do not like to give too much

money to the occupant. They know the money will be

utilized but they have to give away their control in how it

is used.


Why do people come to Belgium? What made big names

like Metternich, Victor Hugo and Karl Marx settle here

for a while? We are small, not nationalistic and

unpretentious; all pleasant characteristics but there is

much more to it. A good way to look at the attraction is

in diplomatic terms.

Our constitution, written in 1831, was the most liberal

one in Europe. So much so that the Vatican put it on the

index because we included freedom of religion in a time

where Protestants and Catholics were killing each other in

Europe. We also decided on freedom of schools, since the

Jesuits were very influential in the middle class and they

could train the teachers of the future. Finally, freedom of

which language you could speak was also included.

By 1845/1846, just before the revolt in France in 1848

against Napoleon, a great number of revolutionary people

were living in Belgium, making newspapers and leaflets

and then carrying them in secret to Paris. Things were so

extreme, there came a law in Belgium to punish insults to

foreign heads of state — one that was abolished only a few

years ago. This law was passed to ensure Belgium could



still negotiate with France and do business with other

countries, despite their revolutionaries residing in our


This liberal attitude and constitution made it difficult for

Belgium to find a king. The Congress of Vienna had taken

place and we had to be careful not to offend any countries.

For instance, Britain was not on board with us selecting

the son of the French king. In addition, the influential

Belgian families could not agree on who to pick out of

their own crowd. Eventually, we decided on a Germanspeaking

British widower, king Leopold I, who saved our

young country thanks to the neutrality of that choice. Our

independence has always been born from our neutrality,

a unique position in Europe, and one that was hard to

maintain. This enabled Belgium to escape the troubles of

1848 and the war between Germany and France in 1870.

Despite all of this, we were brutally attacked in 1914 and

were not respected in our declaration of independence.

The neutrality that has been maintained for almost a

century, has turned Belgium into a kind of international

meeting place. It made us prosperous and it was the

reason Leopold II had enough prestige to get a Belgian

colony in 1909. Every country with ambition wanted a

colony. Belgium got a piece of Africa that was 80 times

the size of Belgium and 5 times the size of France. It

was extravagant, even in the spirit of the time. A colonial

past is no point of pride, but I want to indicate how

extraordinary it is for a small country like Belgium to

acquire such a large and rich colony.


During the liberal age, Belgium became a place where you

could feel safe and where the food was good. A place with

no tensions with a French-speaking intelligentsia — even

the schools in Flanders were French-speaking —, painters,

writers, anything you could ask for. We became something

special fostered by the great powers, a small territory that

was industrialized with the great harbour of Antwerp and

culturally rich. Then finally after the two brutal world

wars, almost everything was taken away with a horrible

occupation. Tiny Belgium incited the British government

to join at the frontier, to defend Belgium. The USA joined

in 1917, to help Belgium in a sense and to win the war.

Now, over a 100 years later, among the many graves in

Western Flanders a relatively limited number of Belgians

were killed. The battlefield was located in our country and

many died, but a great number of them were British and

French. We have the biggest cemeteries of allied forces

from the First World War and for British people — quite

strange or reverse how the world works — it is a touristic

destination to visit the cemeteries with tombs of tens of

thousands of people killed during the Great War in the

West of Flanders.

After the First World War, Leopold III tried to negotiate

with Sweden to create an axis of neutral countries to avoid

the Second World War, as the Dutch had avoided the First

World War. We were special in our geopolitical situation

and in 1921 we created the international non-profit

associations, of which there are thousands in Belgium.

This was a technique to attract seats of railways, unions,

and other associations here. It was already in the DNA of

the country to try and attract others to this free, openminded

setting with all the liberties, without nationalism,

avoiding any dictatorship. We have always been a little bit

complicated to rule but this is without danger to anybody.

Leopold III and his advisors were aware that only by

attracting people to settle their headquarters in Belgium,

we would be put on the map.

When Brussels and Antwerp were liberated during the

Second World War, the Germans tried to destroy the

harbour of Antwerp to avoid procurement for the 5 to 6

million allied soldiers. Germany was surrendering, so for 4

to 6 years Belgium was booming with supplying the allied

troops in Western Europe. After the Second World War,

American firms came to Belgium, knowing that we were

the only way into Europe. Despite the political hazard,

this was one of the things that increased our development

and put Belgium back on the map, very soon after the

Second World War.


After the world wars, most countries decided to

nationalize houses or apply very strict building

regulations. People had to live with two or three families

in the same house from 1944 until 1947/1949. After

that period, the new regimes tried to build state houses.

Belgium did not do any of that. We let the house building

market run free by subsidizing it. This created a booming

construction industry, which is still one of the strong

economic elements in its diversity today. In small firms,

there is flexibility, ingenuity and a lot of other things that

were practically invented by the Belgians.

Prof. dr. em. Herman De Croo

When astronauts are turning around the world and they

see an illuminated point, they say: that must be Belgium.

This extraordinary fact is because since the Roman times,

we have been living in one house next to the other until

you meet the houses of the next village. This pattern of

house building is linked to commuting and to putting

industries next to cities.

Belgians are more free and prosperous than ever before,

with 80 to 90 % of the Belgians as the owners of their own

house; something that does not exist anywhere else. The

downside of this is that everyone wants a house that is

different from the others. We have as many different styles

of houses as there are families in Belgium. When your

plane takes off from London, Heathrow, you see millions

of people living in the same type of house. If you want to

find something similar in Belgium, you have to look for

social housing neighbourhoods and even there you can

still see small differences in style.


A third point that made us prosper, next to keeping

safe the harbour of Antwerp and not nationalizing the

housing but instead leaving it free, was that we decided

to create very good technical schools. We did not focus

on universities like France, but also paid attention to the

A4, A3, A2 and A1 technical engineers. With the A1 law

(1937) we have created a lot of skilled workers, middlemen,

team leaders and sea mine engineers. The combination of

freedom of building and free possession of property, the

expansion of the harbour of Antwerp with the arrival of

hundreds of American firms, and the addition of skilled

Belgian workers, all created the golden fifties and sixties.

Even without a planned economy and theoretical approach

we were utilizing the reverse of the handicaps the two wars

had given us in 1914-1918 and 1940-1945.


A final point that worked to our advantage was the period

of exile to London that the Belgian government went

through. During this episode, Lord Beveridge created

our social security and it was implemented when the

government came back to Belgium. We do not have

waiting lists for hospitals, which is an unusual situation in

Europe. In the UK, people have to wait for years before a

certain surgery can be performed.



This has caused an influx of over 100.000 foreign

patients a year at our hospitals. The principle that the

choice is free does imply that every service becomes

more expensive. Our federation of Belgian industries has

a department for importing people into Belgium to be

treated and have them pay their bills afterwards.

The Belgian freedom also creates competition in strange

things. Belgium is one of the few countries where you

can freely choose your doctor, hospital, school or notary.

In many of Western countries, your living address

determines the schools, doctors and hospitals that are

available to you. In the UK, for instance, this can be

a giant handicap: when you live on the left side of the

street you can have a good school for your children,

whilst the other side of the street can mean you have to

send them to a ‘bad’ school. People are then motivated

to move or work far away from the place they live, just in

order to have a better school. In Belgium, the freedom

of choice creates a certain competition in these different

areas, which can elevate the quality overall. When your

schools and universities are in competition, all of them

try to be the best at what they do in order to attract



Belgium is a small country but it has been through all

regimes and possibilities. What few people know is that

Belgium was the second industrialized power in the

world in the course of the 19th century. The UK was

first, Belgium second, the USA third and France only

seventh. It was only in 1914, that Belgium went from

the second to the third place: an unbelievable industrial


Belgium is therefore a child of its history. From 1835 to

1865, we have filled Belgium with 5.000 km of railway

lines for trains and 5.000 km of tram lines. People went

to work in the coal mines in the Borinage, in Brussels

and other cities but they did not have to find a home

there. In 1865, the season ticket was introduced by a

liberal government who had decided it was best for

the workers to go home to their village in the evening,

where they were taking care of by the village priest (the

spiritual cement of the village) and/or the mayor of the

village. People went to work in cities, travelled home in

the evening and thus commuting was invented by the


Belgium is still a country of commuters, causing a

major problem of mobility. The railway department in

Belgium, a department I was in charge of for eight years

as minister of transport and communication, can be a bit

provocatively summarized as one big commuting train

full of civil servants on their way to Brussels. 170 years

later this has not changed. In addition, we have about

four times more roads per square kilometre than the

Netherlands and sixteen times more roads per square

kilometre than France. Roads mean cars and many

cars mean congestion. With this we avoided the huge

concentrations of people like in the suburbs of Liverpool,

Manchester, Lille or Paris. The consequence, however, is

that due to congestion people now try to move to the place

where the work takes place. There is a policy of making

so-called ‘industrial zones’, well thought-out areas in every

town and village where small firms are located. The zones

are an alternative to commuting to work in Belgium’s main

cities and enable people to work near their homes.


Brussels is a very strange collection of 19 communes. In

Brussels, the capital of Europe, most ‘slums’ are located

in the centre while the nice quarters are outside of the

city centre. Compared to Paris, London or even Berlin

this is the opposite. They have beautiful city centres

to display but their large suburbs can feel like slums in

Africa, India or Pakistan. Tourists and visitors do not

go further than the centre and are amazed by the place,

whereas in Brussels any troublemaking will happen in the

centre and in the public eye. So people like to flee the city,

increasingly seeking homes in nice and ever expanding


Even when the city of Brussels was building beautiful

town houses at Rue Quatre Bras (the former seat of

Foreign Affairs) in 1880 to rent to the people working in

the city, everyone still commuted to their home outside

of Brussels. Since then nothing has changed, but now the

19 communes of Brussels sometimes try to make it more

difficult to the commuters (over half a million) to get to

their jobs by car or train. In a way, they are trying to force

them to live in Brussels.

During my eight years as minister of Transport, I was

building 20 metro stations. I knew very well what the

railway stations meant to Brussels. In other big cities it is

normal to take the taxi or metro between train stations,

Prof. dr. em. Herman De Croo

like for instance in Paris between Gare du Nord and Gare

de l’Est. Brussels has three train stations: Gare Centrale

(the biggest one), Gare du Nord et Gare du Midi. Midi is

the only place where there is a junction between them.

I decided to build metro stations inside the railway

stations to avoid huge traffic jams in the city. If we did

not build the metro stations, in 10 years no one would

be able to reach Brussels anymore. Putting the metro

stations in dry environments near the stations would

encourage people to take the train without disrupting the

local traveling inside the city. It seems simple and it is

the most logical option but still there was a revolt by the

19 mayors of the communes of Brussels.

Their reason for protesting was that these measures were

advantageous to commuters, who are of no use to the

communes. Commuters are not citizens who vote and

pay taxes. The mayors would much rather we invest in

roads and car travel, for their voters are the people who

use cars in the city. Those eight years were a permanent

fight but we did create a period of calm through the

metro and railway stations. Unfortunately, we started

investing in constructing car infrastructure and now

10 years later Brussels is completely blocked by cars,

as I predicted.


Recently, I was in Congo for 14 days, where I tried to

explain the following issue: for 541 days Belgium had no

full-fledged government. Which other country — in the

turmoil of the Libyan War and with all the problems we all

have — other than Belgium, could survive almost two years

without a new government and avoid major problems,

revolts, and press scandals? I could not name you another


When you look at the 28 European states today, there

are very few who can look back at their governments and

see that they were stable for over 5 years, with only small

tensions interrupting. In my opinion, Belgium passes this

test thanks to an interwovenness that is incomprehensible

to outsiders. For a long time I was mayor and speaker

of the Federal Chamber of Representatives and during

that time the first government was formed by a Socialist-

Liberal coalition and the next one by a Liberal-Christian

Democratic coalition. In my communal council the

opposition was Christian Democratic and my coalition

partner was Socialist, while in the province the three

parties together had formed a coalition. Nationally

versus regionally, everything was different even though



sometimes the same people were involved. Someone can

be your alderman in the commune but your opponent in

the parliament, which is something very hard to explain to

anyone who is not in the field. So the logic by which we let

ourselves be seduced in politics is completely strange to


Belgium is richer than ever in terms of medicine and

science. The state, however, is poor and has to stay poor:

it has to have a lot of debts, otherwise it does foolish

things. There is no model for Europe and no one knows

what it will be like in the future. Perhaps Belgium is

somehow a forecast of what Europe could be: a not too

dominant state, where there is room and freedom for

people to go about their business as they see fit. A place to

do business without the accusatory finger that is custom

with some of our Northern neighbours, and without the

class struggles that are present with some of our Southern

neighbours. Many things happen in Belgium that many

Belgians are totally indifferent about: every day over a 130

international meetings take place in Brussels, but they are

of no immediate concern to the average Belgian.

After the elections (note of the editor: in 2019), I intend

to create a forum of all CEO’s in private world companies

that are Belgian together with Herman Daems. The

proportion per square kilometre will amaze everyone. We

have two out of three of the biggest dredging companies in

the world: DEME and Jan De Nul. One of them is a close

friend of mine and when asked which kind of personnel he

is looking for, his response was Belgian engineers. In his

opinion, they are the ones with sufficient feeling with both

the top and the bottom of the enterprise; something other

nationalities lack.


Belgium is a very special piece of this planet, tortured

by history, having resisted again and again, having a very

great view on the world. Yet it also has its handicaps. One

of those is that our national and regional stories easily

become world news because over 1.500 international

journalists are stationed in Brussels. The story of Marc

Dutroux (a convicted criminal who kidnapped and raped

several young girls before he was caught) is known all

over the world, from Belgium to Japan. The events were

of course horrific, but that worldwide attention is in part

due to the presence of international press agencies in

Brussels. When nothing happens at the European level

or with NATO, these journalists look for different stories

and they write about things happening in the countries

they are staying at. That is also part of the explanation

why the Puigdemont story in Catalonia became as big as

Puigdemont wanted it to become. He was at the centre of

attention thanks to his location. Because of the presence

of the press, Belgium is always, despite its small size,

under the scrutiny of the entire world.


In his self-promotion book on the war in Gaulle/De Bello

Gallico, Julius Caesar wrote ‘fortissimi sunt Belgae’ or

‘the strongest are the Belgians’. They were brave, they

were dangerous and fighting the Romans and won a

battle against them. From that moment onwards, the

word ‘Belgian’ is in a certain sense not always linked to a

geographical location but it is rather a concept. I believe

‘Brussels’ is still doing that, more so than Belgium. As a

trademark, one of the best-known names in the world is

‘Brussels’, which has a lot of consequences. Politically, a

great many things happen in Brussels and people often

speak in terms of ‘Brussels has decided…’. In addition,

Brussels is well-known thanks to its connectivity to the

rest of the world. My son-in-law is a leading engineer at

Goodyear and he lived and worked in Paris for 4 years.

He told me it is more difficult to reach middle sized cities

in Europe from Paris than from Brussels. He came back

to live in Brussels, 15 minutes from the airport and now

he can reach Manchester, Liverpool, Toulouse, Bordeaux,

Tallin, any place in Europe which he couldn’t reach as

easily from Paris or any other city. The best way to reach

European cities is via Brussels.

That is my explanation for the extraordinary position

of Belgium. Of course, every country is unique but I

believe this one takes it to the next level. There is only

one country where you can go to Place de Luxembourg

and meet the whole world. Through a combination of

coincidences and hard work, Brussels and Belgium have

become a kind of safe place where everyone feels at home.

A place where a lot of action takes place; politically,

economically and culturally. Through that combination

and perhaps also because there is something undefinable

in the air in Belgium; something that is present all the


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I arrived in Belgrade in the beginning of 2014 and after

a couple of months, in May or June, I went to a classical

concert in the City hall of Belgrade, organized for the

benefit of what I then started to know as BELhospice. I

started being interested in this specific case and a little while

afterwards I was contacted by the fundraiser of BELhospice.

She said: ‘We saw you were there. We understand that you

are the Belgian Ambassador. Would you like to help us

with our work, f.i. by giving a fundraising concert in your

residence?’ So I said: ‘Of course, happily. I am most willing

to do that.’ So we did a fundraising concert in the Belgian

residence in Belgrade. It was not a big thing: we were about

50 or 60 people but it was a lovely event, full of solidarity,

with very good Serbian artists. Serbia has a lot of musical

talent, pianists and violinists, it was a splendid evening.

And then it continued, because I was then approached

by Mr Graham Perolls, the Director of the organization

‘Hospices of Hope’: a British charity organisation that funds

Hospices where terminally ill people are being given hope,

not of getting cured but of passing the last days or weeks

or months of their years in dignity. And this is the whole

concept of Hospices: you are welcome, we know you are

fighting but losing a battle against a terminal illness, but you

count for us, and we know that every day counts for you.

And that is the spirit behind it.

BELhospice, now directed by Vera Madzgalj, was founded

in 2006 by Dr. Natasha Milicevic. As a doctor she saw that

there was an enormous need to help the people in Serbia

who have this critical illness. She started by organizing

the home care service, that means going to these people’s

homes where they are completely lost. A very important

aspect is not only caring for these patients but also caring

for the family members. And that is the unique feature of

BELhospice: they have a global approach by which they

not only take care of the pain which needs to be taken away

with palliative care, they also take care of the psychology


Leo D‘aes - Belgian Ambassador in Serbia and Barbara Dietrich

© Dieter Paternoster, Living Tomorrow

Leo D‘aes - Belgian Ambassador in Serbia

© Dieter Paternoster, Living Tomorrow

of knowing that you are dying and also of the helplessness

of the family who all of a sudden learn that ‘my mother, my

father, my brother, my sister’ will live for only six weeks or

months or one year more.

That approach (caring for the patients and their family)

has the active support of the UK ‘Hospices of Hope’,

which has already established a major Hospice in Romania,

where I served as ambassador in 2008-2011. I was active

then in another initiative, together with my wife, helping to

establish a school inside a children’s hospital, working with

an Irish NGO, with a sister Miriam, and with Belgians from


Also in Belgrade, it is a joint effort: we act as a team. The

‘Hospices of Hope’ are a team, they work together with

the BELhospice team. The Honorary Patrons Committee

which I chair is a team of 14 people, doing this together.

How ? How do you maintain a drive, an enthusiasm? You

try to reach out to people who not only have sympathy,

but also have good will in terms of ‘yes, we want to join

in a case in which we believe’. So the importance of

the fundraising cannot be underestimated, but not just

by organizing lotteries or whatever… It is by going to

businesses which believe in this effort. Because some causes

are incredible, because they are amateurish, or because

they are not standing on a sound financial or managerial

basis. BELhospice is now a very sound and well-managed

organization that has earned confidence for what it is

doing and for how it is going about it. Genuine sympathy is

translated into fundraising, from people of goodwill, being

business or private persons, and — very importantly — is

more and more supported by the authorities. You can be

as noble as you want, in the case of such a fundamental

problem you need the active support of the authorities.

The authorities are very interested in this initiative because

they know that it responds to a clear need. But in order to

translate the support into practical cooperation, we need to

go through a number of legalistic and bureaucratic phases,

because we need to legalize the concept of BELhospice into

the medical system. To be sure, such bureaucracy is not

unique for Serbia, this is a process we have to go through

because we are innovating here. Dame Cecile in England,

and sister Leontine in Belgium also had to fight their way

through. So once we have incorporated the idea of Hospice

into the legal system, there is huge potential for active

governmental support. Because taking care of patients

outside a hospital, which is the case for the moment, that

means sending out into the many homes doctors, nurses,

social workers, every day, day-in day-out, requires (at the

present level) around 250.000 € per year.

What is now the aim? The home care is established. The

next stage which we will try to reach in summer, which we


want now to establish legally and in the field, is the day care.

That means building a day care center: we have a house,

which needs to be transformed into office and into day care

center where helpless people who are suffering at home, can

be brought to, for at least the long day. And as you might

have understood: that idea, concept and realization of a

day care is then the precursor for phase 2: the in-patient

unit where you can receive 12 to 14 patients for a longer

time. That is phase 2 on which we are working and which

would require about 500.000 €, just to put it there. And

once it is there we need to make sure that what we have put

there will be sustainable. With my wife we firmly believe

in this project, because it helps people who are desperate,

it helps the family members who are desperate because

they don’t know how to deal with this desperation, it

responds to a need because there are very few palliative care

units in the Serbian hospitals and if there are, they are not

free of charge and very often the people cannot afford it.

As I said, we are certainly not alone. There is the major

force behind this, the idea behind the funds: ‘Hospices of

Hope’ from the United Kingdom and I hope one day you

can meet its Director Graham Perolls. We have generous

help from Norway, which covers quite a lot of money for the

functioning costs of day care, which is not evident because

not many people, countries or organizations want to give

money for running costs. We have obtained, thanks to the

sound management of BELhospice’s CEO Vera Madzgalj a

funding from the European Union, for the amount of nearly

200.000 €, to help us to build Phase 1. That really gives us a

strength, a certainty that we will continue to be there.

But we should never relax, never sit back, never say: ‘we

are there’ or ‘the money is there’. No, it is a continuing

effort. Hence the awareness-campaigns which I explained

to you, the necessity of keeping up the efforts for public

dissemination. There is the yearly marathon: I think every

major capital has a marathon and Belgrade also has its

marathon. In this marathon, thanks to the support of the

mayor and other authorities, there are at least 100/150

volunteers running for BELhospice with a T-shirt of

BELhospice, and by doing so they raise a lot of money.

And this is something that I want to stress: the great

importance of the volunteers. If BELhospice, with the staff

they have, would need to do it alone, it would be impossible.

They have a staff of in total between 10-15 people, with

whom it is impossible to do the daily visits to all patients.

They have around 160 trained volunteers and half of this

group is actively operational and the others can be called

upon. These volunteers are no doctors or nurses, but they

go to the patient to help: they are trained to help with

little daily tasks, to help in the household. If the patients

ask: ‘Can we go out for some fresh air?’, the volunteers go


Leo D‘aes - Belgian Ambassador in Serbia and Barbara Dietrich in The Bistronomy

© Dieter Paternoster, Living Tomorrow

Leo D‘aes - Belgian Ambassador in Serbia

© Dieter Paternoster, Living Tomorrow

out with them in a wheelchair. So they are very engaged,

but keeping volunteers engaged takes also effort. So it is a

permanent struggle, as I said, waged on a daily basis by a

very engaged, small management team of BELhospice which

I really admire and in this whole operation the Honorary

Patrons Committee which I chair, plays just a modest

contribution to help this effort of building a Hospice getting

realized. But the main actors are BELhospice, ‘Hospices of

Hope’, the main funders and private sponsors.

We also have collection boxes, notably in the Delhaize

mega-centers in Serbia, called Tempo. Collection boxes are

also in a number of petrol stations, they are in all BENU


So it is a great mobilization, but as I said, we cannot just

sit back and say: ‘it is running’. It is a constant effort. Every

year there is a charity ball by which around 100.000 € is

collected — a truly great amount for BELhospice — but vital

for its daily operations. It’s a popular event, always sold out,

which is very heartening of course.

What is very beautiful and moving is how this BELHospice

idea came to Vilvoorde (thanks to my wife), how Living

Tomorrow immediately picked it up, showed active interest,

translating sympathy into concrete action, allowing me to

tell this little story in the Bistronomy in Living Tomorrow.

Living Tomorrow, an association with a lot of business

contacts, is hosting the fantastic and unique works of art

called HOOOP: wooden Pinocchio’s next to which we

are sitting for this interview. Each of them is unique and

translates really the beauty of engagement, I would say. I am

very grateful and I want to take this opportunity to thank

profoundly Director Patrick Aertsen and culinary master

Marc Clément, and PR Chief Kaat Van Rentergem and her

team, and Living Tomorrow Arts Curator Barbara Dietrich,

for everything they did and want to do, like the intention of

hosting a fundraising evening for BELhospice, and planning

for a sustained cooperation for the benefit of people in need

of care. I am truly grateful for such a magnificent support,

built on trust and sympathy and a warm solidarity which

touches me deeply.


Indringingsweg 1 - 1800 Vilvoorde-Koningslo - Tel: +32 2 263 01 31 - E-mail: info@thebistronomy.com




On January 29th, the European Corporate Security

Association — ECSA — invited the Security Community at

the Egmont Palace in Brussels for its yearly conference on

the evolving security threats. After a warm welcome by ECSA

Secretary general ir. Yvan De Mesmaeker, Mr. Adam Meyers

— Vice President Intelligence at CrowdStrike and

the Honorable Andrew C. Weber — former Assistant

Secretary of Defense for Nuclear, Chemical and Biological

Defense Programs, lectured on the threat and on the

expected developments. Mr. Paul Van Tigchelt — Director of

the BE Coordination Unit for the Threat Analysis, provided

additional comments. After the presentations, all participants

had the opportunity to talk to the speakers and to liaise with

their counterparts during the ECSA New Year’s Reception.

This yearly event was organised with the kind support of:

Adam Meyers - Vice President Intelligence at CrowdStrike

ir. Yvan De Mesmaeker - Secretary general of the European Corporate

Security Association - ECSA, Honorable Andrew C. Weber - former Assistant

Secretary of Defense for Nuclear, Chemical and Biological Defense Programs


Chris Bombeke - Director Internal Security BELUX - Securitas, Chief

Commissioner Eddy Baelemans - Office of the Minister of Interior & Security

Chief Commissioner Michel Goovaerts - Chief of Police of Brussels Capital

Mr. Paul Van Tigchelt - Director of the BE Coordination Unit for the Threat

Analysis, prof. dr. Willy Bruggeman - Chairman of the BE Federal Police

Council ir. Yvan De Mesmaeker - Secretary general of the European Corporate

Security Association - ECSA

Honorable Andrew C. Weber - former Assistant Secretary of Defense for Nuclear,

Chemical and Biological Defense Programs, Ms. Barbara Dietrich - CEO of

Diplomatic World, Mr. Peter Tulkens - CEO Politics Matters, Mr. Chris Frech -

Senior Vice President Government Affairs of Emergent Biosolutions

Maj. Gen. ir. Albert Husniaux - Chairman Royal High Institute for Defense

Mr. Wayne J. Bush - Assistant Secretary General NATO, H.E. Ambassador

Peter Martin - Chairman Interministerial Committee for Host Nation Policy

Mr. Gilles de Kerchove - EU Counter-Terrorism Coordinator, Mr. Frédéric

Van Leeuw - Federal Prosecutor, Mr. Guy Rapaille - Chairman Standing

Intelligence Agencies Review Committee

Mr. Rony Dresselaers - Director for Security and Transport of the Federal

Agency for Nuclear Control, ir. Yvan De Mesmaeker - Secretary general of

the European Corporate Security Association - ECSA, Ms. Wendy Bashnan

- Deputy Assistant Secretary General for Security and Director of the NATO

Office of Security

Mr. Chris Frech - Senior Vice President Government Affairs of Emergent

Biosolutions, Mr. Wayne J. Bush - Assistant Secretary General NATO

Maj. Gen. ir. Albert Husniaux - Chairman Royal High Institute for Defense




By 2025, 1/3 of the jobs are going to disappear, and

another 1/3 will completely change. It is the biggest

shift in the history of economy since the industrial

revolution. One difference: the speed. In 5-7 years,

world economy will be unrecognizeable. Most

companies and governments have no idea what to

do, nor where to go. In the best case, they focus

on digitalisation. With the vulnerability to hacking

today, building whole businesses exclusively on

robots, AI, IoT, and digital revolutions is very risky.

On the other hand, numerous new approaches to

value creation are emerging everywhere — mostly

under the radar. From Brussels, we have been

gathering all these tendencies, mapping, clustering,

analyzing and extrapolating them horizon 2025.




It is the geographic center of Europe, the HQ of most

lobbies, federations, Nato, European Union, and

multinational companies. But above all, Belgium has a skill

to deal with multicultural issues and multiple agendas,

through a blend of germanic culture, latin and Anglo-

Saxon, and 140 others — combined with a culture of

humble hard work and global engineering (Belgium was

the world’s second economic power till 100 years ago).

Belgians are welcome anywhere in the world, unlike some

other nationalities. Embassies in Brussels are staffed by

the best diplomats on the planet, with open lines with their

heads of state. Moreover, all the good ideas pass through

Brussels sooner or later. It is ideal to export new economic

visions and models. The sandbox of those economic models

will find their markets mostly abroad, as Belgium is quite

conservative. Especially emerging economies with young

populations, eager to learn and empower the next generation

of humanist entrepreneurship serving global challenges.

We need to experiment and empower collaboration between

the players who have the most resources to create change:

large corporations. They start to realize, little by little, that

Michel de Kemmeter

they cannot innovate on their own. They will not be able to

shift drastically before 2025. So, in short, they are big ships,

aware of the iceberg, its size and position, but unable to

turn the wheel in time. Two things should be done: (1) trim

the ship for impact, get down to the basics, and (2) prepare

the lifeboats. The lifeboats are new businesses, based on the

new paradigms (collaborative, serving multiple challenges),

and they will be able to swim in between the icebergs.

These new businesses should be crisis-proof, bringing new

coherence between people and economic activities. They

will thus be able to tackle historical challenges in systemic,

instead of linear ways. A few examples: sustainable rental

housing, waste recycling, next generation education systems,

senior population and sustainable pension funds, illness

prevention, sustainable agriculture and food, greening

deserts, etc…

This experiment was started in Brussels. Half a dozen

companies, twenty extrapreneurs of multiple backgrounds

and generations, were trained on the next economic

paradigms (24 days of action-training), hands-on creating

the next generation businesses. In four months, they came

up with new businesses, validated by stakeholders and

market, all of them fully scalable. In combination with

new systemic thinking and a top-down vision on the next

generation macro-economic models, we have the DNA of


We have to mobilize the early adopters of new ways of

creating value — those who did try internal innovation,

incubators, without substantial success. Those large

companies are now ready to open the box and share

their resources with others to create the next generation

businesses. We exfiltrate them in a dedicated space, and

train their managers — together with a next generation

entrepreneurs — to a new economic philosophy with brandnew

tools. The first experiment of Extrapreneurs in Brussels

is now ready to be franchised and scaled up.



The next chapter of economic thinking is now being written

all over the world. Thousands of experiments and studies

are done and in process. We are compiling them with the

“Club of Brussels”, and projecting economic vision on

5-10 years. We qualify and quantify job destructions and

creations, and prepare a road book for governments to help

their economies resist global recession, and facilitate the

emergence of new economic spaces. Social economy, digital

economy, sharing- and collaborative economy, green and

circular economies are the big winners. Public authorities,

services, trade, industry are the big losers (studies to be

found in “Shifting Economy”, Brussels 2017, by

Mossay-de Kemmeter).

Thousands of studies have been made on economic

transition, but only very partially. It is now time to put all of

them together to create a new holistic vision on economy.

Following the paradigm shifts going on as we speak, it looks

like public services will be made more efficient with digital

tools, thus cheaper. Healthcare cost will go down, thanks

to more prevention and education. Education will move to

more peer-to-peer learning; it will be much more hands-on,

efficient and cheaper. Mobility will be more shared and thus

cheaper and with lower impact.



That culture will create much more societal value and

rely less on public finances. We should quantify all these

systemic shifts to make the figures work. Our taxes should

lower, the value created should be higher, and thus global

progress can be triggered.

But we should not be naive. Such majors shift will take

time. We can — at best — stimulate the creation of “islands

of resilience”, interconnect them, and inspire others to shift

also. This global shift follows the logic of organic mutation.

We will not wake up some morning, in a new world. Shift

happens one by one, company after company, community

after community, city after city. The beauty of it is that

everyone of us can be part of it — nothing will be decided

for us by some higher power.

Another good news is that there will be probably as many

new jobs created in the new economic spaces, than jobs

destructed in the old ones. Boring jobs will be replaced

by empowering ones — much more in tune with peoples’

excellences. Over 75% of the people working do jobs they

don’t like. Burnout and depression rise exponentially. No

surprise. This is just a sign that we do something wrong …

A new coherence is expected to empower people. On micro/

personal level, on company level, on national levels and on

global levels. This is what Club of Brussels will map and

calculate. Create an efficient tool to pilot our economies

through this giant mutation.



The economic challenges are only the top of the iceberg.

The true challenge is the shift in global consciousness.

People start to realize they are one, on a planet which is

their common “mother”. That they cannot go on killing

each other day after day, and destroying their mother earth.

Big words. But what does it mean? It is multidimensional.

We are mutating as humanity. (1) From patriarchal

societies to a combination of patriarchal and matriarchal,

integrating as such, both polarities. Masculine and

feminine. (2) Shifting from dependance models, based on

fear, to autonomy models, based on personal power and

love. (3) From hierarchies to ecosystems. (4) From linear

models (exhausting people and planet) to systemic models

(nourishing people and planet). (5) From formatting and

automation to individual and unique empowerment.

(6) From ownership models to shared and collaborative

models. We can go on and on. Everything is shifting. The

only way we can follow these, understand them and act

coherently, is a personal choice of consciousness. Decide

to go beyond appearances, and use your talents to serve

common good. Beyond ego and possession. It is — in a way

— to be individually and collectively reborn as a fully grown

human being. Humanity is little by little leaving behind

childish behavior.

In economy, it has fundamental impacts, and the first

movers, enlightened leaders, are economically very

successful. They all will tell you the same kind of stories …



Humanity starts to realize it is a part of the (whole) specter

of life. Humanity has the possibility to act consciously,

unlike animal, vegetal and mineral reigns. As such, it has

the capacity to connect reigns and to fulfill itself at its best

potential. In its more mature behavior, humanity can inspire

from the logic of nature, and implement optimal natural

value creation. Studies show that collaboration on existing

resources allow 4 to 5 times better (economic) results. Like

in nature, with 100% efficiency and 0% waste. Those models

have a new intelligence: systemics. It shows and empowers

3D connexions between stakeholders — answering needs

and sharing resources on multiple levels. Economy, in its

basic etymology, “managing household”, has multiple value

creation loops. Monetary transactions only account for a

small part of the economic domain. Systemics allow to map

and empower those connexions. It also takes into account

the positive or negative collateral effects of economic


Systemic human intelligence is located in the prefrontal

brain. Its neurons are 3-dimensional, it has a creative

interconnecting function — there where in the conditioned/

structured brain, the neurons are linear. Human beings only

use around 10% of its brain capacity. Shifting to higher

potential is key here, as a priority, before using Artificial

Intelligence. The risk is that our IQ and discernment lowers

by using more technology, without personal development

and consciousness enhancement. Moreover, relying on

too much technology will create a very new unexpected

vulnerability of our businesses to unreliable and fragile

technology. Hacking, fake news, electricity blackouts,

or hyper complexity could cost entire companies. Very


The next model will ask to develop the capacity of holistic

view. Like walking up the stairs to the first floor, whilst

water and mud is rising at the ground floor and everybody

there struggles to survive. We need to develop the skill

to see things from higher, as well as dive into concrete

matters and make new systemic models work with natural



Of course, the whole operation has a series of ingredients

for success. Constant humble personal development,

constant research on new philosophies of value creation,

learn from the most diverse horizons, search for

coherence and alignment, be aware of emerging potential,

understandable vocabulary and semantics, sense of

timing, empowering systemic links, a strong and coherent

validated methodology … in other words, a new enlightened

leadership based as much on common sense than on sense

of purpose serving common good. I know those people are

there, sometimes under the radar. Maybe you too. Dare to

come up with your deeper intuitions and fulfill your teams.

It is the time to show and mobilize the best.


The big “country” winners will be the countries with

creativity, with young population, with a willpower to serve

common good, cultures who are able to collaborate openly.

The big employment winners in “economic models” will be,

horizon 2025 : social business (will double), green economy

(more than double), circular economy (also more than

double), digital economy and robotisation will only gain +/-

50%, knowledge economy will also gain around 50%, agroecology

will tenfold. Sharing and collaborative economy will

twentyfold — with the open question of employment and

taxes …

The big losers in employment will be services and trade

(-50%), industrial agriculture (-60%), industry, energy and

extraction will lose around 40%. Public services will lose

between 10 and 70%, depending on the political choices

made by their governments.

The next chapter of world economy could be written from

Brussels, in collective intelligence with the best global

visionaries and experts. Eclectic, we need sociologues,

psychologues, scientists, next generation leaders, and even

artists and spiritual leaders, to assist our expert economists.

The outcome will be a true “Growth Explorer” to help

governments to pilot the mutation of their economies.

Coaching the emergence of the new. But let us not be naive,

it will take decennia till the whole economy is tuned into a

new and strong coherence. It will happen in stages, through

the emergence of “islands of resilience”. Those can be cities,

companies, communities, based on new vision, autonomy

and personal leadership. The rest will be more and more

based on fear, stress and dependance. Little by little, people

will diverge from a system they cannot survive inside, and

do their personal coming out, connecting purpose, passion

and new expected competences — to participate in the most

fascinating adventure in human history.

Michel de Kemmeter

extrapreneurs.org - www.wiseholding.net - michel@uhdr.net





“Upper classes can’t, lower classes don’t want to.

Only when the ’lower classes’ do not want to live

in the old way and when the ’upper classes’

cannot carry on in the old way – only then can

revolution triumph.”

V.I. Lenin

A 100 years ago, there was a Revolution throughout the

World/in Europe/in Russia. Or as modern innovators would

say: there was a Transformation; a change of a regime,

management and consciousness.

A 100 years ago, revolutionaries of that time met in

apartments and at special events in Switzerland, where

they discussed a new Life in new forms of its manifestation.

Their eyes sparkled, and those sparks could burst to flames.

The things they were uncomfortable with were inequality,

complete political lawlessness, police and legal mayhem.

At the same time of the traditional annual meeting of the

upper classes, in those years, other young people gathered,

very similar to those pioneers.

The upper classes cannot carry on in the old way. Problems

are everywhere and there are no solutions.

A year ago there was a postulate that Capitalism was dead and

technology would save all and everyone.

This year they say that in general everything is bad and that

technology will save no one. Technology is evil, while gender

equality and humanism are the world’s bases.

They wanted issues and problems to be solved collectively, by

everyone, by agreement, and for everyone to be involved in a

new society of equality that would allow even “a lady-cook to

administer the affairs of the state (states)”. As today’s MVP

starters would say, they conducted pre-ICO, a kind of PCO of

that time (Private Coin Offering).

In order to make everything work as it should, they needed

one more thing: the appropriate technological solutions. Like

all pioneers, the first movers had to die for the glory of future

generations (who are often the second movers). After all, the

results have been achieved by those who follow the pioneers’

traces, walk over their bodies, learn from mistakes and have

the latest technology in their hands. Google was not the first

search engine and iTunes was not the first online music store.

That is the pioneers’ fate.


100 years on.

The same Switzerland. Davos.

Alexander Shulgin with Joe Lubin (Co-founder of Etherium and


Alexander Shulgin with Chinese crypto moguls at the Crypto Chappel in Davos

“It is not enough for a successful revolution that the lower

classes do not want to live as before. Another requirement is that

upper classes cannot manage and run things as they did before.”

On day one of Davos, Indian Prime Minister Narendra

Modi listed his three most significant challenges to

civilization, as we know it: climate change, terrorism and

the backlash against globalization. He also spoke about the

opportunities and dangers of technology:

“Many societies and countries are becoming more and

more focused on themselves. It feels like the opposite of

globalization is happening. Everyone is talking about an

interconnected world, but we will have to accept the fact that

globalization is slowly losing its lustre.”

(Narendra Modi PM India)

Now look at what technology leaders, who grew up in their

place and are semi-pioneers in part, answer to politicians:

“We are very lucky because the world is in a big

transformation because of technology. New technology will

create interesting careers and a lot of successful people, but

at the same time every new technology will create social


“Artificial intelligence is seen as a threat to human beings.

I think AI should support human beings. Technology should

always do something that enables people and not disable

them. The computer will always be smarter than you are;

they never forget and they never get angry. But computers can

never be as wise as humans. The AI and robots are going to

make a lot of jobs obsolete, because in the future they will be

done by machines. Service industries offer hope in this regard

but they must be unique.”

“If we do not align together, human beings are going to fight

each other, because each technology revolution makes the

world unbalanced.” (Jack Ma, Alibaba)


Google chief, Sundar Pichai, repeated a line he first delivered

at an MSNBC event last week, about how artificial intelligence

is more important to humanity than fire or electricity. He said

that despite concerns about AI, the potential benefits cannot

and should not be ignored. “The risks are substantial, but

the way you solve it is by looking ahead and thinking about

AI safety from day one, and by being transparent and open

about how we pursue it,” he said. “We must ensure the Fourth

Industrial Revolution unfolds with humanity at its centre, not


Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman of the

World Economic Forum, even criticized crypto-currency at

the forum in Davos as a landmark phenomenon. When the

head of the IMF, Christine Lagarde, talked about the damage

to the world energetics from the crypto-currency mining,

Governor of the Bank of Canada, Stephen Poloz, compared

bitcoin with gambling, and George Soros claimed that cryptocurrencies

are a nest for dictators. These commentaries show

how large-scale the use of blockchain has become, if decisions

on its basis attract the attention of such major figures in the

financial world.

Alexander Shulgin with Valery Vavilov, founder and CEO of Bitfury

group, leading Bitcoin Blockchain company


With over 400 sessions on the official programme in Davos,

many contradicting things are said. The upper classes do not

know what to do next, or they know, but they are unable to

declare such knowledge.

The lower classes do not want to. 187 blockchain events were

held, when at the same time double that amount of ‘upper

class’ events was being held in Davos during the World

Economic Forum.

Although the statistics of the ‘upper class’ are impressive, as

you can see below, new revolutionaries do not pay attention to

what they are saying. They are probably following the famous

paraphrasing of Che Guevara: “Give me 30 likeminded people

and I will make a revolution in any country”.

• 6 million individual unique visitors to the World Economic

Forum’s website during the week of Davos

• The world’s most influential people shared World

Economic Forum content on their social media channels –

including French President Emmanuel Macron, UK Prime

Minister Theresa May, German Chancellor Angela Merkel,

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Canadian Prime

Minister Justin Trudeau, and US President Donald Trump.

The combined potential reach of all the accounts who

shared Forum content is over 1 billion.

• Over 150 Davos participants answered a direct question

from the global public, posted to Instagram using the

#sharedfutures tag

• During the week of Davos, more than 33 million minutes

of Forum-produced video were watched by members of the

global public, over 50 million individual video streams.

• 21 million views of over 200 sessions streamed from the

WEF website, on Facebook, and Twitter in 6 languages

• 225.000 stories about the World Economic Forum

appeared in the global press during January 2018, over

25% more than 2017

At the same time one of the leaders of decentralized

technologies, the Consensys company, declared that they

are ready to Transform not a country or a continent, but the

whole world.

This was written in Davos in their Pavilion and online media:







Now take a look at what they and their colleagues discussed

in Davos, while the ‘upper classes’ lamented that this was

impossible and there were a lot of dangers around.

The post-pioneers were methodically discussing how to save

the World. And the more the ‘upper classes’ lamented, the

more clearly the new future leaders found solutions, while

sitting in the Pavilion:

- Blockchain Beyond Earth

- The Future of Government

- The Future of Education

- The Future of Infrastructure and Transportation

- Simply Vital Health

- Blockchain for Climate Action and Climate Finance

‘We, the People of Blockchain’. Yes, they say that they are a

new nation/race: they are CryptoNation. Let me introduce

a new term that is more mainstream than a capitalist or a

socialist: ‘decentralist’.

At the same time, many relevant issues were discussed in the

large and modern Blockchain Central Pavilion, hosted by the

Global Blockchain Business Council (GBBC):

- Blockchain for Governments and Regulators

- Blockchain in the Developing World

- Blockchain for the Environment

- Identity (Friday)

Alexander Shulgin with Bill Tai, active investor in CryptoWorld

If most people think that a new blockchain-based industry is

just crypto-currency, I think that the issues discussed at this

parallel Davos by the leaders of the crypto industry speak for

themselves. And if most people still think that the leaders

are just boys, students, speculating in the market of cryptocurrencies,

then not only relevant issues that they discussed

point the seriousness of these young revolutionaries, but also

those guests and partners who were with them all the time to

learn new things.


Participants in GBBC events include, but are not limited to:

• The Hon. Carl Bildt — Former Prime Minister of Sweden

• Peteris Zilgalvis — EU Commission

• Matthew Harrington — Edelman

• Alex Petland — MIT Media Lab

• Yorke Rhodes — Microsoft

• Dr. Wang Wei — China Mergers & Acquisitions

• Joel Tepner — Sullivan & Worcester

• Valery Vavilov — The Bitfury Group

• The Hon. Eva Kaili — EU Parliament

• The Hon. Taavi Rovias — Former Prime Minister of


• The Hon. Laurent Lamothe — Former Prime Minister of


• Jamie Smith — GBBC/Bitfury/WEF Blockchain Council


• Sandra Ro — UWINCorp

• Elizabeth Rosiello — BitPesa

• Roya Mahboob — Digital Citizen Fund

• Jennifer Zhu Scott — Radian Blockchain Ventures

• Yew Phang Kiat — Chong Sing Holdings Fintech

• Brian Behlendorf — HyperLedger

• Daniel Gasteiger — Procivis

• Xu Ming Xing — OKlink

• Albert Isola — Minister of Commerce, Govt. of Gibraltar

• Tomicah Tillemann — New America/GBBC

• Jim Newsome — Former Chairman of the CFTC

• Meltem Demirors — Digital Currency Group

• Julius Akinyemi — MIT/UWINCorp

• Alan Cohn — Steptoe/Georgetown Law

• Sebastian Vos — Covington

• Mariana Dahan — World Identity Network

• Dakota Gruener — ID2020

• Jemma Green — Power Ledger/City of Perth

• Leanne Kempe — Everledger/WEF

• Michael Casey — MIT/CoinDesk

• Ruth Wandhofer — Citi


• Harris Fricker — GMP

• Dante Disparte — Risk Cooperative

• Bill Tai — ACTAI Global

• Nick Cowan — Gibraltar Stock Exchange

• Saruul Ganbataar — Bogd Bank

• Guo Yuhang — Dianrong

• Deng Di — Beijing Tai Cloud

• Catrina Luchsinger Gaehwiler — FRORIEP

• Heinrich Zetlmeyer — Lykke Corp

How very true the Forbes magazine titled their final article

published after the Forum in Davos:

“One Thing Is Clear From Davos, Blockchain Is Out Of Beta”.

I would say more, but I think the genie is out of the bottle.

After all, revolutions may be very quiet.

© Alexander Shulgin


The Global Blockchain Business Council (GBBC) brings

together founding members from over 30 countries to

advance global understanding of Blockchain technology.

Conceived on Sir Richard Branson’s Necker Island by a

group of innovators, the GBBC launched formally during

the 2017 Annual World Economic Forum Meeting in

Davos, Switzerland. The organization is dedicated to

furthering adoption of Blockchain technology through

engaging and educating business leaders, regulators,

and global change makers on how to harness this

groundbreaking tool to create more secure, equitable, and

functional societies.

Just as the internet enabled the frictionless peer-to-peer

exchange of information, blockchain has the potential to

usher in the frictionless exchange of assets. Blockchain

technology is the most secure way to transfer digitized

assets and information peer-to-peer or organizationto-organization

through the use of distributed ledgers.

The adoption of Blockchain technology will enable

businesses, governments, and organizations to ensure

data integrity and create records, transactions, and

systems that are highly secure, transparent and

significantly more resilient against manipulation and

corruption. The GBBC helps maximize the benefits of

Blockchain for industry and society.

The GBBC educates business leaders on blockchain

technology, provides a forum for businesses and

technology experts to collaborate on blockchain-based

business solutions, supports businesses interested

in implementing blockchain technology in their

operations and advocates for the global adoption of this

transformative technology.

In providing a global survey of blockchain projects

and regulation, the GBBC is establishing a baseline

to evaluate future policy actions, and a framework for

assessing progress in what will be a generational effort

to deploy blockchain solutions. As an organization, we

look forward to working with partners around the world

to share the benefits of this powerful new technology

and to replenish the reservoir of trust that irrigates our

collective endeavors.

“Education is a core component of our mission, as

education leads to meaningful action in every space

including the regulatory and corporate world,” said Jamie

Smith, CEO of the Global Blockchain Business Council.

“We are so grateful to our partners for sharing their

incredible expertise and insight in this annual report.”


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From 23th till 26th of January 2018, the 48th Global

Economic Forum in Davos took place and suffered the

heaviest snowfall in the meeting’s 48-year history. But this

year, even more government leaders from all over the world

braved the snow and were present in the Swiss mountains,

than the year before. This year’s forum carried the theme

“Creating a Shared Future in a Fractured World”. This

Global event wants to “unite” every year more and more

intensively, because all country leaders claim to be globalists,

no protectionists, even Trump? We will find out how strong

Trumps words were at the closing speech of the WEF.


After Trump started his Presidency in January 2017, the

US Dollar weakened significantly during his first year of his

leadership and gave the US export sector a boost. According

to European Central Bank President Mario Draghi this

drop of the USD was not driven by the economy, but a

consequence of “public” statements. And this is “not” in

line with the G-20 Commitment to refrain from competitive

devaluations. Trump told CNBC at the WEF that he

“ultimately would like to see a stronger dollar”.

The message in his closing speech was clear; “when America

grows, so does the world”. The drive for excellence, creativity

and innovation in the US has led to important discoveries

and help people everywhere to live more prosperous and

healthier lives. This should be the lesson for all political

leaders. Governments have to stimulate growth and countries

have to work together. Prosper words, but how is the real

praxis? Trump’s tax reform appears to be good for business,

as companies will invest more and increase wages. The tax

cuts are presenting European countries with a dilemma: Do

they follow the U.S. and cut their own corporate tax rates,

risking a race to the bottom? Or do they stay back and risk

losing business to the U.S.? German Chancellor Angela

Merkel talked about Europe taking some responsibility for

its own future and French President Emmanuel Macron

has made a pitch to investors on France’s behalf. But there

doesn’t seem to be a clear European consensus on what to

do going forward. Trump’s move into the White house a year

ago with his “America First” agenda pushed EU policymakers

to keep markets open worldwide. The EU continued building

on existing European free-trade pacts with partners like

Singapore, Vietnam and South Korea and the Mercosur

group of Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay. “America

first does not mean America alone”.

At Davos this year we saw a clash of visions, or even

ideologies. Europe’s message is that social democracy doesn’t

only deliver lower levels of inequality, but also delivers

growth and stable politics. America First is about higher

walls and lower taxes and a state that is looking mainly after

the corporate sector. Can the two coexist comfortably?

The move to work strongly together and create a sustainable

growth is one of the important lessons we read in Marga

Hoek’s book “The Trillion Dollar Shift” launched at the WEF.

Marga Hoek is working her whole life, helping and creating

a more sustainable growth, because in the end only a

sustainable business model is profitable for all of us. We

constantly have to work on “awareness” of this sustainable

business model and the politicians have to create the context,

not “against” each other but “cooperating” with each other.

There is no Plan B, because we do not have a Planet B.

The Trillion Dollar Shift by Marga Hoek (2018) documents

the contributions of the various businesses to the 17

Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s) as created by

the United Nations. It also shows the opportunities for all

businesses to impact those SDG’s on a Global scale. The

book is a call to action for both business and capital to reach

the SDG’s by 2030.

The Paris Climate Agreement and the Sustainable

Development Goals (SDGs) drive change and offer a

narrative and an opportunity to all to speak in one language

on sustainability. They provide us with a clear set of targets

for 2030. Through following the SDGs, opportunities

abound for business and capital to unlock markets which

offer endless potential for profit, while at the same time

working towards the Sustainable Development Goals. This

book illustrates for business how to make the much-needed

“Trillion Dollar Shift”.

Human Rights, Labor, Environment and Anti-Corruption are

important achors in this story. The SDG’s focus on a strong

reduction of poverty and hunger, good health, a responsible

consumption and production, gender equality, climate action

and strong justice and institutions. This book sets out how

business and capital now have a real opportunity to help

resolve these problems.

In 50 case studies, concrete business examples, the book

vividly describes the impacts on and contributions to the

various SDG’s.

The first example Unilever is proving that there is no

contradiction between sustainable and profitable growth.

IKEA measures their sustainability Impact by tracking the

sales of products that are categorised as enabling a more

sustainable life at home. Another case study shows that

many solar energy entrepreneurs in devloping countries are

waiting to be able to scale their businesses with fair loans

at reasonable prices. The Sanivation case emphasises that

innovative ideas not only provide safe, affordable and clean

energy, they also unlock a whole new market. The GAP

example shows how gender equality can pay dividends both

for core business as well as for society at large.

© Shutterstock

Technology is a very important driving force behind

innovation, connectivity, productivity and efficiency in nearly

every sector. Financial institutions and large enterprises

have been working on blockchain-based solutions, or so

called distributed ledger technology, for some years, but

most activity has been in the development and testing

stages. 2018 will be the start of many starting the tests in

production and this will facilitate secure and transparent

financial transactions and has the potential to rock economic

foundations. In the short term, such blockchain applications

will reduce costs and increase quality of outcomes, primarily

for the enterprises themselves.

But in the long term the same applications will connect

manufacturer-creator-provider and consumer and end user

directly, removing the need for additional participants

in the supply chain. The blockchain technology is for

example already used for energy transactions in smart grids

providing a means to keep track of electricity consumed and

delivered. Huawei believes investment in technology is a key

accelerating factor to help nations achieve the SDG’s and

Siemens smart grid solutions make it possible to modernise

and adapt existing power grids to future expectations. And

finally Thermo-Systems developed a system to process the

sludge in an environmentally safe way using automated robots

to “do the dirty work”.

This highly readable book is a must-read for businesses (large

and small) that wish to genuinely support the delivery of the


Dorin Deelen

Owner Merit Capital AG/Swiss Family office





“A blockchain is a digital and distributed ledger of

transactions, recorded and replicated in real time

across a network of computers or nodes. Every

transaction must be cryptographically validated

via a consensus mechanism executed by the nodes

before being permanently added as a new “block”

at the end of the “chain”. There is no need for a

central authority to approve the transaction, which

is why blockchain is sometimes referred to as a

peer-to-peer trustless mechanism.” (Deloitte;

February 06, 2018 in Blockchain: A technical



Blockchain revolutionizes the way we store and exchange

values. Will it be a major game changer? Will the

combination of internet and blockchain have similar

effects on society, political structures and economy as the

invention of book printing had in the 16th century? The

following essay is going to point out arguments in advantage

or against the use of blockchain.

Blockchain is in the perception enormously linked to

cryptocurrencies. Furthermore, there is a debate arising

whether the cryptocurrencies will become a real currency

in the economy. The role of money is to be a means of

exchange in transactions of goods and services and giving

them a price. It has as well the function to store values

between two transactions. The big question will be whether

cryptocurrencies could replace fiat money, which is created

by the central banks and the credit business of commercial

banks. This debate started and became also emotional, but

there are no clear results yet.

One of the raised arguments is the lack of regulation of

cryptocurrencies. We can be sure that bank supervisors

and financial service authorities will try to regulate it.

What effect it will have on cryptocurrencies is still open.

On the one hand, it can give credibility, on the other

hand, it can frustrate innovation, flexibility, efficiency and

competitiveness. A major advantage of cryptocurrencies is

the increasingly new competition created for fiat money.

Today’s monetary system is enormously based on

institutions and as well the government. The only reason

that there has not happened a larger crisis yet, is that the

society still trusts in institutions. Cryptocurrencies can

certainly not heal these huge dependencies, but they can

support in creating competition and due to that forcing

solutions. Ironically, the expansion of fiat money to cover

financial deficits are also creating bubbles which could again

lead to crisis. The low to zero interest rates in this context

is destroying savings and pension reserves. Irrelevant

of the development of the present monetary system,

cryptocurrencies will be part of the future economy.

Blockchain and its revolutionary transaction system is

the basis. But financial services only part of the possible

users of blockchain technology. Blockchain will cause an

elimination of intermediaries which leads to reducing costs,

increasing efficiency and speed. You can use smart contracts

which would mean, that not only the contract is confirmed

and is stored, but it can also trigger consequences of the

contract immediately, such as payment. In case of a lease

contract — for instance for an apartment — no lawyers, no

notaries would be needed any more. It could be directly

agreed, in an undeletable way between the person renting

and the landlord.

But it is even more efficient for centralized business models,

which are important in a world of a sharing economy.

These models need large aggregators at present that control

systems and information and which risk to unequally or

even arbitrary redistribute value among all contributors.

Blockchain can easily replace these aggregators and the

value chain in a shared economy becomes a lot more

efficient. Some other examples could be improvements in

the supply chain management. Products can be traced from

manufacturing (including raw material, semi-finished goods,

manufacturing process) to the final usage by consumers or

customers. In the energy sector, the different participants

in the value chain can speed up the processes. In trade,

blockchain can link all different participants but it can

also offer platforms to improve, accelerate and enforce the

security of the financing of international trade. Especially

here blockchain will facilitate verification and confirmation.

There are also a lot of applications in the health care area

and as mentioned before in the public sector.

All sectors of business are now suffering from a high density

of red tape, excessive regulatory framework and as well

lots of controls. Furthermore, legal costs are skyrocketing.

Blockchain can help a lot to facilitate and will make several

regulations and controls obsolete.

However, there are not only advantages but also risks and

today’s society is still suspicious of new technologies,

especially the anonymity of blockchain which increases

criminal misuse. Even though, there is an enormous and

fast development. We should acknowledge one thing,

that any system can be misused by criminals. However,

the undeletable inscriptions can also help prosecution.

Regulations and restrictions of the government can reduce

the risk but allow an undue violation of the right to privacy

by authorities. The most important part to secure yourself

is your digital key. The skill will be how to store and protect

this key, so that nobody else can misuse it. In the balancing

mechanism, damaging and corrupt monopolies can

theoretically be created, with the objective to manipulate

blockchain in favor of some third party.

In our society one of the biggest drivers of progress

and common good were the property rights. In theory,

blockchain should have the capacity to strengthen property

rights and to reduce the costs of owning and exchanging

property. During transactions, legal costs can be reduced

drastically, legal security increased and in consequence

there should be much less room for litigation. Excessive

litigation has become a basic problem for property rights,

but it also adds unnecessary costs and lack of planning

security for the economy.

As it is a good incorruptible system to record transactions

and values, it will also reduce corruption in public life.

People will become a lot less dependent of public agencies

for registration and other public services. The less public

agencies are needed in the economic life, the less corruption


Prince Michael of Liechtenstein, Founder and Chairman of

Geopolitical Intelligence Services AG, Vaduz

Blockchain as well as other technological development,

e.g. robotics and artificial intelligence, will not replace the

human factor in the economic value chain. It will certainly

change jobs, but it will also make jobs a lot more productive

and a lot more efficient.







Congo is a country of contradictions. It calls to

mind words like corruption, poverty and unrest

but at the same time it is rich with resources and

has a vast array of tribal cultures. It has everything

it needs to succeed in becoming a leading force in

lifting the African continent to new heights.

Félix Antoine Tshilombo explains what he believes

needs to be done to make Congo a success story.


Congo has many problems that started with Mobutu and

towards the end of Mobutu’s reign, and became even worse

with Kabila. There will be a lot of work to cleanse the system.

Congo has a school system but a fragmented and unravelled

one. People graduate from university but their competence

level is simply not good enough, which is an incredible

shame. French is Congo’s official language but the graduates

hardly know how to speak, write or even align three correct

sentences. In addition, the system is corrupt at every level.

The teachers are not paid or very poorly paid, so they pass

the students according to the principle of “those who pay,


put in place, will never work. Our country is messed up

at this point. First, we have to install structures again,

something that has been demolished for over 30 years

now. Today, the country works without structure and is

in a non-state situation. Second, there needs to be a fight

to restore morality and install an honest administration.

That brings me to another big problem: everything goes

wrong when you do not pay people for their services.

Especially in the administration, which is where taxes come

in. When the people working there are not compensated

for their services, they start serving themselves. In the end,

there is nothing left and there is no way to make a decent

budget. In a system like this health, education and security

are the first elements to suffer.


A major project will be to change the mentality. There are

many anti-values that have become integrated in our society.

People live in corruption and have come to see it as a

normal thing. We are afraid of everyone and we doubt each

other because everyone is in competition and wants to win.

The Congo should not be regarded as a traditional country.

We cannot apply readymade programs, which is why

all the therapies that the IMF and similar organisations

Félix Antoine Tshilombo Tshisekedi

Barbara Dietrich and Félix Antoine Tshilombo Tshisekedi

Only when we have restored a rule of law, we can work on

policies to straighten the economy so that we can increase

purchasing power because the people need it. The Congo is

a rich country so it is possible to give people a decent and

prosperous life.

Once we reinstall good values and create a secure climate,

investors can come in and see that their interests are

safe and guaranteed. This will create an influx of new

investments and an economic revival that will lift the

revenue. New investments will create jobs and at the same

give the government the necessary funding to improve

health, education, etc.


The family unit is another very important factor we have

to consider. The family unit, which is the very core of our

nation, no longer matters in the Congo today. Fathers are

often not paid and neglect their children. More and more

women today work to feed the children, but they do not

always find honest work. Girls as young as nine years old

are prostituting themselves to feed the family. Traditionally,

things should be reversed and it is the father’s task to

provide for his family. These situations are often seen in

military families, for example. In the army, the soldier does

not have the right to work, they can only settle for their

wages. Wages are meagre and sometimes not even paid so it

falls to the women who are working to feed the family.

It is necessary to rethink the family unit and to restore the

purchasing power. By giving value to employment, by giving

the people work will in turn help them find their dignity and

automatically restore the traditional Congolese values of the

close family unit.


Of course, installing security is the most important and

a priority. We must secure our borders and secure our

citizens. All this traffic of gold and coltan by the border is

a shortfall for our country. The way to stop it is to explain

to the people living or working there that they have an

interest in selling the products to their own country. By

paying taxes on the items they sell, they can help the

country become prosperous again and help us. Of course,

they need to be reassured that we restored a rule of law.

Now their idea is that since people at government level are

stealing, then so do we. To them this is perfectly normal.

Once the corruption is gone, we can give back a sense of

patriotism. People need to understand that it is pointless

to cross the border and sell Congolese gold in Uganda,

coltan in Rwanda, etc. Our country and our people will not


Vegetable and fruit market at the outskirts of Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo

© Shutterstock


win anything. Now there is only a short win for a limited

amount of people that quickly evaporates. If we can process

the coltan in Congo, we can start rebuilding the country

with roads and decent housing. We need to fix and renew

the power system, install electricity and provide clean water

in every village.

We need not only revive construction but concentrate on

agriculture as well. Congo is a very fertile land. We need to

build partnerships in developing agriculture in our country.

Not only will this solve the problem of starvation in our

country, but we will even be able to export. We have the

land and we have the products but now lack the means to

sell them to the rest of the world.


It is vital that future leadership is responsible leadership.

That is what we want to accomplish after all those years of

misfortune that we experienced after independence. It is

time for the Congolese to invest in responsible leadership

that will be able to show the right direction and ensure

democracy. We do not want one single conviction ruling

and imposing its ideas. We need a democratic debate.

Without democratic debate we will never find out what

the people’s needs are. Congo has more than 400 tribes,

which means there are over 400 customs and different

ways of living. Congo’s official language is French now, but

each tribe has its dialect. Those dialects have been divided

into 4 linguistic families so we can choose 4 additional

national languages. You have to take all 400 tribes into

consideration if you want to improve this country; a thing

we already know by tradition because we have a culture of

debate. Traditionally, we had the African ‘palabre’ or talk.

Unfortunately, it has not evolved and was not modernized.

It remained at the village level. Nowadays, with society

broken into pieces, even these values are lost. There is a

way to bring them back but for that we need a leader who

accepts these traditions and who tackles these problems


Once peace is restored, it is necessary to create a cultural

revival. To obtain peace between the tribes and the cultural

resourcing of people, we need to solve the problem of

poverty and education. When we achieve that, people

will be interested in getting to know each other and

exchange culture. It is an effective way of bringing people

together. Artists today are among the poorest and most

deprived people, especially artists who make art objects like

sculptors and painters.

The cultural value of Congo deserves to be known all

over the world. We can achieve this but it will have to

be implemented at a later stage. Today some cultural

exchange already exists within our country. There are a lot

of intercultural marriages which brings people together

in some ways. Simply by intertribal weddings, things are

evolving well. For example, my wife and I, we are not from

the same tribe. She is from the east, from Bukavu, while I

am from the Kasai.


Before we can proceed to cultural interchange, we have

to fight poverty. Poverty is one of the main causes of the

escape of our young people. They flee to countries like

Libya where we see massacres being done. People leave their

country for different reasons but the most important one is

no hope to end poverty. It is human nature to go elsewhere

seeking to survive. When something is not going well when

in one place, we try to go somewhere else.

At times we see tribal quarrels over poverty. There can

be jealousy of those that are richer and that is what kills

solidarity. It happens even in the countries where people

are generally better off. You can live in a country with a

democratic tradition for centuries and generations but

as soon as there is a crisis the first instinct is to protect

oneself. They will say ‘the migrant’ is the problem and that

immigration has to stop. It is the human reflex to say ‘us

first’, to withdraw into oneself.


Once security is handled, tourism will thrive. We have a

beautiful country, well worth visiting and it can bring lots

of tourists. The success of this endeavour depends on one

thing: installing the rule of law. We must restore a rule

of law, an honest administration, secure the citizens, and

reinstall the traditional values that are now totally upside

down. Those must be restored so that Congo will again be

the engine and the heart of Africa.

Congo is sick today. Germany’s neighbours benefit

from the magnitude and greatness of Germany, but our

neighbours take advantage of Congo’s weakness. I have

already mentioned the coltan that travels across the river.

In Rwanda there is a refinery to treat coltan while they are

not producers. The coltan comes from Congo and leaves

the country without taxes. The same happens with the gold

coming out of Ituri that goes to Uganda and the copper that

goes to Zambia. Copper, cobalt, coltan and gold leave the

country almost for free nowadays.

If the Congo succeeds in changing all this, the country will

win and everyone can benefit. It is the beginning of peace,

for if everyone benefits there will be no reason for war or

tribal warfare. Today everything is based on poverty or lack

of prosperity. Still, there is opportunity to be seen in our

bad luck. We have seen how some countries have advanced

and how others have made mistakes. We have learned those

lessons and can now move forward and avoid the mistakes

others have made.

Unfortunately, I wonder whether our neighbours really

want the same thing as we do. I am convinced that if Congo

prospers, everyone will benefit. We are trying to explain to

our neighbours that they have an interest in Congo doing

well, because then we can create a vast free trade area, much

like the model of the Benelux or even the European Union.

It can be done at the scale of Central Africa with all its

countries and all countries will benefit from this force that

will also revive Congo. Eventually, they will get the message

because in most of these countries, there are problems as

well. Most of the Central African countries are dictatorial in

nature, with the exception of Zambia. Rwanda, Burundi and

Brazzaville are in a similar situation as we are.


The first step is a mindset towards change but implementing

change also takes purchasing power. When people can live

in peace, they can keep the peace. When you remove their

means to live, people become corrupt and start to steal,

forcing the government to impose security. There is a lot

of work to be done but it is possible to achieve it in a short

amount of time.

First, the leadership itself has to be severe and demanding

with itself and require the same from its subjects. Once this

is implemented, it will work because people will quickly

understand that seriousness has arrived. Unfortunately, we

have seen this happen before in Congo. At first, Laurent

Désiré Kabilla looked like he meant serious business. He

came and enforced the law, a bit brutal, a little violent,

but the people kept quiet. But then we started to see the

corruption and came to see he is just like all the others,

which is similar to what happened with Mobutu. People

understood that, again, it was not a serious try.

At this moment we have a power that is dictatorial, which

suppresses every move towards change. When we have

demonstrations, we are bullied and arrested each time. On


November 30h, for example, I wanted to go to the protest

and was prevented from leaving my house by police officers.

The police officers stayed in front of my house to prevent

me and the demonstrators who were outside waiting for me

from demonstrating. They were scattered rapidly and some

were wounded. Most of the media support Kabila and are

paid by him. Free journalists who try to oppose this and

report freely and truly, are often punished. They are falsely

accused with fabricated stories.

A journalist I know was arrested and tortured on November

29th. He was abducted and tortured for two days, whilst

I had met him only hours before. Afterwards he was

presented to the media and was forced to say that he had

not been threatened or tortured. Some journalists and

human rights defenders have it even worse and are killed;

the best known is Floribert Chebeya who was killed in June

2010. This is everyday life in Congo.

In this context there is no point in talking about elections

because they seem impossible. How are we supposed to go

to elections with a government that forbids us from making

peaceful demonstrations? They forbid us to go to our bases

and militants to speak to them and discuss with them. We

do not even have the right to do that since they banned all

political gatherings. Any gatherings. There is no way to fully

function like this.

To have legal and honest elections, we must expel the

current leaders from power and hope that things will evolve.

We have two ways to achieve this. The first is with the

population, through endless demonstrations asking for his

departure. The second way is a call to the International

Community. We hope that the world will finally understand

that it is not possible to have elections with Kabila. He does

not want elections in Congo because he does not want to

leave power.


Angola is a very good example of how things can change.

Angola had 25 years of war which produced a generation

of young people who did not have the chance to go to

school. The country set up a group of executives that

function in a company’s framework during the day and

that teaches young people at night, organizing courses to

help them upgrade. I think there is a way to find solutions

similar to this. Congo could also benefit from foreign

experience and we are no longer excluding this, since we

saw this approach was successful in Rwanda. The Rwandese

population was decimated so a lot of foreign experts came

to help put an administration back together. What works for

Congo can be judged when the time comes.

Congo’s greatest treasure are the youth, that I know for

sure. We have roughly 60% to 70% of the population that

is made up of young people, which is a real plus for the

future. Young people are eager to learn and they learn very

quickly. There will be a way to set up remittance programs

to try to make up for the delay we are living through now.

But as I said before, the trick is to have the right framework

to make all of this happen. If the framework is serious,

everyone will move in the same direction, but if we continue

in the same way as today, it will not work.

A government’s focus should not be on how everyone can

fill their pockets. The challenge for the next President is

to bring change for the better. For us it is an honour to

be there and witness the first steps of a new Congo. I am

certain that many teachers, schoolteachers, technicians,

engineers, farmers, etc. will want to work in Congo, even

if only for weeks or months to teach. For this country has

everything it needs to succeed!


The Constitution is clear: a president can stay for a

maximum of 2 terms and then it is over. A first mandate

can be renewed one time, no more. Therefore, we ask the

International Community to help us make Kabila leave by

sanctions. In our view, we must sanction him and his family

because they are the ones stealing from our country. It will

take targeted sanctions against him, his brothers and his

sisters. We think that the pressure we put on him internally

and pressure from the International Community will make

him leave power. Nobody doubts that we need change but it

takes more than thinking or believing.


• Son of celebrated opposition leader Etienne

Tshisekedi, who defied Presidents Mobutu and


• Has described as “Stalinesque” the government

attempts to muzzle the opposition.

• Relative political newcomer, criticised by some for


• Lived in Belgium for many years before entering

politics at home.

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Highlighted in Diplomatic World 55, the Impact Investment

Summit 2017 in Zug, co-hosted by the Swiss Impact

Investment Association (SIIA) and the Alliance of Religions

and Conservation (ARC), set a new standard for faith and

value based investing. The signing of the Zug Guidelines

to Faith-Consistent Investment and the Zug Declaration

represents official commitments of faith-based investors and

philanthropies to invest their assets in environmentally and

socially sound projects. At their parallel event, ARC worked

closely with representatives of eight major global religions

to write the Zug Guidelines that are to serve the faiths as

principles for investing their assets, and furthermore, serve

as a platform to publicise these principles. Founded in

1995 by HRH The Prince Philip, ARC engages the faiths in

dialogue and helps them develop environmental programs

based upon their beliefs. For over 20 years, they havwe

linked religions to environmental organisations, creating

powerful, effective alliances. Diplomatic World had the

chance to interview Martin Palmer, Secretary General of

ARC, following the SIIA Investment Summit.


Please describe the process leading up to the Zug

Guidelines and the goal of the faiths’ pledge in

impactful investment. Did the idea emerge from

a momentary, incendiary thought or ripen over a

longer time? How was the collaborative process

with the faiths?

In 1999, I went to a meeting in Washington DC with WWF

USA. They were the most resistant WWF branch to the idea

of working with religions. Ironically, they were all practicing

Hindus, Christians, or Jews, but it was a step too far for

them to consider religion in their field of work. I expected

a hostile reception as I was sitting outside the main board

room, when I heard a passerby say, ‘I don’t know why we are

bothering with this meeting about religion. If they wanted

to, they could use their wealth and buy a company like

Monsanto and turn it to be an environmental organisation.

Why don’t they?’ I thought, ‘O bother, are enemies in the

camp.’ Then I thought, it is actually a good idea. Therefore,

in response to a new version of the classic, dismissive

argument that if only the religions could give away all their

wealth, they could solve all the problems in the world, in

2000 we did an audit of what major faiths owned. Land,

buildings, schools, hospitals, farmland, forestry, and

investments. We were absolutely astonished, how much

money and investments the faiths actually had. Far more

than I had expected, and I belong to the Church of England

and we have an awful amount of money and land. We own

10% of England.

There is a long tradition of what faiths will not invest in. For

example, Muslims would traditionally not invest in anything

that would charge interest, or the Quakers in anything to

Mr. Martin Palmer

do with armaments. And so, challenged by this off-hand

comment that I had overheard, we asked, ‘We know what

you are against, what are you for?’ Interestingly, we were too

early in asking that question. What we actually discovered,

as we first held a meeting with faith investors in 2001 in

New York, was that less than 25% of the faith funds that

we were in touch with, had developed a negative screening

process. The majority needed still to develop a negative

screening process.

In 2015 we were asked by the UN, if we would co-host the

main meeting between the religions and the UN on the

Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Twenty-eight

faith commitments resulted from that meeting. The UN

noticed that nine of these said they were thinking about

shifting their investments into environmentally sustainable

development. The UN was terribly excited and asked us,

whether the religions have any money. We affirmed they did.

We wrote a paper for the UN called “Faith in Finance” that

we launched last December in China at a multi-faith and

multi-government event.

Now it became very clear that the faiths had shifted, 75%,

maybe even 80% have now got well-developed negative

screening processes.

In January 2017 we asked them again, ‘We know what you

are against, what are you for?’ They were ready. They were

ready, but they had not thought it through. They were aware

of the fact that the UN were asking for the SDGs to be

funded primarily by investment, they were thinking about it,

but they had not really done much about it. We at ARC were

a little outrageous really, we said, if they wanted to come to

this meeting, they would have to write and have us officially

approve a set of guidelines. They must tell us what they own,

and in what classes of investment. They must tell us their

theology and philosophy about wealth. What is it for, where

does it come from, where does it fit into their understanding

of God, or humanity, or the cycle of karma, et cetera?

They must give us their guidelines, for themselves and for

members of their religion, as to what they now will invest in.

Where will they put their money to make a difference?



I have to be honest, when we said this in January,

I thought, we were being too outrageous and was worried

they would not reply. Well, to my absolute amazement, and

the amazement of my colleagues, every single religion we

invited said ‘Yes’. A couple of them had done it before, the

Protestant German churches, as had the Swedish Lutheran

churches, but the others were new, completely new. This

led to tremendous internal discussions, debates and


We gave funding where it was necessary to enable the faiths

to gather their key thinkers, their key finance people, and

to our delight, we were able to launch 30 faith guidelines at

Zug. Of those 30, four are guidelines for collective groups,

for example, JLens, the major advisory body to Jewish

foundations in the United States. They have one hundred

Jewish foundations, synagogues, and schools in their

network. Therefore, these guidelines actually influence about

one hundred people, and the same reach is extended in the

Hindu and Muslim networks. So although there are only 30

guidelines, they will influence over 500 religious investment

groups around the world from eight major religions.

I give much credit to the United Nations. The Assistant

Secretary General apologised at the Impact Summit in

Zug for not asking the religions for their view on the

SDGs until the very last moment (which they did then

with ARC’s guidance). Ironically, the faiths were ignored,

although they are the fourth largest investment group in

the world. The fact that the UN said that the sustainable

development of the planet cannot take place through the

old system of giving a grant here and another grant there,

but that it has to involve the business and investment

world, had already moved many of the faiths to consider

their involvement.

What ARC did, is to speed the process up quite

considerably and to show them, without any of them

losing their own autonomy, that they can be much stronger

together than alone. Some secular finance organisations,

were already handling money for Catholic or Muslim

foundations, but had not asked their faith foundations,

what as venture capitalists they would do for a sustainable

planet. We brought them together, and they were delighted

to discover that they were not alone.

How can the faiths bring innovation to investment?

What values and approaches do you see

creating change in the industry?

The main innovation is something that has been much

discussed, but I do not see much happening, namely valuedriven

investing. In other words, not just asking, ‘How

much money can we make? How quickly can we make it?

Are our shareholders happy?’, but actually using finances

to fund the values they want to see, whether religious,

secular, artistic, or philanthropic. What the faiths are, and

I think this is the exciting thing about the new alliance we

are creating after Zug, is the largest identifiable group with

clear values. When you look to the Zug Guidelines, you

will see each guideline begin with a theological statement

of why they care, based on their own traditions, their own

teachings, their sacred books, and their holy people.

There are 500 faith investment groups who have clearly

set out the values that will drive them. Now, they can be

approached and asked, ‘Why not invest in this? It meets

your values as you set out on pages two and three.’ This is

what they bring, a major focus on value-driven investing.

And that is important, because now the philanthropies

are saying they should do the same. In Zug, over a dozen

Swiss foundations issued the Zug Declaration, which is an

early stage of creating their own guidelines. I think, what

we are seeing, and what we are being asked to set out in the

alliance, is an alliance of value-driven investing, which at

its heart will have religions, the philanthropies walking at

their side, and in the background the NGO world. I think

we are on the cusp of launching an alliance, that will mean

that not only religious groups talk about values, so will

secular groups. This is very exciting.

Also, this is very interesting, unfortunately the UN had no

money to fund this event, so on very short notice we had

to raise a lot of money. We had wonderful philanthropies

in the United States, Japan, Britain, and the Netherlands

who supported us, but we still needed further funding. So

for the first time in my professional life, and I have been

fundraising for nearly forty years, we went to the secular,

commercial world. We had nine or ten finance houses

interested, who agreed to sponsor us. The guidelines were

written by the middle of August, when our international

steering group suggested to ask the secular finance houses

what their values were. It was complete panic. Only one

group had set out their values, the others said, they do

not have any values, they only reflect the values of their

customers. We said, “Rubbish! That is absolute rubbish!”

Others had come into being precisely to be value driven,

but had not worked out what the values were other that

they were not the same as the others that did not have

values. It was an extraordinary month, where people from

the secular world were sending in their values, and I was

sending them back and saying, “No, sorry, those are not

values, try again, start it all over again.” And they did.

I think we are setting standards right across the border,

and one of the great things was the partnership with SIIA.

SIIA, from the very beginning invited us to Zug, because

they saw that this could change the ball game. Instead of

just talking about impact investing, which could mean

anything, as every investment is an impact, the question

that needs to be asked is, ‘Is it good impactful?’ To know,

you must look at the values that you are looking to serve.

The partnership with SIIA has been fundamental to this.

They kept us taking the secular financial world seriously,

in the same way that they have taken the faithful financial

world seriously. It has been a wonderful partnership.

What are your goals, moving forward with the

Zug Guidelines, towards effecting change in

conservation and sustainability? What are the next

steps for ARC?

It comes in three different stages. Firstly, we are already

having new guidelines being sent to us. We have triggered

an awareness within the faiths. We have compiled three

new major guidelines in the last two weeks. My guess is

that when we come to re-issue the guidelines, in about

six months time, I would be surprised, if we were not up

to 40, reaching out to about 600 faith investment groups.

We have now set a standard, if you like, for what any selfrespecting

faith investment group should have. If you have

not got your guidelines, people will now be asking, “Why

not? Because the other group has.”

The second stage is the creation of the new alliance. We

were asked at the end of the event by the philanthropies,

by the UN, by the secular finance houses, and the faiths,

whether we would create an alliance that would enable

this energy, these levels of commitment, this potential for

putting together baskets of projects. We have a pipeline

of investible projects that we have been developing with

Arnold Schwarzenegger’s R20 organisation and Leonardo

di Caprio’s organisation. So we not only have the faiths

as investors, we also have faith driven projects and big

infrastructure projects that they can invest in as well.

The weekend at the Summit, we had over 40 comments,

ideas, and suggestions, as to what this alliance should look

like. My job in the next week is to draw up a blueprint.

We will hold these groups together and enable them to

become investment partners. We will enable them to

undertake research work. Princeton University has offered

to join in as the major academic centre. The University

of Winchester here in the UK is offering to create a new

chair in faith consistent investing. We are talking to the

Dartington Hall Centre, a big international centre in

Devon, who are offering to host three or four major think

tank events every year. SIIA will annually host a whole

section on philanthropy and religious investment. But

beyond that we need to set up a structure that can broker

partnerships, that can for example enable a cluster of faiths

to invest in sustainable forestry or alternative energy.

The third stage is to be representatives of better finance

to the wider world. For example, the United Nations

Development Program is now in discussion with the

Norwegian government about potential funding for a

new unit within UNDP on faith-consistent investing and

the SDGs. Major philanthropies are considering setting

up similar structures. I think the ripple effects will be

enormous. In my understanding and experience, finance

managers are herd animals, if the front cow turns into

a different direction, then the rest of the herd comes up

behind. I think we are very close to being able to turn the

herd, and that is terribly exciting.

Brita Achberger

Martin Palmer is the Director of the International

Consultancy on Religion, Education and Culture

(ICOREC) and Secretary General of the Alliance of

Religion and Conservation (ARC).

An Anglican Christian, Palmer studied theology and

religious studies at Cambridge University and has

translated several popular books on Sinology, giving

popular and controversial interpretation of early

Chinese Christianity.

He is a regular contributor to the BBC on religious,

ethical, and historical issues, appearing regularly on

BBC Radio 3 and 4, BBC World Service and presenting

on BBC TV. He is Co-Chair of a joint ARC-UNDP

programme on the faiths, climate change and the





Dr Pierre-Emmanuel Thomann

Geopolitician - President - Eurocontinent

China is a major demographic and nation-size

civilization. With the New Silk Road initiative,

China positions itself on territory and in time as

a central player on the Eurasian and global scales.

The objective of the project also called Belt and

Road Initiative (BRI) is to connect China to the

world through rail, road, maritime, airport, energy

and technology connections. The project has a longterm

horizon since it is expected to be completed by

2049. If it is implemented, even partially, the project

is likely to change the global geo-economic and

geopolitical balance of power.

Europeans have no choice but to position themselves in

relation to these plans, putting forward their own interests

and ambition for strategic autonomy. The New Silk Road

initiative, if conducted taking into consideration the

interests of European nations, but also those of China’s

global Eurasian neighbours and other global powers, is

likely to contribute to the stability and prosperity of the

Eurasian continent.

A geopolitical approach is useful in examining

European interests regarding this initiative. The

geopolitical angle has two modes. Geopolitics is a

tool for making a diagnosis that highlights the stakes

of a geopolitical situation. Then, the elaboration of a

geopolitical strategy (applied geopolitics) helps to develop

priorities on territory and in time in the service of an


a political objective is a decisive advantage and a central

element of sovereignty. This mastery depends on the

capacity to appreciate the space and time constraints of



China seeks to regain global geopolitical centrality through

the New Silk Road project. Although various elements of

the project are still largely in a virtual state, some projects

are already under way, or aim to renovate connections that

already exist.

Not all projects will materialize and succeed but the

multitude of transport bundles imagined in this long-term

plan will lead to the implementation of at least some of



In the twenty-first century, in order to navigate in a

world that is in a state of flux, a geopolitical strategy,

conceived as a spatio-temporal whole and functioning as

a means of balancing other powers, is required. This is

because the mastery of territory and time in the service of

The New Silk Road initiative responds to several issues at a

number of geographical scales:

At the national level, China’s western-oriented

infrastructure of the initiative aims to develop areas west

of its territory. These regions, particularly the Xinjiang



Autonomous Region and the Tibet Autonomous Region

are economically lagging in relation to the maritime

facades. Their development should consolidate the

territorial unity of the country.

Further, at the Eurasian continental level, the New Silk

Road initiative involves connecting the two ends of the

Eurasian continent, Europe and China, through Russia

in the North and Central Asia further South by a bundle

of lines of communication, including goods, people, and

energy transport.

Finally, the maritime component aims to consolidate the

energy and trade connections between China and the

Middle East but also with Africa and Europe through the

Straits of Malacca. The Northern Route linking China to

Europe via the Arctic Ocean is also envisaged as a shorter

and alternative route.

At a global level, for China, this is a geo-economic strategy

of opening up the country through continentalisation,

because it depends too heavily on its maritime facade.

From the point of view of the Chinese geopolitical

perspective, the Middle Kingdom seeks to surround itself

with allies, and position itself at the center of a geopolitical

space structured for its own security and prosperity. The

aim of the Chinese project is to place the country at the

center of the geopolitical map once again. In this respect,

the Chinese geopolitical objective is not different from

other world powers.

On the geostrategic level, the project can also be

interpreted as a strategy of counter-encirclement resulting

from the positioning of military infrastructures by the

USA and its allies. The map (map: The New Silk Road

Initiative) highlights the perception of encirclement of

China and Russia, which comes from the presence of US

and NATO bases as well as from the anti-missile defense

infrastructure around Eurasia.

This location of military infrastructure is primarily a

legacy of the Cold War, which was characterized by the

containment of the USSR but also of China by the US.

After the fall of the USSR, the Unipolar project of the US

and their allies aimed to westernize the Eurasian continent

and to ascertain the prevalence of a system of Western

alliance, associated with a strategy of roll-back.

However, with the come back of Russia and the rise of

China, the world has evolved towards a more polycentric

structure. A new containment strategy can now again

be expected, because we can once more witness a rise

of the geopolitical rivalries between the US, China and

Russia. The missile shield project has been pursued and

the new US security strategy (2018) explicitly designates

Russia and China as its main adversaries. This looming

confrontation might jeopardize Eurasian stability and

therefore European stability itself. Europeans, as close

allies of the USA should avoid further polarization of

global alliances as they will not be in a position to defend

their own interests. Europeans should rather find a way to

play the role of moderators between USA and China but

also Russia.

China is combining two approaches, one is geostrategic,

and the other is geo-economic.

In the China Sea, China claims sovereignty over the

Paracel and Spartley Islands, and is in competition

with its neighbours (Vietnam, Brunei, Malaysia, the

Philippines and Taiwan). China also wants a reunification

with the island of Taiwan, separated from them in 1949.

The various actors have entered a race of “Polderization”

to claim sovereignty over the different islands. This area

is a growing commercial and energy hub for China. Its

control also aims to counter the pressure exerted in the

geographical proximity of its territory by the US and its

allies in the Pacific Ocean. US military bases are set up

in Japan, South Korea and in the Philippines. The US

fleet is sailing in the Pacific near its territory, and around


In the event of a serious conflict, China’s energy supply

routes through the China Sea and the Strait of Malacca

may be disrupted by US naval dominance in the Pacific

and by their bases, which are all close to the shores of


The Silk Roads including the Northern Sea Route and

the continental infrastructures are alternative routes to

the Southern seaway from the China Sea to the Indian

Ocean, on which China now depends. In addition, the

development of western China, the Achilles heel of the

country’s security, helps to stem the destabilization

coming from the western flank, subject to waves of radical

Islam from Southeast Asia, and to the external support of

regional separatism.

The New Silk Road project also allows the development of

the China-Kazakhstan-Russia corridor, the China-Central-

Asia-Iran-Turkey corridor, as well as the Eurasian links

between China and Europe. It is part of a multicentered

vision of the world, where China is at the center of a new

system of economic and political cooperation, and not a

subset of Western-centered globalization with the US as

the main power of the Eurasian continent.

During his visit to China in January 2018, French

President Emmanuel Macron announced his intention to

participate in projects on the Silk Road routes in Eurasia

and Africa on a case-by-case basis. He insisted that the

New Silk Road should evolve towards a shared project and

does not provoke a new hegemony.



The enormous cost of the projects is a first obstacle,

even if China has the financial means to initiate many

infrastructures. To be implemented successfully outside the

Chinese territory, the infrastructure projects will also have

to be co-financed by the partners of China. It is also an

opportunity to internationalize the project and promote a

better balance of interests.

Secondly, geopolitical instabilities along these corridors

are an obstacle to investment. If a project leads to distrust

in some countries, opponents to this project might have an

interest in a destabilization of the territories of transit.

Some countries like the USA and India would also like a

reorientation of the connections to have a more North-

South direction than East-West. These rivalries on the

geopolitical orientation of the Eurasian infrastructures

highlights the need for the New Silk Road initiative to take

into consideration the interests of the different countries

likely to be impacted by the project.

Finally, there is the ambivalence of the Europeans

themselves, who are divided on the position to take

regarding Chinese economic power. Indeed the fear of

Europeans is to see trains filled with goods in the direction

of China-Europe, returning to China empty.

Yet some European states are already positioning

themselves to take advantage of the New Silk Road project.

This is the case in the Balkans with Serbia and Greece,

and the Visegrad group, at the heart of the 16 + 1 format,

which includes the countries of Central and Eastern

Europe who seek to connect themselves to the Chinese

project. The 16 + 1 format was conceived after the first

China-Central and Eastern European Countries Economic

and Trade Forum, held in Budapest in 2011. The countries

included are China, 11 EU members: Bulgaria, Croatia,

the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania,

Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, and five EU

candidates: Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia,

Montenegro and Serbia.

It has been said, Geopolitics is anticipating the space-time

of others powers.

The European project, mainly embodied by the European

Union, needs to be renewed today. Its paradigms are still

too entrenched in the last century. The project was born in

the context of the Cold War, at a time of the containment

of the Soviet Union, and in a context where Communist

China had not yet reached its current power. After the

end of the Cold War, the project should today adapt itself

further to the emergence of a multicentered world. EU

could evolve towards an alliance of European nations

driven by a geopolitical strategy to reaffirm their own

centrality in the future global balance of power.

It would be wise for Europeans to engage this Chinese

project in a constructive way. The New Silk Road is an

opportunity for the Europeans to position themselves on

the Eurasian continent. It is also a way to ascertain the

project leads to a better balance of interests.

Europeans are so far positioning themselves in a dispersed

way in order to reap the benefits. Therefore, a better

coordination between them would be required. The

project is above all an opportunity for Europeans to think

on a Eurasian scale. They would need to identify their

geopolitical interests as part of a reformed European

project according to geopolitical principles.

For the cooperation projects and alliances of European

nations, geography suggests a better balance between the

Euro-Atlantic, Euro-Mediterranean and African areas and

also Euro-Arctic and Euro-Asiatic spaces.

According to the recent historical perspective, the Eastern

flank of Europeans has been neglected during the Cold

War. The rivalry with the USSR and communist China

held back trade between Europe and large parts of Eurasia

and the shift of the geopolitical center of gravity was

located in the Euro-Atlantic space.

Today, the project of the New Silk Road is an opportunity

for Europeans to connect with the East of the Eurasian


continent. This means anticipating and negotiating an

articulation between the European project, the New Silk

Road initiative and the Eurasian Economic Union along

the Europe-Russia-China axis.



The materialization of the Northern Sea Route would

facilitate access to Siberian resources and is the shortest

sea connection with China and the Far East. The

continental corridor transiting through Russia would

reconnect Western Europe with Russia, and trains

could unload goods in Russia, before going to China.

The Southern continental corridor would facilitate a

rapprochement between Europe and Central Asia.

There is a growing necessity to rethink the links

between the European project, Russia and China. It is

counterproductive today to pursue a policy of isolating

Russia, and pushing it ever more towards an exclusive

Russian-Chinese alliance that keeps the nations of the EU

in an exclusive Euro-Atlantic area. This approach makes

Europe a periphery of this Euro-Atlantic entity. Moreover,

as a pivotal space, Europe risks being fragmented between

emerging rival Euro-Atlantic and Euro-Asiatic geopolitical


The Connection to the Silk Road Initiative should push

European nations towards engaging more deeply in a

dialogue on the finality of the European project. Hopefully,

a better coordination between European states would

benefit Europe as a whole. This means that a reformed EU

should establish relations with the Shanghai Cooperation

Organization (OCS) but also the Eurasian Economic

Union (EEU). The geopolitical complementarities between

Europe and Central Asia, with Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan

as pivots, can be strengthened to stabilize this strategic

zone for the benefit of the entire Eurasian continent.

and regulating its exchanges with the outside. It is also

necessary for the maintenance of the national identity. A

border filters what is good for the nation and rejects what

threatens it. Any economic exchange should be of benefit

to all partners and that is why the issue of reciprocity

should be addressed.

The nations of the European continent, from Brest to

Vladivostok, that is all members of the Council of Europe,

have to play a moderating role in the face of growing

geopolitical rivalries in Eurasia. It would be better for them

to avoid being obliged to align themselves blindly in the

case of a global US-Chinese confrontation. They should

equally avoid a Chinese-American condominium (G2), in

which they would be excluded from major decisions.

Finally, nations of the Eurasian continent also have the

urgency to contain the Islamist push originating from the

arc of crisis along a belt from Africa to the south-Western

part of the Eurasian continent.

In the end, the project of the New Silk Road Initiative

has not only a geostrategic and economic dimension, but

also a civilisational dimension. The exchanges between

cultures on the Eurasian continent may potentially make

the Old World an important geopolitical axis of the world

again. The project therefore also implies a new approach

of globalization. European nations and China should share

the geopolitical goal of a multicentered world based on

geopolitical balances and the respect for sovereignty, but

also the balance between civilizations.


The major interest of Europeans in a stronger engagement

in the New Silk Road initiative is more strategic reflection

on the future model of globalization, in order to better

influence it, rather than to be undergone by it. It is time

to challenge the ultra-liberal ideology dogmas and to

push back the excesses of globalization, which requires

for European nations to address the issue of borders

and territorial control more deeply. A border is an

organic envelope necessary for the survival of a nation,

Pierre-Emmanuel Tomann

Financial Management







361°ADVICE :










Sint Annalaan 209 ǀ 1853 Strombeek-Bever ǀ Tel: 02 267 92 26

ADV. DIPLOMATIC WORLD Def.indd 1 16/02/18 14:38





Freddy Opsomer is an international entrepreneur living in

Antwerp who was intensively involved in the redevelopment

of the Lithuanian economy after the re-independence of that

country in 1990. As the Chairman of the Free Economic Zone

of Kaunas he was able to organise a strong local management

team for the development of a 500 ha greenfield that was

located in central Lithuania: a tri-modal site adjacent to an

international airport, nearby a new European logistic railway

hub, where the Russian 1.520 mm broad railway gauge meets

the new Trans European network corridor Rail Baltica. Rail

Baltica aims to integrate the 3 Baltic countries Estonia, Latvia

and Lithuania via Poland with the European 1.435 mm railway

network. It is a supranational project of great economic and

political importance for these countries and for the EU.

In this new period of re-independence of Lithuania Freddy

Opsomer took also attention for issues of social corporate

responsibility and he founded the Sugihara Diplomats for Life

Foundation and the museum — in memory of the Japanese

diplomat Sugihara who saved the lives of more than 6.000

people from the Nazi death camps. The saved people, mostly

Jewish, could receive a special transit visa issued by the

Japanese diplomat. Doing so, he risked his life and career as

his country had in 1940, together with fascist Italy, signed

the Tripartite agreement with Nazi Germany. The Japanese

Schindler is now rehabilitated in Japan and is honoured

amongst the Righteous among the Nations in Israel.

Kaunas Free Zone attracted so far 31 local and international

companies who invested 489 M euro and created 3.450 jobs. The

free zone has also a special IT and mega data centre development

zone nearby the 900MW Kruonis Hydro Pumped Storage Power

Plant. Here more than 100 MW of power load is available and

the site is at the crossroads of diverse European dark fiber paths.

In 2017 two large German companies in the automobile sector

decided to establish a manufacturing base in the Kaunas Free

Economic Zone. The multinational, family owned German

company Hella with a sales volume of 6,6 Bn euro in 2016-

2017 and 38.000 employees producing lighting and electronic

components for all car brands. The company will invest 30 M

euro in Kaunas in a first phase of three and employ 250 skilled

workers for the production of sensors, actuators and control

modules for the automotive industry.


Freddy Opsomer signs with Mr Xu Yongjun - General Manager of China Merchants Logistics – between the 2 signatories : Mr Li Jianhong – Chairman of the

China Merchants Group / in the back Prime Minister Butkevicius from Lithuania and Ministers of Economy and Transport)

Another German group also decided to choose the Kaunas

Free Economic Zone: Continental. Continental invests

95 M euro and will create 1.000 jobs in Lithuania, making

this the largest green field investment project in Lithuanian

history. Continental will produce in the new factory door and

seat control units, gateways, intelligent glass control units,

radar sensors for adaptive cruise control and emergency

braking assistance systems.

One of the first companies that came into the Free Economic

Zone was the company Elinta — a spin-off from the Kaunas

University of technology — who is famous in laser technologies

but also very active in electro-vehicles and electricity charger


Freddy Opsomer is convinced that this brings Lithuania

and Kaunas FEZ in a real position to become an e-car and

e-mobility cluster in Northern Europe. According to him these

companies can under special regime of shared production

under custom supervision reach two important consumer

markets: the EU with 500 million people and the CIS (now

Eurasia market) with 180 million people.

Freddy Opsomer has only at a distance of 280 km discovered

the city of Minsk, capital of Belarus, a vibrant city with nearly 2

million inhabitants. Here the Government of China is actually

developing the Great Stone park, located near the Minsk

international airport. It is the largest industrial park outside

China. It has a solid Chinese partnership with the China

Merchants Group and Sinomach as reference shareholders.

Freddy Opsomer is finalising negotiations with the Belarus

government and the Chinese side to integrate a European hub

in this park. Doing so he hopes to have a real concept of twinparks

— one of them located in the EU (Kaunas) and one in

the CIS (Belarus, Russia and Kazakhstan). He does hope that

Kaunas and Minsk will develop fruitful city relationships and

cooperation. In logistic terms that may result in a green trade

corridor between the 2 industrial logistic zones.

The Great Stone park in Minsk is only a small part of an

ambitious Chinese Government project called OBOR — one

Belt one Road. This should become a global network of

multimodal transport infrastructures connecting the Atlantic

and Pacific oceans — Europe-Africa and Asia. OBOR embraces

70% of the world population, 55% of world GDP and 75% of

world energy reserves. Not only China but also countries like

Japan announced plans to invest in such global networks.

Already in 2011, BMW organized regular container trains all

the way from Leipzig to Shenyang in China. The trains were

transporting more than 8.000 components to the assembly

plants of BMW in China. In Leipzig a logistic center was built

of 63.000 m 2 as logistic nexus to this new silk road — nearly 600

new jobs were created to support the German silk road project.

From 2014 on, the Ports of Antwerp and Rotterdam also

received regular long block trains that took the same land

route; all the way from central China via Russia or Kazakhstan

— on a journey of less than 14 days compared to the nearly 40

days by ocean transport.

Although at first sight, a TEU container costs substantially

more by rail than by sea — companies have discovered that

for high valued consumer goods — the time gains, security


easons, as well as the journey via major cities: all of that

offers a number of advantages. HP uses now cargo trains to

ship products to and from China. Another global player DHL

has weekly express service trains originating in Chengdu via

Kazakhstan to Poland. The short rail connections between

Chongqing and Duisburg (10.800 km – 10 days) have a

bright future. It is therefore time of the essence for the

EU Commission and for the EU Parliament to develop an

ambitious plan: a connecting facility between the TEN-T

networks and these new Silk Roads according to Opsomer.

At the World Economic Forum in Davos in 2016 and 2017

much attention was given to these new China Silk Roads. It was

stressed that the new Silk Roads should not just be maritime

routes or multimodal rail-, road corridors; but that this new

global network should become an information e-network.

Such silk road information highway could play an important

role in further developing e-commerce and accelerating the

4th industrial revolution: industry 4.0 and logistics 4.0. Last

year the Davos World Economic Forum made this even more

practical by focusing on new technologies like blockchain that

can connect business processes and different actors along the

Silk Road value chain in a safe way.

Freddy Opsomer anticipated this statements and took at

the Hannover Industry Messe in 2015 the initiative to bring

regions, free zones and industrial parks together in an

association “Silk Road parks” — for his Silk Road Initiative,

3 parks and a strategic partner signed a memorandum of

understanding. These were the Kaunas Free Economic Zone,

the mega industrial China park “Great Stone” in Minsk and

Jiashan, the economic industrial expansion area of Shanghai.

The parks want to promote each other along the same value

chain of the Silk Road; they want to become sustainable and

to be connected in this global network of the 4th industrial

revolution: the e-silk road. As Germany’s industry is a

forerunner in the automatization, the robotisation, the internet

of things, industrial 3-D printing — Opsomer wants now to

set up the international association with a strategic German

anchorage. But in addition he will invite also other parks on

the silk road to join the new silk road initiative: West European

and Baltic ports, inland ports like Duisburg and industrial

parks and free zones in Russia (for example Yekaterinburg

located on the border between Europe and Asia) and in

Kazakhstan. Russia’s Transsiberian railway or the TSR is still

today the longest railway line of nearly 10.000 km connecting

St Petersburg with Vladivostok. This silk road “avant la lettre”

already started in 1891 and forms today as a heroic mega

rail line, part of the new railway land corridors that connect

Western Europe and Asia. The new Silk Roads will really boost

regional economies and will be therefore accelerators of welfare

and economic wealth.

Freddy Opsomer is convinced that history repeats itself.

He makes attention to the old historical silk roads where

for example already in The meeting point between the East

(inspired by communist and confucianist thinking) and the

West (socially corrected market economy) should now create

unique opportunities to work out new visions for the promotion

of growth within a broadly supported social, cultural and

economic model and an environmentally sound platform: a

new model for the future of humanity.

Freddy Opsomer concludes with a dream which he hopes may

come true: silk road trains not carrying cargo all the way from

China to Europe — but silk road passenger trains that will

stop in the cities and regions along the Silk Road — inviting

people to join the multicultural adventure of the Silk road

and facilitated by a real “Silk Road Visum” politically made

possible through multilateral agreements between the EU,

Russia and China.


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least eight months.









On July 2016, the President of the European

Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, and the

Prime Minister of the People’s Republic of

China, Li Keqiang, jointly declared 2018 to

be the official EU-China Tourism Year. This

initiative was inaugurated earlier this year, on

19 January, in the Doge’s Palace of the

UNESCO World Heritage city of Venice.

The blocs’ strong interest for this initiative was evident in

the lead-up and throughout unravelling of the event.

On this occasion, Elżbieta Bieńkowska, EU Commissioner

for the Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and

SMEs — also responsible for tourism — officially opened

the 2018 EU-China Tourism Year together with

Qi Xuchun, Vice-Chairman of the National Committee

of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative


each other’s places, cultures, and traditions. And we both

want to stimulate new investment opportunities in the

European Union and China alike.”

There are three specific objectives the EU is striving to

achieve during this special year. As a first priority, the

EU aims to promote sustainable tourism and attract more

Chinese travellers lesser-known destinations. Secondly,

In her opening speech, Commissioner Bieńkowska

underlined the importance of EU-China relations and

the Year of Tourism. She stressed how Europe and China

represent some of the oldest civilizations in the world

and, as a result, strong historical relations. Marco Polo,

the most prominent resident of Venice went on his epic

journey to China over 750 years ago, paving the way for

“greater and greater exchanges between our people”.


Today, this outlook continues. According to Elżbieta

Bieńkowska, initiatives like the 2018 EU-China Tourism

Year, are “good for both the EU and China. We both

want to improve mutual understanding between European

and Chinese peoples. We both want to encourage more

Europeans and Chinese to visit, discover and appreciate

Alexander Alles

Doge’s Palace of the UNESCO World Heritage city of Venice

© Diplomatic World

the EU is looking to increase investment towards the

tourism industry. As such, the EU is continuing to work

with Chinese authorities to eliminate the existing barriers

which hinder bilateral relations in this sector. And thirdly,

the EU hopes that the ongoing negotiations on EU-China

visa facilitation and air connectivity, will advance


From the Chinese side, during the opening ceremony,

Prime Minister Li Keqiang sent a message to the audience

underlining that the importance of fostering a solid

and strategic partnership in this sector is twofold. On

one hand, strengthening bilateral ties enhances cultural

exchanges while, on the other, it foster international

friendship between both blocs.

According to Mr Li, this initiative will “extend China-

EU tourism cooperation and personnel exchanges and to

promote dialogue, development and mutual benefits.”

In general, economic relations between the EU and

China are not always easy. Tourism, however, offers

a wide range of opportunities for both sides, and the

developments go to show that it is, indeed a profitable

sector. Specifically in the case of Chinese outbound

tourism, it is important to look back to the political

context surrounding this sector — only thirty-five years


In 1983 the Chinese government took the first step

towards liberalizing travel, allowing citizens to leave the

country under the strict condition that they visit relatives

abroad. This policy lasted for over a decade when, in

1997, travel restrictions were dropped for all citizens,

marking the official start of outbound travel from China.

This is where Chinese start discovering traveling for

leisure. Today, the country is the largest market source of

international tourists in the world.

This change has been exponential, shifting global

travel movements and strongly impacting the economic

landscape. According to the China Daily, 69.5 million

people travelled to China in 2017. On the flipside, in

2016, Chinese travellers accounted for 136.8 million of

international tourism abroad, spending over USD 200

billion. 48.8% of border crossings were within the Greater

China, while 51.2% of the total were outside. This switch

was particularly evident in 2016, the first year in which

more Chinese tourists travelled to destinations beyond

Greater China than to those within it.


Trends in travel destinations for the Chinese are also

quickly changing. While the majority of Chinese travellers

tend to move around Asia, others are increasingly

choosing Europe as their destination. Among long-haul

destinations, high-profile Western European countries

such as France, Germany and the Netherlands are seeing

modest annual growth. Nevertheless, Eastern, Central and

Northern European destinations as diverse as Finland,

Poland and Serbia are continuing to enjoy dramatic

growth rates, benefitting from the perception that they are

safer, and from their reputation as more “unconventional”

destinations in Europe.

The travel and tourism sector is also having a ripple effect

at national level. As outbound travel experience grows

in China, greater awareness in travel preferences from

different parts of the country are starting to emerge. Often,

these are influenced by a number of factors, ranging from

geographical location, to convenient flight connections.

First and second tier city residents — who currently make

up the majority of Chinese outbound travellers — are

generally moving away from more popular destinations in

favour of more exotic, less-visited locations.

Irma Orlandi

Centre will offer several workshops across the EU helping

local companies understand Chinese tourists — namely

through their traveling and spending trends — in order

to target their services accordingly, and benefit from this

phenomenon in a win-win business context.


At the same time, residents from third and fourth tier

cities are starting to take their first trips abroad. Like the

60% of Chinese outbound tourists, they typically travel in

groups. This trend is rapidly increasing also due to the fast

development of international flights and visa centres in

third and fourth tier cities as well.

As a result of China’s booming outbound tourism, an

important question for European counterparts is how

to best benefit from this trend. This is especially true

for SMEs who observe spending tendencies of Chinese

outbound travellers, and are looking to find a healthy

balance from which both parties can bear fruit.

The 2018 EU-China Tourism Year offers a unique

opportunity for companies who operate in the sector

to deepen their understanding of EU-China tourism

relations, and benefit from it.

The year will be filled with events and activities taking

place in China and across the EU, furthering the

collaboration of the many stakeholders and key actors

involved. One such player, is the EU SME Centre, an

initiative of the European Commission aiming to help EU

SMEs to expand their China-business. Together with the

China Outbound Tourism Research Institute, the EU SME

This article was written by Alexander Alles, Senior

Project Officer at EUROCHAMBRES, the Association

of European Chambers of Commerce and Industry. At

EUROCHAMBRES, Alexander Alles is responsible

for the outreach strategy of the EU SME Centre

across the 28 Member States of the EU. Before joining

EUROCHAMBRES, he was based in Frankfurt am

Main, Germany and was working for the Honorary

Consulate General of Nepal and the German-Asian

Business Circle, promoting business opportunities

between Germany and Asia.

Editorial contributions from Irma Orlandi — PR,

Communications and Events specialist based in

Barcelona. Irma Orlandi currently works as Events

and Partnerships Manager at the Association of

Mediterranean Chambers of Commerce (ASCAME),

actively representing the organization and securing

strategic partnerships with key stakeholders. Prior

to ASCAME, Irma Orlandi was Outreach Project

Officer at the Association of European Chambers of

Commerce (EUROCHAMBRES), actively promoting

EU-Internationalization projects supporting SMEs enter

foreign markets. Born in the US, and grown up between

Singapore, China, Italy and Belgium, Irma breaths

multi-culturalism and thrives on diversity.


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China, in the past few years, has been actively

expanding its economic horizons. It is developing,

among others, a railway project in Africa, a multibillion

dollar fund to develop infrastructure in

most sectors in Brazil, a transport link in East

Africa and a railroad through Asia 1 . Europe is also

not forgotten, with China currently working on

establishing the Belt and Road Initiative.

The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is a Chinese

development strategy which promotes co-operation and

connectivity between more than 60 countries through

Asia, the Middle-East and Europe. Accounting for 60% of

the world’s population and 35% of total trade, the BRI is

modern China’s most ambitious foreign project yet. 2

As of yet, the EU’s stance is not yet unified and the BRI still

raises controversial debates. However, the advantages that

a co-operation can bring can no longer be ignored, thus, a

plan needs be created detailing the Union’s opinion on the

matter. Until this is done, proceeding with the initiative will

prove difficult, even for individual member states.

It was not until 2017 that the BRI started to gain

considerable traction across the globe, bringing the question

of whether the EU should become part of the initiative,

to the forefront. Recently, the benefits of the BRI, such

as the development of infrastructure in crisis-hit member

states and the creation of new jobs, has started to outweigh

concerns put forward by Brussels.

Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) created over 250.000 new

jobs in Europe in 2016 alone, this with 35 billion euros (or

a 77% increase since 2015) coming straight from China 3 . If

China were to increase their investment to further develop

the BRI then the amount of jobs could only grow.


When the BRI was initially put forward in 2013, Brussels

was unfavorable towards the idea of a large trade route

with China, due to, among others, concerns that the

whole construction would only work one way (European

companies would still face considerable difficulties in

penetrating the Chinese market). Additionally, until

recently, the EU has been marred with crises, such as:

immigration, populism, the Russian resurgence, Brexit,

and the Catalonian crisis. All of Brussels’ resources were

focused internally rather than on foreign trade.

A large part of FDIs (up to half in 2015) went towards

southern European countries such as Portugal, Greece, and

Spain, thus offering a potential solution to their economic

predicaments and to the economic crisis in general 4 .

Another important factor, especially in eastern and southern

European states, is that the ultimate destination of both

major trade routes is Europe. Therefore, while Brussels itself

is not particularly clear on its stance towards this initiative,

individual member states have become more receptive

towards it. 5

While there are countries who are in favor of the BRI, there

is no consensus. The Nordic community has not shown

much interest as of yet, mainly due to their well-connected

nature coupled with lower levels of transit. Moreover, even

countries which are interested in the initiative, such as

Germany and the Netherlands, have raised concerns about

the long-term implications that the BRI would have in the

EU. 6

It is clear that such extensive foreign investment, although

in general beneficial, does not come without its downsides

for Europe, especially due to a lack of regulations and a

unified position 7 . This internal division is already impacting

European politics and decisions. In July 2017, EU member

states with major Chinese backing, opposed the notion that

China’s claims to resources in the South China Sea were

illegitimate and contrary to international law. This was not

the only case. Weeks before, Greece opposed a declaration

that China was not respecting human rights, as well as

a proposition to tighten screening measures for Chinese

investments. 8

Furthermore, allowing unregulated foreign goods into

Europe could create a domino effect and start a race to the

bottom. It is indisputable that the EU has very elaborate

consumer protection legislation as well as high quality

standards for products, which should be preserved. Thus, if

the EU and China want to guarantee sufficient standards;

international regulations and safeguards are pivotal to this.

If these standards are neglected, then either country could

suffer from a loss of quality.

This lack of safeguards is also one of the reasons why

Brussels has been reluctant towards the BRI: it is too

young of an initiative, with many unclear features. Such

a project would require a clear basis in three aspects:

economic, political, and legal. The benefits of having the

BRI, however, do not have to be overshadowed by these

disadvantages. The EU can turn this uncertainty into an

advantage if they manage to coordinate with the member

states and shape the future policies of the initiative. The

European acquis communautaire, as it currently exists,

could serve as a standard to establish the regulations of

the BRI.

Certain EU member and non-member states have gotten

ahead of the curve and started negotiating with the Chinese.

The 16+1 summit (between China, Central and Eastern

European countries) has already met 6 times with usually

fruitful results such as the agreement to redevelop the

Budapest-Belgrade Railway; yet, Brussels still lags behind.

A reason for this is that if China develops its initiative fully,

the EU-dominating countries such as Germany, France, and

Italy would lose a large portion of their influence. However,

this can also be easily remedied if there is supranational

coordination from the start. The longer the EU waits before

participating and intervening, the more it will fall behind

and lose influence at the negotiating table.

To gain influence, Brussels has applied pressure to have

more say in BRI-related institutions such as the Asian

Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), which provides

investment for related infrastructure undertakings. Although

not used for this purpose yet, it would allow the EU to

actively impact the project. As it currently stands, European

countries hold a total of 20% of the bank’s executive board,

yet the AIIB remains firmly controlled by China (75%). 9

Thus, if the EU took advantage of its representation in the

AIIB, it could exert its influence over the guidelines that

affect the BRI’s financing. 10 This sort of plan of action

needs to continue for the Union to be able to actively

participate in the initiative’s decisions.

Europe should start by negotiating fallback measures in

case of political instability along the Belt and Road routes,

this includes outside and inside of the EU. As an example,

a significant number of BRI countries, such as Thailand,

Russia and Indonesia will face elections in 2018, and

without an international agreement, the EU could witness

the collapse of the BRI in a set of events that would be

completely out of its control. 11

Additionally, the expansion of the EU’s trade links and

liaisons with Asian and Middle-eastern countries has

to be coupled to a control system that could guarantee

that its security will not be jeopardized by the initiative.

This control is essential to avoid problems arising from

the “who” and “what” enters Europe, otherwise there is


potential for crises related to an influx of contraband which

would increase the amount of counterfeits and dangerous


This is directly linked to the next issue, transparency. The

transparency of the BRI has to be ensured too, not just with

what goes in and out, but also with how it complies with

western values. The rules and regulations related to the

initiative need to be clear in a way that allows the public to

be informed, so as to promote an open and healthy debate

on the subject.

Aside from its push in the AIIB however, the EU is not

without further bargaining chip. As China’s biggest trade

partner, the EU has weight that it can throw around.

This can be used to promote the sort of transparency and

stability that the Union is looking for. At the end of the

day, if the EU successfully manages to hinder Chinese

investment (as they have already tried) in the Union, then

no one benefits. Therefore both parties are dependent on

each other.

ultimately hinder developing trade between the two entities.

But on the other hand, the EU also relies on China as a

major trade partner, and it is very unlikely that China would

succumb to European demands seeing as it has to maintain

its foothold as a global power. A balance would need to

be struck, and if successful, then the EU and China would

potentially enter a new era of prosperity.

The Belt and Road initiative is not a simple one, being the

most ambitious initiative of its kind in the modern day and

age. Brussels is faced with a challenge: either they get on

board and make their terms and conditions heard, or they

opt out and lose an opportunity to develop their trade and

further boost the European economy. Success is a choice

and if Brussels can unite itself on the initiative, then it will

have chosen to succeed.

For more information, feel free to send an email to


On the one hand, if the EU does not want the BRI to

succeed then China will find it difficult to do so, and it will

Flávia Miari Cançado, Intern at Billiet & Co Lawyers.

Aviel Sokolovsky, Intern at Billiet & Co Lawyers.


1 BBC, “5 Ambiciosos Projetos de Infraestrutura com os quais a China

quer sacudir a Ordem Econômica Mundial” (2017), in English “5

Ambitious Projects with which China wants to shake the World

Economic Order”.

See in http://www.bbc.com/portuguese/internacional-39976899.

2 Belt and Road official website, short infographic video number 1.

See in https://beltandroad.hktdc.com/en/belt-and-road-basics

3 EY, “Record Foreign Direct Investment in Europe sparks job creation

boom” (2017).

See in http://www.ey.com/gl/en/newsroom/news-releases/news-eyrecord-foreign-direct-investment-in-europe-sparks-job-creation-boom

4 Anders Fogh Rasmussen, “China’s investment in Europe offers

opportunities - and threats”, (2017).

See in https://www.ft.com/content/9e7428cc-c963-11e7-8536-


5 Mercy Kuo, “Belt and road initiative: EU strategic interests in Asia,

insights from Richard Ghiasy”, (2017)

See in https://thediplomat.com/2017/10/belt-and-road-initiative-eustrategic-interests-in-asia/

6 Mercy Kuo, “Belt and road initiative: EU strategic interests in Asia,

insights from Richard Ghiasy”, (2017)

See in https://thediplomat.com/2017/10/belt-and-road-initiative-eustrategic-interests-in-asia/

7 F. William Engdahl, “Will China’s Belt and Road (BRI) Trigger and

East-West Rupture Within the EU?”, (2018). See in


8 Astrid Pepermans, Leia Wang, Stephan Klose, “An uphill struggle?

Towards coordinated EU Engagement with China’s Belt and Road

Initiative” (2017). See in http://www.egmontinstitute.be/uphillstruggle-towards-coordinated-eu-engagement-chinas-belt-road-initiative/

9 Astrid Pepermans, Leia Wang, Stephan Klose, “An uphill struggle?

Towards coordinated EU Engagement with China’s Belt and Road

Initiative” (2017). See in http://www.egmontinstitute.be/uphillstruggle-towards-coordinated-eu-engagement-chinas-belt-road-initiative/

10 Ujvari, B., “The European Union and the China-led transformation of

Global Economic Governance”, (2016). See in



11 Chuchu Zhang and Chaowei Xiao, “China’s Belt and Road Initiative

Faces New Security Challenges in 2018”, (2017). See in: https://


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The UK gave its official notification to leave the European

Union on March 29 2017, invoking article 50 of the TEU.

When the UK first announced Brexit, it was stated that

Britain would restore its self-determination and be free to

establish its own trade agreements. However, for nearly a

year, no measure was taken to that effect. Discussions for new

agreements have started to take place only recently, when

Theresa May made her first official visit to China after the

Brexit referendum at the end of January 2018. 1

The new situation generated by Brexit creates the possibility

of a hit to UK-EU trade, making it crucial for Britain to seek

new overseas markets, and China offers a prospect of major

business relations and opportunities. In the past few years,

China has been actively expanding its economic horizons

and has been investing in several infrastructure projects

worldwide, revealing itself to be a very interesting trade

partner for the UK. 2

UK-China’s trade is already significant and the British

industry is based not only on the export of a myriad of

different products to China, but also on Chinese imports,

which account for the UK’s third largest source of imports. 3

The country with the largest population and a consumer

market that is growing exponentially clearly represents an

opening for Britain after the EU.

In this perspective, the prime minister of the UK declared

on her way to meet Xi Jinping that the UK is free to strike

their own trade deals, revealing an attempt by the country to

develop an Anglo-Chinese trade after Brexit. 4 May used her

predecessor David Cameron’s words, stating that the trip

would expand the “Golden Era” between the countries. 5

It was announced that in the three day visit a series of trade

agreements were made, representing a total amount of over

£9.3 billion that can potentially create more than 2.500 jobs

in the UK. In addition, the Chinese government agreed to

end in the coming six months its ban on UK beef, which has

lasted for over 20 years. Consequently, UK dairy producers

and firms will be able to penetrate the Chinese market. 6 The

trade between China and the UK is currently worth over £59

billion per year. 7

As of yet, however, it is not clear how the new trading

relationship between the governments will proceed. The IMF

predicts that China’s import market will be higher than US$3.6

trillion by 2020, and China’s investors in 2017 increased their

capital in Britain to a total amount of $20.8 million. 8 The

advantages the UK could gain by getting closer to China are

clear, but the advantages for China could be questioned.

China’s interest in the UK can be associated with the

opportunity to get closer to the EU, considering London has

been one of the gateways to the EU market. 9 However, now

that Britain would be separated from the EU’s 500 million

consumers, it may not be the same promising trade-partner to

China as it used to be. It is to be seen how the UK economy

will react to Brexit, but the temporary political instability

could be used to China’s advantage to reach a successful

commercial agreement. 10

The UK can be interesting to China to support projects to

which Brussels has shown reluctance, thus becoming the

partner that China seeks in Europe. 11 The Belt and Road

Initiative (BRI) could be seen as China’s most ambitious

foreign project, being a major infrastructure strategy with

the purpose of promoting connectivity and co-operation

between Asia, the Middle-East and Europe, encouraging new

trades and potentially accounting for 35% of world trade.

Nevertheless, the EU has as yet no uninform view on BRI 12 ;

while there are some countries, especially in southern Europe,

such as Greece, Spain and Portugal, that support BRI, other

countries, such as the Nordic states, have not shown much

interest thus far. 13 The lack of a unitary position within the

EU has created internal divisions which are already impacting

policies and decisions in Brussels. 14

Since the EU has not yet achieved a resolution, the UK can

use this opportunity to get closer to China and support the

initiative. During Theresa May’s recent visit, president

Xi Jinping presented the prime minister with a memorandum to

allowing the UK to declare its support for BRI. However, May

has not yet embraced the opportunity for Britain to become the

first western country to formally encourage the initiative. 15

The UK’s resistance can be understood: the project is not yet

detailed, with unclear standards that still have to be defined. 16

In addition, EU-UK negotiations to define their trade

relationship following Brexit are ongoing. There are three

possible scenarios that could shape China’s interest in the UK:

(i) an EEA membership for the UK; (ii) a relation governed

only by the WTO rules; or (iii) a tailor-made agreement. 17

The uncertainties in the UK’s future prejudice its position in

any potential new trade until it comes to an agreement with

the EU. China may question whether expanding its trade to

the UK now would be beneficial. Indeed, China may not want

to jeopardize its future relations with the EU. 18

China is currently interested in reaching a bilateral agreement

with the EU and if the UK establishes a limited trade

agreement with the EU, it could create a different block

of trading partners for China. On the one hand, if there is

still a relatively open market with the EU, China could have

access to the entirety of Europe. On the other hand, if the UK

distances its trade from the EU with the Brexit agreement, it

could face difficulties in finding new trade partners.

China’s market and partnership can be the solution for the

UK after the EU. The outcome of the UK-China relations may

depend on the evolution of the UK-EU relations. While it is

likely that a trade agreement with China could be positive for

Britain, the next steps in Brexit will define whether it could

also be interesting for China.

For questions, feel free to send an email to


Flávia Miari Cançado, Intern at Billiet & Co Lawyers.

1 Chris Buckley and Stephen Castle, “As Theresa May Pursues Deals in

China, Her Own Troubles Follow”, (2018)

See in https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/31/world/asia/theresa-maychina.html

2 BBC, “5 Ambiciosos Projetos de Infraestrutura com os quais a

China quer sacudir a Ordem Econômica Mundial” (2017), in

English “5 Ambitious Projects with which China wants to shake the

World Economic Order”. See in http://www.bbc.com/portuguese/


3 Jake Liddle, “China-UK Trade: The Effects of Brexit”, (2017)

See in http://www.china-briefing.com/news/2017/03/03/china-uk-tradethe-effects-of-brexit.html

4 BBC, “Theresa May hails ‘first step’ to trade deal after Xi Jinping

talks”, (2018)

See in http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-politics-42897705

5 Chris Buckley and Stephen Castle, “As Theresa May Pursues Deals in

China, Her Own Troubles Follow”, (2018)

See in https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/31/world/asia/theresa-maychina.html

6 Oscar Rousseau, “China to end decades-old UK beef ban in six

months”, (2018)

See in https://www.globalmeatnews.com/Article/2018/02/01/China-toend-decades-old-UK-beef-ban-in-six-months

7 China Briefing, “May Leaves China with Trade Deals amid Brexit

Uncertainty”, 2018

See in http://www.china-briefing.com/news/2018/02/02/may-leaveschina-trade-deals-amid-brexit-uncertainty.html

8 Chris Buckley and Stephen Castle, “As Theresa May Pursues Deals in

China, Her Own Troubles Follow”, (2018)

See in https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/31/world/asia/theresa-maychina.html

9 Andrew Parmley, “London is the gateway to the world for the EU

business”, (2017)

See in http://www.cityam.com/267678/london-gateway-world-eubusiness

10 Alex Gray, World Economic Forum, “The world biggest economies in

2017”, (2017)

See in https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2017/03/worlds-biggesteconomies-in-2017/

11 Jake Liddle, “China-UK Trade: The Effects of Brexit”, (2017)

See in http://www.china-briefing.com/news/2017/03/03/china-uk-tradethe-effects-of-brexit.html

12 Belt and Road official website, short infographic video number 1.

See in https://beltandroad.hktdc.com/en/belt-and-road-basics

13 Mercy Kuo, “Belt and road initiative: EU strategic interests in Asia,

insights from Richard Ghiasy”, (2017)

See in https://thediplomat.com/2017/10/belt-and-road-initiative-eustrategic-interests-in-asia/

14 F. William Engdahl, “Will China’s Belt and Road (BRI) Trigger and

East-West Rupture Within the EU?”, (2018).

See in https://www.globalresearch.ca/will-chinas-belt-and-road-britrigger-an-east-west-rupture-within-theeu/5627681

15 China Briefing, “May Leaves China with Trade Deals amid Brexit

Uncertainty”, 2018

See in http://www.china-briefing.com/news/2018/02/02/may-leaveschina-trade-deals-amid-brexit-uncertainty.html

16 China Briefing, “The Beijing Belt-Road Forum: What we learned About

China’s Intention”, (2017)

See in http://www.china-briefing.com/news/2017/05/23/beijing-beltroad-forum-learned-chinas-intentions.html

17 European Parliament, Directorate-General for Internal Policies,

“Consequences of Brexit in the Area of Consumer Protection”, (2017)

See in http://www.europarl.europa.eu/RegData/etudes/


18 Ralph Jennings, “All Eyes Are On Theresa May To Sell A Doubtful

China, Belt And Road On Post-Brexit UK”, (2018)

See in https://www.forbes.com/sites/ralphjennings/2018/01/31/






Some reflections on and a summary of a one-day

workshop (19 December 2017 - http://www.ucip.be/

Events/), organized by the UCIP 1 project (funded

by INNOVIRIS), BACES 2 , BDA 3 and the Confucius

Institute at VUB.


“Artificial Intelligence” (AI) used to be the privileged

playground of universities and research institutes. They were

steering the progress in the field. Nowadays this is slightly

different. AI has also become a field of competition between

large companies and power blocks. Multinational companies

have become a major source of progress and innovation,

with immense societal and economic impact. AI is also of

considerable interest to governments, policy makers and the

public at large. Regulations are being designed, sometimes

driven by fear, ethical and security considerations but also

with the objective of improving the quality of life, both at

the societal and the individual level.

In the workshop, the recent AI (r)evolution was analyzed

and discussed from the point of view of research and

development as well as its economic impact. The emphasis

was on the China/Europe/USA perspective. Currently,

China and the USA are battling to become the world’s

first AI superpowers. The USA is still the leading nation,

while Europe seems to be absent or at least less visible,

in this race. Companies like Facebook, Google, Amazon

and Microsoft are being challenged by the likes of Baidu,

Alibaba and Tencent (B.A.T.). Analyzing the reasons why,

in the future, the use of AI in China could surpass the

USA and definitely Europe was a central question in the

debate. As AI will impact our lives profoundly in the coming

10 years, are we comfortable buying Chinese products

powered with Chinese AI? Would we buy a self-driving car

or intelligent fridge made by a Chinese company? Are we

OK with having eye surgery or accepting a cancer diagnosis

from a Chinese AI robot? How can we best cope with the

realities of China’s AI trends, ambitions and globalization

plans? How can we assess the benefits and risks of Chinese

Intelligence getting into our lives undetected? What is

Europe doing to secure a leading role in the AI field and

capitalize on university research results? What role can EU-

China relations play here? How can we overcome barriers

in language and data regulation when collaborating with

China? Is there an inherent danger over collaboration with

China? How can we address Chinese market opportunities

and risks? What is the role of the three big tech companies,

B.A.T.? Given the huge size of the Chinese market, how

should we adapt our scale of thinking? These are but a few

consumer and policy questions that enlightened the debate.

Setting the tone for the rest of the workshop, Tias Guns

highlighted some aspects of the broader AI context by

reminding us of fundamental questions about the nature and

the societal impact of the current AI revolution (or is it a

bubble 4 ): Is AI a new type of human-created intelligence or

is it a research field in computer science that develops smart

algorithms? While the first option is still a dream, the second

one is reality. Prediction and reasoning have penetrated

the world of computer science: decision support systems

propose action and autonomous systems act. “Big data” has

become a container concept for diverse disciplines in data

science and the playground for an evolution from knowing

(collecting heterogeneous data to analyze the present —

information extraction), prediction (learning from the past

to predict the future — machine learning) and reasoning

(planning and acting according to the now and predicted

future — artificial intelligence). Can AI outsmart people?

Yes, a person is limited in space and time while AI is limited

in neither because it can rely on parallel computing and the

cloud. Is AI. Dangerous? Potentially yes, AI systems are like

savants who are unusually good at doing one thing, but with

no context, no morality, no knowledge of side effects. Tias

Guns concluded his talk with the statement: “AI can make

wishes come true, after investments in infrastructure and

data. Let’s hope these wishes are leading to human-oriented,

sustainable solutions.”

Pascal Coppens gave an inspiring talk on “Artificial

Intelligence: China’s new normal”. China’s ambition is to

become the leader in AI by 2030.

Noteworthy in President Xi Jinping’s speech at the 19th CPC

National Congress in 2017 was the following statement: “We

will work faster to build China into a manufacturer of quality

and develop advanced manufacturing, promote further

integration of the internet, big data, and artificial intelligence

with the real economy”. In terms of numbers of companies

involved, investment and attracting talent, China seems to be

well on its way. The Chinese government plans to win the AI

race against the USA. Whereas the USA is mainly focused on

horizontal generic platforms that provide long term benefits,

China is focused primarily on vertical platforms that bring

rapid financial returns, e.g. in specific areas such as speech

and face recognition, computer vision and intelligent robotic

systems. AI technology platforms are being built by the

Chinese internet giants, as in the USA. Looking at the key

performance indicators — AI companies, AI investments and

AI talent — the USA is still ahead with a factor ranging from

1.5 to 3 compared to China, followed by the UK.

The Chinese government sees AI as an effective way to

solve the huge challenges facing the country, as well as an

accelerator for its economic growth. The Chinese consumer

is an early adopter of AI-driven products because of China’s

particular cultural context, and Chinese attitudes towards

privacy, confidentiality, trust, man-machine-relationships

and the urge for more convenience. European consumers

are more reluctant and hesitant. China will become an AI

economic power because it has the four critical ingredients

like the USA: availability of data, infrastructure (e.g.

supercomputing combined with the cloud), talent and, in

the near future, advanced chip designs and implementation

facilities. The real disruption in AI will come from the

hundreds of well-funded new generations of global Chinese

start-ups, especially those creating the latest consumer

devices built in Shenzhen. Note of the author: It is unclear

if universities will be able to play a broader role than just

talent creation for these start-ups. Most of them are not yet

well prepared for systematic spin-off creation through wellestablished

technology transfer processes. Therefore, also

in VUB’s UCIP project, new types of contacts are currently

being established in China, directly with match-making

companies (IP brokers) and with companies located within

the partner university’s ecosystem, bypassing the university’s

technology transfer units.

Pascal Coppens ended his talk with the unanswered

question: But where is Europe? Note of the author: There



are several successful European start-ups that have a

potential for growth but, globally speaking, there is a lack

of scale. The investment fund Atomico predicts: “The

probability that the next Google will emerge in Europe

has never been greater than now”. Europe produces two

times more PhDs in the STEM disciplines than the USA

and China, and has built entrepreneurial skills into the

attainment targets of higher education curricula. Unlike in

the USA and Asia, Europe is actively building ecosystems,

open research and innovation platforms, in which traditional

companies, young start-ups and universities collaborate.

Daniel Wong elaborated his talk around the rise of

consumer AI in China. He described his journey as CEO of

Rokid 5 , the voice assistant (cfr. Amazon’s Echo) of China.

In China everything goes faster, even faster than in the

USA. “From concept to mass production in 18 months”

can only happen in China. China has more early adopters.

In 2015, western Venture Capitalists (VCs), business

leaders and consumers were very cautious, even in Silicon

Valley, whereas Chinese VCs, industry and consumers were

enthusiastic about AI. Now, in 2018, there are hundreds of

voice assistants. In the USA, you can stay unique for a long

time. In China, as soon as you launch an innovation, you

have dozens or hundreds of competitors, who automatically

force you to remain innovative. China is also a very special

market where, for example, you can raise the selling price

and still sell more units! Consumers are seeking the newest

and the most valuable, and are willing to pay for it. China

offers a lot of advantages, such as consumer fascination,

data, speed, funds and government support. What about

Europe? The natural partners for Chinese companies are

situated in Silicon Valley. Europe does not cross the mind

of most entrepreneurs in China. AI innovation in China is

driven by the new start-ups, not necessarily the big guys

like B.A.T.






Note of the author: Dan Wong visited some VUB

laboratories on Big Data, AI and Robotics and was

extremely surprised to find interesting technologies and

horizontal technology platforms emanating from VUB’s

excellent strategic research portfolios, despite their longer

creation-time-to-market expectation.

Tom Vandendooren: gave us insights into how Sentiance,

a Belgian start-up, became active in the Chinese market.

Sentiance’s AI platform turns IoT (Internet of Things) and

smartphone sensor data into rich insights about people’s

behaviour and real-time context: sensing, mining connected

devices, understanding and predicting behaviour in the real

world and in real time. These insights help companies engage

with their customers and users in a hyper-personalised way.

Sentiance’s technology is used in the following verticals:

life-style based insurance, contextual commerce, connected

health, smart mobility and fleet management, connected

cars, smart home and smart city http://www.sentiance.com/

Tom Vandendooren characterized Sentiance’s China

experience as “good, bad and scary”. The good is about the

market size, smart spaces, O2O 6 , the social credit system

designed to increase trust in the Chinese market, the

receptiveness of the ecosystem towards new practices, the

widespread mobile services. The bad is about restrictions on

data for western companies which hamper their participation

in the market — like having to use local datacenters for data

storage, privacy regulations, IP transfer requests, … The

scary is more about how the Chinese compete in ways that

do not always correspond to the European understanding of

fairness, as well as the big B.A.T. brothers. Recently, Plug

and Play (PNP), one of the world’s largest open innovation

platforms, entered into a partnership with Sentiance, to

exploit the vast opportunities in the Chinese market. As

Sentiance’s local partner, PNP China will utilize its extensive

network of corporate, government and investment partners

in China to drive and accelerate growth in the market.

Salvatore Spinello focused on opportunities for AI

multidisciplinary research and the possibilities of EU-China

collaboration within the EU’s programme Future and

Emerging Technologies — FET. Within the Horizon 2020

programme budget of 74,8 billion Euros, excellent science

represents 24,2 billion Euros and, within the latter, FET has

a budget of 2,6 billion Euros dedicated to novel ideas for

radically new technologies. The financials of projects with

Chinese involvement are summarized in the following table.


in H2020

Budget FET Budget

2014 247 31,5M€ 5 316K€

2015 352 40,5M€ 3 822K€

2016 513 54,5M€ 2 62K€

2017 648 75,3M€ 1 370K€

Note from the author: Considering the number of partners

in EU proposals, their multi-year nature, the figures in the

table represent a mere drop in a vast ocean. Nonetheless,

these grants are very important because they enable Chinese

researchers, enterprises, institutions and universities to team

up with their European partners to participate in Horizon

2020 projects, also providing an excellent opportunity to get to

know the state-of-the art beyond official publications in both

parts of the world.

In summary, the workshop concentrated on the positive

opportunities of collaboration with China in the field of AI

and provided valuable insight into Chinese ambitions and

the many on-going societal processes within China that are

combining to produce an explosive growth in AI.

However, I’ve also been reflecting on Tias Gun’s quotation,

“AI can make wishes come true, … let’s hope these wishes

are leading to human-oriented, sustainable solutions.” It is,

however, a worry that AI technologies can also be used to

make evil wishes come true. This cannot be ignored: a striking

example is the election process that produced President

Donald John Trump. This happened in a democracy, the

USA. The interplay of different components (i) money,

(ii) lies and (iii) manipulation is rooted in a spider web of

companies with know-how on big data, AI and media. Central

in the spider web is Robert Mercer, initially a scientist at

IBM dealing with natural language processing, which is the

historical breeding ground for contemporary AI scientists.

He has also worked on algorithmic trading and stock market

prediction, before moving to the Renaissance Technology

Hedge Fund in the early nineties and becoming a billionaire.

Here is component (i), the money. The SCL group (Strategic

Communication Laboratories) is a private British behavioural

research and strategic communication company. Through its

affiliate Cambridge Analytica, it performs data mining and

data analysis on selected target audiences. On its website,

Cambridge Analytica advertises “Cambridge Analytica

uses data to change audience behaviour” and mentions a

commercial and political division within the organisation.

Communications specifically target key audience groups to

influence and modify behaviour in accordance with the goals

of SCL’s client. The company describes itself as a “global

election management agency”. This is the basis for component

(ii) the lies. It is estimated that Trump’s completely true

statements account for only 5 % of all his election statements.

Again, the company’s know-how is rooted in scientific

research, e.g. behavioural psychology, personalised and usually

innocent questionnaires and surveys. The fusion of these

personalised data (eventually grouped into a limited number of

categories of personality types) with data that can be acquired

or bought from banks, IT companies like Google, Amazon, …

has turned the USA election process into a real data-driven

campaign through personal communication, targeting three

crucial US states and convincing the 80.000 voters needed to

win the elections. This is component (iii) the manipulation.

The core technology of SCL can, of course, be used in various

ways but if these technologies are capable of disrupting

a democracy, the question that arises is, what effects can

they have in a society based on “Socialism with Chinese

Characteristics”? The information used in the above paragraph

comes from the web and a documentary “Unfair Game” …

but then again, is it fake or real news information? In any

case, it describes a picture that goes beyond NETFLIX’s

fiction series “House of Cards”, and illustrates that, as for any

breakthrough scientific research, there is a potential dark side

in its application which, however, should not prevent us from

doing good research.

Jan Cornelis

Academic Attaché CIDIC and

Emeritus Professor Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB)

1 UCIP: University centered International platforms on innovation and

knowledge transfer – INNOVIRIS: Brussels Institute for Research and


2 BACES: Brussels Academy for China European Studies

3 BDA: Brussels Diplomatic Academy

4 Author’s note: AI has experienced several hype cycles, followed by

disappointment and criticism, followed by funding cuts, followed by

renewed interest, sometimes decades later (see, https://en.wikipedia.

org/wiki/AI_winter). It is my opinion that this time, the congruence of

massive computing power (supercomputers, cloud computing and the

perspectives of quantum computing), and progress in big data and deep

learning will make AI part of our daily lives. Previous hypes might not

have achieved the expectations, but nevertheless they also produced

substantial progress in science and its applications.

5 https://www.rokid.com/en/index.html The company’s product line-up

includes smart speakers called Rokid Pebble and Alien, which are

currently sold in China (see also CES - Consumer Electronics show

https://www.ces.tech/). In 2018, Rokid debuted its newest offering:

augmented reality glasses with incorporated voice control and AI.

6 O2O stands for “online to offline.” It is a term used to describe a

variety of e-commerce services that provide online information,

services, or discounts to consumers to enhance their offline shopping






If you have met Hans De Wolf before, you can never

forget him. If you have worked with him, the taste

for intellectual adventure stays with you. If you

don’t know him yet, it is not easy to find him on the

internet. It is through his project portfolio that you

can trace him most easily.


Hans Maria De Wolf (1961) is an art historian who

focuses on modern and contemporary art, philosophy

and aesthetics. He studied at the Vrije Universiteit

Brussel (VUB) and Columbia University in New York.

His PhD degree concerned one of Marcel Duchamp’s

major works, “La mariée mise à nu par ses célibataires,

même”. He conceived and organized various exhibitions

in the Neue Nationalgalerie im Hamburger Bahnhof, the

Museum of Contemporary Art in Berlin. He has been

giving theoretical art seminars at the Kunsthochschule

Berlin-Weissensee since 2002. In 2004 he joined VUB as

a professor of Art History and Aesthetics and became a

senior consultant at BOZAR — the Centre for Fine Arts

in Brussels. In 2005 he was mandated to create a platform

for the implementation of artistic research (known as the

“Brussels model”). He then launched a whole series of

prestigious research projects involving some of Belgium’s

most famous artists, bringing them to cities such as

Beijing, Hangzhou, Seoul, Gwangju, Chengdu. Over the

years, he developed a unique methodology for Cultural


The research work and impressive worldwide project

portfolio of Hans De Wolf is rooted in an original

interpretation of the concept “cultural diplomacy”. All

of his projects are wake-up calls for the local economic,

academic and cultural communities that are intensively

involved with their realization. In doing so, these

communities acquire insights into completely new

creative methods and approaches. To reach this goal,

Hans De Wolf and his team have developed a specific and

original methodology using a participatory grass-roots


The preparation of each project starts very carefully

with the development of a human network in each city,

connecting local artists, curators, universities and business

people, who are ready to question the feasibility of the

initial plans. “This methodology intertwines cultural and

academic diplomacy and ensures that the opening of an

exhibition is also the celebration of a first constructive

phase of an emerging relationship and not, as often

happens, a first encounter with a new public.” I was lucky

to be Vice-Rector for International Policy at VUB when

Hans De Wolf was refining his cultural diplomacy concept,

so I was able to incorporate it into the central university’s

overall policy as an important vehicle for establishing

sustainable international partnerships.

Hans De Wolf, we started working together on a

project for cultural diplomacy almost eight years

ago. As Vice-Rector for International Policy of

VUB, I saw the value of supporting your activities

and incorporating them into the university-wide

policy agenda — and you were the creative

content provider and organiser. We both had the

feeling that we knew what we meant by “cultural

diplomacy”, but I’m still not sure that we have the

same understanding when it comes to a detailed

definition. So, please tell me what does cultural

diplomacy mean to you?

We’ve been calling our project the intertwining of academic

reflection, arts and diplomacy. To be honest, I must say

that over the last few months I’m moving away from the

terminology cultural diplomacy. I’ll try to explain why.

We called it cultural diplomacy because our projects

were mostly for local governments such as the Brussels

© The Central Academy of Fine Arts (CAFA), Beijing

regional government, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and

for institutions that have an international agenda. And

so, on that basis, we’re advocating the idea that Brussels

is a major hub for the visual arts. Nobody ever thought of

creating a tool to bring this idea to other countries. Brussels

is one of the most interesting cities in terms of visual arts,

but nobody knows it. Internationally nobody knows except

for a few people with special interests, and what is even

worse, also at home nobody knows. Therefore, we started

an initiative that began in 2009 on the invitation of Minister

Jean-Luc Van Raes who sent us to Shanghai to set up an

exhibition in 2010. I must say that we’ve been very lucky

because, from the first exercise onwards, we were able to

develop the right methodology.

What is the right methodology? Especially in China, it is

one that is based on interest, respect and equality. Here I

must explain a few things. What I did, from the first moment

I set foot in Shanghai, was to take more than 40 taxis to

meet with as many people as possible: academics, critics,

artists, gallerists, really all the people who were dealing with

the idea of culture. Very rapidly, I understood that I was

touching upon a reality that was fundamentally different

from the art world in Brussels and I experienced this as

an interesting tension. So, what we’ve done from Shanghai

onwards, is to shape each exhibition that we organise to

fit the characteristics of the place where it takes place. In

other words, we never make an exhibition in Beijing that is

identical to an exhibition in Shanghai.

The exhibition we organised in Beijing, the capital with

which every Chinese citizen can identify him- or herself, was

based on a completely different mindset from the one we

organised in Shanghai, a city of commerce open to the

world, a city of ambition, a city with a huge historical past

that we also wanted to capture. That is the basis of our

approach. We always work from the grassroots upwards and

outwards: for every location we try to find out who the key

players on the ground are, and what is at stake. Let me give

you a little example: the case of Seoul. In Seoul, we found

a city that wasn’t at all comparable with Chinese cities.

We always do research on the cities we go to — and that

constitutes a complementary academic research component

in our exercises. What we found out about Seoul was that

it might well be the most traumatised city in the world.

Koreans fall completely in between two major identities:

the Chinese and the Japanese. What they want to prove

every day is that they exist, … that they are not Chinese,

that they are not Japanese. Their whole history is marked by

this traumatic situation, this dramatic geographic situation.

On top of that, they have had that incredible disaster, the

Korean war, that completely destroyed the country and

ended up in the most incredible situation: with a split up

country, with the most archaic communist country in the

north and a hardcore capitalistic society in the south. So, it

was starting from that knowledge, that we made our project.

The project we did in Seoul was about Wanderlust. Why

Wanderlust? Because that’s the only thing Koreans will

never experience, will never have, will never do. Wanderlust

is about leaving your village, going to the hilltop,

experiencing what the other side of the hill is all about. It’s

about walking away, about taking distance. But, it‘s also

about other new and challenging conventions and that’s


Installation view of “Master Mould and Copy Room”

© The Central Academy of Fine Arts (CAFA), Beijing


exactly what Koreans are reluctant to be confronted with.

They’re born in their convention; if your dad died in the

Korean war, then you must become a doctor, you know?

The whole society is coded like that, so Wanderlust has

no place at all. And there you have an interesting starting

point. So, we decided to make an exhibition in which we

would bring five wonderful Wanderlust artists from Belgium

to Korea. And that worked fantastically, because at the end

of the year 2012, an art magazine in Korea asked fifteen

critics to discuss the exhibitions that had taken place that

year and nine times Wanderlust ended up being number one

in the list.

In your analysis work, to find a good approach

for your events in other continents, how can you

be so self-assured that you are right? Take Korea,

the image you convey is that “leaving their village,

going to the top of the mountain and looking

across” is something Koreans will never do. How

do you explain then the international embedding

and fabulous export performance of the big Korean


In my view, that has a lot to do with the fact that they

imported their economic model. Let me try to explain.

It’s interesting that in the seventies North Korea was

much more prosperous than the South. So, “the Korean

multinational” is a relatively recent phenomenon, because

the country was completely destroyed and they had to

build everything from scratch. That gives a lot of space to

entrepreneurs, it gives lots of space to a kind of complicity

between governments and economic players … and that is

very strongly present in Korea. I mean, everything is really

borderline corruption, right? We’ve seen that now with

the Samsung scandal … I was not surprised at all. These

corporations in Korea are considered the vital bodies of

the society and, since they emerged from scratch, imported

Japanese models were the most appropriate. What does

that mean? It means that your “real” family name is not

your name but the corporation’s name. Koreans have an

incredible labour ethic, they’re all living for the prosperity

of their firm and their whole lives are determined by that.

They live in conditions in which the “individual” worker

is hardly considered, only the prosperity of the firm is

considered important.

I’d like to come back to my first question on

cultural diplomacy, when you said that you’re

now taking more and more distance from this

terminology. You recounted an extremely

interesting story, but you didn’t fully answer the

question why you’re now distancing yourself from

the term cultural diplomacy. Can you pinpoint more

exactly why you’re doing that?

The fact is that by using a term such as cultural diplomacy

we accept the idea that there can be confusion. Why?

Because diplomacy is a well described activity that’s

part of the international relations between countries and

culture plays a crucial role in that. So, when you use the

term cultural diplomacy, governments stick to the term

diplomacy and glue culture on top of that. Hence, you’re

automatically incorporated into an official network of

relations, but we’re not working in an official network of

relations. We’re working for governments, we’re offering

services to governments but our base is the university, not a

government authority. It should be like that.

Since we’re based in the university and the university

network, we have the freedom and the framework that

allows us to come up with the best possible projects and

to execute those projects as a mandate of a government.

But we’re not part of the original diplomatic body itself.

We deliver added value but we do it starting from the

university’s background. I think that is an important

difference. In that sense, we’re a bit closer to institutions

Cao Fei, Whose Utopia - My Future is Not a Dream

© Bozar

like the Goethe Institut or the British Council. For us, the

primary value is culture, and so we work intensively with

artists and all the players in the cultural field. Diplomacy

is still something different, although in what we do the

bilateral bridges are, of course, extremely important.

You said that your home base is the university

and indeed community services and the creation

of societal, economic and cultural impact beyond

our peers has become an integral part of the

university’s mission. It’s therefore assumed that

this impact is based on unique university know-how,

insights and research results. The obvious next

question is: how is the activity you sketched rooted

in your research?

This is a very good question, and the answer is complex.

The projects that we do, allow us to develop new formats

of research that are often rooted in art history but that lead

to new opportunities. I’ll give some examples. If I teach my

students in the classroom, and I do that in the most open

and creative way, I’ll still stick to articles and projections

of powerpoints with images. Now, those exercises, those

projects that I outlined before, allow me to enlarge the field

of experience and experiment on the museum floor. And

that’s extremely interesting. Why? Because we’re going to

work with the real artworks, with artists. We combine art

historical knowledge with artistic knowledge. And it’s that

combination which makes the project so rich. By creating

and enabling environment for close collaboration between

the museum and the world of academic reflection, we

allow some difficult artworks to be explained in depth. Our

projects are very didactic. I want every Chinese person who

comes to our exhibition to understand what those artworks

are about and not to feel excluded. That’s fundamental.

Now, to come back to the idea of research, let me give

another example to make my point. I remember that, for the

exhibition we did in Milan in 2015 called “Forme e Anti

Forme”, we wanted to stress the fact that the very famous

paintings by Lucio Fontana, called Concetto Spaziale,


Pastoral Life, 1989, Liu Xiaodong Pink Phoenix, 2011, Liu Xiaodong © Bozar


were an act of aggression. They’re canvasses cut through

by a cutter, so they have an iconoclastic value. Now, what

happens fifty years after they were made? They’re conserved

in museums and private collections and adored as icons

of painting. We were once at a collector’s home where we

wanted to borrow a Fontana and we saw that it was hanging

under a plexiglass. It was as if just the church chair was

missing. We decided, because it was impossible to borrow

such a Fontana, to make a fake one. Here, we got into the

experiment. We engaged an artist and a filmmaker. I wrote

a scenario and the artist played that scenario, based on our

research. The research showed us how Fontana had created

his paintings, and so our artist-actor demonstrated the way

Fontana created his paintings and the filmmaker filmed the

whole process, making a beautiful little film.

In the exhibition we presented the Fontana as a fake and

we never pretended it was a real one, because we had the

film next to it where the creation of the fake was explained.

Now, can you imagine what you can learn from such an

experience? First, we learned that when you cut into a

canvas, the canvas opens a bit but then closes again. If you

hang it on a wall, you can’t see anything, you just see a black

line. So, what did Fontana do to open the cuts? He cheated,

of course, he had to cheat. One of the possibilities he had

was to wedge the cut canvas on an iron wire at the back

of the canvas to keep the cut in the painting open. There

are other possibilities too. So, this is already interesting,

because that’s something you can’t learn in a book or from a


And the second thing which was even more interesting is

that, if you have a fake, you can do whatever you like with

that fake. If it’s a real painting, you can’t even touch it. You

need to put on gloves and ask a conservator to manipulate

it. If you have a fake, you can move it from the wall anytime,

and since I always had a battery of master students in my

exhibition to explain it to the visitors, they kept taking it off

the wall. And why did they take it off the wall? Well, if you

move the fake Fontana from the wall you get unexpected

fantastic experiences … the light comes from the back

and the whole three-dimensional structure lights up. Then

you understand why those paintings are called “Concetto

Spaziale”, a spatial concept, because it’s not about painting

anymore, it’s about the third dimension, and it’s no

longer confined to two dimensions. It was a quite mystical

experience that Fontana had and that mystical experience

was born out of an iconoclastic idea directed against

American abstract art.

Isn’t that fantastic? You see, for me, those are new fields

of research. This enlarged field of art historical research is

being opened up precisely because we aren’t in a classroom

anymore but we’re in a museum and we can deal with those

works directly.

So, if I understand you well, it’s your research

methodology that bridges gaps. You are not just

making an exhibition, but you and the involved

students are part of a creation, a happening, often

with the active involvement of the visitors.

The Waste, Wang Jiuliang

© Bozar

This seems to me real project work and it touches

upon the rather new concepts of citizen science. So,

how would you qualify your role in this? Are you the

teacher, the curator, are you an artist, are you a


The first thing I’d like to stress is the fact that this is indeed

teamwork. For myself, I think I combine several functions

in this new job. First, I’m a professor of art history which

provides me with a lot of opportunities because being a

university professor already opens doors more easily to

governments and other relevant forums. Second, I apply

the research that comes from my art historical background.

I apply it within the museum, so there is a dimension of


Curatorship, from my experience, is one of the most

beautiful activities that you can do, because it is a sensegiving

experience that is outside the field of academia but

cannot be carried out without the knowledge of academia.

It requires a high degree of creativity, it gives access to

something fantastic, which is the possibility of establishing

a dialogue between artworks along a curatorial line, a

curatorial idea to confront artworks and to confront ideas.

And then you are in something very vital, you see? That is

also why I want to include academic reflection. We do that

by using several academic formats such as a colloquium,

symposium, workshop … But, most importantly, for every

exhibition I train a group of masters students from the local

universities and they are present every day in the exhibition,

so that they can make the content of the exhibition

accessible to each spectator. If you work like that, you can

make difficult exhibitions. You can bring to China works

by Marcel Duchamp and Marcel Broodthaers, … but you

shouldn’t bring them in isolation, you need to let them land

in the heart and soul of the public, and there the students

are crucial. They are the ambassadors, they are bringing the

ideas to land.

Is it your ambition to create a new art school?

Not really, I don’t want to create a school. The exercises,

as we pursue them, are extremely difficult in their creation

and practical implementation, but they’re rewarding enough,

without need for a school. The latest event that we organised

in Berlin, “Gemischte Gefühle”, illustrates that our project

format provides an ideal framework for new and unexpected

creative events. We felt at every different level that it works,

that it opens windows, that you reach the local art world.

Fifty artists came to the opening and were intrigued by

what they saw because, by bringing young artists from

Brussels, we succeeded in proving to the Berlin art world

that we have a very different and unique story.

At the same time, you can open the minds of politicians

… we had four ministers at the opening and they were all

truly impressed. We had the mayor of Berlin who stayed

for two hours and had plenty of questions. Success in

achieving all this is, of course, very satisfying. So, I don’t

think that I want to create a school because that would lead

to useless dissipation of the spontaneous energy like in a

treadmill, and the risk of becoming a formalist is too high.


Xu Bing, 2012, Character of Characters


What makes the strength of these projects, is that they

start off from scratch every time, and that for every city

you must find a new strategy, a new approach, a new

answer to the question “what should we do?”. But what

they all have in common is that we also want to provoke, to


They must be a little bit nasty and bring all participants

out of their comfort zone, because only then you learn

something new and you wake up your public, don’t you?

When your public asks itself “what the hell is happening

here?”, then you create the basis for a true dialogue. In

Berlin, we absolutely succeeded in achieving that. We will

now have the Berliners coming over to Brussels for their

exhibition with young artists who are based in Berlin.

And what makes me truly happy is that we awakened the

Brussels government: they feel involved and concerned

about our exercises everywhere in the world and they’re

willing to invest in those young artists working in Brussels.

That is the very first time. I’m convinced that this is

a direct consequence of the exercise we did in Berlin.

Now we can say that all the people surrounding Minister

President Rudi Vervoort and Minister Guy Vanhengel

and the administration of the Brussels Government are

completely aware of the fact that Brussels is a top city for

visual arts in the world.

If I look at the number of projects that you do

every year, it is clear that you are a passionate

workaholic. In many of your endeavours, I see much

respect, friendship and love towards Asia, more

particularly the Far East. You mentioned Korea,

Japan, China. Can you explain rationally why that

is so?

Well, it’s something that was not intentional from the start.

In 2010, I was asked to go to Shanghai by Minister Jean-Luc

Van Raes who was aware of the projects that I did

together with artists at the university. To be honest, first I

had no intention of going there because Asia was not on

my agenda. But he kind of politely forced me to go, and I

went. I arrived in Shanghai and visited forty people and it

was clear that I felt a kind of unknown energy as well as

the need to dive into this intriguing society that I gradually

learned to appreciate … an appreciation that has never left

me. Before I went to Shanghai — this is a small anecdote — I

went to see my only friend with China experience, Michel

Baudson. Michel said to me “Hans, be careful because the

first time you go to China, it takes your little finger, then

it takes your hand, then it takes your arm and then it takes

your heart”. Now, I’ve been there more than 40 times.

Michel was right.

But what is it that constitutes the passionate relationship

that I have with China, and to a certain extent also with

© Bozar

Korea and Japan? … but China is different because its

history is different. I’m full of admiration for the unique

achievements of the first generation of Chinese liberated

artists in just three decades, when Deng Xiaoping gave them

the total freedom to do what they wanted to do as artists.

The first generation of pioneers such as Xu Bing, Wang

Xinwei, Liu Xiaodong and many others made this huge step

from prehistory to avant-garde and they did it all with their

belly. First of all, they just felt that they had to go in that

direction, and second, they knew they had to find their own

Chinese alternative. They did that brilliantly. Third, they

also all felt that, even if their art is now at the top of avantgarde,

one of the basic concerns was the reconfiguration

of the Chinese DNA, which was completely lost in the

cultural revolution. So, that is one part of the answer. I’m

now completely aware of the incredible excellence that those

generations of liberated artists succeeded in creating. But

since this all happened on “belly intuition”, they completely

missed the theoretical debates that accompanied modern art

in Europe and which are absent or insufficiently known in

China …

One of the most intellectually satisfying experiences is

giving seminars to PhD students in China, because they

feel things, they have a very good intuition but the theory is

not there yet. So, if you can bring the theory or theoretical

frameworks in which this modern art came to life, then you

fill in a gap that’s still fundamental for them. And this, for

an academic, is one of the most beautiful things that can

happen to you.

You mentioned the avant-garde in China: how does

the Chinese government react to these provoking

contemporary artists?

I must explain this, because Europe is full of preconceptions

and mistaken ideas about China. I can’t say it otherwise.

My good friend, Liu Xiaodong, once told me “you have to

understand that you have three types of artists in China, you

have red artists, grey artists and black artists”. The profile of

the red artists is clear. They work for the government, there

are enough buildings to be constructed, enough local party

committees that need their meeting rooms decorated, there

are enough publications that have to be edited, and so on.

They all have a good life, a lot of work, and they work for

the party, mainly in the field of propaganda. So those are

the red artists.

Then you have the black artists. The black artists, who

are the most popular in Europe, are the dissidents. We all

know Ai Weiwei, and only him. That’s the problem. It’s as if

Europeans don’t want to know the other artists, because his

profile corresponds exactly with an idea that the majority of

the public wants to have about China, namely, that China is



an evil regime against which stands a knight-like hero. That’s

a bit of a caricature of the European perception of China,

but still it’s more or less true. What most people don’t know

is that Weiwei is the son of Ai Qing, a famous poet who was

one of the founding members of the communist party, so

he is also, so to speak, a red prince. Nevertheless, Weiwei

is an interesting personality, there’s nothing that I could

say against that. His influence on a whole generation of

Chinese artists is obvious. He’s also a very gifted architect,

he made his first architectural project in Caochangdi, the

artist village that is home to a diverse group of residents,

including migrant workers, farmers, students and artists, on

the outskirts of Beijing. Those are all obvious merits.

What I get irritated by is this kind of very limited European

attitude of wanting to know only this one artist and the lack

of interest in any others. And I can tell you that in this grey

zone you have a whole group of wonderful artists whom

I consider among the best of their generation, worldwide!

Let me stress that for those artists, their behaviour and

their functioning as artists are no different from the way

European or Belgian artists function.

The university is your home base, you said.

Personally, I’m convinced that the university should

be an excellent biotope for exceptional creativity

and out-of-the box thinking. Sometimes university

leadership and certainly Faculty leadership tend

to forget this, and should be reminded about it.

You don’t fit into any box. I don’t know anything

equivalent or similar to what you’re doing. Do you

still believe that the university is the only right place

for you?

I very much presume so, but let me first tell you this: if

you’re a pioneering type of person, which I think I am,

you also must question the place where you work. I always

consider the university as a free haven; it was born and

meant to be like that. Remember what is written on the

gate of the main building of Heidelberg university: “Dem

lebendigen Geist”. This is also my motto. When I look

at my field of research in general, it’s in a miserable state

because it hasn’t succeeded in finding an interesting place

in a rapidly changing world. It’s also the university’s task to

question its own operational models and I believe that I’m

contributing to that. But, of course, I’m also thankful for the

freedom to operate in the field I have chosen as my focus of

attention. I travel a lot, I’m very much interested in bridging

gaps between cities and refining of my experimental form of

making exhibitions and, yes, life is short.

I’ve followed your activities closely and interacted

with several of your team members. They’re all

very special personalities, creative and willing to

think out-of-the box. But, how do you manage to get

finances for all this?

Well, let me put it this way. When I did Brussels Body

Speech in 2010, it opened a lot of windows in the minds of

Belgian diplomats in China. So, immediately afterwards they

invited me to do a project in Beijing commemorating 45

years of diplomatic ties between Belgium and China; so we

succeeded in entering CAFA, the Central Academy of Fine

Arts, which is probably the most performing art campus

in the world. I‘m still very proud that we succeeded in

partnering with them because it is really not easy. Since that

moment, we’ve done four or five projects for the Brussels

regional government and they’ve financed a large part of

those grassroot projects.

I must say that, looking at their global impacts, I’m quite

satisfied with what we succeeded in doing. If I say we, it’s

again a question of teamwork and personalities that are

critical to creating success. But we can say that over the

last few years, with all those projects in China, Korea,

Japan, Germany and Italy, we succeeded in creating a

deep awareness among all those key political figures in the

Brussels region.

It’s strange that the awareness has been raised here

in Brussels while almost all your projects are taking

place somewhere else, in an international context.

Well, we also did two big projects in BOZAR. It’s true that

we’re now thinking of turning this initiative into a kind

of hub, a lightweight structure embedded in the Brussels

Capital Region. The first thing I want to do is to open a

completely new field of action that’s complementary to the

international projects, because the challenge isn’t only to

work globally on what cultural diplomacy is supposed to be,

but also to work locally.

Thank you, Hans De Wolf, for this most fascinating

story that reveals various aspects of your

personality, ambitions and achievements. Is there

anything you’d like to add to the story?

Yes, in times that are very much marked by short term

benefits and returns on investments, times when people

are very often under pressure to deliver all kinds of

things, I’d like to thank all those people whose minds

were open enough, whose understanding of what we were

doing was good enough to accompany us on this road.

I know of a dozen of civil servants and colleagues who

really engaged themselves, who were really behind us

and supported us and one of them was yourself. I want

to thank them, because we’ve done all this in a difficult

context and it wasn’t easy. We’ve had several projects that

were financially tight due to low budgets and last minute

financing. So, if you show the results afterwards, you

might think that this was paradise, that everything was

fantastic and wonderful but the birth of each project, its

organisation and also its closure, is often very hard and


© The Central Academy of Fine Arts (CAFA), Beijing

Well, I guess hard work is at the origin of all

successful research. It’s one of the conditions to

earn a good place in paradise on earth.

Jan Cornelis, Emeritus Professor VUB and Academic

Attaché CIDIC


Many thanks to Aude Tournaye, who made an excellent

initial speech-to-text transcription, and Jennie De Pryck for

revising the manuscript thoroughly.


Hans Maria De Wolf’s contemporary art project portfolio

is impressive:

• BRUSSELS BODY SPEECH, Minsheng Art Museum,

Shanghai 2010 (a project confronting transhumanism

with the celebration of the body)

• FIRST CAFA BIENNALE, Central Academy of

Fine Arts Museum, Beijing 2011 (CAFA is the

most prominent arts institute place in China — and

a structured partnership with VUB is now wellestablished

with 5 projects and collaborations on



Arts - BOZAR, Brussels 2011


University, Beijing 2011


Minsheng Art Museum, Shanghai 2011

• WANDERLUST, Artsonje Center Seoul, 2012


Museum of Art, Gwangju 2013


Contemporary Art (MOCA), Chengdu 2013

• OUR MEMORY?, Jiao Tong University, Shanghai 2014


Academy of Fine Arts Museum, Beijing 2014 (a project

in which the tension between the original and the copy

in China and the West was discussed)


Palazzo Nani Mocenigo, Official program of the Venice

Biennale 2015


ELEPHANTS, Centre of Fine Arts - BOZAR, Brussels

2015 (contextualizing the work of 8 major Chinese


• FORME E ANTI FORME, Fonderia Artistica

Battaglia, Milano 2015


GODS, Triennale, Milano 2016


PhD seminar in CAFA, June 2016

• EXPERIMENT’L, Tokyo, Intermediatèque Museum,

October 2016


Beijing, PhD seminar in CAFA, April 2017

• GEMISCHTE GEFÜHLE, Berlin, Flughafen Tempelhof/

Künstlerhaus Bethanien, October 2017 (presenting to

the powerful art world in Berlin the qualities of Brussels

based art through its youngest generation of artists)

New projects for New York and Chengdu are being

developed for 2018 while in 2020 Hans De Wolf will

organize an exhaustive Marcel Duchamp exhibition at

CAFA in Beijing.


The European Institute for Asian Studies (EIAS) is

a leading Think and Do Tank based in Brussels, the

capital of the European Union, focusing on EU-Asia

relations since its founding in 1989. As a policy

research centre, its aim is to promote understanding

between the European Union and Asia.

In addition, it aims to strengthen ties between Asia and

Europe and to ensure in-depth, comprehensive research

and information exchange platforms between policymakers,

members of academia and think tanks, and civil society.

Geographically, EIAS focuses on South Asia, North-East

Asia and South-East Asia, and has recently broaden its

geographical scope to include Central Asia as well, covering

a wide range of policy-related domains. By doing so, EIAS

seeks to provide information to policy makers in Europe

and Asia, as well as on a global scale, offering academic and

hands-on expertise to bear on decision-making processes

with regard to EU-Asia affairs and developments in Asia,

such as free trade and strategic partnership agreements,

and other key developments. EIAS also acts as a forum

for discussion, dialogue and frequent exchanges of ideas,

bringing together all relevant stakeholders from the

institutional level, diplomatic missions, academia, the

corporate sector, civil society, the media and all other

important segments of society.


By undertaking research, carrying out (commissioned)

research projects and providing in-depth information

through research papers, newsletters, news updates and

other publications, EIAS seeks to act as a focal point for

EU-Asia relations and studies in Europe. Essential for EIAS

is its keenness to improve understanding of developments

in Asia and the appreciation of the importance of the EU’s

relations with Asia, by acting as a forum for discussion,

organising research and disseminating information.

The research and project activities of EIAS cover a

wide range of issues, with a focus on trade, finance,

economics, industrial and technological innovation, R&D,

CSR, migration, sustainable development, geopolitics,

connectivity, and a major emphasis on improving people-topeople

ties through education, cultural and other exchanges.

In particular, EIAS also focuses in identifying long-term

potentials and niche areas for the further development

of EU-Asia relations. The institute is very committed to

implementing the results and outcomes of its research


EIAS also organises training programmes and capacity

building activities for government officials, civil society

and professionals from the corporate sector on EU-Asia

relations, with a specific focus on the European institutions

and policies.


Reaching out to the wider public and all stakeholders

involved, EIAS regularly organises events, workshops and

book talks in cooperation with academic, diplomatic and

institutional partners. Speakers often include representatives

from Asian missions in Brussels, representatives from the

European institutions, officials from non-profits and the

corporate sector, academics and journalists, in order to give

a broad overview of all relevant actors in EU-Asia relations.

Some of the high-level policymakers and academics to

have spoken at EIAS in 2017 include Khurram Dastgir

Khan, former Commerce Minister of Pakistan; Prakash

Sharan Mahat, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Nepal; Asian

Development Bank Chief Economist Yasuyuki Sawada;

Ruslan Davletov, Uzbekistan’s Minister of Justice; Md.

Shahriar Alam, State Minister for Foreign Affairs of

Bangladesh; political commentator and analyst Richard

Heydarian; and Vasantha Senanayake, State Minister of

Foreign Affairs of Sri Lanka.

EIAS also travels regularly to Asia to participate in

summits and academic conferences. This year EIAS has

participated in the “International Conference on Migration

and Displacement” held at Government College University

in Lahore (Pakistan); the annual meeting of the Asian

Development Bank in Yokohama (Japan); and the highlevel

conference “Central Asia: One Past and a Common

Future, Cooperation for Sustainable Development and

Mutual Prosperity” in Samarkand (Uzbekistan).



The EIAS team combines the experience and networks of

senior specialists in EU-Asia relations, including academics,

diplomats and professionals of the private sector, with the

enthusiasm and skills of the junior team members. EIAS

participates in Europe-Asia networks of research and

analysis, drawing on an active network of several hundred

collaborators and contacts across the EU and Asia, at leading

Universities, as well as within Think Tanks and specialised

research centres. The EIAS network comprises a rich

cross-section of disciplines and sectors, officials and civil

society actors, policy makers and policy shapers, scholars

and diplomats, from all over the world. For specific research

projects, conferences and seminars, this constitutes a unique

intellectual resource, built up during more than 25 years.

Some of the think tanks and institutions that EIAS

has collaborated with include the German Institute for

International and Security Affairs (SWP), the International

Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IDEA), the

Brussels Academy for China-Europe Studies (BACES), the

China Arts Festival in the EU, the University of East Anglia

and the EU-India Chamber of Commerce, to name a few.





The word “negotiate” has acquired a mystique,

implying that it is a discrete activity relating

to business deals, the freeing of hostages, or

settlements of disputes between people, companies

or nations. At the other extreme, the word conjures

up images of haggling over a rug or a brass pot in a

bazaar or flea market. But the reality is that we all,

typically, negotiate in some shape or form every day

of our lives.


Too often, we are guided by our gut instincts and our

experience of negotiation as children in the playground

or as tourists in a street market. Too often, we look on

negotiation as a competitive sport where the sole objective

is to win.

Such an approach may produce satisfying results some of

the time, but defeated opponents may not want to deal with

you in the future, and you may have missed opportunities

that a more cooperative approach could present.

The first priority is to have a clear vision of your goals.

What precisely is the desired result? Good advocates start

their planning for a trial by writing an outline of their

closing address to the court and then plan their case so that

every action is aimed at being able to deliver the proposed

closing address. For negotiators, only when one has a goal

is it possible to develop a strategy and then the tactics to

execute the strategy.

There are a few home truths that too many people ignore

when they embark on a negotiation.

First, we should always put ourselves in the other person’s

shoes and try to think about what he or she is looking to get

out of the negotiation. This requires us to ask questions and

find out as much as possible about our negotiation partner’s


Secondly, we should examine precisely what our own

interests are and not limit ourselves to the most obvious

headline objective. While the ultimate goal needs to be very

clear, the more issues that can be brought into play that

are potential areas for negotiation for both parties and can

be prioritised, the more opportunity there is for mutually

beneficial trading.

A third point to remember is that obtaining our share of a

“fixed-pie” is not always the limit of what we can achieve.

It often won’t be possible, but we should always look

for opportunities to expand the pie and create value in

a negotiation; so that both parties have the opportunity

to walk away from the table with a sense of satisfaction

that they have achieved more from the negotiation than

they would have by following a different course of action.

Realistically, almost all negotiation outcomes are a

combination of claiming value (i.e. one party’s gain is the

other’s loss) and creating value.

Negotiation gurus will spend years poring over the

negotiations currently underway between the European Union

and the United Kingdom and drawing lessons from them.

While strategically, Michel Barnier and his team appear to

have played a better game so far than David Davis and the

British Brexiteers, the overall lessons from both sides largely

demonstrate how not to negotiate.

The UK has broken countless negotiation rules, but some

stand out.

First, is to have unity on one’s own side, but the cabinet

and the Conservative Party remain split, as do the rest of

Parliament and the population at large.

Tim Cullen

Another prerequisite is to agree with the other side on

ground rules. These should have stipulated that everything

should be negotiated together, providing maximum

opportunities for both sides to create value by making

concessions and achieving gains, based on the different

values and costs to each side of each item to be negotiated.

Instead, the UK allowed an intransigent EU to stall the big

Single Market and Customs Union talks until the “divorce

bill” (with a very big opening price tag) had been agreed.

In other substantive ways, the approach has been

amateurish. Theresa May’s talk of “red lines,” notably on the

jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice was an unwise

threat from which she will almost certainly have to climb

down. Above all, both the UK and the EU broke the first rule

of negotiation, referred to above, which is to put yourself in

the other sides shoes. Juvenile hostile rhetoric from both

Brussels and London has created a toxic atmosphere.

the EU took seven years to negotiate and has more pages

than the complete works of Shakespeare and the Old and

New Testaments of the Bible combined. Such agreements

will not be quick or easy.

Every May, I visit Brussels to conduct a one-day negotiation

Masterclass as part of the highly regarded “Grand Tour”

series. In 2018, there will be a certain poignancy about

a Brit teaching such a session in Brussels. We must hope

that both sides in the Brexit negotiations will by then be

preceding down a more pragmatic path.

Tim Cullen

Tim Cullen MBE is an Associate Fellow of the Saïd

Business School at the University of Oxford, where he

directs the Oxford Programme on Negotiation. He also

heads the international negotiation advisory firm, TCA Ltd.

Unrealistic promises of speedy trade deals with the rest

of the world have further weakened the UK’s negotiating

position. The recent trade agreement between Canada and


for more information and deadlines go to



The Grand Tour

Diplomatic World presents two remarkable events in Brussels:

One regarding people management and leadership whereby diplomats, civil servants and

managers are confronted with world authorities

from no less than 4 of Europe’s leading business schools:

London Business School, Insead, Esade Barcelona, London School of Economics.

One regarding Advanced Negotiation Techniques with Prof Tim Cullen, Oxford University

Go to www.globalmagevents.com






• High-level networking

• Unique marketing & demonstration platform

• Privileged use of meeting center





Indringingsweg 1, 1800 Vilvoorde (Brussels) - +32 (0)2 263 01 33 - www.livingtomorrow.com - info@livingtomorrow.com




The BMW X3 was the car that launched the midsize

SAV (Sports Activity Vehicle) segment in 2003.

Since then, BMW has recorded more than 1.5

million new registrations of the X3 across the two

model generations so far. And now the new BMW

X3 is set to write the next chapter in this success

story with an even more striking, dynamic design

language, powerful yet also efficient drive systems

and luxurious appointments. Like all members of

the successful X family, it blends standout driving

qualities on any terrain with unrestricted everyday





The third generation of the BMW X3 follows in its

predecessors’ tyre tracks by combining rugged off-road

looks with a sporting presence. Its familiar proportions,

including very short front and rear overhangs, shine the

spotlight on the perfect 50:50 distribution of weight

between the front and rear axle. The potent dynamic

intent of the new BMW X3 is highlighted by a chunky

kidney grille and foglamps featuring a hexagonal design

for the first time on a BMW X model. At the rear, the

light clusters (whose three-dimensional look in optional

full-LED guise give them considerable visual impact),

markedly downward-sloping roof spoiler and twin exhaust

tailpipes bring matters to a suitably muscular conclusion.

The xLine, M Sport and Luxury Line trim variants

(the latter is a new addition to the line-up) and the

range of BMW Individual items enable the appearance

of the BMW X3 to be adapted even more precisely

to the customer’s personal tastes. In addition to the

standard 18-inch light-alloy wheels (previously: 17-inch),

customers can dip into the options list for wheel/tyre

combinations in sizes up to 21-inch. As well as making

various exterior tweaks, the three trim variants also adapt

the ambience inside the car to their particular themes.

The interior of the new BMW X3 displays unbeatable fit

and finish and material quality, and is even classier and

more luxurious than its predecessor. Comfort levels are

further elevated by a host of new equipment options like

three-zone automatic climate control, the Ambient Air

package, active seat ventilation, the cargo function of the

standard 40:20:40 split/folding rear seat backrests and

the panoramic glass roof that brings extra airiness to the

interior and further enhances perceived quality.

Another new equipment item is the optional BMW

Display Key, which not only locks and unlocks the BMW

X3 by radio remote control, but also shows a variety of

status information on the car and serves as the control

unit for the optional auxiliary heating, for example.





The BMW engineers have employed far-reaching chassis

modifications to significantly improve the driving

dynamics, directional stability and steering feel of the new

BMW X3. The car that emerges is even sportier than its

predecessor, yet avoids compromising on ride comfort.

Chassis options include M Sport suspension, Dynamic

Damper Control, M Sport brakes and variable sport




Two diesel engines and three petrol units will be available

from launch (or shortly afterwards) for the new BMW X3.

• The 265 kW/360 hp BMW X3 M40i (combined fuel

consumption: 8.4 – 8.2 l/100 km [33.6 – 34.5 mpg

imp]; combined CO2 emissions: 193 – 188 g/km)*

gives the X3 range its first M Performance Automobile

and is joined by a second petrol model in the shape

of the BMW X3 xDrive30i producing 185 kW/252 hp

(combined fuel consumption: 7.4 l/100 km [38.2 mpg

imp]; combined CO2 emissions: 168 g/km)**.

• The two diesel models are the BMW X3 xDrive20d

with 140 kW/190 hp (combined fuel consumption:

5.4 – 5.0 l/100 km [52.3 – 56.5 mpg imp]; combined

CO2 emissions: 142 – 132 g/km)* and the BMW X3

xDrive30d developing 195 kW/265 hp (combined fuel

consumption: 6.0 – 5.7 l/100 km [47.1 – 49.6 mpg

imp]; combined CO2 emissions: 158 – 149 g/km)*.

• The BMW X3 20i with 135 kW/184 hp (combined

fuel consumption: 7.4 – 7.2 l/100 km [38.2 – 39.2 mpg

imp]; combined CO2 emissions: 169 – 165 g/km)**

and choice of all-wheel drive or rear-wheel drive (not in

Europe) will follow shortly after the launch of the new


* Fuel consumption figures are based on the EU test cycle and may vary

depending on the tyre format specified.

** Fuel consumption figures are provisional, based on the EU test cycle

and may vary depending on the tyre format specified.

All the engine variants will team up as standard with an

optimised version of the eight-speed Steptronic transmission.

The rigorously applied BMW EfficientDynamics

development strategy for the new BMW X3 includes both

fuel-economy-optimising powertrains and the extensive

application of intelligent lightweight design measures. For

example, the increased use of aluminium components in

the engine and suspension has reduced the weight of the

relevant assemblies.

Consequently, the new BMW X3 is up to 55 kilograms

lighter than the respective predecessor models in similar

specification. At least 50 per cent of the aluminium

components in the BMW X3 vehicles produced at BMW

Group Plant Spartanburg (USA) are made from recycled

material. From 2018 this will also be the case for examples

of the X3 built in Rosslyn (South Africa) and Shenyang

(China). The new BMW X3 boasts a class-beating drag

coefficient of Cd = 0.29.



When it comes to the BMW Personal CoPilot features

focusing on driver assistance and (semi-)automated

driving, the new BMW X3 can be specified as an option

with the latest generation of Active Cruise Control and

the Driving Assistant Plus safety package, including

Steering and lane control assistant, Lane Change

Assistant and Lane Keeping Assistant with side collision

protection. This extensive line-up of assistance systems

puts clear water between the new BMW X3 and its

direct rivals.

The second pillar of BMW ConnectedDrive — alongside

the BMW Personal CoPilot driver assistance systems —

is formed by BMW ConnectedDrive Services and apps.

As a result, the new BMW X3 now also features BMW

Connected. Working on the basis of a flexible platform,

the Open Mobility Cloud, this new integrated digital

concept for enhanced personal mobility, uses various

touchpoints (such as smartphones and smartwatches) to

integrate the car seamlessly into the user’s digital life. This

means, for example, that it can transfer mobility-related

information, such as addresses from calendar entries, from

a smartphone into the car, enter them automatically as

destinations into the navigation system and calculate the

optimum departure time for the journey.

Gesture control allows various navigation and infotainment

system functions to be operated intuitively using finger

and hand gestures. Meanwhile, the likewise optional

Voice Assistant lets the driver use everyday language to

have their requests turned into the appropriate actions

instead of having to use set spoken commands. And the

optional Head-Up Display enables the most important

driving-related information to be projected directly into

the driver’s field of vision. The Head-Up Display in the

new BMW X3 is unrivalled in its segment for graphics,

resolution and display options.


Diplomatic Sales, Lodderstraat, 16, 2880 Bornem – Belgium

Mail : diplomaticsales.belux@bmw.be, Tel. : +32 (0)3 890 97 02

The fuel consumption and CO2 emissions figures shown were determined according to the European Regulation (EC) 715/2007 in the version applicable

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

selected wheels and tires. The values of the vehicles labelled with (**) are already based on the new WLTP regulation and are translated back into

NEDC-equivalent values in order to ensure the comparison between the vehicles. With respect to these vehicles, for vehicle-related taxes or other duties

based (at least inter alia) on CO2 emissions, the CO2 values may differ to the values stated here (depending on national legislation).

The CO2 efficiency specifications are determined according to Directive 1999/94/EC and the Pkw-EnVKV, and based (for classification) on the fuel

consumption and CO2 values as per the NEDC cycle.

Further information on official fuel consumption figures and specific CO2 emission values of new passenger cars is included in the following guideline:

“Leitfaden über Kraftstoffverbrauch, die CO2-Emissionen und den Stromverbrauch neuer Personenkraftwagen” (Guideline for fuel consumption, CO2

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/







In Margins of Excess the notion of how personal

imagination conflicts with generally accepted beliefs is

expressed through the narratives of six individuals. Every

one of them momentarily received nationwide attention in

the US press because of their attempts to realize a dream

or passion, but were presented as frauds or deceivers by the

mass media’s apparent incapacity to deal with idiosyncratic

versions of reality.

which takes into account the subjective and fictitious nature

of the categories we use to perceive and define it. And then

again: not to celebrate superficiality and contingency, but to

pierce through the noise, buzz, pulp, lies, dreams, paranoia,

cynicism and laziness and to embrace ‘reality’ in all its




Herman Rosenblat became well-known because of a selfinvented

love-story set in a concentration camp during

WWII, the private detective Jay J. Armes appears to be a

real-life superhero, Darius McCollum drew media attention

by compulsively highjacking trains, Richard Heene would

have staged an elaborate television hoax, Rachel Doležal

would have pretended to be ‘black’, and Ali Alqaisi would

have tried to make people believe that he was the ‘hooded

man’ in the iconic photo from Abu Ghraib prison. This

book weaves together their stories through personal

interviews, press articles, archival footage and staged


The current era of ‘post-truth’, in which truths, half-truths,

lies, fiction or entertainment are easily interchanged, has

produced a culture of ‘hyper-individual truths’, demanding

a new approach to identify the underlying narratives that

structure our perception of reality in a world where there is

no longer a generally accepted frame of realism. Embedding

the stories of the six main protagonists into a clustering

tale of cloned military dogs, religious apparitions, suspect

vehicles, fake terrorist plots, accidental bombings and

fictional presidents, this book follows an associative logic

akin to the indiscriminate way a paranoid mind connects

unrelated events, or the hysteria of the 24-second news cycle.

In Margins of Excess reality and fiction are intertwined. Not

to fool us, but to reveal a more intricate view of our world,

Max Pinckers (°1988, Brussels) is a photographer based in

Brussels, Belgium. He has produced various photobooks

such as Lotus (2011), The Fourth Wall, (2012), Will

They Sing Like Raindrops or Leave Me Thirsty (2014)

and Margins of Excess (2018). He is currently a doctoral

researcher in the Arts at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts

(KASK) in Ghent. Pinckers has had exhibitions at the

MOCAK in Poland (2016), the Philadelphia Museum of

Art in the United States (2015) and the Centre for Fine

Arts - Bozar in Belgium (2015), among others. Awards

include the Edward Steichen Award (2015) and the City of

Levallois Photography Award (2013). In 2015 he founded

the independent publishing imprint Lyre Press.


Margins of Excess

The new book ‘Margins of Excess’ is now available:

Self-published by Max Pinckers

Softcover, 192 x 246 mm, 352 pages

Edition of 1500, ISBN 9789082465549

Design by Rudy Latoir and Max Pinckers

Printing and production by Bruno Devos at Stockmans

Pages 129-135

Margins of Excess

© Max Pinckers


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

The New Republic, December 25, 2008




Berkley Books, the mass-market division of the

Penguin Group, is slated to publish a Holocaust

memoir titled ‘Angel at the Fence: The True Story

of a Love That Survived’. Herman Rosenblat

recounts his experience as a teenage boy during

the Holocaust at Schlieben, a sub-division of the

infamous Buchenwald concentration camp.

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

Los Angeles Daily News, October 13, 2008

NORTH MIAMI BEACH, Fla. – In the beginning, there was a boy, a girl and

an apple.

He was a teenager in a death camp in Nazi-controlled Germany. She

was a bit younger, living free in the village, her family posing as Christians.

Their eyes met through a barbed-wire fence and she wondered

what she could do for this handsome young man.

She was carrying apples, and decided to throw one over the fence. He

caught it and ran away toward the barracks. And so it began.

As they tell it, they returned the following day and she tossed an apple

again. And each day after that, for months, the routine continued. She

threw, he caught, and both scurried away.

They never knew one another’s name, never uttered a single word, so

fearful they’d be spotted by a guard. Until one day he came to the fence

and told her he wouldn’t be back.

“I won’t see you anymore,” she said. “Right, right. Don’t come around

anymore,” he answered. Their brief, innocent tryst came ended.

Before he was shipped off to a death camp, before the girl with the apples

appeared, Herman Rosenblat’s life had already changed forever.

His family had been forced from their home into a ghetto. His father

fell ill with typhus. They smuggled in a doctor, but there was little he

could do to help. The man knew what was coming. He summoned his

youngest son. “If you ever get out of this war,” Rosenblat remembers

him saying, “don’t carry a grudge in your heart and tolerate everybody.”

Two days later, the father was dead. Herman was just 12.

The family was moved again, this time to a ghetto where he shared a

single room with his mother, three brothers, uncle, aunt and four cousins.

He and his brothers got working papers and he got a job painting

stretchers for the Germans.

Eventually, the ghetto was dissolved. As the Poles were ushered out,

two lines formed. In one, those with working papers, including Rosenblat

and his brothers. In the other, everyone else, including the boys’


Rosenblat went over to his mother. “I want to be with you,” he cried.

She spoke harshly to him and one of his brothers pulled him away. His

heart was broken.

“I was destroyed,” Rosenblat remembers. It was the last time he would

ever see her.

It was in Schlieben, Germany, that Rosenblat and the girl he later called

his angel would meet. Roma Radziki worked on a nearby farm and the

boy caught her eye. Bringing him food — apples, mostly, but bread,

too — became part of her routine.

“Every day,” she says, “every day I went.”

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

word of it to anyone else for fear word would spread and he’d be punished

or even killed. When Rosenblat learned he would be moved again

— this time to Theresienstadt, in what is now the Czech Republic — he

told the girl he would not return.

Not long after, the Soviets rolled in on a tank and liberated Rosenblat’s

camp. The war was over. She went to nursing school in Israel. He went

to London and learned to be an electrician.

Their daily ritual faded from their minds.

“I forgot,” she says.

“I forgot about her, too,” he recalls.

Rosenblat eventually moved to New York. He was running a television

repair shop when a friend phoned him one Sunday afternoon and said

he wanted to fix him up with a girl. Rosenblat was unenthusiastic: He

didn’t like blind dates, he told his friend. He didn’t know what she

would look like. But finally, he relented.

It went well enough. She was Polish and easygoing. Conversation

flowed, and eventually talk turned to their wartime experiences. Rosenblat

recited the litany of camps he had been in, and Radziki’s ears

perked up. She had been in Schlieben, too, hiding from the Nazis.

She spoke of a boy she would visit, of the apples she would bring, how

he was sent away.

“That was me,” he said.

Rosenblat knew he could never leave this woman again. He proposed

marriage that very night. She thought he was crazy. Two months later

she said yes.

In 1958, they were married at a Bronx synagogue, a world away from

their sorrows, more than a decade after they had thought they were

separated forever.

It all seems too remarkable to be believed. Rosenblat insists it’s true.

Even after their engagement, the couple kept the story mostly to themselves,

telling only those closest to them. Herman says it’s because they

met at a point in his life he’d rather forget. But eventually, he said, he

felt the need to share it.

Now, the Rosenblats’ story has inspired a children’s book, “Angel

Girl.” And eventually, there are plans to turn it into a film, “The Flower

of the Fence.” Herman expects to publish his memoirs next year.

Herman is now 79, and Roma is 76; they celebrated their 50th anniversary

this summer. He often tells their story to Jewish and other groups,

believing the lesson is the one his father imparted.

“Not to hate and to love — that’s what I am lecturing about,” he said.

“Not to hold a grudge and to tolerate everybody, to love people, to be

tolerant of people, no matter who they are or what they are.”

The anger of the concentration camps, Herman says, has gone away.

He forgave. And his life has been filled with love.

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katerns Margins of Excess 192x246_01.indd 13 08/01/2018 16:32

Une Femme

Note ga-16278

Annonce dans L’Orient-Le Jour, le 19 mai 1976


Diplomate voudrait acheter une voiture diplomatique

Tel.: 303161 de 9h à 14h.

Une Femme

Enregistrement 89-34512, dans la rue à Mar Mikhaël

Bruit de moteurs de voitures, et bruit de klaxons.

« M. Khiar, un instant s’il vous plaît, je voudrais photographier ça. »

« Cette publicité si laide ? »

« Pardon ? »

« Non rien. »

« Excusez-moi, je n’ai pas entendu. »

« Non, non, rien. Prenez votre photo. »

Un scooter passe.

« Vous prenez votre temps vous, pour photographier ! »

« Oui. »

Une Femme

Enregistrement 56-46476, dans un bar à Mar Mikhaël

Musique arabe hachée par les commentaires d’un animateur télé

« Deux autres Jameson s’il vous plaît. »


Le présentateur télé est de plus en plus excité.

Longue pause

« Avez-vous été marié ? »

« Mais je vous emmerde vous et vos questions personnelles !

Ne me posez plus de questions ! C’est fini ! Amol marouf l’ehseb ! »

Une main claque sur le bar

« Je m’en vais. »

« Je suis désolé, ne vous emportez pas. »

« Assez ! Je m’en vais, ne me contactez plus. »

Une Femme

Enregistrement 17-61861, chez M. Khiar

« Pourquoi aimez-vous tant les chats ? »

« Je ne sais pas. C’est comme ça. »


« Ce sont des êtres nihilistes gais. Ils mangent, ils dorment, ils se promènent et jouent un peu.

Ce qu’ils n’ont pas envie de faire, ils ne le font pas, même s’ils peuvent.

Un être sans dogme. Un être parfait. »

Une Femme

Note hi-17289

A chaque fois qu’on passe devant une publicité sur laquelle une femme est représentée,

comme toutes ces pubs pour les produits de coiffure, M. Khiar demande très sérieusement

« Qui est cette femme ? ».

C’est son sens de l’humour.

On voit des milliers de femmes anonymes promouvoir des produits.

M. Khiar est très gentleman, très classique, il est protecteur vis-à-vis des femmes.

Un jour, je lui ai dit que les femmes pouvaient très bien se défendre seules.

Il l’a mal pris, il m’a dit que je ne comprenais rien.





The central figure in Une Femme is composed of different

characters. There is Khiar, a handsome, elderly Lebanese

gentleman who lives in Beirut, a city scarred by decades of

religious tension. The wars that arose from those tensions

do not appear in the book, but we sense the presence of an

‘elephant in the room’. Then there is the photographer, who

makes images of traffic lights changing, or of the planters

that are found everywhere in Beirut, and who finds beauty

in a pile of sand or in the banality of a barber’s sign or a

grocer’s shop full of food.


Jeroen Robert Kramer (°1967, Amsterdam) lives and works

in Beirut, Lebanon and Amsterdam, the Netherlands. After

studying French literature in France, in 2000 he started

working in the Middle East as a documentary photographer

for Getty Images, de Volkskrant, Der Spiegel, the New

York Times, Vanity Fair, and others. His photographs were

used in articles on the Middle East, Africa, Afghanistan,

Myanmar and the Philippines.

“I want to make work about ordinary life. I want subtlety,

poetry, the gentleness of the banal. I’ve had enough of the

spectacular, of what I did when I was working for the New

York Times,” says the photographer to Khiar. He wants to

transform ugly memories of war into art, and to go from

shocking spectacle to silence. We are given no portraits of

either protagonist; their presence is evoked by photographs

of their surroundings, the marks on an abandoned drinks

glass, a glimpse of someone’s back in a plastic chair, or

photos of cats. When Khiar shows that he is not interested

in having his picture taken, for the photographer their

friendship becomes an obsession; he starts photographing

hundreds of objects from Khiar’s house. But are these really

Khiar’s things? Is the old gentleman in fact an idée-fixe, a

composite, the photographer himself, or some sort of alter

ego? “C’est le prix à payer pour avoir vécu sur la misère des

autres” (That’s the price you pay for having lived off other

people’s misery), says Khiar, after the photographer relates

a terrible nightmare. Or do these thoughts actually come

from his own mind?

After an unremitting study of life and death in the barren,

war-torn Middle East, his work began to reflect his inner

struggles with human fallibility, aesthetic constraints, and

the harsh perceptions of his profession. In 2008 Kramer

decided to stop working as a documentary photographer

and in war zones, and to embark on a new, more poetic

journey. This led to the book Room 103 (2010), in which

images of daily life in the Middle East are intermingled with

images of terrible violence. This book won the Dutch Doc

Award and the New York Photo Book Festival Award. In

2012 Kramer published the book Beyrouth Objets Trouvés,

which in retrospect he regards as a preliminary study for

Une Femme.

Une Femme

Published by Editions Flatland and Jeroen R. Kramer

Softcover, 154 x 220 mm, 344 pages

First Edition of 333

Second Edition of 667

ISBN 9789490503055

Design by Jeroen R. Kramer

Printing and production by Bruno Devos at Stockmans

Une Femme shows that ‘truth’ is irrelevant. Une Femme

is an enigmatic and evocative story with a remarkable

dénouement. It is also a beautiful exhibition, in which

the present and the past are interwoven in Jeroen Robert

Kramer’s poetic photographs of Beirut.

Pages 136-140

Une Femme

© Jeroen R. Kramer





Stockmans as a company, with its first roots

dating back to Antwerp in 1875, is still nurtured

and stimulated to grow by the great tradition and

heritage of the printer and publisher family

Plantin-Moretus (Antwerp, 1548-1876), one of

the leading printing companies in the world

during the golden age of Antwerp.



Anno 2018, communication and information are ruled

and biased by the digital world we live in and big data

will continue to affect us more and more. Screens are a

constant attack on our eyes, brains and nervous system.

We need to compensate for this imagery overflow and

give our creative brain a rest once in a while with a real,

tangible item … a slow old-school book, which takes time

to activate and stimulate all our senses. From the origin of

a book until its final existence, the creation process is still

a ‘slow process’ compared to the communication hysteria

via other media.

The publishing business in general is under a lot of

pressure from digital platforms, and large publishing

houses that concentrate on magazines and newspapers

are feeling the pressure of media agencies and advertising

partners to transform its business model. Paradoxically,

at the same time a tangible and beautifully designed

and printed book, turned into an object of art, seems

to have more impact today than eleven years ago when

printing became a commodity and the overload of printed

communication played its role.

Today Stockmans as a printer and publisher is embedded

in the printing group of the De Bie family, a 4th generation

company, originally from Lier (BE). The company is now

situated in Duffel, and as a commercial printing company it

has grown to 110 FTE and an estimated turnover for 2018

of 23 M euro. Antilope De Bie Printing is a construction of

7 companies that have been added to the original printing

house. The fact that several independent companies have

joined forces has to do with the technological evolutions

within the graphic industry, where capital investments are

extremely high and the competition of digital media and

innovation have put pressure on the total paper volume in

the market. There is a contradiction and imbalance in the

business model, where digital media evolve at the speed of

light while high-end printing technology has an accounting

depreciation rate of 5 to 7 years to earn back important

investments into new technology.

From a strategic point of view, Stockmans has made the

choice to specialise in 2 niches as a total service company:

the creation, the making and distribution of art books and

calendars. For Stockmans, this choice means to produce

sustainable products with a longer life cycle, apart from the

production process which is driven by ecological factors in

the production facilities of Antilope De Bie. Most of the

time a calendar rarely surpasses its 12 months calendar

period, but when turned into an art object, it can easily

survive for years. Naturally, the art books produced by

Stockmans are meant to easily surpass the buyer’s lifetime.


As a publishing company and a production consultant for

artists, galleries, institutions and companies, Stockmans

engages in an intense and profound process with its

partners. For many a book has a special and unique touch,

often related to the history or future of the individual

Max Pinckers in full collaboration with masterprinters at Stockmans - Antilope De Bie

person or company, loaded with history and life stories.

The value and emotion that is related to the production

process and the final result, is unique in the world

of printing. It demands a very specific approach and

competence, which Stockmans has built up during its


As makers, the publishing house and the ateliers create

added value, putting the creativity of the authors into

our own energy and design to reflect the creator’s vision,

passion and story. Bruno Devos, who has been in the

printing business since 1991, and is engaged in several

international art projects, tries to feel and encapsulate

these compelling stories into a publication. He specifically

created his own function to describe what he does and

loves to do, curating art books. Taking care of the artists

is part of his role. Today, many artists create books that

are an integral part of their practice. The book is another

medium for the artist to experiment and build his artistic

story. Many publications at Stockmans go beyond the

regular exhibition catalogue or monograph and are

connected as a presentation tool to a specific artistic

approach or series of an artist. This creates an extra

dimension for both the artist and for Bruno and his team.

Books like Margins of Excess, self-published by the young

Belgian photographer Max Pinckers, or Wesley Meuris’s

book Exhibition Types are compelling examples of this

approach. Jeroen R. Kramer’s photo novel Une Femme

is also a beautiful example of the book as an artwork. It

is the only comprehensive tool for the artist to tell his

artistic story. Older publications full of adventure are also

an illustration of Stockmans’ vision, for example Lost

Angels by Italian photographer Alfredo Falvo, who spent

4 months photographing in Skid Row, Los Angeles. But

also an historic book on the history of Cuban cacao or

the rediscovery of Flemish artworks in the Museum of

Fine Arts in Havana are projects that were initiated in the

house. The most recent publication, A layer for my throat

came out 11 March. This vegetarian extravaganza between

a food stylist, a fashion photographer, a typography geek

from Amsterdam, and the Stockmans team, finds its

inspiration in recent opera plays performed on stage by the

Flemish Opera House. “These projects are so wonderful

because they bring creative people together, all enjoying

and creating what we are best at. The sum of all of us

brings such an energy to this latest project, the book itself

is a joy to all senses,” comments Bruno Devos.

In the same trend, recent limited edition art publications

include Danielle van Zadelhoff’s series Survivors, which

is filled with portraits of AIDS survivors from the late

eighties that were recently presented at the London City


Peter de Cupere, Scent in context - Olfactory Art Pascal Van Loenhout, UN/CUT Erik Vernieuwe & Kris De Smedt, A layer for my throat


Hall during World Aids Day. Another collector’s item is

Thomas Vandenberghe’s journey to Bangkok which leads

to a conceptual publication where the art photos are well

hidden at first glance. In 2018, Stockmans will publish − in

cooperation with Opera Ballet Flanders − a prestigious

publication about the Aviel Cahn years at the Opera. The

book Opera/Out of the Box will be presented in October

and shares Aviel Cahn’s broader vision on the complete

process of Opera and its stakeholders, in Flanders and


The attachment to the project creates a very personal

bond between the publishing house and its protagonists,

the artists. “For every book we make, I can write at least

one other book that tells the story of the ‘making of’

process, of the interactions and gives insight into many

lives”, shares Devos. Devos’s private life, full of passion

for Art is intertwined with his art and book projects.

Recent art projects brought him to Cuba, Argentina and

Brazil, travelling with 40 top Belgian contemporary artists

to prestigious museums for his project, The Importance of


“We find motivation in that bond and in the reactions of

the people involved in the process and of course those of

the public.” Recently, Royal Opera House De Munt/La

Monnaie in Brussels commented on Stockmans’ luxurious

edition of Danielle van Zadelhoff’s hardcover photobook :

“… The book is an example of how dark full bodied photos

should be printed … the love for making books is reflected

by the finishing touch … delivering a pair of gloves with

the book, to protect the fragility and luxury of the dark

printed images. This respect and love for printed matter

is connected to our vision on the arts.” When reading this

comment from De Munt/La Monnaie, Devos comments

that, “It made my day because it is wonderful to share

these publications with the right people, people who

appreciate art, process, quality and true beauty.”


The financing of an artbook is always an intense exercise

when a project starts. Sometimes the book is completely

financed via the budget of an institution, gallery or

sponsor. But often this is not the case, so it is always a

10.000 pcs puzzle (or even jigsaw) to realize a project

and not lose money on the investment of the book.

Traditional distribution models mean that the books are

put into the market with 40 to 65% discounts to shops and

international distributors. Recently we published a book

Danielle van Zadelhoff, Monography

with a therapeutic goal, for a young woman. Thanks to

crowdfunding she was able to bring in the basic amount

to start the production of the book. It was beautiful to see

how Maaike Ottoy was able to create her own community

that supported her dream to publish a lovely and colourful


catches some of the visiting audience or organizing a popup

high-end hairdressing environment with famous hair

stylist Pascal Van Loenhout. These type of events create a

buzz and awareness that is necessary in our niche.


One of the biggest challenges for a publisher of art books

is channelling their books into the market. Per definition,

the market is niche oriented, hence small, and limited

to an audience that engages and is passionate about

art. The internet and web shops put a lot of pressure

on the traditional bookshops, but generating traffic can

be stimulated when stories and events complete the

experience of a book. The idea is to make it worthwhile for

the audience and readers to come out to the bookstore and

bypass the internet sale of books. Stockmans collaborates

with bookshops like Copyright Bookshop (in Antwerp

and Ghent) and Theoria (in Kortrijk) and creates events

to highlight some of its publications via traditional book

signings, talks, performances and even art expositions.

During the Antwerp Book Fair in 2017 (which attracted

143.000 visitors), Stockmans created a sense of belonging,

for its artists, team and visitors. Performances included

instant drawings with Jarno Kettunen from Finland who

As a publisher and calendar maker with a strong personal

approach, focusing on content and quality, we believe that

organic growth is the path to follow for Stockmans. We

are already surpassing the borders of Belgium and intend

to continue this. Again, all of this goes in parallel and is

simultaneously a paradox with the search for economies

of scale in the graphic industry where critical mass and

production speed are key words. When Bruno Devos

indicates that we are protagonists of “slow printing”, it

does not mean the production of a book takes ages, on the


A good illustration is the creation and production of

Peter de Cupere’s 3 kg heavy olfactory bible, 472 pages,

filled with 1.500 illustrations and more than 500 art works,

including 11 scratch and sniff smells. This hefty task took

only 5 weeks in total to design, print and bind, which

nobody else could perform in the publishing sector.


Book signing by Jeroen R. Kramer, Une Femme

Book signing by Nick Claeskens, Bus Stop

Book signing by Jan Bosschaert

Pop-up hair styling at Antwerp Book Fair

by Pascal van Loenhout

Bruno Devos and Danielle van Zadelhoff

Live drawing performance by Jarno Kettunen


Being close to our production facilities, sourcing from

the scale of the printing group, gives Stockmans a unique

position in the industry and enables us to master the

complete process. Vision, competence and passion merge

with technology, the virtual touches the tangible.

As a business-to-business player for calendars, Bruno

Devos believes a calendar is price/attention wise the best

tool to communicate to customers for 365 days about a

company and its products and services. An aesthetic or

practical calendar still has its value in an age where the

digital agenda rules. Again tangibility, ease of comfort and

sometimes beauty play its role for the calendar anno 2018.

During the 2000-2009 period, Stockmans, in collaboration

with Franky Claeys and Jean-François Carly, designed

amazing calendar projects with photographers, visual

and performing artists, and fashion designers like Dries

Van Noten, Raf Simons, Chanel, Vivienne Westwood,

Hussein Chalayan or Christian Lacroix and a luxury

brand like Delvaux, but also Nike. These projects were a

testimonial of experimental product design with high-end

production techniques.

Bruno Devos is also associated with Barbara Dietrich for

Diplomatic World, where he curates the art and cultural

diplomacy section of the magazine since March 2017.

Early 2017, the magazine was completely redesigned by

Bruno and his team, and he also advises the publisher

about strategy and content. “I truly believe that art and

culture are the defining and universal factors to bridge

people from all around the world, but also our close

neighbours. The solution when questioning the role of the

European Union, when trying to look for solutions to the

refugee and immigration crisis, is to bond people, learning

one’s cultural language and respect people by sharing and

discovering one’s culture. Definitely a curious but above

all openminded approach, full of humanism, where the

wonder of diversity plays its part on our micro or macro


More information via






Stockmans Art Books at the Antwerp Book Fair (2017)



The Plantin-Moretus Museum is a printing museum in

Antwerp, Belgium which focuses on the work of the 16th

century printers Christophe Plantin and Jan Moretus.

It is located in their former residence and printing

establishment, the Plantin Press, at the Vrijdagmarkt

(Friday Market) in Antwerp and has been a UNESCO

World Heritage Site since 2005. The printing company

was founded in the 16th century by Christophe Plantin,

who obtained type from the leading typefounders of the

day in Paris. Plantin was a major figure in contemporary

printing with interests in humanism; his eight-volume,

multi-language Plantin Polyglot Bible with Hebrew,

Aramaic, Greek and Syriac texts was one of the most

complex productions of the period.

The original residence and workshop of the Plantin and

Moretus publishing dynasty offers a unique historical

experience. The building’s creaking oak planks and

panels seem imbued in the history of books, the art of

printing and the story of a family’s entrepreneurial flair.

The oldest printing presses in the world can be found

here, and much more besides.





Brussels offers an intercultural and historical

fertile ground with a highly mobile and international

population. It is in this rich environment of 62 %

foreign-born residents that the vibrant musical heart

of the School of Arts, the Koninklijk Conservatorium

Brussel, beats. Its student and teacher population

matches the intercultural metropolitan mix with 60%

international musicians. Within the cultural and

musical history of this capital over the last 200 years,

and maintaining Flemish presence over the last 50

years, the Flemish Brussels Conservatory — Koninklijk

Conservatorium Brussel — unfolded a long, sometimes

difficult but glorious trajectory. How to secure, by

never-ending economic demands of production and

efficiency, the continuation of such unique European

music heritage in Brussels? How to incite political

and cultural actors to sustain this ‘slow science’ at an

autonomous Flemish conservatory, in collaboration

with all Brussels’ partners? How to cope artistically

with the challenges of a 21th century setting?




“Brussels is a European center where Germanic and

Latin cultures draw boundaries and enable assimilation

processes. It is the task of the Koninklijk Conservatorium

Brussel to underpin this rich musical event, an invitation

to respond to it. The challenge is to enable the professional

requirements of this music education center, to tune

them to the highest level and to use all the opportunities

the artistic-cultural and economic circuit has to offer. In

this perspective, the training at the Conservatorium is

particularly stimulated while, at the same time, a special

contribution is expected from it.”

(Kamiel D’Hooghe, 1987)

CONSERVAMUS, an enthusiast organisation working

with public funding, recently started the renovation of

the windows, and an official political agreement has been

signed for the entire restoration of the site.



From the first director on, François-Joseph Fétis, in

1833, the conservatory aimed at a high-quality institution

for music education with an international reputation.

The specific commitment of the musicians, the unique

intercultural Brussels context and the later Flemish support

for an excellent and autonomous higher music education,

have contributed to develop this goal. The Flemish

emancipation under director Kamiel D’Hooghe, resulted

in a music institution of high quality, endorsing

its international position in multilingual Brussels.

A specific recruitment policy was and still is one

of its pillars: the resolute choice for great international

musicians with an established reputation, to whom the

opportunity is given, next to their high quality teaching,

to continue an artistic career as cultural ambassadors of

the institution. For example, the Brussels Conservatoire,

together with the Conservatoire of Paris, lies at the

birth of the great Franco-Belgian violin school. This

tradition, started by Eugène Ysaÿe, Henrik Wieniawski

and Arthur Grumiaux, still resonates in Brussels,

complemented by other rich traditions.

A unique Ysaÿe manuscript, recently donated to the

conservatory library, will be produced by our students and

teachers in May 2018. Another example is the connection

between the conservatory and the famous Queen

Elisabeth competition of which many teachers still

today are laureates. While other music teachers combine

their exceptional pedagogical qualities with positions


in renowned orchestras operating from Brussels,

the institution is also exceptionally considered for its

tradition in counterpoint and fugue and honored for its

specific artistic approach to the doctorate in the arts.

Historically interested musicians such as the family

Kuijken created an internationally recognized Early

Music department in the nineties, which today gets a

new international image. While other music institutions

in Flanders diminish their parts in early music, Brussels

continues to expand artistic bridges over time. The

presence of the music library, with its important 17th

and 18th century music, in particular the two private

collections Westphal and Wagener, contributes to this fully.

In the middle of the capital of Europe, melting pot

of countless cultural movements, its jazz department

reflects this cultural synergy both intra muros and

outwards in the socio-artistic landscape, leading

in Flanders and throughout the world. Every year,

the Koninklijk Conservatorium Brussel grants the

Toots Thielemans Jazz Award, with the explicit approval

of Belgian and Flemish jazz icon Toots himself. The

flourishing department of Musical at the Koninklijk

Conservatorium Brussel — the only one in Flanders —

offers another vibrant answer to the growing demand

for other western traditions, rivaling Dutch and

German institutions on a high artistic level.

However, there is a deep artistic concern how to master

art, economic efficiency and productivity: which

amount of subsidies to give to art, how many orchestras

to retain, how autonomous music institutions are to

be? The word ‘production’ entails a paradox. From an

artistic point of view, a production is a shared outcome

and presentation of an esthetic work, realised through

collaboration between artists. Production from an

economic perspective points to the making of goods

and processes, closely linked to fast consumption and

profit. However, the Latin ‘producere’ in the sense of ‘to

develop, realize, expand, strengthen, lead further’ offers us

the right educational perspective: developing young people,

realizing ideals, expanding knowledge, making expertise

stronger, leading the world further. The pedagogical

complexity of music education sharpens that paradox.

On the one hand, art is at odds with the economic,

technological and mediatized society. The art of music

is a challenge in and for society: music is a ‘slow

science’ (a concept from Isabelle Stengers), growing

from within hard labour, experience and exchange. An

artistic development asks for time, takes time — within

a society that is more and more characterized by

everything that is fast. Music is an art that exorcises time:

The fame of the Koninklijk Conservatorium Brussel

also resonates through its symphony and harmony

orchestras, its collaborations with the cultural field in

Brussels and abroad, with embassies and music houses.

Numerous small ensembles of chamber music, jazz or

early music spread their art on the Brussels stages —

MIM, Flagey, the Markten, ... and internationally — Porto,

Santander, .... The level of artistic excellence leads to an

almost natural flow of its young talents on the professional

artistic scene, in renowned orchestras, at international

positions and competitions.




The 50th jubilee this year shows that the Koninklijk

Conservatorium Brussel has been able to move forward

with artistic councils, in which many staff members and

cultural partners participate, being focal points for

initiative and dialogue.

dancing on the tight rope between old and young,

between exploring personality and mastering tradition.

Music is an art that cannot be fixed nor put in a museum,

as it is lived and revived by each new generation, again and

again by way of transmission, interpretation and creation.

On the other hand, society needs artists: people

who share a rich cultural tradition and offer new

aesthetic perspectives, who open unexplored domains

and lift a veil of daily worries. That is why the

Koninklijk Conservatorium Brussel meets society with

its music practices, with its own slow science, its

capacity to question the prevailing view of the

world in an artistic way. Therefore it is important

to preserve its autonomy concerning artistic choices and

policy and to develop its international resonance. That is

why it is exemplary in being traditional and rebellious, in

being a conservatory and a laboratory, in being a house

and an open space.

Finally, Koninklijk Conservatorium Brussel is ready for

another 50 years to be a lively artistic biotope,

with international identity and music excellence. The heart

of the Koninklijk Conservatorium Brussel continues to

beat in Brussels and you are invited to share its music!


Kathleen Coessens,

Director of the School of Arts,

Koninklijk Conservatorium Brussel



For the 3rd time the Global Media Innovator was

given out during the annual All Nations Gala of the

Diplomatic Council in Frankfurt this February.

Again, the Innovator received an object of art by

internationally acknowledged artist Ulrike Bolenz, in

addition to a lifelong fellowship in the global think tank.

This year it was titled “Vitruvian Human”, again combining

graphics, classic painting and plexiglass reflections.

“I looked up the history of this topic and it is really

amazing. I’m really thrilled to have received this object”,

said Simon Ingram, founder and CEO of London based

iocono Holdings and its daughter company RTAd Ltd. that

is marketing the real time advertising solutions of Adgile

software suite, after receiving this year’s honors.


“Amazing – and clever” that was also the summary of

the independent GMI Board within the DC that had the

challenging job picking this year’s Innovator. And it was

a truly hard pick this year with three out of five of the

shortlisted contestants being very close together throughout

the nomination process. “What made the difference with

RTAd? The fact checking: It already proved that it works on

a regular basis”, says Ian Whightman of worldwide business

intelligence group IHS Markit and member of the GMI

board from the very beginning.

The Adgile suite, that is a production feature that allows

to compile audiovisual TV spots in a very fast and costeffective

way, almost in real time. “We soon found out that

we also had to include planning and scheduling tools”,

explains Ingram. Only recently added to the Adgile Suite

of products, Adgile Play, is used for the 24/7 playout of

dynamically controlled infomercial channels, allowing the

client to change prices and offers on products through

an online control panel, in real time. This was the main

reason of the GMI board to decide for RTAd: “This enables

advertising in near or actual real time using data from live

sources. It delivers files to broadcasters that are compliant

with technical and legal standards, all in an automated

process. Clever!”

The highly exclusive Global Media Innovator is designed

to launch wide discussion on the positive impact of such

Simon Ingram, Ulrike Bolenz & Dieter Brockmeyer

clever ideas and innovations on our disrupted industries and

more so our societies. No company or individual can apply

to become the Innovator. The organizations and networks

behind the GMI board members come up with suggestions

that totaled 18 in this round. The board than narrows in

first on the shortlist and on the innovator in later steps.

Members of the 2018 GMI board were: Ijeoma Onah,

founder, Nigerian International Film Summit (Lagos),

Dato’ Ng Wan Peng, COO, Malaysia Digital Economy

Corporation, MDEC (Kuala Lumpur), Moeed Ahmad,

head of Incubation & Innovation Group, Al Jazeera Media

Network (Doha), Blair Westlake, principal, MediaSquareup

(Seattle), Ian Wightman, VP Research and Operations at

IHS Markit Inc. (Austin), Ed Hall, managing partner Expert

Media Partners (London), Robin Eckermann, principal,

Eckermann Associates (Canberra) and Jo Groebel, director,

Deutsches Digital Institut (DDI, Berlin).

Dieter Brockmeyer,

Chairman DC Global Media Forum and initiator

and curator of the annual Global Media Innovator


Enjoy a unique eating experience

Distinctive dishes made with innovative techniques

Innovative culinary concepts by topchef Marc Clément

Various works of art by renowned artists are integrated symbiotically

Easily accessible large parking lot

Innovative gastronomy

You will be cooked for by top chef Marc Clément, who has certainly

earned his stripes in the world of gastronomy. The dishes are prepared

using innovative techniques based on Marc’s latest passion.

The Bistronomy team serves affordable gastronomic delights in the

form of fresh, distinctive creations that will surprise even the most

refined palates.

In short, gastronomy with a nod to the future.

Opening times

Open from Monday to Saturday (from 6 pm on Saturday).

Monday & Tuesday from 6 pm by reservation for groups of 20

people or more.

Sunday closed.

Info & reservations


02 263 01 31

Indringingsweg 1, 1800 Vilvoorde





Through the artworks of contemporary artists

Panamarenko, Koen Vanmechelen, Fred Eerdekens,

Peter de Cupere, Nick Ervinck, Ulrike Bolenz,

Athar Jaber and Sergey Dozhd, meet the artwork of

artists of PsycArt: Bruno Gérard, Nils Dieu, Mireille

Dubois, Frédéric Etienne, Luc Derck, Nancy Oliver,

Vital Van Kriekinge, Kim De Veylder en Philippe

Da Fonseca. The exhibition will confront the

audience with the immaterial activity of the artistic

brain and its reflection via artistic output. The

exhibition challenges the art world to go beyond

known scientific facts that lead the audience into

unknown dimensions. The expo plays constantly on

the border of the immaterial and the material, starting

from a perfume bottle from Kazimir Malevich.


Art has always taken its place in Living Tomorrow as a

concept that refers to human creativity in thinking about

the future. Under guidance of curator Barbara Dietrich, two

partners — LIVING TOMORROW and PSYCART — want to

give art a place in the exhibtion TOGETHER IN LIGHT @

DARK 2.0 to confront the audience with the creativity of the

human brain and how to become reflection and innovation.


Through creativity. But you can’t just buy creativity and you

can’t enforce no one’s creativity.


By inspiration. But that inspiration rarely comes by itself.


When a person takes the time and space to see actively

around itself, he can get inspired. This is how it works for

artists who challenge themselves to work out a unique idea, to

continue in being innovative.

Art can invite a person to take the time and space to look

around and to get inspired by something a person doesn’t

know yet, something never seen before, that can inspire.

For each future project in which people want to get

challenged in the search for innovation, art can help to look at

what they didn’t know yet, at what they haven’t seen yet.

And when people take the time and space to try to look in a

different way, at that moment inspiration and imagination can

arise and change into creativity and finally into innovation.

In this exhibition every artist leads the audience into a new

way of looking at and thinking about living as a human being

in the constantly changing world.

PsycArt is a non-profit association dedicated to artists with

a mental or social vulnerabilty to guide and support them

in various ways so that they can present their creative work

to a broad audience. PsycArt looks at the creative work nor

merely as “creation itself”. It is a non-profit association that

focuses on the meaning of artists to create in life by offering

© Athar Jaber

opportunities that lead to present their work in a qualitative

and ethically correct manner.

Although the non-profit association PsycArt was founded

recently (July 2013), the PsycArt project celebrates its

twentieth birthday in 2018. Initially, this project set up by

a pharmaceutical company specialised in psychiatry and

neurology, consisted of organizing exhibitions for health care

professionals working in mental health institutions.

Since 1998, the two main action areas of the project are as


• Support to artists with a mental or social vulnerability

through exhibitions and other creative projects, ensuring

an ethical and secure environment around the sale and

rental of their artworks

• Expertise in artistic management as to support exhibition

projects in the sector of mental health care and social


An underlying goal remains the elimination of any stigma

around artists with a vulnerability.

With the support of volunteers, following activities are now

part of the daily operation:

1. Organizing and coordinating exhibitions, debates and

symposia (artistic management) through projects on

location in Brussels, Flanders and Wallonia

2. Organizing exhibitions, lecturers, debates and workshops

for groups at the fully equipped location where PsycArt

has its administrative seat (Schaerbeek)

3. Managing the art library: rental and sale of the art

collection of more than 400 works to individuals,

businesses and other associations.

So far, PsycArt is one of the few NPAs in charge of a sociocultural

project at (inter)national level, focusing the greatest

part of its work on the three Belgian regions and the Grand-

Duchy of Luxembourg.

Over a period of almost 20 years, PsycArt has exhibited over

500 artists. The most part of the money raised from sales has

been returned to the participating institutions and the artists


The success and reputation of PsycArt has grown steadily over

the years, extending well beyond the medical environment.

In particular the project has on several occasions won

Prométhéa’s Caïus awards, which it won twice in 1999 and

2012, and for which it received a special mention in 2003.

PsycArt vzw, www.psycart.eu


Thiéfrystraat 51–53, 1030 Schaerbeek (Brussels)

Contact: Stefanie De Weirdt

stefanie.de.weirdt@psycart.eu, T + 32 472 92 66 03




For the first time after 25 years, the Städtische

Galerie im Lenbachhaus and the Gabriele Münter

and Johannes Eichner Foundation showed an

extensive exhibition surveying the complete oeuvre

of Gabriele Münter (1877-1962).

For most art lovers, Münter’s name immediately evokes the

german expressionism with the “Blue Rider” — a group of

artists formed in Munich in 1911 with Kandinsky, Münter,

and Franz Marc (1880-1916) at its score —, Wassily

Kandinsky (1866-1944) or the small town of Murnau in

the Alpine foothills. These associations are not wrong, but

they reduce the artist’s rich oeuvre to only a brief period

and narrowly focus our view on a few facets of her long

career. Münter’s creative achievements, even more than

those of other female artists, have been interpreted and

evaluated through the lens of her life and her relationship

with Kandinsky. The exhibition seeks to draw attention

to the complexity and distinctive autonomy of her art by

examining it in light of art-historical questions. Its main

emphasis is on Münter’s paintings, which, unlike in earlier

shows, is presented in thematically focused sections rather

than in chronological sequence.


Gabriele Münter, Bildnis Marianne von Werefkin, 1909,

Pappe, 81 x 54,8 cm, Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus und Kunstbau

München, Inv.-Nr. GMS 656

Gabriele Münter, Dame im Sessel, schreibend (Stenographie.

Schweizerin in Pyjama), 1929, Textiler Bildträger, 61,5 x 46,2 cm

Gabriele Münter- und Johannes Eichner-Stiftung, München,

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

As Gabriele Münter was a photographer before she was a

painter, the presentation opens with a small selection of

photographs she took during her sojourn in the United

States in 1899–1900. The following sections examine

her creative engagement with the medium of painting.

Complementing the classic genres of portraiture and

landscape painting, themes such as the interior and

Münter’s work in series are explored. They illustrate her

playful approach to the visualization of spatial depth and

her experimentation with different ways to capture the

essence of a scene. An extensive section is dedicated to the

“primitivism” in the painter’s oeuvre, which is rooted in

her sustained interest in folk art, non-Western cultures, as

well as in children’s experience.

The representation of the world of labor is not something

we readily associate with Münter, but such scenes do

appear in her art. The paintings in the style of the New

Objectivity she created in the late 1920s refute the widely

held simplistic view of the artist as unperturbed by the

upheavals of the Great War and who carried on in the

manner her “Blue Rider” period. As well, and although

Münter is said to have felt on uncertain ground in the

realm of abstraction, she made abstract paintings that are

highly diverse and sometimes strikingly modern.

The exhibition would not be complete without a section

surveying Gabriele Münter’s work through the lens of her

exhibition history and her role as an important donor of

art. Held one hundred and forty years after Münter was

born, it also celebrates the sixtieth anniversary of her

donation of “Blue Rider” works to the Städtische Galerie

im Lenbachhaus in 1957. The majority of the works

displayed in the exhibition are drawn from the artist’s

estate, which is administered by the Gabriele Münter and

Johannes Eichner Foundation Munich. These paintings

have never been on public view or were last exhibited

decades ago. These are supplemented by international


and rarely exhibited works on loan. One important goal

of the Foundation is to prepare a catalogue raisonné of

Gabriele Münter’s paintings that will document all oil

paintings created by the artist with information about their

provenance, exhibition history, and the relevant literature.

A key part of the estate is the Münter House in Murnau.

Münter and Kandinsky frequently stayed in the house

in the years 1909-1914. She lived there from 1931 to

her death in 1962, from 1936 on with her companion

Johannes Eichner (1886-1958). After renovations in 1998-

99, it now appears as it did between 1909 and 1914. Richly

appointed and decorated with paintings and reverse glass

paintings by Kandinsky and Münter and popular art from

their collection as well as the artists’ own hand-painted

furniture, the house is now a museum which vividly

conveys the atmosphere that prevailed here before

World War I.

During the National Socialist’s reign of terror, Münter

hid her works in the basement of the house in Murnau,

along with numerous others by Kandinsky, the “Blue

Rider” protagonists, and their circle. Thus she was able

to rescue them from certain seizure and perhaps even

destruction. Kandinsky had to leave Germany in such

haste at the outbreak of war in 1914 that most of his

belongings, including his entire collection, had to be left

behind in Munich. His efforts to reclaim his possessions

— the paintings especially — once the war was over led to a

protracted legal battle with Münter, which was not resolved

until 1926. While Kandinsky had some of his paintings

restored to him, Münter was allowed to retain the vast bulk

of them. For many years, the collection was left to languish

in a warehouse in Munich; but once the threat posed by

the National Socialists became imminent, Münter retrieved

the works in storage and took them back to Murnau with

her. There they remained, hidden from view, right up to

the nineteen-fifties.


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

Foto: Simone Gänsheimer, Ernst Jank, Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus und Kunstbau München

What induced Münter to unlock her “basement of

millions” — as it was later called — was an encounter with

Hans Konrad Roethel (1909–1982), then the director of

the Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus, Munich from

1957 on. In 1957, Gabriele Münter marked her own

eightieth birthday by making an unparalleled gift of large

parts of this same collection to the Lenbachhaus, thus

transforming it over night into a world-class museum.

The Lenbachhaus has now the world’s largest collection

of art of the “Blue Rider”. It includes extensive holdings

of outstanding works by the leading “Blue Rider” artists

— first and foremost, Kandinsky and Münter, but also

Alexej Jawlensky, Marianne von Werefkin, Franz Marc and

August Macke.

The exhibition is organized by the Gabriele Münter- und

Johannes Eichner-Stiftung and the Städtische Galerie

im Lenbachhaus und Kunstbau München in cooperation

with the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Humlebæk

and the Museum Ludwig, Cologne. The curators are

Isabelle Jansen — Curator and Chief Executive of the

Gabriele Münter- und Johannes Eichner-Stiftung — and

Matthias Mühling — Director of the Städtische Galerie

im Lenbachhaus und Kunstbau München. An exhibition

catalogue is published by Prestel Verlag.



Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus und

Kunstbau München, Munich, Germany

October 31, 2017 to April 8, 2018

Louisiana Museum of Modern Art,

Humlebæk, Denmark

May 3 to August 19, 2018

Museum Ludwig, Cologne, Germany

September 15, 2018 to January 13, 2019





The juxtaposition of two oil painting studies

and their completed large-format paintings

offers us a glimpse into the creative imagination

of the artists and allows us to follow the

development of their ideas.

Peter Paul Rubens, 1577-1640, has left us countless studies

in oil. Some of them are drafts made employing a fleeting

painting technique, others are complete, well-presented and

bursting with colours, submitted to the clients’ attention

and then used as a starting point to create the largeformat

works. More than one study was found for specific

paintings. Indeed, numerous drafts would be needed

sometimes until the artist reached a satisfying outcome.

These may include changes made by Rubens himself or

requested by the client. A huge demand for these drafts

meant they could all be sold well, reaching the houses of

private collectors.

the consul’s battle stallion and the priests consecrating

Decius Mus. He’s draped in a red toga, bowing his body

forward in reverence to the priests and receiving the last rite

before the fight where he will die. The space of both groups

elevates the death ritual in the modello. Other changes in

the modello can be seen in the priest, who’s accompanied

by another person in the painting, as well as in the group

accompanying the consul. In the modello, only the horse

On 9 November 1616, Rubens signed a contract with carpet

weavers Jan Raes, Frans Sweers and Italien merchant

Franco Cattaneo to deliver templates for tapestries be

used in a Cycle regarding the life of Roman Consul Decius

Mus, as described by Titus Livy in his History of Rome.

Rubens finished the drafts in oil, and his most gifted pupil,

Anthony van Dyck, helped him with transposing them onto

a larger format. Ultimately the drafts, als known as ‘carton’,

were laterally reversed and completed for the weavers. In

following years, numerous tapestries completed Decius Mus



In this example, depicting the painting in the version by

the Gobelin family, we can compare the adaptation with its

representation of the consecration of Roman Consul Decius

Mus by the High Priest Marcus Valerius as a death offering

for the battle to come. Luckily enough, a small modello was

found in Dublin in the 1970s. It was painted on wood and

only measured 21,2 x 61,3 cm. This modello is, however,

slightly different from the completed painting. What really

leaps out is the gap between the right group, accompanying

tender and the lictor are represented, the latter being a civil

servant who carried the rods decorated with fasces, the

symbol of power, for the consul. Another soldier is missing

in the modello. We have therefore discovered yet another

early idea of the artist and its development.

We only have one oil study by Anthony van Dyck, 1599-

1641, where he goes through the motions of developing

the ‘Saint Sebastian Bound for Martyrdom’ painting. It’s

located in the Scottish National Gallery in Edinburgh.

In the Alte Pinakothek in Munich we find a repetition of

the same theme. The draft was painted by van Dyck in oil

colours on paper, and this was then fitted onto a canvas.

The study measures 63,7 x 56 cm and until now was titled

‘St. Sebastian; Andromeda und andere Studien’. A specialist

paper on the undressed beauty of Andromeda is currently

being prepared by art historians who want to put forward

important research results which is why in this article

we’re only assessing the drafts on the Sebastian painting in


painting. The study in oil at hand served the function

of being an aid to his thought process which he kept to

implement ideas at a later stage in time.

I’ve always been interested in the sketches, drafts, and

drawings of painters. I see their creative handwriting

enclosed in such works. Many years ago, I talked with art

historians Justus Müller Hofstede and Erik Larsen about

the oil studies of Rubens and van Dyck, especially about the

two works of this article. I received plenty of information

during friendly conversations that have made it into this

article. I would therefore like to thank both researchers and

experts for allowing me to pass some of that knowledge on

to the readers of the publication.

Ludwig Geiger and Maximilian Krenn

The right side of the study shows how Sebastian is tied. In

the left side we see themes as prepared in the Edinburgh

painting: a pale horse’s head, which in the finished

painting has been placed right to the top right; the head

of a black man, which is placed in the centre, to the left,

in the finished painting; the heads of two soldiers wearing

their helmets, recognisable in the right side of the finished

Maximilian Krenn, Art Curator & Collector






Cultural diplomacy has always been an important

pillar of diplomacy. This is no different between the

Kingdom of Belgium and the Republic of Cuba.

The artistic projects between both countries flourish.

The Belgian week which the Embassy of Belgium in Havana

has been organizing in Cuba for the last 12 years serves as

a catalyst for the cultural exchange between both countries.

Every Belgian week in Cuba is different in spite of some

recurrent activities such as the projection of Belgian movies.

Innovation is a key element, not only in the content but also

regarding the partners and location.

How to achieve the program of a Belgian week?

The program is the result of the demand and

interest of our Cuban partners and the availability of the

projects. The Embassy works with several institutional

partners such as the Belgian regions and cities. The main

role of the Embassy is the promotion of the different

activities through a press conference, TV spots and

social media.

The Belgian week always takes place in Havana in

November but sometimes an additional Belgian day is

organized in Santiago de Cuba. The Cuban Embassy in


Semana Belga en Cuba, Havana, November 2017

Residence of the Belgian Ambassador, Havana

© Patricia Mathieu

Brussels organized in 2017 its cultural days in October,

both in Brussels and Ghent. Logistically the organisation of

cultural events in another city presents more of a challenge.

The collection of the twelve posters of the Belgian weeks are

an interesting testimony of the past activities. The design

of these posters includes usually the colours of the Belgian

flag; black, red and yellow. The contents of the posters

refers to typical Belgian and Cuban elements.

Cinema is a classic subject of the Belgian week and so are

comic books. The 9th art not only is a strong holder of the

Belgian week, comic books have turned out to be a very

successful activity. The different workshops that Belgium

organised in Havana, among others during the Belgian week,

have trained young talented Cuban artists. Some of these

artists now show and sell their work in Belgium and France.

The Embassy of Belgium encourages the synergy between

different art disciplines. For example: the cooperation

between Belgium and Cuba with regards to architectural and

art styles, are promoted by comic books. The conservation

of our cultural heritage is a classic ingredient in our

cultural relations. The cities of Brussels and Havana share

a common interest in Art Nouveau. Workshops on Art

Nouveau have gathered keen interest. The first stories on

Havana were printed in Antwerp in the 16th century in

Spanish, another common perspective. The Belgian comic

Semana Belga en Cuba, Havana, November 2017


ook Melville was the basis for a multidimensional spectacle

in 2016 in Havana, presenting a combination of comic

books, music and visual projection.

Dance is another traditional part of the Belgian week. Some

of the Belgian choreographers such as Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui,

Wim Vandekeybus or Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker are well

known in Cuba. The avant garde performance by the dance

company of Irène K. during the last Belgian week captured

the Cuban audience both during an indoor performance

as a performance on a Cuban market place on a Saturday

evening. It goes without saying that the traditional Cuban

dances remain highly appreciated in Belgium.

The classical plastic arts like paintings remain a focal point.

During the Belgian week of 2017 the Belgian painter Piet

Raemdonck exposed his work in the cultural centre Wifredo

Lam in Havana, which was named after one of the most

famous Cuban painters of the 20th century. Sculptures will

most likely be part of the Belgian week of 2018.

Photography was also present during the Belgian week

in 2017 with among others a photo exhibition of both

Belgian and Cuban comic book illustrators.

The Belgian week always looks for new art forms. In 2017

“design” was introduced for the first time among the activities.

The Thomas More University College in Belgium sent a group

of 5 professors and 22 design students, who created interior

design scale models, along with Cuban design students.

The reference to professors and teachers brings me to

the next point, which is the relationship between the

cultural and academic exchange. Several Belgian professors

shared information on the history of Belgian cinema and

photography with a Cuban audience. This exchange is part

of an effort to demonstrate the impact of the academic

cooperation on the cities of the universities involved.

Cultural heritage is one of the subjects among the topics of

the bilateral academic cooperation.

A Belgian week not only fosters relationships between

Belgian and Cuban artists. Contacts between Belgian

artists, students and academics receive an incentive as well.

It’s ironic that Belgian artists have to cross the Ocean to

interact. At the same time, it’s reassuring to see that these

contacts lead to new projects and cooperation. Therefore,

the future of the Belgian week in Cuba seems guaranteed.


Semana Belga en Cuba, Havana, November 2017

© Rovier Mesa


Professional Experience

From 31 August 2015 - …: Ambassador of Belgium in Cuba


Embassy of Belgium in Cuba,

Calle 8 No. 309, entre 3ra y 5ta, Miramar Playa,

La Habana

Tel: + 53 7 204 24 10

E –mail: patrick.vangheel@diplobel.fed.be

Born in Schoten (Belgium) on 16.05.1973


Two children


08.2012 – 8.2015: Federal Public Service of Foreign

Affairs, Director for multilateral trade within the

Directorate General of European Affairs

08.2008 – 08.2012: First Secretary in the Permanent

Representation of Belgium with the United Nations in


11.2004 – 07.2008: First Secretary in the Permanent

Representation of Belgium with the OECD in Paris

10.2003 – 10.2004: Diplomatic advisor to the Minister of

Home Affairs

10.2000 – 10.2003: Attaché in the Permanent

Representation of Belgium with the European Union in


02.1999 – 08.1999: Attaché in the Embassy of Belgium

in Ottawa

Started his career at Foreign Affairs on 01.10.1998

Academic background

Master of Law







On the 15 February 2018, the Castle of Ophem was lit up

for a CIDIC evening to celebrate the Bulgarian Presidency

of the Council of the EU.

The “Columns of Peace” by the German-Belgian artist,

Ulrike Bolenz, symbolises the most fundamental of the

core aims of the European Union — uniting and reconciling

nations and people within Europe. Reminding us that

our continent has been torn apart many times over the

centuries by very destructive wars, particularly during two

World Wars in the twentieth century, these Columns call

for the preservation of peace, individual freedoms and

shared values, and respect for cultural diversity, alongside

efforts to promote economic growth, employment and a

better quality of life for all Europeans.

The Council of the European Union, bringing together the

members’ heads of state and government, plays a key role

in assuring these goals. Thus, these Columns of Peace will

be loaned to each country in turn as it assumes the sixmonthly

rotating Presidency of the Council, starting with

the Presidency of Bulgaria in January 2018.



The artist placed beautiful images of joyful, laughing

women at the core of her Columns, because mothers

embody love for their children, while teaching them

kindness, moral values and courage. In essence, Ulrika

Bolenz is telling us that women — as mothers — are to be

treasured for bringing each child to appreciate the joys

of life and the precious values of harmony, peace and

cooperation among nations, peoples, cultures and religions.


© Diplomatic world

H.E. Maya Dobreva, Ambassador of the Republic of Bulgaria and Barbara Dietrich

© Diplomatic world




On Friday, 26 January 2018, CIDIC had the honor and the

pleasure to organise a number of tables at the Diplomatic

Dinner at the Cercle Gaulois, for all the Chiefs of Mission

accredited in Brussels. This top-of-the-year event brings together

the official representatives of the countries related to Belgium,

the European Union and NATO. This prestigious dinner with

people in their evening dresses, gala uniforms, with their

decorations, is a symbol of the Circle Gaulois’ will to open up

and comfort the friendship between the nations. Indeed, the

networking and B2B meetings amongst ambassadors, members

of the Circle Gaulois and business people are of key importance

for the diplomatic life of Europe’s capital city.

Mr. Geoffroy Generet, President Cercle Royal Gaulois

Mr. Pieter De Crem, Secretary of State, Foreign Trade - Mrs Mimi Solvay and

Mr. Didier Reynders, Minister Foreign Affairs

Mr. Luc Sougne, Hry Consul Bulgaria and H.E. Maya Dobreva, Ambassador


Mr. Thomas Antoine, Secretary General Benelux, Baron Ernest de Laminne

de Bex, President CIDIC and Miriame Oxenius


Bâtonnier Xavier Magnée, H.E. Eleftheria Galathianaki, Ambassador Greece

Mr. Pascal Gregoire, Ambassadeur Foreign Affairs, Mrs Pierre Gallienne,

Avocat Général and Marc de la Brassinne

Mrs Lydia Desloover, Mr. Philippe Dehennin, President FEBIAC and

Mrs Caroline Pauwels, Rector VUB

Mr. Marc Moncousin, Diplomatic Relations BMW and Mrs Barbara Dietrich,

CEO Diplomatic World

Prof. Roland Gueubel, Director B-Life and Mr. Luc Sougne, Hry Consul


Mrs Maïthé Hautenne and Mr. Christian J. Mouvet, Secretary General


Sir Paul Dujardin, CEO BOZAR and H.E. Maya Dobreva, Ambassador


Overview of the dining room.

Barbara Dietrich, Prof. Roland Gueubel, Director B-Life, Mr. Philippe

Dehennin, President FEBIAC, Mrs Caroline Pauwels, Rector VUB, Baron

Ernest de Laminne de Bex, President CIDIC, Mrs Lydia Desloover and

Paul Dujardin, CEO BOZAR


Sheba International

Impacting healthcare worldwide


























International Consultation Division

International Training Center








Sheba Medical Center is the largest and most comprehensive hospital in the state of

Israel. As such our vision is to share our knowledge, experience and expertise with the

world. We are motivated by our ability to impact health care services and health in many

countries whilst, at the same time, strengthening Sheba Medical Center’s resources as

well as enhancing the experience of our staff for the benefit of our patients and, at the

same time, improving the health of the local communities of our operations.

None of our activities are at the expense of the Israeli patients or health care resources.

So, why we do it? Because we have the best motivation in the world: We are all winners

— the Sheba Medical Center and the many communities which we so proudly support.

Michal Raviv Reisman

© The Chaim Sheba Medical Center at Tel Hashomer




Irena, a head nurse in a Moscow hospital, surprised

us with an unexpected visit to the Sheba Medical

Center. “I am so proud”, she said, “for the first

time in my career I was permitted to develop a new

program for the benefit of our patients”. Irena is one

of 300 nurses who participated in SMC’s training


Following a successful collaboration with the Ministry of

Health of Moscow, Sheba International was asked to help

identify the advantages of the Moscow health system which

could be used in order to upgrade and promote the entire

regional heath care system.

The one strength which very clearly stood out very clearly

was the quality of the nurses in Moscow. Very well educated

and trained, highly qualified, smart and ambitious, Moscow’s

nurses are an endless resource of wisdom, combined with

aspiration and remarkable abilities, waiting only for the

health system to appropriately use their capabilities.

The main challenge in this case was the inherent cultural

hospital working environment that inspired us to propose

a dual plan — to simultaneously work with the clinical

directors of the hospitals and to empower the nurses. This

way, working both from top to bottom and from bottom to

top, we doubled our chance of success and also shortened

the time required to implement changes.

nurses who participated in our program of training and

continual guidance and support.

In the words of Sheryl Sandberg, Chief Operating Officer of

Facebook: “Motivation comes from working on things we

care about. It also comes from working with people we care

about.” (Sheryl Sandberg, Lean In: Women, Work, and the

Will to Lead)

The empowerment of Moscow’s nurses has stimulated and

motivated them to make important and significant changes

affecting the health and wellbeing of their community.


Over 300 senior nurses in Moscow undertook this training

and empowerment program. Following the training sessions

we continued meeting with the nurses every 4 to 6 months,

to hear of their progress and to encourage them to continue

to initiate and influence their working environment for

the benefit of the patients and staff. The nurses have been

able to initiate many new projects such as patient and staff

satisfaction surveys, reorganization of the Intensive Care

Unit, standards for patient’s privacy and dignity, guidelines

to enable family members to accompany emergency room

patients and even the establishment of a new bus line from

the nearest Metro station to the 120 year old hospital. These

are only some of the unbelievable accomplishments of the



Hearing a presentation by Ms. Michal Raviv

Reisman, Director of Sheba International, was

enough for the Deputy Minister of Health of

Moscow to promise Michal — we will be in touch.

Unlike many similar promises, the deputy minister kept her

word and very soon afterwards the Sheba Medical Center

and the Ministry of Health of Moscow signed an agreement

of collaboration, focusing on the need to train the present

and future generations of hospital managers. The changes

that the Russian health system was pursuing required a

major transformation of the hospital managers as their role

and duties evolved.

This included educational responsibilities, staff nurturing,

economic, marketing and management skills in a

competitive environment and an expectation to lead their

hospitals to greatness, as opposed to the prevailing “holding

the fortress” approach. Together, we developed various types

of training sessions which took place both at Sheba in Israel

and in Moscow, aimed at preparing the regional managers

for their coming managerial role changes and for the new

demands of their leadership positions.

Many hundreds of directors and deputy directors joined

the different programs and the success was translated

into subsequent additional collaborations as well as the

certificates of appreciation presented by the mayor of


© The Chaim Sheba Medical Center at Tel Hashomer





When the representative of UNICEF Georgia called

Sheba International and asked for assistance we did

not realize that this was the start of five years of

close cooperation, that would give us a great deal of

pride and satisfaction!

“We think we have excessively high infant mortalities during

labor” was the initial reason for that call, but after months

of investigation, interviews and field work we had a much

clearer picture of the maternity services in the Republic of

Georgia — both mothers and newborn infants were dying in

the delivery rooms.

Sheba Medical Center’s team of obstetricians, pediatricians,

neonatologists and health care managers conducted an indepth

assessment of maternal and newborn infant care in

Georgia. Members of the Sheba team undertook numerous

visits to Georgia and were extremely impressed not only

by the wonderful warm and friendly hospitality received,

but especially by the openness, transparency and desire of

government officials and medical personnel alike to improve

perinatal care in Georgia.

Sheba International’s approach to this challenging task

included the setting up of duplicate teams, a Sheba team

and a Georgian team, working together shoulder to

shoulder. The teams toured and assessed maternity units

throughout Georgia, especially regarding the geographical

location, physical conditions, equipment and clinical

capacity. All of the information collected was analyzed in

the context of the needs across the country, taking into

consideration the cultural, economic and geographical

constraints of Georgia as well as planning for future

maternity needs.

Following the research phase, which required more than

a year of intensive work, the SMC team prepared a final

comprehensive report. These recommendations, a “Master

Plan” for action, were completed and presented to the

Ministry of Labor Social affairs and Health and to UNICEF.

The Master Plan comprised a detailed action plan based on

the clinical principles of standardization, clinical experience

and capacity, registration and continuing medical education.

The challenging implementation phase of this Master Plan

followed immediately and is still ongoing.


For the SMC team ... If we have helped to save only one

baby’s life or if the tragic death of one mother is prevented

then our mission has been worthwhile.



Almost 3 years of studying, learning and adjusting to

the Chinese culture and working environment were

barely enough for Sheba’s International experts. The

very marked and deep differences in Western and

Chinese approaches to medical care were the main

reasons for the lengthy preparation time required

by Sheba International before deciding to enter the

Chinese health market.

We encountered extremely ambitious, intelligent and highly

motivated partners who were willing to put in the hard work

required. Colleagues became friends and within a short

time the Sheba and Chinese medical and administrative

teams developed a mutual respect and warm and close

relationships. This health project has enriched all of those

fortunate enough to participate and Sheba International

looks forward to our future collaborations in China.

This time was well spent so when a new and challenging

project was presented Sheba International was fully


Joining an international company, the LR Group, the Sheba

Medical Center undertook to establish an upgraded and

modern maternity and delivery service in a new hospital

that had recently been opened. The request was to promote

a comprehensive implementation of Western standards

of maternity care, to overcome educational and training

limitations and to enhance the competitive economic

advantage of the hospital.

Step by step, we introduced Western clinical guidelines

and administrative protocols which were adapted to the

Chinese healthcare environment, implementing concepts of

measurement, observation and clearly defined clinical goals.

These changes entailed upgrading the clinical care, applying

a patient centered approach to case management and the

establishment of new medical services, non-existent before

our collaboration.

© The Chaim Sheba Medical Center at Tel Hashomer





A group of leading medical experts from Israel’s

national hospital, Sheba Medical Center, Tel Hashomer,

delivered emergency relief in Zambia, setting up a

treatment center to assist those in need.


Sheba Medical Center, Tel Hashomer, Israel’s national hospital,

has mobilized teams of medical experts and cutting-edge

resources to battle the growing and deadly cholera epidemic that

has plagued a poverty-stricken neighborhood in Lusaka, Zambia.

Sheba Medical Center’s first-response team arrived in Zambia

only a few days after the outbreak and were the first and only

international medical team to arrive in the African nation for a

rescue mission aimed at stopping the outbreak of cholera that, at

that time, had already claimed the lives of 54 people.

The first response team comprised of Sheba Medical Center

physicians who specialize in tropical and traveling medicine,

along with water-expert engineers, arrived in Zambia with a clear

objective: to survey the situation on the ground by assessing

how to best prevent the fatal spread of the disease and protect

Zambians from the contaminated water. Sheba Medical Center’s

first-response team immediately identified the source of the

cholera outbreak and determined that approximately 500.000

people in one of Lusaka’s poorest neighborhoods are being

exposed to contaminated water culled from water wells in close

proximity to sewage-filled soil. The Israeli experts immediately

advised local government officials to prevent the drinking of this

contaminated water by blocking all access to the contaminated

wells, and helping distribute bottled water.

A core priority for Professor Yitzhak Kreiss, Sheba Medical

Center’s director general and former Israeli Defense Forces

surgeon general, is responding to humanitarian crises effectively

with the highest standards of medical care and crisis leadership.

“Sheba Medical Center’s humanitarian compassion knows no

boundaries, and we deploy teams all around the world to rescue

and treat victims in conflict zones or natural disaster situations,”

said Prof. Kreiss. “The innovative medical expertise and tactics

employed by our experts are today being dedicated to helping

the people of Zambia and saving as many lives as possible from

the tragic cholera outbreak. Sheba Medical Center’s goal, which

echoes the ethos of Israel, is to save lives and make a positive

global impact.”

A second team from Sheba Medical Center was deployed January

10 to spend two weeks in Zambia. The medical experts treated

patients at Lusaka’s National Heroes Stadium, which had been

converted into a cholera treatment center. This highly-skilled

delegation from Israel’s national hospital included two physicians,

two nurses and a lab technician, all of whom have deep experience

with international emergency humanitarian rescue missions.

The Israel Center for Disaster Medicine and Humanitarian

Response at Sheba Medical Center boasts highly experienced

specialists who continue to lead the charge in preparing and

responding to global humanitarian crises and emergencies.

While this is Sheba Medical Center’s first huma