Diplomatic World_nummer 57




















of Uzbekistan





of Georgia





of the


of Serbia




Deputy Foreign


of Uzbekistan




Lao PDR,

Minister / President,

Lao Women’s





Ambassador of

South Korea





of Australia

Summer 2018 www.diplomatic-world.com Quarterly edition

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









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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

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Barbara Dietrich I Brita Achberger I Stefanie De Jonge

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Pursuing its humanitarian mission of peace for all,

the Universal Council for the Peace of the Nations

and Continents, "CULPAC" – international nongovernmental

organization existing since 1979 – realizes

the Universal Conference for the Peace from the

5 to 6 September 2018 in the European Parliament

in Brussels.

The Conference will be attended by well-known

international figures, European, American,

Asian and African deputies, as well as

world-renowned non-governmental organizations.

Being always enterprising by her remarkable actions

for peace in the world, Mrs. Barbara Dietrich, CEO

of Diplomatic World will take an active part in the

organization of this universal conference for peace.





President of the

European Council

10th anniversary

of Polonicus!




Ambassador of

South Korea






Former Ambassador

in North Korea




His Royal Highness

Prince Mohammed bin

Salman bin Abdulaziz

Al Saud












38 60







of Georgia





40 62

With Irene Natividad











of Serbia



of Australia

Ambassador of

43 66





Ambassador of the

Republic of Turkey



46 68

Ambassador of Laos









Deputy Foreign


of Uzbekistan
















of Uzbekistan





















114 140












& AI

Prof Dr.





90 116 144

Jan De Maere



















Former Dean,

University of Ghana

Medical School


President of


at the Association’s

60th anniversary








102 124










104 126








Tribute to the first

1911 Saint Petersburg

Monaco Rally














































“History happens just before our very eyes” –

this holds true for the spirit and atmosphere

of the Polonicus ceremony which had its 10th

anniversary in the beautiful Aachen Coronation

Hall of Charlemagne. These ten years are now part

of Poland's history and of Polish and European


The 2018 ceremony recalls that for the last ten years

the annual “Polonicus” prize has been awarded by the

European Institute for Culture and Media Polonicus to

honor “the conduct and attitude to improve the German

and Polish dialogue in Europe and the development of the

Polish culture in Europe.” The Polonicus statue represents

a dynamic, brave, winged human figure.

Among the previous winners of the Polonicus prize are

renowned people like Professor Władysław Bartoszewski,

Professor Jerzy Buzek, Professor Norman Davies,

Professor Karl Dedecius, Krystyna Janda, Archbishop

Alfons Nossol, film director Andrzej Wajda, Professor Jan

Miodek, Professor Leszek Balcerowicz, and the winner of

the Nobel Peace Prize Lech Wałęsa.

in Germany. They are the founders of the Chorus

Benedictus. This choir was established as a part of the

Polish Catholic Mission in Wuppertal in 1989 and is now

well known in Europe.

The Polonicus awardee Jerzy Owsiak was honored for

his outstanding engagement for the development of

the civil society. Mr. Owsiak has organized important

contributions for many Children’s Hospitals in the past.

The recent ceremony was of special importance not only

because it was the 10th anniversary but also because of its


Prof. Rita Süssmuth was one of this year’s awardees. She

served many years as President of the German Bundestag

and was among the first politicians to visit Poland after the

historical free election in 1989. She received the Polonicus

prize for her longstanding support of the German-Polish

dialogue. Prof. Süssmuth has served as chair of the Deutsch-

Polnische Wissenschaftsstiftung (DPWS) and as president of

the Deutsches Polen-Institut (DPI) for many years.

Roza and Benedikt Frąckiewicz got the Polonicus award


to honor their support of Polish culture and organization

Donald Tusk, President of the European Council

© Dariusz Manka

Wiesław Lewicki, Jerzy Owsiak, Armin Laschet, Donald Tusk, Roza and Benedikt Frąckiewicz

© Dariusz Manka

All the guests of the prize ceremony in the Coronation

Hall of Charlemagne awaited the awardee of this year’s

special Polonicus prize. This honorary prize was awarded

to Donald Tusk who has been the President of the

European Council since 2014. Formerly he served as

Prime Minister of Poland from 2007 to 2014. Donald

Tusk has already received the important Charlemagne

Prize in the Aachen Coronation Hall in 2010 to honor

his service for the European unification.

The president of the Polonicus Prize Jury, Wiesław

Lewicki, recalled the important role of Poland in Europe.

Poland is proud that among those who carried forward

the historical project of the European unification several

outstanding people came from Poland, including Donald

Tusk, the former President of European Council Jerzy

Buzek and of course the Polish Pope John Paul II.

It is always a special moment to reward a prize for

European understanding and unification in Aachen,

the place where Charlemagne ruled and united

much of western and central Europe in the early

middle ages.

Wiesław Lewicki

© Dariusz Manka


In his acceptance speech Donald Tusk emphasized the

fundamental importance of the European project which

has been carried forward since the end of the disastrous

Second World War. He also recalled that the end of the

First World War and the reconstitution of the Republic

of Poland happened 100 years ago. He reminded us that

it took a long time to rebuild a spirit of reconciliation

between the people of the various European countries.

Such spirit should not be destroyed by thoughtless and

imprudent actions and actors. We need to identify and

oppose such irresponsible people in order to stay firmly,

proudly and positively committed to work for unity and

peace in Europe.

Robert Nawrat and Wiesław Kutz

Armin Laschet

Minister President Nordrhein-Westfalen

© Dariusz Manka


Armin Laschet - Minister President Nordrhein-Westfalen, Ulrike Bolenz, Artist with Portrait of Donald Tusk, Donald Tusk - President of the European Council

and Barbara Dietrich - CEO Diplomatic World Magazine

© Dariusz Manka

Donald Tusk and Iwona Nawrat

© Dariusz Manka

Donald Tusk and Robert Nawrat

© Dariusz Manka

© Dariusz Manka





His Royal Highness Prince Mohammed bin Salman

bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, Crown Prince, Deputy

Prime Minister and Chairman of the Public

Investment Fund (PIF), announced on 24 October

2017 the launch of NEOM.

The city will be built in Saudi Arabia from scratch and will

span 26.500 square kilometers (more than 33 times the

land area of New York City). It will have more robots than

humans. Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz

Al Saud envisions it as a “civilizational leap for humanity”.

NEOM is born from the ambition of Saudi Arabia’s Vision

2030 to see the country develop into a pioneering and

thriving model of excellence in various and important areas

of life. NEOM aims to drive the transformation of the

Kingdom into a leading global hub through the introduction

of value chains of industry and technology.

“We want the main robot and the first robot in Neom

to be Neom, robot number one,” the crown prince said.

“Everything will have a link with artificial intelligence, with

the Internet of Things – everything.”

“NEOM will focus on 9 specialized investment sectors

and living conditions that will drive the future of human

civilization, energy, water, mobility, biotech, food,

technological & digital sciences, advanced manufacturing,

media and entertainment with livability as its foundation.

The focus on these sectors will stimulate economic growth

and diversification by nurturing international innovation

and manufacturing, to drive local industry, job creation


NEOM CEO Dr. Klaus Kleinfeld and His Royal Highness Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud

His Royal Highness Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud

and GDP growth in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. NEOM

will attract private as well as public investments and

partnerships. It will be backed by more than $500 billion

over the coming years by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the

local Saudi Public Investment Fund as well as international


NEOM commands a unique location to bring together the

best of Arabia, Asia, Africa, Europe and America. It resides

in the Northwestern region of Saudi Arabia, and spans over

26.500 km 2 . By overlooking the waterfront of the Red Sea to

the South, the West and the Gulf of Aqaba, NEOM enjoys

an uninterrupted coastline stretching over 468 km, with a

dramatic mountain backdrop rising to 2.500 m to the east.

A constant breeze leads to mild temperatures. The wind and

sun will allow NEOM to be powered solely and entirely by

regenerative energy.

Africa, which will add to the zone’s economic significance.

NEOM’s land mass will extend across the Egyptian and

Jordanian borders, rendering NEOM the first private zone

to span 3 countries.

Investments and financing will play a vital role in NEOM,

set to be spearheaded by the Kingdom’s economy and

supported by PIF – a major global fund with access to a

worldwide network of investors and major companies – set

to be brought onboard to drive its success.

With the ambition of becoming one of the world’s future

economic and scientific capitals, in addition to being the

future commerce capital of Saudi Arabia, NEOM is set to

attract new foreign direct investment that will contribute to

PIF’s long-term growth strategy, aimed at strengthening the

Saudi Arabian economy.

NEOM is situated on one of the world’s most prominent

economic arteries, through which nearly a tenth of the

world’s trade flows. Its strategic location will also facilitate

the zone’s rapid emergence as a global hub that connects

Asia, Europe and Africa, enabling 70% of the world’s

population to reach it in under 8 hours, which brings the

potential to combine the best of major global regions

in terms of knowledge, technology, research, teaching,

learning, living and working. The site will also become the

main entrance to the King Salman Bridge, linking Asia and

NEOM is developed to be independent of the Kingdom’s

existing governmental framework, excluding sovereignty. It

will adopt a regulatory framework that fosters technological

as well as societal innovation and entrepreneurship in

accordance with international best practices. Investors,

businesses, and innovators will be consulted at every step

of the development in how best to create the economic

framework, design the urban plans and attract top quality

talent that will drive the growth of this zone and its resident



“NEOM will be constructed from the ground up, on

Greenfield sites, allowing it a unique opportunity to be

distinguished from all other places that have been developed

and constructed over hundreds of years. We will use this

opportunity to build a new way of life with excellent economic

prospects. Future technologies form the cornerstone for

NEOM’s development: disruptive solutions for transportation

from automated driving to passenger drones, new ways of


growing and processing food, healthcare centered around

the patient for their holistic well-being, wireless high speed

internet as a free good called “digital air”, free world-class

continuous online education, full scale e-governance putting

city services at your fingertips, building codes that make netzero

carbon houses the standard, a city layout that encourages

walking and cycling and all solely powered by renewable

energy, just to name a few. All of this will allow for a new

way of life to emerge that takes into account the ambitions

and outlooks of humankind paired with the best future

technologies and outstanding economic prospects.”

NEOM will achieve its ambitious goals of becoming among the

top secure areas in the world – if not the most – by adopting

the future technologies in the fields of security and safety. This

will raise the standards of public life activities and ensure the

safety and protection of residents, visitors and investors.

All services and processes in NEOM will be 100% fully

automated, with the goal of becoming the most efficient

destination in the world, and in turn be implemented in

all activities such as legal, government, and investment

procedures among others. Additionally, it will be subject

to the highest sustainability standards, and will provide all

transactions, procedures, and claims through paperless and

electronic means.

A new concept for the workforce will be implemented, based

on attracting high-caliber human resources with unique

competencies for full-time innovation, decision making and

business leadership. Repetitive and arduous tasks will be

fully automated and handled by robots, which may exceed

the population, likely making the NEOM’s GDP per capita

the highest in the world. All these elements will put NEOM

at the world’s forefront in terms of efficiency which will

make it the best destination in the world to live in.

“This place is not for conventional people or conventional

companies, this will be a place for the dreamers of the

world,” the crown prince said. “The strong political will and

the desire of a nation. All the success factors are there to

create something big in Saudi Arabia.”

For further information on NEOM please visit


Article by H.E. Abdulrahman

Bin Suleiman Al Ahmed,

Ambassador of the Custodian

of the two Holy Mosques to the

Kingdom of Belgium and the

Grand Duchy of Luxembourg






As a double-hatted Ambassador to Belgium and

Luxembourg as well as Head of Mission to the European

Union, I have an enormous task which is both challenging

and inspiring. Georgia is a country of ancient civilization,

with a long and tumultuous history but with the drive and

determination to succeed of a young nation. Yet it is a

country not very well known in this part of Europe. Belgians

are slowly discovering Georgia as the number of tourists

increase and attention grows to the ‘old new’ destination.

I wish to make Georgia better known in Brussels and I

wish to show its creative, dynamic, cultural side which

rarely makes it to the news headlines. For these purposes

economic and cultural diplomacy are among the most

effective tools for promoting one’s country, strengthening

bilateral ties and establishing friendship between people.

The term often used is people to people contact, which I do

not like as it sounds so devoid of emotion. It is more than

contact, it is about connection. I am convinced that culture,

arts and education is the only way to forge deep, longlasting

connections and this in turn will make Georgia’s case of

becoming part of the European family of nations stronger

in the eyes of the public here. Cultural and economic

diplomacy in my experience are not secondary to the

pursuit of state interests, to the contrary they are effective

means to this end.

the friendships I have made with Belgians through cultural

cooperation. I have an academic background and

I enjoy being a guest lecturer at various Belgian universities,

meeting students and talking to them about Georgia, its

past, its current challenges and its hopes. More and more

Georgian students are studying in Belgium, becoming an

integral part of the fabric of our bilateral ties.


In the last five years of my being in Brussels, we have

established a very close cooperation with the Bozar

Museum. There is a memorandum of cooperation signed

between Bozar and the Georgian Ministry of Culture and

almost every season, there are Georgian artists presenting

their work in Brussels. We have organized concerts,

exhibitions, film festivals and we enjoy this collaboration

immensely. I often say that most memorable moments of

my experience in Brussels, those that I will cherish long

after being gone, are linked to those cultural events and to

Natalie Sabanadze, ambassador of Georgia

Skyline of Tbilisi and Narikala Castle, Tbilisi, Georgia

© Shutterstock

Georgia has been gradually increasing its presence in

Brussels. As a country aiming at eventual membership

of the EU, we are slowly but surely bringing Georgia’s

political, economic and legal standards closer to the

norms established inside the EU. This is what Georgia’s

Association Agreement with the EU is about, which

was signed in 2014. We are deepening the scope of our

cooperation in most of the sectors of economic life.

Products made in Georgia are entering European markets.

On the other hand, European businesses are more and

more interested in expanding in Georgia, which is one of

the easiest countries of the world for doing business. The

World Bank ranks Georgia in the top ten countries for the

ease of doing business, which is a remarkable achievement

and which shows that Georgia is trying to compensate for

the small size of its market with its efficient and corruption

free institutions and administration in order to become

a regional hub for business, logistics and transport. I

hope that more and more Belgian companies will become

interested in doing business in Georgia and we work closely

with chambers of commerce, encouraging them to organise

trade missions and look out for business opportunities in

Georgia. Some Belgian companies are already present in

Georgia such as Tractebel and Goslan.

When it comes to bilateral political relations between

Georgia and Belgium and Luxembourg, we are proud

to have these two founding members of the European

Union as our close partners and friends. We are all small

countries that have faced similar challenges throughout

the history but each one of us has found different ways

of dealing with them. There is so much that Georgia can

learn from Belgium especially in areas of managing ethnic

and linguistic diversity, overcoming political divisions

through constant dialogue and ability to cooperate and

forge coalitions with political rivals. Last year we celebrated

25 years of diplomatic relations between our countries.

This year we are celebrating the 100th anniversary of the

foundation of the first Democratic Republic of Georgia. It

is noteworthy that Belgo-Georgian friendship takes root in

those turbulent years of post World War I, when Europe

was in flux and young Georgian democracy, which escaped

from the clutches of Tsarist Russia emerged as an appealing

experiment in progressive social democracy to European,

including Belgian, socialists.

Despite being on the edge of Europe, at the crossroad of

oriental and western Christian civilizations, Georgia has

always considered itself culturally and politically European.


What does this mean, however? Today there is much

debate about what constitutes common European culture

and identity and how it can serve as a unifying factor for

the European Union. Much of European history is closely

interconnected, however, it is a history of strife and war

as well as peaceful cooperation. With the fall of large

empires in Europe and the rise of nation-states, culture

and identity became national and its character assisted

with the democratization of political life and creation of a

standardised system of education.

It is therefore not surprising that people in Europe have

first and foremost an attachment to their national identity.

However, its presence does not exclude or contradict the

existence of a European identity and it is becoming more

developed with time and with the help of programs such

as Erasmus and Creative Europe. Identities are multiple,

layered, thick or thin. They are not normally mutually

exclusive. It is precisely the perceived exclusivity of identity

that has been and continues to be the cause of so many

wars in the world. I see no contradiction in having a strong

sense of belonging to the Georgian nation, to its culture

and customs and at the same time, feeling that I am part of

a bigger European cultural tradition. It is this diversity of

national cultures that makes common European culture so

rich and so real.

There is a reason why Georgia, which freed itself from

the Soviet empire only 25 years ago, is so eager to join

the European Union in the future. We believe in this

project which brought peace, stability and prosperity to

the European continent and which is based on principles

of sovereign equality and non-domination. It is a union

of those who share the same values and to a large extent

the same interests and who cherish their own diversity

and pluralism. It is also a union of small to medium sized

states, which have to stick together in order to increase

their own security and political weight in the global affairs.

The union driven by economic and political interests can

only be strengthened by a common cultural framework. At

times when resources are scarce, unfortunately, it is the

cultural sphere that suffers first and becomes the target of

cuts. It should be the opposite. Precisely at times of flux and

uncertainty, art and culture offer us a much needed shelter,

which we can all share.


View of the Ushguli village at the foot of Mt. Shkhara.

© Shutterstock

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I was appointed the Ambassador of the Republic of Serbia

to the Kingdom of Belgium in late August 2017. For Serbia,

Belgium is one of the very important countries – it is one

of the founders of the European Union, and seat of the

European Union and NATO, as well as other international

organizations. Due to its institutional setting, and its

regional and European experience and role, Belgium is also

a very interesting country from which we can learn a lot,

primarily how to make compromises and base our solutions

on dialogue and reconciliation, with mutual respect. For the

region I come from, that is essential and Serbia is making

huge efforts to work jointly on a better future and not to

focus our discussions on the past.

Bilateral relations with the Kingdom of Belgium have a long

history and the two countries have had rich ties for years.

They were first established in 1879 and in 1886, when the

Kingdom of Serbia had a diplomatic envoy in Brussels.

Also, Belgian investors were active in Serbia in the 19th

century, in mining. In fact the first railway in Serbia, in

Negotinska Krajina, was built on Belgian concession.

Robermont in Liège for instance, there are Serbian graves of

victims and the Serbian flag is raised with the flags of other

countries, as we commemorate the Armistice Day together.

Having in mind that the year of 2018 is devoted to the

commemoration of the end of the First World War, I most

certainly hope that our two countries will organize a joint

event – both here, as also in Serbia.

Bilateral cooperation and high-level dialogue are also much

intensified. Just recently the Prime Minister of the Kingdom

of Belgium, Mr. Charles Michel has visited the Republic of

Serbia and had very useful and fruitful talks with Serbian

President, Mr. Aleksandar Vučić and Serbian Prime

Minister, Ms. Ana Brnabić on various topics. It was the

first visit of a Belgian Prime Minister in more than 8 years,

Furthermore on, the first privileged National Bank of

Serbia, back in 1884, was developed with the support of

skilled staff from the Belgian National Bank, and the first

Serbian bank notes were even printed in Belgium. The

appropriate exhibition was prepared some years ago to mark

the fruitful cooperation among two national institutions,

lasting over 100 years.


Last but not least, I should mention that the first democratic

constitution in Serbia – Sretenje Constitution (1835) was

made following, among others, the Belgian constitutional

model from 1831.

It is interesting to know that our two countries collaborated

in the First World War, and that we were among the

countries that suffered the most. On the Cemetery of

H.E. Ms. Marina Jovićević, Ambassador of the Republic of Serbia to the

Kingdom of Belgium

Belgrade, Serbia. Kalemegdan Fortress in the night, ancient Singidunum.

© Shutterstock

and I was truly pleased that we managed to realize it within

a rather short period of my stay here as the ambassador.

Parliamentary cooperation has also been intensified, and

in December 2017 we organized a visit of the members of

the Friendship group with the Kingdom of Belgium from

the Serbian National Assembly, who came here and met

with chairpersons from Belgian and Flemish Parliaments,

and the chair of IPU for Serbia. I hope that by the end of

this year, we will see more visits at the ministerial level –

primarily in areas where dialogue is very intense – such as

foreign affairs, security and internal affairs.

Serbia is host to a number of investors from different parts

of Belgium, and at the moment over 50 Belgian companies

have successful businesses in Serbia. Having in mind

Serbian potentials as the investment destination (favorable

business climate, good geographic position, diversified and

high qualified labor market, low wages, subsidies given

to the investors, free zones, and wide scope of free trade

agreements giving an access to the market of 1.3 billion

population) I truly believe that during my mandate the

other Belgian companies will establish their businesses in

Serbia. In the last year, foreign trade exchange was over

half billion euro. A total of 26 agreements in different areas

have been signed between the two countries. One area

where I see a lot of potential is tourism. In 2017 we have

evidenced an increase of 38% in the number of tourists

from Belgium visiting Serbia, but we need to work harder

to attract Belgian people to come to Serbia and meet our


Serbia has been negotiating with the European Union

on the accession since January 2014 and so far we

managed to open 12 negotiating chapters, close 2 chapters

provisionally, and have 5 negotiating positions for chapters

technically ready for opening but waiting for political and

technical consent from EU member states. We certainly

hope that in June, during the Bulgarian EU Presidency we

will open at least 3 to 4 negotiating chapters. Our aim is

to try to reach the indicative date – 2025 that was given

in “A Credible Enlargement Perspective for an Enhanced

EU Engagement with the Western Balkans” – presented

on February 6, 2018. However, keeping in mind the

not favorable situation in the EU when it comes to the

perception of the enlargement, I truly believe that more

people-to-people contacts would contribute to a better

understanding and to the perception that the European

Union is where we belong.


Serbia has always been a part of Europe, and with the

European Union we share not only geographic, historical or

cultural space, but first and foremost, we share the values

and principles. The best illustration might be our actions

during the migration crisis, where Serbia has significantly

contributed to the management of migratory movements

via the Western Balkan route, proving to be a credible and

responsible partner to the EU despite the huge migratory

pressure it has been exposed to.

Although Serbia has for centuries been the scene of

frequent wars, devastation, fires and mass-migrations, as it

was positioned on the turbulent roads connecting East and

West, our rich cultural and historical legacy and diversity,

as well as sites of natural beauty, make Serbia a country of

great interest for tourism. We can say that this multicultural

melting pot has led to a wonderful array of historical sites,

attractions, cuisines, and traditions. Serbia is frequently

considered to be Europe’s best kept secret, but in recent

years it is increasingly discovered by tourists.

Testaments to prehistoric life in our part of the region

are the numerous archaeological sites, such as Lepenski

Vir or Vinča that are globally known. There are also the

important remains of Roman roads and towns which

today bear witness to six centuries of the presence of the

Roman Empire on the territory of Serbia, or the very many

evidences of the Ottoman Empire that could attest to the

several centuries’ long influence. Among the most important

are the Christian cultural monuments – Serbian Orthodox

monasteries, built between the 12th to 15th century,

as for example, the Stari Ras and Sopoćani, Studenica

monastery, as well as Visoki Dečani, together with the

Patriarchate of Peć, Gračanica and the Our Lady of Ljeviš

church in Prizren in Kosovo and Metohija that are listed on

the UNESCO World Heritage List. Besides them, Slava, the

celebration of the family saint patron day and Kolo, Serbian

traditional folk dance were also inscribed to the UNESCO’s

intangible cultural heritage list. Recently, during the Balkan

trafik festival, Serbian kolo was presented in the Grand

Place in Brussels.

It is important to know that all those historic periods left

certain characteristic marks on our history and that no

monument is identical, each having its own peculiarities

and traits. This is unique in Europe because the East was

connecting with the West in our region, and there were

also influences coming from the North and the South.

This is also true of our customs and our cultural regions.

Moreover, the Yugoslav socialist experiences in the fields of

architecture and memorials are being researched in detail

globally today and the Museum of Modern Art in New York

will dedicate a big exhibition to this during the current



Majestic view of the River in eastern Serbia.

© Shutterstock

Beautiful view of the historic center of Belgrade on the banks of the Sava River, Serbia

© Shutterstock

The EU has made 2018 the European Year of Cultural

Heritage to highlight the diversity, shared history and

rich cultures that make Europe today. Serbian cultural

institutions are participating in the Europeana project and

almost a million exhibits of Serbian cultural heritage are

available on this European digital platform.

I would like also to point out that Novi Sad – the

administrative, economic, cultural, scientific and touristic

centre of the Autonomous Province of Vojvodina, a

multicultural region with 26 ethnic groups and six official

languages – is the first non-EU city that will be the

European Capital of Culture in 2021 and European Youth

Capital in 2019.

Serbia is also a country that has delivered some of the

world’s greatest minds whose work has significantly

changed the world we live in today. Everybody knows

that the Serbian scientist Nikola Tesla was the “father of

electricity”. Thanks to another famous Serbian scientist,

Milutin Milanković, we now know that the Earth’s climate

is predominantly influenced by factors coming from space,

especially the Sun, and that this allows us to predict the

changes and the arrival of the next ice age with great

certainty. Serbian scientist Mihajlo Pupin participated in the

very founding of NASA, he won the Pulitzer Prize and was

the first Serb who was awarded with this prestigious award.

He is most famous for inventing the “Pupin coils” that

perfected the phone and allowed us to talk across large

distances, and hear each other clearly while enjoying the

connection without noise.

At the very end, I would like to mention the Serbian Nobel

Prize laureate for literature in 1961: Ivo Andrić. He was a

truly European figure since he was educated, worked and

lived in many European cities and was coherent with the

value of over-national and over-confessional identity. He

was even posted as a Yugoslav diplomat here, in Brussels,

in 1929, and we decided to present his work primarily

to students, such as those in Slavistic department in the

University in Ghent, where there is a lector for Serbian

language, but also to others in the European College in

Bruges and in the University of Antwerp.

I would like to finish this interview with one of the messages

given by HR EU Ms. Federica Mogherini, in her address

before the Serbian Parliament in 2017: “I believe our

Union will not be complete as long as Serbia, and all the

Western Balkans, will not join our family. This country and

this region lie at the very heart of Europe. The history of

Europe was written in these lands, throughout the centuries;

it’s a history that needs to be honoured through a joint

celebration of our European identity; it’s a history of arts,

literature, of rights and liberties.”









At the dawn of the 21st century, after decades of Cold

War dividing the international community into ideological

blocks, there was a strong sense of optimism and hope

across the globe that the world would finally be a better and

safer place to live. In other words, the end of the Cold War

was expected to usher in a new era of peace, security and

prosperity, ending the decades-long divisions and bringing

all the people of the world together around certain universal

values and ideals.

However, almost 20 years into the third millennium,

it is obvious that we have not yet been able to make

much progress in fulfilling this vision. Indeed, despite

unprecedented opportunities presented by the dynamics of

globalization and advances in technology, the world today

is unfortunately neither more secure nor more democratic

than 20 years ago. In addition to the conventional conflicts

which continue to undermine our security, we are now faced

with new and evolving risks and threats, such as terrorism,

WMD proliferation, organized crime, drug, human

and weapons trafficking, cyber-attacks, hybrid warfare,

environmental degradation and intercultural and interfaith

tensions, to name a few.

haven’t we learned this reality the hard way, first in 2001

when the failure of the state in Afghanistan led to the 9/11

bombings in the USA by Al-Qaeda or more recently in

Syria when a repressive regime started a war against its own

people which in turn led to the emergence of yet another

ruthless terrorist organization, this time DEASH.

This is why the need for true international cooperation

against such common risks and threats facing us all has

never been so acute and real. We will either work together

in solidarity with each other and share the benefits of


Even more importantly, these risks and threats are no

longer confined to certain geographies, which means that

there is no country in the world today which can claim to

be immune from the negative impact of these challenges.

Neither geography, nor economic and political differences

can be a shield any more. Indeed, in today’s globalized

world, whatever happens in any part of the earth has direct

ramifications on the entire international community. And

H.E. Z. Levent Gümrükçü

Istanbul city bird view

© Shutterstock

globalization or fail to act in concert as a community and

thus suffer together the consequences of our inability to

do so. From climate change to migration, terrorism to

humanitarian crises, cyber warfare to hate crimes, the

international community should be able to think and act in

a collective and coordinated manner so as to put in place

the necessary measures that will help us tackle our common

problems and take advantage of the existing and emerging


Given its geostrategic location at the confluence of all these

threats and opportunities, Turkey is among those countries

who feel that need maybe more than many others. Indeed,

fighting against several terrorist organizations at the same

time; bearing the brunt of the crisis in Syria including by

hosting more than 3.5 million Syrian refugees; acting as a

bridge between Europe and Asia not only in a geographic

but political and economic sense too; constituting an energy

hub between the Caspian and Middle Eastern oil and

natural gas reserves and the Western markets; being the only

member of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC)

which is also a member of NATO and a candidate for EU

membership, Turkey not only appreciates too well the need

for true international cooperation, but is also well placed to

contribute to it. In other words, international cooperation,

for us, is not a choice but an obligation that we have to

support with all the means available to us.

However, international cooperation is not something that

happens automatically or just by paying lip service to it.

The key to successful international cooperation lies in

meaningful dialogue among nations that will allow us to

better understand each other and find the ways and means

to jointly act upon our common objectives and ideals.

Indeed, without true dialogue, a sense of joint ownership

and mutual understanding, any project of cooperation is

doomed to remain limited, failing to translate our words and

promises to actual deeds and deliverables.

This is exactly why Turkey has taken the lead in launching

several initiatives aiming at providing a platform to different

nations, organizations and private stakeholders to agree

on a common vision vis-à-vis common challenges. The

Alliance of Civilizations, for instance, which we have

initiated with Spain to create an environment of better

understanding and tolerance between different religions by

stressing on what unites us rather than what separates us,

is currently the second largest international organization


after the United Nations. Likewise, the Mediation for

Peace initiative, which we have launched with Finland is

the only intergovernmental body within the United Nations

promoting conflict prevention and crisis management

through peaceful means of negotiation and mediation.

In all these and many other initiatives, our goal is to deliver

concrete results that will benefit us all. Subject to basic

norms and principles of international law and conduct,

we are not acting with prejudices against any party that

can bring an added value to our common objectives. For,

we know that the world is no longer ruled by a bipolar or

unipolar system and that broad-based multilateralism is key

to effectively addressing the manifold challenges facing us

all. This is why, for instance, in the context of Syria, Turkey

is the only country which can and does work with Russia,

Iran, US and France at the same time to achieve a peaceful

and lasting solution of the crisis. This is also why Turkey

brings the members of the EU and the OIC together in a

joint platform to discuss one of the most sensitive issues of

the Middle East Peace Process, the status of Jerusalem.

To sum up, the world today is at a crossroads with

unprecedented opportunities and challenges, both a direct

consequence of the globalization engulfing the whole planet.

To remain on the right side of this historical and irresistible

process depends on all nations of the world since we are all

co-partners in this journey, irrespective of our geographic

location, economic might or political orientation. In other

words, no country is immune to the challenges facing us and

no single country alone can steer the process in the right

direction. We have to learn to work together and do so in

the widest possible framework. Those who recognize this

growing need for effective international cooperation through

dialogue and understanding will always find a willing and

able partner in Turkey.



Date of Birth: 27 November 1968

Place of Birth: Ankara, Turkey

Marital status: Married, two children

Foreign languages: English, French


1986 – 1990 – Department of International Relations,

Middle East Technical University, Faculty of

Administrative and Economic Sciences, Ankara


1990 - 1991 Third Secretary, Department of Human

Rights and Council of Europe,

Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ankara

1991 – 1993 Deputy Chief of Cabinet of the Minister

of Foreign Affairs, Ankara

1993 – 1996 Third Secretary, Embassy of the

Republic of Turkey in Washington D.C.


1996 – 1998 Second Secretary, Embassy of the

Republic of Turkey in Tehran, Iran

1998 – 2000 First Secretary, Policy Planning

Division, Ministry of Foreign Affairs,


2000 Senior Course Member, NATO Defense

College, Rome

2000 – 2004 Counsellor, Permanent Mission of

Turkey to NATO, Brussels

2004 – 2006 Head of Department at the Policy

Planning Division,

Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ankara

2006 – 2010 First Counsellor, Permanent Mission of

Turkey to the United Nations,


2010 – 2013 Minister Counsellor, Deputy Director

General of the Policy Planning Division,

Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ankara

2013 – 2014 Spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign

Affairs, Ankara

2014 – 2017 Ambassador of the Republic of Turkey

to Georgia

01.12.2017 Ambassador of the Republic of Turkey

to the Kingdom of Belgium











The Royal Institute for International Relations.

The last 1.5 years were very rich in political and socioeconomic

news in Uzbekistan. People feel that they are

standing on the threshold of great changes, they want to

be a part of vast transformations and development, and are

committed to create a modern, democratic and fair society

where the main principle is simple and clear: “The human

interests come first”.

and accessible to the people would be the main goal of the

Strategy. The key idea is that “the people must not serve the

government bodies, but rather the government bodies must

serve the people”.


After a smooth transit of power and conducting

unprecedentedly open and transparent presidential

elections, we have initiated a Strategy of Development of

Uzbekistan, which was adopted as a result of extended

public deliberations and learning the best international

practices. While developing it, we tried to be introspective,

not only to assess our strengths and capabilities but also

to pay close attention to our miscalculations and mistakes

in the past. The People’s Reception Centres under

the President’s office as well as the President’s Virtual

Reception, which received more than 1.5 million complaints

and proposals from the population, helped to achieve these


The study of people’s appeals revealed that most of the

problems, starting from domestic issues to socio-political

matters, arose from the lack of proper understanding

and cooperation between the authorities and citizens.

That is why the President of Uzbekistan, Mr. Mirziyoyev,

declared that making the Government more accountable

H.E. Abdujabar Abduvakhitov

H.E. Dilyor Khakimov - Ambassador of Uzbekistan and H.E. Abdujabar Abduvakhitov - Deputy Foreign Minister of Uzbekistan

We started to engage closely with the most prominent

international organizations on promoting human rights and

civil liberties, advancing democratic values and the rule of

law. For the first time in decades UN High Representative

on human rights, Mr. Al Hussain, and United Nations

Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief, Mr.

Ahmed Shaheed, Representatives of “Human Rights Watch”

visited Uzbekistan and adopted a joint plan of actions with

the governmental bodies on improving the human rights in

Uzbekistan. We are closely working with the International

Labor Organization on eradicating child and forced labor in

the country. We invited the activists of “Cotton Campaign”

who were the most vocal on these problems, we asked their

advice on how to cope with these archaic approaches on

cotton picking and marketing.

At least 17 thousand people were removed from the

Government’s “extremists watchlist”. The Government

has embarked on a programme of reintegration into the

community of those citizens who were stigmatized or

ostracized through alleged religious extremism. Prisons

have adopted a similar rehabilitative approach towards their

inmates. Parliament and the citizens were given the power

to supervise the activities of all law enforcement agencies

in terms of protection of human rights and freedoms. Laws

were amended to make Judiciary’s independence genuine.

If you ask what is the single most eye-popping change that

happened over the span of one year in Uzbekistan, I would

say it is the awakening of media and stirring up of civil

society due to increased freedom of speech. The irony is

that, now Uzbek journalists criticize governmental bodies

much harsher and more often than their colleagues from

the Western Media do. Initially though people were kind of

reluctant to speak openly to media because of self-censure,

but later on people started to realize the power of speech.

At the same time governmental officials are seen more

often on TV. For example, Foreign Minister Abdulaziz

Kamilov gave 3 press conferences, two of them on Live TV,

6 briefings and over 30 interviews to local and international


I can confidently say that the changes in Uzbekistan are

irreversible. I personally see optimism in the faces of the

people of Uzbekistan who sincerely value the achievements

and lively engaging and contributing to modernizing the


Of course, many challenges lie ahead on the course of

implementing the Strategy, overcoming pressing problems,

achieving targets and utilizing colossal potential of the

country. But these obstacles must neither be underestimated

nor allowed to overwhelm the endeavor.


One of the most important areas of reform is a liberalization

of the economic system of Uzbekistan and the creation of

a favorable investment climate. Uzbekistan ensured free

convertibility of its national currency in September 2017.

Simultaneously, we are overhauling our financial sector,

fighting against bureaucracy in the banking system, red tape

and corruption, selective enforcement of regulations.

The Ombudsman on protecting the rights of businesses was

created recently. The taxes on businesses were reduced, the

access to credits and loans were eased. New free economic

zones with large scale benefits to foreign investors were

created. The cooperation with international financial

institutes is intensifying day by day.

Uzbekistan will continue engaging with World Bank, EBRD,

European Investment Bank, ADB and Asian Infrastructure

Investment Bank in order to carry out projects on energy,

transport, agriculture, housing, supporting small business

and private entrepreneurship.

We are also looking forward to advancing cooperation

with IMF and other Western financial institutions in order

to improve investment in business climate, enhancing

monetary regulations, banking and financial systems.

Diversifying international trade, economic, investment and

technological links, attracting international investment,

increasing the export of local goods and services to foreign

markets remain some of the most important tasks of our

foreign policy.

For these purposes we intend to enhance cooperation

with relevant international structures in order to acquire

sovereign credit ratings, increase the position of Uzbekistan

on various international rankings and indexes. We plan

to organize a major International Investment Forum in

Tashkent in 2018.

We are looking forward to establishing close interaction

with ranking agencies and projects such as “Economist

Intelligence Unit”, “Doing business”, “World Justice Project”

and other organizations to insure objective assessment of

ongoing reforms within the country and get their advises on

how to improve our positions on different rankings.

In our foreign policy, we were able to achieve a

breakthrough in developing cooperation with a number

of our partners and international organizations, resolving

decades-long regional problems, improving regional trade

and economic links, advancing people to people contacts,

protecting the rights of our citizens living abroad.

For the last 1.5 years there were more than 20 presidential

level visits, about 60 meetings with the heads of countries and

international organizations. They resulted in signing more

than 230 agreements and 200 contracts for the amount of $60

billion. To implement those accords more that 40 roadmaps

were adopted, including one with the EU. Uzbekistan’s

chief foreign policy priority is to advance the atmosphere of

peace and good-neighborliness with the countries of Central

Asia. We have to maintain and strengthen the dynamics of

cooperation, which we achieved in 2017.

Nowadays we are witnessing a totally new political

environment in the region thanks to a successful

implementation of the principle “Central Asia - main

priority”. We were able to resolve most of the issues –

water and energy, border, security, trade, communications.

The signing of a border agreement with Kyrgyzstan

profoundly contributed to the regional security of Central

Asia. Establishing a visa-free regime with Tajikistan and

opening direct air flights between Tashkent and Dushanbe

opened new opportunities for advancing regional trade and

economic cooperation. With Turkmenistan we launched

several communications and energy projects which would

benefit the whole of Central and South Asia.

Joint efforts of Uzbekistan and other countries of Central

Asia are bearing fruits: trade turnover among countries

is increasing substantially, cross-border partnership is

intensifying, road connectivity, railroad and air links

are improving. Most importantly - mutual trust and

understanding, the links of friendship between the nations

are strengthening.

I am confident that all these efforts will turn Central

Asia into a zone of stability, sustainable development and

friendly cooperation.


We are planning to ease the visa system for foreign

investors, skilled specialists and tourists. We continue

to undertake comprehensive measures to strengthen the

protection of rights and interests of Uzbek citizens living


Of course, when we speak of Central Asia we should not

forget that Afghanistan is also attached to the region

historically, geographically and politically. It is our

neighbor, on the most important component of the regional

security system.

Samarkand, Uzbekistan, View of Sher Dor Madrasah through the carved wooden door of Registan - landmark of Samarkand.

© Shutterstock

It is pertinent to say that a stable and prosperous

Afghanistan is a must for the regional security of Central

Asia. Achieving peace in Afghanistan mainly depends

on economic development, so regional countries should

actively contribute in this process.

That is why Uzbekistan stepped up bilateral cooperation

with Afghanistan and for the first time joined multilateral

endeavors on reaching Afghan accord. We established the

position of Special Representative in Afghanistan.

When it comes to Uzbekistan’s current approach towards

Afghanistan, it is pertinent to mention the following:

First, the ongoing war in Afghanistan time and again

proves that there is no military solution to this crisis.

The only way to peace is through dialogue between the

Kabul Administration and Taliban. The peace process

should be Afghan led, in Afghan territory and without

any precondition. Any differences should be the topics for


Second, since the Afghan crisis has gained regional and

international dimensions, and the structure and content

of the war has changed, it is important that global

and regional powers reach certain understandings on

Afghanistan. So, besides intra-Afghan consensus, there

should be broader agreement on regional and international


Third, one of the most important conditions for Afghan

peace is reaching economic sustainability, self-sufficiency

and integration to regional economic and transport

infrastructures. Afghanistan should be seen as a part of the

solution for intensifying regional cooperation and not as a

part of a problem.

It is important to continue economic and technical

cooperation by international donors for Afghanistan. Aid

should not increase only when things are getting worse,

otherwise we would be giving wrong signals to Afghan

people. All these issues were thoroughly discussed during

the International Tashkent conference on Afghanistan in

March this year. Afghan President, High Representative

Federica Mogherini, more than 20 ministers and heads of

international organizations also attended the conference

and reiterated their support for Afghanistan.

For the last 1.5 years the presidents of Uzbekistan and

Afghanistan have met six times, two meetings of IGCs were

held, political consultations took place at the beginning of

the year, and overall, Afghan and Uzbek delegations are



meeting several times a month to advance cooperation.

Uzbek companies supply electricity, fruits, oil, fertilizers, and

participate in implementing developmental projects. Overall

we are keen on increasing the level of trade turnover from

current 400 millions to 1.5 billion within the next few years.

One of the major agreements, we recently reached, is MoU

in building rail road, automobile road and electricity line

on the “Mazari-Sharinf – Shberghan – Maymane – Heart”

route. This will not only contribute to the development of

Afghanistan but also increase its role as a regional trade hub.

The new development in relation with Afghanistan is that

we agreed to educate Afghan specialists. Only last year we

have received more than 100 Afghan girls and boys, and we

have built a special college for them. We plan to increase

the number of students to 300. They are pursuing degrees

in various fields, including Uzbek language and literature,

restoration of cultural and historical buildings, maintaining

rail roads and operating trains. In this regard we would be

glad to cooperate with our European partners.

We are committed to continue engaging with Afghanistan,

participate in international efforts on finding a lasting

solution to the Afghan conflict.

Recent developments in the region proved that the Central

Asian states are capable of addressing and resolving their

own problems. What is more, they are capable of reaching

agreement of most sensitive issues, including that of

managing water resources, demarcation and limitation of

our national borders, transportation, communications on

how to manage our energy resources, and how to develop

our region in such a way that it becomes a prosperous and

peaceful region.

The region has been attracting more and more attention, and

Central Asia is strategically important due to a number of

circumstances. Here I need to mention the politics of major

players and our immediate neighbours Russia, China, India,

Pakistan, and the permanent challenge that stems from

Afghanistan. Let us not forget about the human, natural and

energy resources of the region, and what is more, this region

is a space where transport, communications and interests of

different forces meet and mingle.

For us, it is important that the EU attributes strategic

significance to, and wishes to establish a strong, long-term

partnership with Central Asia with a view to ensuring

peaceful, flourishing, sustainable and stable socio-economic

development in the region, in accordance with the EU

Global Strategy and the UN Sustainable Development

Goals. In our view, the key areas for cooperation with

European countries should include economic cooperation,

namely trade, investment and financial cooperation, as well

as high technology transfer, links in the fields of science,

technology, education, the environment, tourism, healthcare

and culture, and – importantly – the strengthening of

regional security.

Uzbekistan considers the review process that has been

started concerning the Strategy for a New Partnership

of the EU and Central Asia to be a positive step and

supports the EU's intention to prepare a new Strategy for

the region by the end of 2019 with the involvement of the

Central Asian countries. In our opinion, the Strategy has

contributed to increased mutual understanding and respect,

the consideration of Uzbekistan's specific needs in the

framework of assistance projects, including concerning rural

development, improving the population's living conditions

and raising agricultural productivity, etc.

In this connection, I would like to set out Uzbekistan's

vision for the effectiveness of the EU Strategy for Central


1. We share the EU's view that the depth of cooperation

between the EU and the parties in our region has to depend

on the intentions and needs of the individual countries

in the region, and must take full account of differences in

socio-economic development.

We believe that delivery of the Strategy should take into

account the interests of both the EU and Central Asian

countries, bearing in mind their respective levels of political,

socio-economic and social development.

Taking a differentiated approach to cooperation with

the countries of the region will enable the EU to gain a

deeper awareness of the specific features of each State's

development model, and will also enable it to maintain

a balanced and objective approach when assessing

developments there.

2. For Uzbekistan, it is important that the EU's initiatives

concord with the fundamental provisions of the Republic

of Uzbekistan's Action Strategy for five priority areas for

development for 2017-2021, which should form the basis for

political dialogue and cooperation between Uzbekistan and

the EU in the economic sphere and in the field of technical


I would like to point out that this Action Strategy envisages

radically enhancing the effectiveness of the carried out

reforms, establishing the conditions for the comprehensive

and rapid development of the State and society, and the

implementation of priority areas for the modernization of

the country and liberalization in all areas.

3. Despite efforts to enhance the effectiveness of the

Strategy, there are still some specific issues impeding the

full accomplishment of the objectives which it lays down. In

particular, effective implementation of the Strategy does not

appear to be possible without strengthening the economic,

and specifically the investment component. In the first

place, this means liberalizing access to the EU market for

Central Asian countries and actively attracting European

investment and technology transfer to modernize and

develop our countries' economies.

In this connection, one of the objectives of the EU Strategy

for Central Asia should be the comprehensive deepening

and expansion of Uzbekistan's relations with the EU and its

Member States, primarily in the fields of trade, economics

and investment, and in the financial-technical sphere.

It is essential to include the following issues in the Strategy:

modernization and technical re-equipment of branches

of industry, establishment of new manufacturing facilities

etc. In particular, this would mean the creation of joint

manufacturing and technological alliances in sectors such

as energy, mechanical engineering, chemicals and petrochemicals,

electronics, pharmaceuticals, production of

building materials, the textile industry and information and

communications technologies, among others.

Barbara Dietrich and H.E. Abdujabar Abduvakhitov

Erasmus Mundus and, since 2014, under Erasmus Plus.

Over the past 20 years, together with the EU, our country

has implemented more than 80 projects, with a total value

of more than EUR 32.2 million, involving 55 educational

institutions in Uzbekistan and more than 150 higher

education institutions in 10 partner countries and 22 EU

Member States.

Twenty projects are currently running, involving 42 higher

education institutions: 16 in Tashkent, and 26 in 10 of the

provinces of our country and in Karakalpakstan. They are

focused on the development of a range of new master's

degrees, including in highway construction and transport

engineering, the development of innovative activities by

higher education institutions, foreign language teaching, IT,


4. We see great opportunities in a cooperation with the

EU in the fields of transition to greater democracy, the

rule of law, the creation of civil society and the protection

of human rights and freedoms. Uzbekistan's five-year

development strategy envisages further strengthening the

role of Parliament and political parties, firmly establishing

the rule of law and a genuinely independent judiciary,

reinforcing public authorities' liability and increasing the

transparency and accountability of their action, and other

fundamental social reforms.

5. Uzbekistan is ready to support concrete EU proposals

for the development of mutually beneficial cooperation

in the sphere of education and training. We are in favour

of continuing to work together under the EU educational

programmes, operating previously under Tempus and

The relevant ministries and departments in Uzbekistan

are studying the list of priorities for the period 2018-2020

drawn up by the European Commission concerning the

review of national priorities as regards activities under the

EU Erasmus Plus programme for capacity-building in the

area of higher education.

We are also ready to participate in the new EU Horizon

2020 programme for scientific research and technological

innovation, which has an overall budget of EUR 78 billion.

We believe that Uzbekistan and the EU have significant

untapped potential, in particular in the political, economic

and investment areas. These sectors are especially important

to support the overall processes of modernisation and

reform that are ongoing in our country.






What potential does Uzbekistan have for Tourism;

what special attributes should make it appealing for


Uzbekistan has a rich history that dates back Millennia.

As archeologists witness that it is one of the most ancient

places inhabited by humans and goes back 1 million years.

Just during the last 50 years, scientists have detected several

settlements of people of the Stone Age.

Located in the core of the Great Silk Road, at the crossroad

of people migration and commercial routes, Uzbekistan was a

cradle of original cultures born as a result of contacts between

the settled and nomadic people. All main world religions

and cults developed here like nowhere else: Zoroastrianism,

Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity and Islam.

Uzbekistan, where there are many ancient and beautiful

architectural monuments of history and culture, attracts

tourists from all over the world. Currently, there are

more than 7.3 thousand objects of cultural heritage in

Uzbekistan, including more than 4.2 thousand objects

of archaeological and more than 2 thousand objects of

architectural heritage. More than 500 of them are included

in tourist routes. Eight protected territories, three national

nature parks, six state natural monuments and eleven

reserves are also of great tourism potential. The whole

world knows the historical cities of Uzbekistan such as

Samarkand, Bukhara, Khiva, Shakhrisabz, Termez as the

pearls of the Great Silk Road.

As live memory of nations, laid this unique road

connected East and West, can serve ancient Uzbek cities

like Samarkand, Bukhara, Khiva, Shakhrisabz, Termez,

Tashkent with their architectural monuments, that

personifies the centuries old history of the Great Silk Road.

Is the tourism potential of Uzbekistan still

untapped? How do you plan to help it meet its


I would like to emphasize that Uzbekistan as a unique

country on whose territory the most ancient civilizations

and cultures emerged and developed has a huge tourist

potential, which may compete with the best travel

destinations around the world.

Today there are more than 7 thousand unique historical

monuments and majestic examples of unique architecture

in the country. The pearl of the rich and diverse nature

of the country are its picturesque reserves and national

parks. The country has carefully preserved and developed

a centuries-old traditions of national culture, art and

handicraft. The symbol of oriental hospitality is widely

known in the world, as are its national cuisine and culinary


Our main task today is to increase foreign public awareness

about our touristic potential. First we are going to launch

big active promotion campaigns with the assistance of

the most popular broadcasting companies such as BBC,

Euronews, CNN, Discovery and many others.

In addition, we are working on promoting of the

Uzbekistan destination brand on social media such as

Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Youtube and others. We now

have our own pages uzbekistan.travel in all these social


Moreover, Uzbekistan always participates with its national

stand in such well-known touristic fairs as FITUR in

Madrid, ITB in Berlin, MITT in Moscow, JATA in Japan,

Top Resa in France and WTM in London.

The other way to make Uzbekistan a popular destination is

to organize familiarization trips for media representatives.

Only in the first four months of 2018 representatives of

more than 20 countries (China, Belgium, Great Britain,

France, Germany, Austria, Russia, Azerbaijan, South Korea,

Japan, Singapore and others) visited our country in order to

prepare publications about the beauty of Uzbekistan.

With our embassies and consulates abroad, we organize

different events demonstrating history, culture, traditions,

life style and national cuisine of Uzbek people.

All of this is only a small part of what we do for the

promotion of our country.

H.E. Dilyor Khakimov - Ambassador of Uzbekistan, Barbara Dietrich and H.E. Abdujabar Abduvakhitov - Deputy Foreign Minister of Uzbekistan

How many tourists are currently visiting

Uzbekistan per year? Are you seeing any growth?

Last year. 2.790.000 tourists visited our country, with

a growth of 32.7 percent. During the first 4 months of

2018 the number of tourists reached 1.6 million people as

opposed to 860.000 people for the same period of 2017.

That pertains a growth of 86 percent.

What is being done on the government side to

support growth of the sector and provide enabling


For the organization of effective work, first of all, it is

necessary to create a legal framework and an institutional

framework. In this regard, a number of normative

documents have been adopted in the sphere of tourism,

according to which:

particular, provision is made for financial assistance

(grants) from the off-budget Fund for the Support of the

Tourism Sector to print media, bloggers, photographers,

researchers involved in the coverage of events and

propaganda within the framework of domestic tourism.

c) The attitude to internal tourism has radically changed.

We accepted the National Tourism Development Program

"Make a Trip around Uzbekistan!" which is actively being

implemented. We consider that it contributes not only

to the growth of the flow of local tourists, but also to

the development of domestic tourism as one of the most

important factors in the sustainable social and economic

development of the regions, familiarizing citizens with

the cultural and historical heritage and natural resources

of the country.

a) The organizational basis of the Committee itself has been

improved. The structure and functions of the committee

are brought into conformity with the standards of the

countries developed in the tourism context, which

contributes to the enhancement of the effectiveness of

the state policy in the field of tourism;

b) Expanded cooperation not only with traditional partners,

but also with other subjects of the tourist market. In

d) A comprehensive program of promotion of the national

tourism potential has been developed and is being

implemented, including the introduction of the Tourism

Brand Ambassador of Uzbekistan in foreign countries

and the development of a separate advertising and

propaganda campaign for each outbound tourism market

(country/region) based on special "Road maps", etc.


Uzbekistan, Tashkent, National bank of foreign economic activities, affairs of Uzbekistan, the Intercontinental Tashkent hotel

© Shutterstock

Our government is also striving to improve and optimize the

visa system and visa procedures, the registration system, and

the development of the air transportation system.

As I mentioned previously, we offer a number of preferences

and privileges for investors who want to invest in

infrastructure, including the construction of hotel complexes,

tourist clusters, shopping and entertainment centers, logistics

and other facilities in the Republic of Uzbekistan.




Sub-section 15, Art. 208 of the Tax Code of the Republic

of Uzbekistan: turnover of realization of tourism and

excursion services are exempt from a value added tax.

Sub-section 4, second part of Art 282 of the Tax

Code: recreational land treat the land plots, which

are not subject to the taxation, - the lands provided to

the relevant institutions and the organizations for the

organization of mass rest and tourism of the population.

According to the Decree of the President of the

Republic of Uzbekistan from 12/2/2016 of No. UR-4861

the following is stated:

- Legal entities, which put into operation hotels

and motels with at least four stars and certified in

accordance with the established procedure are exempt

for a period of 5 years from payment of income tax,

a land tax and the property tax and uniform tax

payment of legal entities.

- Legal entities are exempt for a period of 5 years

from customs payment (except charges for customs

registration) for the imported equipment, the

equipment, components, spare parts and materials,

which are not produced in the Republic of Uzbekistan,

for construction and reconstruction of hotels and

motels, according to the lists approved in accordance

with the established procedure;


- For acquisition by subjects of tourism activity of the

new vehicles intended for transportation of tourists

with a capacity over nine people, a charge is made

in amount of 3 percent of the cost of acquisition of

vehicles to the Republican road fund at the Ministry of

Finance of the Republic of Uzbekistan.

In order to decrease tax burden for large-scale hotel

enterprises which used to pay generally established

taxes, the Resolution of the Cabinet of Ministers No.

275 from 8/24/2016 "On measures for transition to

the international system of classification of types of

economic activity” gives the opportunity of transition to

payment of uniform tax payment at the number of staff of

employees up to 100 units (previously 25 units).

According to the Decree of the President of the Republic

of Uzbekistan of April 11, 2005 No. UP-3594 "On

additional measures for stimulation of attraction of direct

private foreign investments" to the enterprises attracting

direct private foreign investments and specializing

in rendering services (tourism: hotel and tourist

services) in branches of economy, are exempted from

payment of income tax of legal entities, the property

tax, a tax on improvement and development of social

infrastructure, uniform tax payment for microfirms and

small enterprises and also obligatory contributions to

Republican road fund, at following volume of direct

private foreign investments:

- from 300 thousand dollars to 3 million US dollars - for

a period of 3 years;

- over 3 million to 10 million US dollars - for a period of

5 years;

- over 10 million US dollars - for a period of 7 years.

According to the Decree of the President of the

Republic of Uzbekistan from 8/16/2017 of No. UP-3217

the following is stated:

- implementing provision of the long-term credits (for

up to 15 years) to business entities on construction

of new and on modernization of the existing hotels

and other objects of tourism infrastructure, having

provided flexible conditions of repayment of the credit

and interest, also taking into account capital intensity

and seasonal load of hotels;

- exemption till January 1, 2022:

for hotels from payment of uniform social payment

of the salary fund of the qualified foreign experts

involved as administrative personnel;

- for the income of the qualified foreign experts invited

as administrative personnel of hotels from payment of

an income tax

According to the Decree of the President of the

Republic of Uzbekistan from 2/3/2018 of No. UP-5326

"About additional organizational measures for creating

favorable conditions for development of tourist capacity

of the Republic of Uzbekistan” are released:

- legal entities which primary activity is the organization

of services of theme park, for a period of 3 years

from the date of input by them in operation of theme

parks - from payment of income tax of legal entities,

a land tax and the property tax and also uniform lax


- theme parks, hotels and other means of placement

for up to January 1, 2022 - from customs payment

(except charges for customs registration) for the

imported equipment, the equipment, raw materials,

components and spare parts, construction and other

materials which aren't produced in the Republic of

Uzbekistan for building, reconstruction and equipment

of theme parks, hotels and other means of placement

according to the lists approved in accordance with the

established procedure:

- subjects of business activity in the sphere of tourism

for up to January 1, 2022

- from customs payment (except charges for customs

registration) for imported on the territory of the

Republic of Uzbekistan:

- the vehicles of a tourist class intended for

transportation of 8 and more people including the


- the equipment, mechanisms and spare parts for

construction, reconstruction and equipment of

ropeways, alpine skiing elevators, funiculars and other

similar objects and constructions and also balloons,

motor boats and TVs according to the lists approved

in accordance with the established procedure.

It is allowed, on an exceptional basis, to licensed tourist

operators registered in the Republic of Karakalpakstan

to pay customs fees in the amount of 25 percent of the

current rate for imported vehicles of increased crosscountry

capacity of at least 2.4 liters with installments


for 5 years for organizing extreme tours with assignment

to them of separate series of state registration number

plates for vehicles and use exclusively on the territory of

the Republic of Karakalpakstan.

It is established that:

- from January 1, 2018. the taxable base of economic

entities rendering services for the sale of tourist

products and / or online booking of tourist services is

reduced by the amount of expenditures directed to the

introduction of electronic services, including electronic

payments, booking, acquiring and others, as well as

specialized Internet sites and portals offering modern

types of tourist services;

- the taxable base of economic entities that installed

free wireless access to the Internet (Wi-Fi) zones

on their territory, including a single tax payment,

is reduced by the amount of expenditures aimed

at purchasing equipment and purchasing Internet

traffic for the deployment of a wireless access area

appropriate quality;

- operators, providers and other business entities that

have created in the public places free wireless access

to the Internet (Wi-Fi), are given the right to install an

advertising banner or stretching area of no more than

18 square meters in this zone on a no-charge basis and

without obtaining permission from the relevant state

authorities in the field.

In accordance with the Resolution of the President

of the Republic of Uzbekistan No. PR-3509 dated

06.02.2018 "On measures for the development of

inbound tourism" it was established that economic

entities that initiated the initiative to establish indexes

in foreign languages (English, Russian and others) for

the purposes improving the orientation of tourists, the

right to place on these indexes advertising information

produced by their products (services and works), while

the total area of information posted should be no more

than 40 percent of the area of the index with ensuring

compliance with legal requirements in the field of


In accordance with the Resolution of the President

of the Republic of Uzbekistan No. PR-3514 dated

07.02.2018 "On Measures to Ensure Accelerated

Development of Domestic Tourism", an order was

introduced from February 10, 2018 for a period of

3 years, according to which the taxable base of the

subjects of tourist activity is reduced by the amount

of expenses spent on making and replicating printed

materials (cards, brochures, booklets, etc.). souvenirs

and packaging products (bags, school notebooks,

stickers, covers, inscriptions on T-shirts and clothes,

dishes) posted advertising the tourism brand of

Uzbekistan and the site “Uzbekistan.travel”.

Unused land plots are provided, mainly with utilities

provided, located in districts and cities with high

potential for tourism development, priority on the

basis of the conclusion of the State Committee on

Tourism to business entities and potential investors for

the implementation of projects in the tourism sector

(construction of hotels, guest houses, motels and other

means of accommodation, theme parks, museums,

galleries and others) based on 20 land plots with a total

area of at least 20 hectares in each region.

The taxable base is reduced by the amount of:

up to 100 million sums - expenses of economic entities

sent before January 1, 2020 for reconstruction, overhaul

and construction of modem sanitary and hygienic units

that comply with sanitary rules, norms and hygienic

standards; up to 12 million sums - the cost of economic

entities sent annually before January 2025 to the

maintenance of sanitary and hygiene units (cleaning

workers' wages, purchase of hygienic, cleaning and

washing supplies, payment of utility expenses), objects

of tourist infrastructure (monuments of history and

architecture, museums, theaters, cultural centers, public

catering establishments, service facilities, gas stations,

temporary parking facilities, roadside infrastructure

service areas, bazaars, markets, shops and other places

of public congestion of people), corresponding to

sanitary rules, norms and hygienic standards.

Provision by the Council of Ministers of the Republic of

Karakalpakstan, khokimiyats of the regions and the city

of Tashkent on the basis of the conclusion of the State

Committee for tourism development to business entities

and potential investors who implement projects for the

creation of modern hygiene facilities, places in relevant

parts of cities and regions for advertising and mobile







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- MAY 9, 2018, BOZAR -

Honorable MEP Helga Stevens,

Director Paul Dujardin,

Distinguished guests,

Ladies and gentlemen,

It is a great honor and privilege for me to give a remark

at the Bozar event to celebrate the 55-year-old diplomatic

relationship between Korea and the European Union,

especially on Europe Day. First, I would like to extend my

gratitude to all of you present here and in Seoul, including

Honorable MEP Helga Stevens, Director Paul Dujardin

of Bozar, Vice Foreign Minister Cho Hyun and my dear

colleague, Amb. Michael Reiterer, for making today’s event

more meaningful.

Agreement. Further, as strategic partners that share the

common values of democracy, market economy, rule of law

and human rights,

The European Union and Korea are quasi-allies to each

other, having nurtured a very close strategic partnership

over the last 55 years since opening diplomatic relationship

in 1963. The two strategic partners have been expanding

the bilateral cooperation from the traditional political and

economic areas to the new areas of climate change, human

rights, international security and development assistance.


Korea is often called the best partner to the European

Union. In fact, Korea is one of the two countries, with

Canada, that have three key agreements with the EU in

political, economic and security areas; that is. Framework

Agreement, FTA and Crisis Management Participation

H.E Kim Hyoung-Zhin


Korea and the European Union are natural partners on the

international arena’.

The past year has been especially meaningful in the

relationship. President Moon sent his special envoy to

the EU last year, for the first time as an incoming Korean

president. The special envoy met with President Tusk and

other EU leaders on May 19, 10 days after the election in

Korea. President Moon himself met with President Tusk

in Hamburg on July 8 on the occasion of the G20 summit

meeting. The Korean Foreign Minister visited Brussels twice

in less than 5 months.

The European Union and Korea are working closely

together for the Korean Peninsula issues also as witnessed

by the Korean Foreign Minister’s first ever participation in

Foreign Affairs Council meeting last March. The historic

change is indeed possible on the Korean Peninsula, the last

remnant of the Cold War in the world. The hope is high for

establishing permanent peace in the nuclear-weapon-free

Korean Peninsula even if there are still challenges ahead.

Korea and the EU are working closely together for this goal.

The European Union is also the source of inspiration to

people in Asia on regional cooperation.

Paul Dujardin, CEO Bozar

Today’s event is one more example of exemplary bilateral

cooperation between our two partners, with the two sides’

simultaneous events in Brussels and Seoul connected

through the internet. Today’s theme is “Your sounds, My

moves, Our words.” In Seoul you let us hear your sounds.

From Brussels my moves are shown to you. In the end your

sounds and my moves make up our words. As always, we

are making the best of every opportunity to strengthen our

communication. Thank you very much for your attention.







On May 9th 2018, 12:00 (GMT) 19:00 (KST) at

BOZAR in Brussels the celebration of the 55th

anniversary of the European Union-Republic of

Korea relations was held. A series of performances

and congratulatory addresses were presented,

broadcast in real-time through an online channel

to surpass geographical boundaries and enhance



From Seoul, Mr Michael Reiterer, Ambassador of the

European Union to the Republic of Korea added his

congratulations. His speech was followed by Jasmine Choi,

the first Korean flutist for the Vienna Symphony who played

the anthem of South Korea and of Europe. From Brussels,

Mr Kim Hyoung-Zhin, Ambassador of the Mission of the

Republic of Korea addressed audiences in English and gave

very friendly wishes to EU and North Korea.

A few minutes later Sung-Im Her, danced a performance.

The dancer/choreographer is well known as performer of

C de la B, Troubleyn and NeedCompany.

This cosmopolitan event was to welcome everyone

regardless of his/her time-spatial area, transcending

nationalities and artistic disciplines for a happy concord.

On the same day at 19:00 the Korean Cultural Center

inaugurated the exhibition with OBBA architecture studio,

celebrating the 55th anniversary of Korea-EU relations and

the 12th ASEM on October.

OBBA’s major work, the Floating Island, is invited to guest

at the Bruges Triennal. This work as well as other works are

shown at the Korean Cultural Center in Brussels.

Architecture exhibition: Beyond Boundaries, OBBA.

09.05 - 02.06.18 at the Korean Cultural Center Brussels.

Barbara Dietrich, Michel Dewilde - Curator at Bruges Triennal 2018, Mr Kim Hyoung-Zhin - Ambassador of South Korea, Lee So-Jung and Kwak Sang-Joon

(OBBA Architecture Agency - Korea) and Dr Pick Keobandith







Is female leadership different from male


Absolutely. There are always exceptions but for the most

part, women's leadership has been described as more

horizontal rather than vertical. Women tend to rule by

consensus rather than top-down. They tend to welcome

input from others and believe there is more to win through

collaboration rather than coercion. They also create

more diverse leadership because they are either blind to

gender when looking for talent, or just based on their

own experiences of the rough road to the top. A few years

ago, we researched women CEOs in 39 countries, and we

found that no matter which country they came from, the

percentage of women directors and senior executives in

women-led corporations was double that of peer companies.

the opportunity to lead companies or countries, so the lack

of role models feeds the presumption that women are not

meant to be leaders. In another recent study reported in

the New York Times, women and men were asked to draw

the picture of a leader. All drew the picture of a man! That

is why at the Global Summit of Women, I like to feature

women who lead whether from government or business

so that other women see the possibilities. I also included

a session at the Summit this year on how we can use

technology to showcase women who have broken barriers

in a variety of arenas, so girls can dream of bigger roles for

themselves. You cannot role model what you cannot see.

Women have been accused of being risk averse, and while

that may be so, a study of women investment managers

showed that they are better at investment than their male

colleagues, because they are patient and hold stocks

longer, while men buy and sell quickly and lose revenues

through fees with each transaction. However, women's

portfolios tend to be smaller. Wall Street women have often

complained that the big clients, the big portfolios are often

given to men based on the assumption that they can handle

the large accounts better.

Another study was done by a Chinese professor who looked

at companies with regulatory infractions within a 10 year

period filed with the Securities Commission of China. He

found that male dominated boards had more regulatory

infractions than companies whose boards included some

women directors. The study's recommendation: have more

women on boards to prevent corruption!


I do not point to these studies to indicate that women are

perfect. They are not, but they do lead differently from men.

The problem is that there are not many who have been given

Irene Natividad

Opening ceremony crowd

Do you think that if we had more women as

political and business leaders it would contribute to

make the world a better place?

It depends on how you define 'better'. Institutions as

diverse as the World Bank, the IMF, Goldman Sachs,

and McKinsey have all pointed to the rise in GDPs of

various economies if women were fully utilized not just at

the bottom but also at every level of the economy. On the

corporate side, there are over 70 reports from different

countries indicating a strong correlation between more

women in senior roles as executives and board directors

with a company's better financial performance. Given this

myriad research indicating the positive results that accrue

from advancing women's economic opportunities, the

question then is why are women still begging to be allowed

IN? Or to put it another way as one frustrated female

executive said at a recent roundtable I organized: "Don't

companies want to make more money?" The same can be

asked of countries.

What holds women back are long-held cultural assumptions

as to what they can or cannot do that influence companies

and countries to not fully utilize the talent pool that women

represent. Right now, in many countries of the world,

women are the majority of college graduates but they tend

to be under-employed in jobs that do not match their skills

and education. The presumption that family and house

chores are predominantly women's role in society still

permeates cultural thinking even in developed economies.

These stereotypes continue to undercut their claim to

leadership in the workplace.

What are the objectives of the Global Summit of

women? Is it a "women only" version of the Davos

summit or do you also actively seek to promote

a better representation of women in leadership


Well, from the beginning, we wanted to find a way to speed

up, to accelerate women's economic progress by sharing

what works in terms of government policy or corporate

programs or entrepreneurial experiences that can jumpstart

other women so they do not have to start from zero. So

our focus on best practices and on practical strategies as

opposed to continually focusing on the challenges women

face in the economic sphere permeates the Program.

Basically, what did you do in your country or your business

that I can bring to mine? That is the predominant



I also wanted women to be part of something 'global' and

to understand it in a real way through the women they

meet. The Summit team works very hard to ensure that

delegations from as many countries as possible are able

to be part of this global gathering. It would have been

easier for us (and less costly) to hold the Summit in the

same place year in and year out, but we move it from

continent to continent to enable more women in a region

to access this forum. At the last Summit in Sydney, I was

delighted that for the first time we had participation from

Pacific Island nations, who have not been able to be part

of this global gathering before because of the distance and

limited resources. I love the fact that we had women from

Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Laos, South Africa, Mexico,

Chile, France, Kosovo just to name a few of the countries


I did not coin the phrase 'the Davos for Women' to describe

the Summit – participants did. The Summit aims to be

inclusive rather than exclusive. We do not use price point

as a filter to exclude participants who could not afford the

registration fees. We also bring together the three legs of

society needed to create change for women – government,

business and nonprofit organizations – in one forum rather

than separating them as in many international conferences.

In the end, we are all just women facing the very same issues.

Do you see the new generation of women (you

had a conference about millennials during the

last summit) as more likely to seek and obtain

leadership roles?

I am hoping that the next generation will push the envelope

even further and arrive at that level playing field for

women we all aspire to even faster than their mothers.

Research shows that millennials have a predisposition to

entrepreneurship, which I totally applaud because when

a woman owns her business, she is in charge. Right now,

women comprise 30% of small business owners and that

number is growing. This is great since small businesses are

the foundation of every economy in the world, and women

are the growth sector in it! At the Summit in Sydney, I had

invited three outstanding Australian millennials who already

had thriving businesses in their twenties. Moreover, they

were smart, articulate, poised and self-confident. Two owned

tech-based enterprises and that is where more women need

to go in the future so women are not left out of the jobs of

the future. While I was listening to them speak on stage, I

felt like a proud mother showing off her talented children.

What these women were able to achieve at such a young age

blew me away and made me feel hopeful about the future.

To enable young women to be exposed to the women CEOs,

Ministers and executives at the Summit, we allow 20 top

women university students to attend the conference for free

each year. Furthermore, there's a Youth Forum, to which we

had invited 200 university students in Sydney to hear from

the three millennial entrepreneurs I mentioned previously.

Summit participants also bring daughters, sisters and sons

to the Summit, and I revel in that kind of joint participation

that enables two levels of Summit experiences to be shared.



Irene Natividad, a recognized leader for women in the

United States and throughout the world, is Chair of

the GlobeWomen Research and Education Institute,

President of the Global Summit of Women, an annual

international gathering of women leaders from around

the world on business/economic issues, and Chair of

Corporate Women Directors International (CWDI),

which promotes the increased participation of women

on corporate boards globally. Based in Washington,

D.C., Ms. Natividad is the force behind the 27-year old

Global Summit of Women, informally called “The Davos

for Women” by past participants for the caliber of its

attendees and presenters, as well as its mix of business

and government leaders. As CWDI Chair, she has

produced 26 reports in 19 years on women directors

in different countries, regions, and industries and has

convened women board directors and executives to

“ring the opening bell” at 17 Stock Exchanges based

in different countries to date — a business tradition in

which she feels women must be seen.








One of the leading economies in the Asia-Pacific

region and the 12th largest economy in the world,

Australia enjoys spectacular landscapes and is

rich in natural resources. The country has a stable

government, open market and skilled workforce. It

makes a compelling destination for doing business.

Home to some of the world’s largest companies, the

economy is firmly planted as a hub to the fastest

growing region in the world – the Indo-Pacific.

We are pleased to welcome in Diplomatic Word

his excellency Mr. Justin Brown who details his

priorities as Ambassador to Belgium, Luxembourg,

the EU and NATO.



“I have returned to Brussels after almost twenty years

since I was last posted here as deputy in our mission to the

EU, Belgium and Luxembourg. In the intervening period,

Australia’s links with Europe – including with Belgium –

have made substantial progress across the board. Our twoway

trade, investment and tourism has expanded. People to

people links are vibrant, including in education, research

and innovation. Contemporary Australia has developed a

robust and dynamic presence in our region, including through

a network of ambitious free trade agreements, but we do

not see this as in any way diminishing our links to Europe,

which remain firmly embedded in our shared values and

interests. My objectives for my time in Brussels reflect these

foundations. First, we need to work together to safeguard and

strengthen the rules-based global order. Australia and Europe

have been partners in the development of the framework of

rules and international law that have served us well over the

past 70 years.

But we cannot take it for granted that our progress in the

past will guarantee our future. We need to revitalise the

multilateral system so that it is well-equipped to accommodate

the extraordinary changes underway in the international

economic and political landscape. The Australia-EU

Framework Agreement – signed last year – is a vehicle for

charting the future of our bilateral cooperation and for

developing and implementing concrete projects and activities

that will advance our shared goals. Second, we need to

underwrite the future prosperity of our people. On 22 May,

the EU member states agreed to a mandate for Australia-

EU free trade negotiations (FTA). Australia has ten FTAs

in place, including with China, Japan, ROK, the US and

ASEAN. These agreements are aimed at positioning Australia


to participate in the extraordinarily strong economic growth

in our region. An Australia-EU FTA would deliver another

significant economic anchor for the EU in the Asia-Pacific

region. If we are successful, the EU and Australia will benefit

from more open markets, which in turn will promote growth

and job creation.

Third, Australia is committed to playing its part to defend

global security and stability. Australia is a key contributor to

the NATO-led Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan and

we are an Enhanced Opportunities Partner with the Alliance.

With NATO, the EU, and its member states, we work together

to address shared security challenges, including on defence

capacity building, crisis management and Women Peace and


Finally, I want to see our close and warm relations with

Belgium and Luxembourg continue to flourish. We share

similar approaches to many international issues and our

economic and political links are vibrant. We share long

historical and cultural ties, not least in Belgium where over

12,000 Australians died in Flanders during the First World

War, but the success of our economies – and our relationship

owes much to the resilience and dynamism of our people.

I want to do what I can to support and encourage our

people, our firms and other organisations to build on these




“One of the highest priorities in the first weeks

after my arrival was to participate in the Anzac Day

commemorations in western Flanders. Anzac Day is one of

Australia’s most important national occasions, and it is one

with a direct connection to Belgium. Held on 25 April, the

day marks the anniversary of the first major military action

fought by the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps

(ANZAC) during the First World War, at Gallipoli. Anzac

Day is our day of national remembrance, both at home

and abroad, for those who have served and died in military

operations. In Westhoek, the Australian Embassy organises

a program of commemorations in collaboration with the

New Zealand Embassy and local communities.

H.E. Justin Brown - Ambassador of Australia

led Australia’s official participation in the commemorative

events at Zonnebeke, Ieper and Comines-Warneton.

The Minister and I joined hundreds of fellow Australians

and others in what were very moving ceremonies, enhanced

by the involvement of the Australian Federation Guard

Catafalque Party and Australian Defence Force singers.

I saw for myself the commitment of many ordinary Belgians

to honour the Australians who died in Flanders for the

values that we share. All Australians are deeply appreciative

of these efforts, which have been central to the strong bonds

between our countries and between the people of Australia

and Belgium.”



Australia 2018 Global Summit of Women is the premier

international forum to accelerate women’s economic

progress worldwide. The 2018 Summit will salute women’s

achievements while continuing to explore practical

strategies and best practices in improving women’s

economic status, whether they are corporate initiatives,

public policies or NGO programs.


These ceremonies have great resonance for all Australians

as they take place on battlefields where more than 12,000

Australian soldiers fought and gave their lives in Belgium.

Australia’s Minister for Veterans' Affairs, Darren Chester,

The Summit’s unique engagement of the three critical ‘legs’

of change – government, business and civil society – is

reflected in its participants, presenters and partners. The

theme of the 2018 Summit — “Women: Creating Economies

of Shared Value” — highlights the ability of women to develop

a more inclusive economy as women advance their own

businesses and careers. In addition, the 2018 Summit will

inform delegates on how to access the Australian and Asia-

Pacific market, showcase women business and government

leaders from the region, and provide skills building sessions,

as well as establish networks among such leaders.

According to a Booz and Co. report, based on criteria

including pay, education, and access to paid parental leave,

its women have also been named “Most Empowered in the

World”. We took this opportunity to ask Trish Bergin,

First Assistant Secretary of the Office for Women in the

Australian Government Department of the Prime Minister

and Cabinet, to explain the policy of Australia in favour of

gender equality:

“After months of planning,” said Trish Bergin, “I knew

the “Davos of Women” would be impressive, but I was

still awed by the number of high-profile representatives

who came to Sydney, Australia from over 70 countries

for the three-day event. What an opportunity for CEOs,

government ministers and community leaders to come

together in the shared purpose of expanding women’s

economic opportunities!”

Trish Bergin

are women. This marks the first time in Australian history

that the highest ranks of the Australian Public Service have

reached gender parity.

The Australian Government is committed to advancing

women’s representation on Government boards and

achieving the target of women holding 50 percent of

positions overall, and men and women each holding at least

40 percent of positions on individual boards. Thanks to our

BoardLinks program, which connects Australia’s leading

women with opportunities for Australian Government

board appointments, women held 44.5 percent of Australian

Government board positions by December 2017.






“Australia’s Office for Women in the Department of the

Prime Minister and Cabinet exists to advance gender

equality outcomes in Australia. The Office for Women

provides leadership and supports the Government around

its three priorities for gender equality: to strengthen

women’s economic security, to support more women into

leadership positions, and to ensure that women and their

children are safe from violence.

The Australian Government maintains a strong commitment

to women’s empowerment and increasing women’s

leadership as key ways of achieving gender equality. The

Australian Public Service is tracking in the right direction

with women comprising 43 percent of the Senior Executive

Service. The recent appointment of Ms Liz Cosson AM CSC

as the first female Secretary of the Department of Veterans’

Affairs, means 9 of Australia’s 18 Departmental Secretaries

We also work with business to increase women’s leadership

opportunities in the private sector, the largest employer of

Australian women. According to research conducted by

the Australian Institute of Company Directors (AICD),

women comprised a record high of 27.1 percent of

ASX 200 directorships in March 2018. To bolster this,

the Government has invested over $1 million in board

scholarships for women through AICD, including specific

initiatives for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and

other culturally and linguistically diverse women, and

women working in the disability sector.

Finally, the Government provides funding to six National

Women’s Alliances that represent almost 120 women’s

organizations, ensuring women’s issues and a diversity

of voices are represented in Australian Government

decision-making and policy development. Demonstrative

of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet’s

commitment to diversity, we sponsored emerging leaders

from Indigenous, rural, and culturally diverse communities

to attend the Global Summit of Women.”

Dr. Pick Keobandith





Now officially known as the Lao People’s

Democratic Republic, the country sits in the heart

of the Indochinese peninsula of Mainland Southeast

Asia. The former kingdom and French protectorat

Laos became independent in 1954, a member of the

United Nations in 1955 and is now governed in a

unicameral parliamentary system, in the process of

continuous building and enhancing of the people’s

democratic regime under the leadership of the Lao

People’s Revolutionary Party.

A long-term strategy to engage with global partners has seen

annual GDP growth averaging 7% since 1997 since Laos

became a member state of the Association of Southeast

Asian Nations (ASEAN) and this strategy for developing

more open relationships internationally saw the first ever

presidential visit when President Obama visited the country

in 2016 during Laos’ chairmanship of ASEAN Summits and

Related Summits Meetings. 2018 sees the inauguration of

the third ever Lao Tourism Year.

Addressing some challenges and weaknesses, the agencies

concerned are working expansively and inclusively with

wide participation of the people, entrepreneurs, and the

media, to improve quality of services, upgrade standards of

facilities and hospitality, and address all related difficulties,

including road access to some sites.

2018 is “Visit Laos Year”, what can you tell us

about the program that Laos is deploying to attract

tourists ?

Tourism is a main strategic sector, which contributes

substantially to the national socio-economic development.

In 2016, there were around 4.2 million visitor arrivals to

Laos, and the sector generated a foreign income of more

than 800 million dollars (6% of GDP).


In order to attract more foreign visitors to the country, with

a goal of welcoming around 5 million foreign travellers this

year, the Government has attached great importance to

the development of a fully fledged tourism industry with

more efforts in making eco-tourism in line with ‘green

tourism’, combined with the modernisation of cultural and

historic touristic sites to be more colourful and sustainable.

H.E. Khamkheuang Bounteum and Barbara Dietrich

Dr. Pick Keobandith, Sabrina Tacca-Pandolfo, H.E. Nathalie Sabadnaze and H.E. Khamkheuang Bounteum

At this junction, our people’s gratitude is expressed for the

valuable support currently provided by Luxembourg and

Switzerland towards the training of human resources at the

Lao National Institute of Tourism and Hospitality (Lanith)

in Vientiane Capital.

The listing recognised the ‘exceptional merger of traditional

architecture and European colonial urban structures from

the 19th and 20th Centuries.’ UNESCO praised the unique

urban setting of Luang Prabang and noted the unique

preservation of the site.

Visa exemption agreements with 45 countries, including

Mongolia, Russia, and the other 9 ASEAN countries,

and to citizens of 4 Scandinavian countries, Denmark,

Finland, Norway and Sweden, have been initiated by the

Lao authorities for this whole year. This is in addition

to bilateral visa exemption agreements concluded with

11 countries including Mongolia, and Russia; similar

agreements with the other 9 ASEAN member countries,

and unilateral visa exemptions offered to ordinary passport

holders from Japan, the Republic of Korea, Switzerland and


Luang Prabang has joined the UNESCO world

heritage list in 1995. How important is this

recognition for Laos Tourism ?

The addition of Luang Prabang to the World Heritage was

a wonderful recognition by UNESCO. The special nature

of the site came as no surprise to those of us who know the

site well.

The site, which demonstrates an interesting fusion of two

different cultures, has continued to draw in tourists from

around the world.

Of course, tourists bring with them much needed business

for local economies but what the UNESCO listing of

Luang Prabang really means for Laos, is the promotion

and support of a major and unique cultural site. Tourists

take away the stories and experiences that can only be

found here, so our Luang Prabang is shared to communities

across the world. We continue to thank UNESCO for

recognising this site and remain proud that our culture has

the opportunity to be heard across the world.

Peace and stability in the country, combined with

harmonious life and ownership of the local people, must

have been among the decisive factors that have enabled the

preservation and cultivation of both tangible and untangible

aspects of the heritage site. Visitors and tourists coming


to Luang Prabang can really enjoy both the peaceful and

hospitable atmosphere and the uniqueness of creative arts,

culture and tradition of its multi-ethnic people.

Because of its historical relations with France,

Laos is part of the Francophonie. Do you nurture

this relation ?

With four French-speaking diplomatic colleagues currently

based in Brussels, we have made our modest contribution

to enhancing friendly relationships and cooperation within

the context of Francophonie, in order to promote the image

of Laos and people-to-people contacts in the BENELUX

countries. To coincide with the Visit Laos Year 2018,

on 24th March 2018, we organised a Lao Cultural Night

in close collaboration and with valuable support of the

‘Représentation Permanente de l’Organisation Internationale

de la Francophonie auprès de l’Union Européenne

(OIF-RPUE)’, celebrating the ‘Francophonie Laotienne’.

During the week marking the International Francophonie

Day in Belgium, the image of the Lao national flag could be

seen on the OIF costumes specifically tailored and dressed

on Manneken Pis in the City of Brussels.

We have harmoniously collaborated with members of

the Lao diaspora in Belgium and northern France, in

promoting Lao culture and traditions. At the end of March,

we arranged a cultural event in which four Laotian artists

presented Laotian folk music, and dance performances.

This event echoed the opening remarks and expression of

the OIF spirit of Sharing, “Partager”, by H.E. Stéphane

Lopez, Ambassador of RPUE. The Lao artists also had an

opportunity to share their fine performing skills with Lao

community members and French citizens at the Carnival of

the City of Roubaix, Northern France.

Having the majority of Laos’ Francophone ambassadors

and staff previously and currently accredited, we have

participated in various conferences and meetings, to

promote cooperation with state agencies and private entities

of Belgium and Luxembourg. We also secured the active

participation of two Lao Parliamentarians representing the

National Assembly of the Lao PDR, as Member State of

the OIF, at the 43rd Session of the Parliamentary Assembly

of La Francophonie (APF), hosted by the Chamber of

Deputies of Luxembourg, marking the 50th anniversary of

APF in July 2017.


Boats on the Mekong river, Luang Prabang, Laos

© Shutterstock

Ketsavanh in Luang Prabang

© Toulou Panyathip

The last three decades have seen positive and fruitful

developments in Laos’ cooperation with the Francophone

authorities and agencies, since its full membership

conferred at the 4th OIF Summit held in Paris, in November

1991. It was at this summit meeting that late President

Kaysone Phomvihane of the Lao PDR headed the official

delegation in conjunction with the first and ever state visit

to France by the Lao President of the Republic.

As well as welcoming working visits to Laos by OIF

personalities, conferences and activities have been organised

directly relating to improving the capacity and valorisation

of French-teaching, learning and application. It is also worth

highlighting the support of the OIF for the establishment

of Renovateur weekly. This support has lead to related

activities organised under The OIF and APEFE Belgiumsupported

Vocational Training Program (Cambodia,

Laos, Vietnam). There is also much technical support

provided to Laos’ SMEs, inauguration and advancement

of bilingual Lao-French classes in thirteen primary

establishments in four main cities, Vientiane Capital, Luang

Prabang, Savannakhet and Paksé, with more than 3.000

students having enrolled in 2010. The number of students

commencing French learning in more than 80 colleges each

year was around 30.000, making the total of French learners

and students in secondary schools around 500.000 in the

school year 2016-2017.

Recently, there has been a mission to Belgium with an aim

to visit some francophone universities, by the Francophone

President and Vice-President of Savannakhet University

(SKU), which is one of the three universities in Laos, which

incorporates the French Language Teaching Programme

(Applied Language), and teaches around 120 students

taking French as their First Major, and over 300 students

taking French as their second major. Their students have

become more and more keen to take ‘Applied French

Language’ as more employment opportunities have been

created for them in sectors like tourism and light industries

in Special Economic Zones of the neighbourhood localities.

China is investing a lot in its Silk Road project

which combines logistic routes between Europe

and the Eastern coast of Asia, as well as cultural

exchanges. Can you explain the part played by

Laos in this initiative ?

Keeping with the theme and guiding principles of the 9th

Asia-Europe Summit (ASEM) hosted by the Lao People’s


Democratic Republic (Lao PDR) in November 2012, the

state institutions and private entities of Laos have continued

to build on friendship and expand partnership with

neighbouring Asian countries and European nations for the

benefit of peace and development. Bilateral cooperation

with China under the 2009 Comprehensive Strategic

Partnership of Cooperation and with various friendly

countries have been further enhanced ever since, creating

economic opportunities for Laos in promoting foreign direct

investments, widening trade exchanges, and implementing

the national development priorities which include ‘turning

the landlocked country into a land linked, logistically

connected nation status’.

As connectivity in terms of physical infrastructure is a focus

for Southeast Asian countries dealing with their European

partners, the Lao Leaders and Authorities continue to build

upon their initial interest in the project and support the

One Belt One Road Initiative (BRI) taken by the Chinese

Leader. They have engaged in the consultative forums and

sought Laos’ membership in the Silk Road Funds and the

Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB).

The Laos-China Railway Project, inaugurated in December

2016 and planned to be completed at the end of 2021,

is a mega investment jointly made (30-70%) by the Lao

governmental bodies and the Chinese relevant institutions,

under the Belt and Road Initiative. This project, which

has gained valuable support, and uses technology and

equipment from China, is considered to have been

effectuated from historical decisions and the determination

of the Lao Government and People.

When discussing this international connection, it is

important to refer to the statement by His Excellency

Thongloun Sisoulith, Prime Minister of the Lao PDR, that

‘this railway is a bilateral strategic cooperation project, and

will forge win-win relationships and common development

of the two countries’.

As confirmed by politicians, analysts and experts involved,

the railway will bring substantial benefits to the Lao people,

and will contribute to expanding a trade, investment and

infrastructure network connecting Laos, Thailand, Malaysia,

and Singapore, with China and Europe. It is our expectation

that in the near future, Lao export products could reach the

Port of Antwerp in Belgium by freight train, at lower costs

of transportation, following the admirable example of the

First ‘Silk Road’ train that arrived from China to this city in

May 2018, within 16 days.


Waterfalls in Laos

© Shutterstock

A farmer is harvesting lotus in the swamp, an Asian way of life.

© Shutterstock





Date of Birth 10 March 1957

Place of Birth Province of Champasack, Laos

Marital Status Married with two teenaged sons


Primary and Secondary Education completed in

Province of Champasak, Laos, 1979

Bachelor of Arts in Hungarian Linguistics and

Literature, Jozsel Attila University of Sciences,

Szeged, Hungary, 1985

Certificate of International Crisis Management Course,

Institute of Diplomacy and Foreign Relations,

Malaysia, 1995

Master of Arts in Foreign Affairs and Trade, Monash

University, Australia, 1999-2000

Diploma of Politics and Public Administration,

National Institute of Politics and Public Administration,

Laos, 2008


Poland Desk Officer in Department No.1, following

recruitment to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs

MOFA, 1986

Executive Officer in Department of Press, and then,

Ministerial Cabinet, 1989-1991

Third Secretary in Embassy of the Lao PDR, Canberra,

Australia, 1991-1994

Executive Officer in Department of Treaty and Law,

1994, then Chief of Bilateral Treaty Division, and then

Director of the same Department, 2006-2010

Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the

Republic of Austria, and Permanent Representative

to United Nations Office and other International

Organizations in Vienna, 2010-2014


Involved in the informal bilateral dialogue on human

rights with Sweden 2007-2010, with Australia

2006-2009, and with the EU 2008

Executive management of International Law Project

funded and supported by Finland, the EU and UNDP,


Foreign Languages: English, Hungarian.




A glorious day in AWEN for Chanthachone Vongsay,

President of the Lao Business Women Association,

who after her participation in The Global Summit

of Women in Sydney, Australia went to celebrate

the ASEAN Women Entrepreneurs 2018 Award

Presentation. She spoke to me about the 10

countries of the Association of Southeast Asian

Nations by GDP: Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia,

Singapore, the Philippines, Vietnam, Myanmar,

Cambodia, Laos, Brunei and told me about



AWEN is a network of business women in the ASEAN

region, operating to exchange knowledge, experience,

develop and propose initiatives to promote economic and

trade activities in order to enhance gender equality.

Through our various activities we aim to empower and

strengthen entrepreneurship skills for women in the ASEAN

community and create more favourable environments for

female-led enterprises. We wish to support and nurture

more opportunities for women entrepreneurs in the



The group of women of AWEN 2018 with Prayut Chan-O-Cha, Prime Minister of Thailand

Chanthachone Vongsay with Prayut Chan-O-Cha, Prime Minister of Thailand


The initiative to establish an ASEAN Women

Entrepreneurs’ Network (AWEN) was announced by

Vietnam at the 6th ASEAN Committee on Women (ACW)

Meeting held on 7-8 November 2007 in Chiang Mai, Thailand,

as part of its proposal to develop a cooperative programme

between the ACW and the ASEAN Confederation of

Women’s Organizations (ACWO) in addressing poverty. The

initiative was warmly welcomed by ASEAN Member States.

The inaugural AWEN Launch workshop was then launched

in April 2014 by the Vietnamese Ministry of Labour and

Social Affairs.

Juan. She represents the Women’s Business Council of

the Philippines. In March 2017, she was one of the 2017

Inspiring Filipina Entrepreneur awardees at the Malacañan





In accordance with the Terms of Reference of AWEN

(TOR), after launching the Network, the Coordination

role is rotated amongst ASEAN Member States with

Vietnam as the Coordinator for the first two-year term.

Madame Nguyen Thi Tuyet Minh, Chairwoman of the

Vietnam Women Entrepreneur Council (VWEC) is the

Chairwoman of AWEN for 2014 to 2016. Madame Nguyen

Thi Tuyet Minh's successor is social entrepreneur Pacita

Chanthachone Vongsay and Irene Natividad, president of Global

Summit in Sydney 2018


10 delegates from ASEAN and General Anantaphone Kanjanarad, Minister of social welfare and human resource of Thailand at Women Economic

Empowerment Forum May 10th in BKK, Thailand

KC Group board Toulou and Ketsavanh Panyathip, Kissana and Chanthachone Vongsay in Brussels, May 16th 2018

© Vincent Garnier


Laos born, Vongsay spent time studying business in

France, after which she returned to Laos to establish

and build upon her local and international connections.

Eight years in senior roles at Laos Beer were followed

by a return to education, studying English Literature at

the National University of Laos. A short period working

in the hotel industry inspired Vongsay to start her own

business. Today, almost twenty-five years later her varied

business interests through her company KC Group

include garment exporters, hotels, media, real estate as

well as advisory roles for international and local business


Vongsay held the position of vice president of Lao

Business Women’s Association between 2006-2014

before being elected as a president in July 2014. She has

been a member of AWEN since April 2014. Through

her varied interests and commitments Vongsay aims to

help and contribute towards the program and success

of Lao Business Women, working both locally and








Diplomatic World had the great opportunity to

attend the 2018 global summit of women under

the theme of creating economies of shared value

in Sydney Australia 26-28 April 2018.

This summit allowed us to foster a stronger collaborative

effort with many Women Leaders from both Government

and Business sectors, including fellow Ministers and

Business Women from 65 countries. This was a great

pleasure and opportunity for us to exchange our experiences

and discuss the most effective practices in advancing

women’s economic opportunities.

Throughout our participation in this Summit, we have

gradually developed a comprehensive understanding from

various successful leaders in regards to Business and

View of speakers at Global Summit of Women


Hon. Inlavanh Keobounphanh, LAO PDR, Minister / President, Lao Women’s Union


Politics. We have learned and agreed that in order for

women to become successful in Business, there is a need for

women to engage more in self-development and incorporate

a more effective and suitable methodology in operating and

developing their business. Moreover, the improvement of

Business Women’s networking could also be seen as one

of the most effective strategies to strengthen their Business

Cooperation. From this, I am so delighted to become part

of the Summit and to realize that a number of business

companies have placed a stronger emphasis in promoting

gender equality as can be seen from a higher number of

women participation in a higher position within various


For us, as Asian Women, there are still a number of

challenges that we have to encounter and there is a need for

us to work harder than men to succeed in our professions.

Despite the fact that there are higher quotas for women in

political and business participation, we are still struggling in

gaining proper acceptance and reliability from some men.

We believe that women have equal capability as men in

various aspects of our lives and there is a need for us to

develop a joint responsibility in promoting gender equality.

I am profoundly confident that all the female leaders that

attended the Summit this year cannot achieve their success

in Business and political position without strong support

and encouragement from their families and colleagues.

No matter who we are and regardless of our professions, we,

as women, are still the first to be up in the morning and the

last person to go to bed at night, we are capable of taking

care of our family and maintaining our professional lives at

the same time. I believe that this is a time for our society to

provide women with more room for growth and to engage

more in the continual professional development both in

political and business aspects.

All Lao Women’s Union members are working harder

everyday to develop Lao human resources particularly for

women, to support women’s business opportunities as well

as promoting foreign relations in improving Gender Equality

in Laos.

All in all, what we, women, can bring to international

Diplomacy is our ‘devotion’ to everything that we do,

not just for ourselves, but for everyone and everything

surrounding us.

Lao Women group (students and CEO) at Global Summit of Women




Dr. Keobounphanh was born on April 29, 1960 in

Huaphanh Province. She is married with two children.

She graduated in Medical Assistance in 1976 and has

a Bachelor Degree of Medical Doctor in Obstetrics

and Gynaecology at Thai Bing University of Vietnam

in 1983. She completed Hospital Management at

KUMAMOTO, University of Japan in 2000, and a

Master Degree at the National Academy for Political and

Public Administration in 2015.

Between 1976 and 2010, she worked for 103 Military

Hospitals with progressive roles and responsibilities;

physician of obstetrics, chief of administration section

and chief of personnel section respectively. Then she

was appointed as Director of Sisattanak District Health

Office and the Director General of Vientiane Capital

Health Department. In between, she undertook other

honourable roles and functions such as: President of

HIV Control Committee in Vientiane Capital; the

President of Community-based Health Insurance of

Vientiane Capital; and the Vice President of Mother and

Child and Control Outbreak Committee of Vientiane


From 2010 to 2015, she was appointed as a Vice

Minister of Health in charge of Personnel and

Organization and later in charge of Hygiene and Health

Promotion to oversight MDG 1, 4, 6 and 7 and Village

Health Model. In addition, she took other honourable

positions as Vice President of The National Committee

for Mothers and Children, Member of the National

Committee for Inflation, the National Committee

Member of Rural Development and Poverty Eradication,

and Member of the National Committee for the

Advancement of Women, respectively.

In 2015, she was appointed as President of Lao

Women’s Union and Vice President of the National

Committee for the Advancement of Women and Mother

and Children.

Dr. Keobounphanh speaks fluent Vietnamese, Japanese

and some English.






Diplomatic relations between Laos (Lao PDR) and North

Korea (DPRK) were established on June 24th 1974. Laos

first established its diplomatic residency in North Korea

in September 1998 and North Korea its residence in Laos

in September 1976. In reality, Laos and North Korea had

diplomatic relations before their national Liberations by

the two parties: the Labor Party of North Korea in Korea

and the Laos People’s Revolutionary party in Laos. Since

the establishment of diplomatic relations, Laos and North

Korea have more than 20 MOU but only political relations

have been implemented at the level of exchange regarding

delegations. Other sectors such as economic, social-cultural,

educational and sport are yet to be implemented due to the

lack of adequate funding.

Culturally, life in North Korea and in Laos is very similar.

Familial relations greatly inform life in the two countries

with people often sharing similar familial relationships.

Families live as one unit and usually consist of father,

mother and children. The children normally leave the family

unit when they get married. The people of North Korea

live in peace and in unity under the leadership of the Labor

Party of Korea.

Portrait Kiettisack Keobandith, April 2018

I think that diplomatic relations between North and South

Korea should be re-established in the near future if there is

no external interference. After the Korean war in 1950–1953

finished, the leadership of both North and South Korea have

met from time to time and in reality both countries have the

Joint Venture in North Korea and also closely monitor the

joint border. Meetings have also been held by families which

were separated by the Korean war, these meetings have

occurred one to two times per year.


Kiettisack Keobandith presented his credentials to H.E. Kim Yong Nam,

President of Presidium of National Assembly of North Korea

Dr. Pick Keobandith

Director and Founder Inspiring Culture


Diplomatic Corps and representatives of the International Organisations at the opening of the Snow Sky Resort in North Korea

National Day Party


After graduating from Vientiane Higher School of

Pedagogy, Kiettisak Keobandith spent eleven years

teaching in Vientiane. Six years at the government

of Laos Agriculture and Forestry agency followed.

Keobandith’s passion for protecting the unique Laotian

landscape was combined with a passion for teaching

during his next position spent as Deputy Director at the

Laotian Forestry Training Center. Further roles within

the Laotian government followed including Secretary

for Foreign Affairs, as well as Deputy Directory of

Research and Documentation and Director General,

both positions in the State President’s office. His

time at the State President’s office was spent working

with a special focus on North Korean diplomacy, in

preparation for his next role as Ambassador to North

Korea. Three years (2012-2015) as Ambassador of

Lao PDR to DPR of Korea were spent sensitively

building and maintaining close working relationships

with counterparts in North Korea. Upon the successful

completion of his assignments in North Korea,

Keobandith returned to Laos to work as Director

General to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs before

retiring in 2017 to spend more time with his wife and






Officially the Kingdom of Bhutan, the country

which has become known for pioneering the

concept of gross national happiness, is located

in the Eastern Himalayas between China

and India. Situated on the Silk Road Bhutan

is a Buddhist country and the religion still

informs the leadership of the country. Bhutan

comprises of rich and varied landscapes,

ranging from the Himalayan mountains in the

north to subtropical plains in the south.


Is it possible to measure happiness? It is quite normal for

the facts and figures of most countries to include indicators

of wealth, of export and imports as well as access to

education and leisure pursuits, it is less common however

for a country to offer figures of happiness and for a country

to place significant emphasis on such figures.

Positioned between India and China, Bhutan has pursued

ambitions to assess national levels of happiness since 1971

and has used such figures to change or create new national

policies in order to improve life in Bhutan.

First conceived by Bhutan’s fourth King Jigme Singye

Wangchuck, the philosophy of Gross National Happiness

places happiness at a greater level than Gross Domestic

Product and since has brought much international interest

and attention to the country.

How the figures of happiness are measured are

complicated, and much discourse surrounds the ways to

achieve the most effective and accurate parameters to

measure happiness.

Differing sources offer up different information with one

site stating twenty-six variables for measuring happiness

whilst another researcher speaks of the nine domains and

thirty-three indicators of GNH.

Ambitions to place a nation's happiness centre stage are

inspirational, but when most countries figure their progress

in purely monetary terms, how does Bhutan hope to

communicate their strategy to the world?

Although the King is known as the architect of the bold

sounding strategy, the philosophy has recently found a more

grounded realisation in the implementation of The GNH

Assessment Tool for Business, which was initiated by Dasho

Tshering Tobgay, the Prime Minister of Bhutan in 2015 at

the sixth annual International Conference on GNH. It is here

that the ambitions of the King can be seen as materialising

and functioning on the level that many international

businesses and diplomatic strategies may understand, that of

promoting and pursuing sustainable business.

The tools and parameters of assessment include such titles

as Psychological Wellbeing, Health, Time Use, Education,

Cultural Diversity and Resilience, Good Governance,

Community Vitality, Ecological Diversity and Resilience

and Living Standards.

“While Business is important for the economy” the

accompanying leaflet from the conference reads, “it can be

harmful to society if the business is conducted purely for

economic ends.”

It is here then, that Bhutan’s emphasis on measuring

national levels of happiness, and subsequently to strive to

achieve high and sustained levels in the growth of happiness

rises to meet what have become key global issues, that of

ensuring that business does not exploit national resources,

that businesses are held accountable to the lives they

alter and that ecological issues are placed at the centre of

sustainable business growth.

Bhutan, with its dreamy sounding GNH may have been far

ahead of its time when it first announced its programme in

1971. And as the UN and other international organisations

continue to take on such parameters for happiness, we may

all have Bhutan to thank for a potentially happier world to

live in.

Dr. Pick Keobandith

Barbara Dietrich, H.E. Pema Choden and Dr. Pick Keobandith


Ambassador of Bhutan to Belgium and the European

Union with concurrent accreditation to Sweden,

Netherlands, Finland, Denmark and Spain.

Royal Bhutanese Embassy

H.E. Mrs Pema Choden studied a degree in Arts

in Bhutan after which she worked in the Bhutanese

Ministry of Foreign Affairs as Attaché. Following

further studies in Advanced French Language Skills, she

returned to the Ministry of Foreign affairs to take up the

role of Assistant Director. She was seconded to be first

secretary at the Permanent Mission of Bhutan to the

UN in Geneva between 2000 and 2003 after which she

was first Under Secretary and then Head of Policy and

Division at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Four years

(2007-2011) was spent as Managing Director of The

Bhutan Broadcasting Service. Choden was then Chief of

Europe, Americas and Africa Division of the Bilateral

Department. She has been Ambassador of Bhutan since

2014, her first position in Bangladesh has been followed

by her current role in Belgium and to the European








I discovered Matthieu Ricard in 2003 whilst reading

“Happiness: A Guide to Developing Life’s Most

Important Skill”. I remember how I smiled when the

monk talked about the revolutionary concept of Gross

National Happiness in Bhutan. The country appeared

to me as a sort of sunny dreamy Shanghri-La.


A few days ago, even more powerful and intriguing

information about my favourite philosopher monk

Matthieu Ricard surprised me. He had been recently

invited to the “World Happiness Summit” in Dubaï. He

used this opportunity to talk about Altruism in the Arabic

country where the Minister of Happiness is a woman,

Her Excellency Ohood bint Khalfan Al Roumi.



Much of the media were talking about the Happiest Man in

the World who addressed the audience at the second edition

of the UAE’s Happiness Journey. Ricard gave four main

“recipes” that lead to happiness: Altruism, Compassion,

Wisdom and Empathy. He encouraged everybody to

meditate: “Even 20 minutes of meditation per day for a

period of five weeks is enough to train our brain.” He added,

“money can’t buy happiness. It can, however, bring happiness

to both the giver and the receiver when donated.” “When

enough individuals change themselves on purpose, we will

head towards a happy society,” he said. “There needs to be a

balance between social, financial and environmental wealth.”

The Happiness Journey is inspired by the legacy of the

UAE’s founding father, the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al

Nahyan, and highlights his values which have been adopted

as national values.

Later, Ricard inaugurated the first day of the World

Government Summit 2018 by leading the audience in a

guided meditation. He repeated again what he has been

saying for ten years in the World Economic Forum in


“Our beautiful planet is in urgent need of a strategy that

focuses on a qualitative life that achieves sustainable

harmony by remedying inequalities and achieving social

justice, as well as caring economics that balances financial,

social and environmental prosperity.”

Her Excellency Ohood bint Khalfan Al Roumi is

the Minister of State for Happiness and Wellbeing

in the UAE Government. H.E. Al Roumi is also the

Director General of the Prime Minister’s Office at

the Ministry of Cabinet Affairs and the Future in the

UAE government. Al Roumi is the Vice-President

of the World Government Summit Organization

that holds the World Government Summit annually

and brings together governments leaders, policy

makers, and private sector to explore the future of

governments. H.E. Al Roumi is a member of the

Higher National Committee for the Year of Giving,

established in 2017 to lead the development of a

comprehensive framework for the Year of Giving


The Budhists believe the mango tree to be holy, capable of granting wishes.

© Luna Brusselaers

Matthieu Ricard is a Buddhist monk, writer and

photographer. He has been the French interpreter for the

Dalai Lama since 1989. He has lived in the Himalayan

region for the last forty-five years. Born in France in

1946, as the son of philosopher Jean-François Revel

and artist Yahne Le Toumelin. He earned a Ph.D. in cell

genetics at the Pasteur Institute under Nobel Laureate

Francois Jacob. He travelled to the Himalayas in 1967

and has studied with some of the greatest masters of

Tibetan Buddhism.

He lives at Shechen Monastery in Nepal. Matthieu

Ricard donates all proceeds from his books and

conferences, as well as much of his time to 200

humanitarian projects in Nepal, India and Tibet which

serve over 250,000 persons every year in the fields of

health care, education and social service. He is also

active for the preservation of the Himalayan cultural


www.karuna-shechen.org - www.shechen.org




8 - 9 s e p t e m b e r 2 0 1 8

1 0 t h e d i t i o n

B o z a r - B r u s s e l s

" T A K I N G C A R E O F L I F E "






Céline Alvarez, Christophe

André, Alexandre Jollien, Edel

Maex, Ilios Kotsou, Matthieu

Ricard, Frédéric Lenoir and other


mous authors will take part in

this anniversary edition.

Changing yourself to change the

world is our deepest aspiration.

All the benefi

ts of this event are

donated to solidarity proj


around the world, fr

om Belgium

to India and Brazil.

Choose between fi

ve thematic

workshops off


red by our

speakers: Health, Education,

Interdependence, Joy or Nature.


- 8/09/18 : SOLD OUT

- 9/09/18 : 8h30 - 13:00 - 45 euros.

Bozar, Ru

e Ravenstein 23, 1000 Brussels

This event will be in French.

B O O K O N L I N E :

J O U R N E E S E M E R G E N C E S . O R G










The information will be made available on state of the art

interactive touchscreen totems. The totems will be installed

at strategic locations such as embassies and consulates,

international institutions, universities and other public and

private spaces.

Besides content provided by Diplomatic World, the screens

will display personalised content provided by the host.

The project is a joint venture initiative between Diplomatic

World and Visualys, a market leader in digital screens and

communication networks with over 10 years of experience

and expertise in this field. Both companies are members

of The Anchor Group (www.anchorg.com) who made the

match possible between both partners.

The new generation, fully Android-operated, robust touch

screens and the cloud-based DSMS software Visunet make

it possible to individually manage and update personalised

content per screen in a few clicks.

“For Diplomatic World this innovative project is in line with

our strategy which is to enlarge the scope of Diplomatic

World beyond the paper magazine and to embrace

technology to spread diplomacy, celebrate diverse cultures

and bring messages of hope and peace,” says Barbara

Dietrich, owner of Diplomatic World.

The goal is to deploy a pilot of 10 screens to be installed

at key locations by the end of 2018 and scale up the

diplomatic network to over 100 screens in 2019.

“We are very excited about this partnership” explains

Yannick Kalantarian, CEO of Visualys. “The Diplomatic

World digital platform fits perfectly in our strategy to

develop our indoor digital communication platform”.

“With our newest generation Android operated professional

IPS posters and totems and our Visunet cloud based

management systems we are able to operate the network

remotely, both for content and maintenance.”

Ivan Hiel, co-founder of The Anchor Group adds,

“I am proud that our B2B network managed to bring two

completely different companies and industries together to

work on a common project; it encourages us to keep doing

what we do best, building bridges between cultures and

companies around the globe with the goal to make them

grow. And isn’t that the ultimate goal of diplomacy.”

For more information about the project or any digital

advertising and communication solutions, please contact

Yannick Kalantarian at yannick@kalantarian.eu or visit the

Visualys website (www.visualys.eu).





The work of the Colombian artist Olga

de Amaral has almost single-handedly

opened a space for weaving in the

contemporary art world.

Since 1967 her textiles have travelled the world, as the long

and distinguished list of museums and galleries where her

work has been exhibited attests. She was, for example, the

first Colombian woman to be honored with a Guggenheim

Fellowship, which she received in 1973. Her long career

both in Colombia and in Europe received the recognition it

deserved in 2005 when she was named “Visionary Artist of

the Year” by the New York Museum of Art and Design.

But perhaps “textile” is not the right word to describe her

work. In fact, what de Amaral does is build on a tradition of

methodical and precise weaving techniques and through the

development of her own language of color and texture, move

textiles into a new domain. In the end, her textiles could

be described more accurately as sculptures or paintings. Or

perhaps the description does not matter: they are simply

works of art. Curiously, the more abstract they appear, the

more real and concrete they seem to us.

De Amaral has developed at the same time – and for

that very reason – a very personal language and a

universal language that builds bridges between weaving

traditions and contemporary art, as can be seen in the

numerous exhibitions of her work in museums such as


H.E. Dr. Sergio Jaramillo Caro and Valérie Bach

Olga de Amaral

the Metropolitan Museum of New York, the Museum of

Modern Art in Paris or the Museum of Contemporary Art

in Boston.

We now have the privilege to view her textiles in Brussels at

the La Patinoire Royale, an extraordinary space which does

full justice to the range and depth of her work.

Increasingly, Colombian art is seen in the leading galleries

of Europe; names like Doris Salcedo or Oscar Muñoz have

been household names of the contemporary art scene for

some time now. And Bogota itself has become a major

centre of contemporary art in the Americas. It is yet

another merit of the Patinoire exhibition to remind us that

that great outburst of creative energy in Colombia did not

come out of nowhere, but rather is itself a continuation of

the visionary work of artists such as Olga de Amaral. And

for that, La Patinoire Royale deserves our thanks.

La Patinoire Royale / Galerie Valérie Bach





On 25 April the Embassy of Colombia in Belgium

and Inspiring Culture co-organized an event

celebrating the exhibition “The spirit of Light” by

Olga de Amaral at La Patinoire Royale in Brussels.

Diplomatic World also attended and we are

delighted to share some pictures and impressions.


The Patinoire Royale - Galerie Valérie Bach has become,

for the length of this exhibition, a temple housing the

Amerindian spirit and its powerful spiritual charge, in direct

connection with the cosmos, through the timeless work of

the Colombian artist Olga de Amaral. This unclassifiable

artist and her creative production, whose eternal strength is

haloed with gold - a pure, magnificent and divine material,

comprising her means of expression – are presented here for

her first retrospective in Belgium, and shows a selection of

some forty exceptional works, made during the last 15 years.

Her luminous work re-explores the textile tradition of South

America, with direct reference to the colours, shapes,

graphics and materials of the pre-Columbian world, using

gold or silver leaf, as well as natural pigments such as

indigo, amaranth, turquoise, and earth-colours, in a vast

firework display against a backdrop of Andean music.

Her great sensitivity, applied to a meticulous textile

practice with an innate taste for interlace, mosaics and

braids, makes Olga de Amaral an intermediary between the

ancestral spirituality of the Incas and contemporary society.

These artefacts are a poignant testimony to this immense

civilization, which disappeared in the first half of the 16th



Pueblo J, 2011, linen, gesso, gold leaf and acrylic paint, 200 x 80 cm - Courtesy of Casa Amaral

© Diego Amaral

Olga de Amaral at La Patinoire Royale / Galerie Valérie Bach

The work of Olga de Amaral, characterized by a high

degree of unity and integrity for over sixty years, is so

much more than a simple visual manifestation, purely

attractive, without any function other than the very

decorative, achieved through colour and metallic sparkle.

The work of weaving, cutting and combing textile fibres,

sometimes freed from linen straps or organized by falling

wire curtains, sometimes immersed in gesso, or using the

art of gluing Japanese paper stiffened by cord, these are just

some of many surprising techniques directly inspired by

the ethnographic skills of Amerindian civilizations. They

constitute the structuring axis of a timeless production,

with the boundaries shifting between contemporary work

and archaeological remains.

A powerful force runs through these colours and metallic

tones, which range from bronze to silver, from gold to

mother of pearl, leading our imagination to focus on a

shape raining with reflections and colour, its strength

borrowed from Russian icons or Buddhist Stupa. The artist

has invested these murals with a deeply spiritual, almost

sacred perspective, which results in the subtle effect of a

creative process similar to prayer or meditation. Each of

Olga de Amaral’s works, in its singular originality, appears

as the narrative of an inner journey, recounting the joys and

sorrows, the difficulties and the epiphanies, the worries and

the certainties of this artist who, at the height of her fame

and international renown, continues to practice her art as a

tireless and humble seeker.

To contemplate a work of Olga de Amaral is to be dazzled

by the light of a spirit.

La Patinoire Royale / Galerie Valérie Bach


15, rue Veydt - 1060 Bruxelles

T +32 2 533 03 90







The AWDC acts as the steward as well as the voice

of the Antwerp diamond industry. 84 percent of

all rough diamonds and 50 percent of all polished

diamonds traded in the world pass through Antwerp

at least once. A round-up.

As CEO of AWDC – Antwerp World Diamond

Centre – could you explain the importance of

your organisation and its position in the world of


With the entire spectrum of diamond industry services

condensed into a small location, Antwerp is really a

bellwether for trade as a whole. We view Antwerp as the

world’s leading trade hub, and act accordingly. That means

we at the AWDC assume responsibility for promoting a

sustainable, innovative and compliant diamond trade, that

we try to steer the industry in the right direction either

through our own initiatives, or through our support for

organizations we believe are best in class, such as the

Kimberley Process, the World Diamond Council, the

Diamond Development Initiative, and so on.

banks, the KP, NGOs, and individual traders, we need to

make sure that the trade runs smoothly and correctly. The

Diamond Office is housed in our building and is under

our umbrella. This government-controlled body is where

all diamond imports to Belgium arrive and where they are

checked before being exported. The Diamond Office has a

huge role to play in the compliance of our industry. They

physically inspect every single shipment that comes through

our doors, and issues KP certificates for the ones that leave.

The AWDC acts as the steward as well as the voice of

the Antwerp diamond industry. It is our task to ensure

that all of the 1.600 diamond companies that do business

here, whether large or small, enjoy a business climate that

facilitates their growth. To this point, it appears we have

achieved that, as 84 percent of all rough diamonds and

50 percent of all polished diamonds traded in the world

pass through Antwerp at least once. In hard figures, this

translates into a yearly average of 225 million carats valued

at $48 billion, making Antwerp’s diamond trade responsible

for 5 percent of all Belgian exports and 15 percent of all

Belgian exports outside the EU. This means diamonds are

Belgium’s most important export product outside the EU.

Despite these impressive figures, we take nothing for

granted. We try to ensure that Antwerp remains the most

favorable location to do business in our industry. Whether


this entails working together with the government, the

Ari Epstein



We organize and participate in many missions and visits

around the world, from major to emerging diamond centers.

We maintain relationships in Russia, Canada, throughout

Africa, China, Japan, Brazil and wherever diamonds are

traded. We also are the focal point in the industry for

foreign visits to Antwerp. We work to bring rough and

polished business to the Antwerp trade – for instance, the

three biggest new mines to start production in the last year

are all bringing their goods to Antwerp.

We also make great efforts to be at the forefront of positive

changes in the industry globally. We advocate for a

sustainable industry, and want consumers and the public at

large to know about it, so we put a lot of energy, resources

and talent into communicating about the industry. The

AWDC also assumes its responsibility when it comes to

marketing the industry as a whole. A few weekends ago,

we hosted an innovative hackathon to bring young minds

to bear on industry issues, we partnered with CARAT+, a

major diamond trade fair and we saw the opening of a new

diamond museum, a project we have assisted the City of

Antwerp with for a long time. We held our first Antwerp

Summer University last year, and will be organizing it again

this year. And we are a strong partner in the European

Union KP Chairmanship through the World Diamond

Council (WDC), representing the industry within the KP.

Could you share with us some key factors that will

influence the future of the diamond business?

The biggest factor, ultimately, is consumer confidence. How

do we make sure consumers continue to desire and purchase

our product? This entails myriad issues, from CSR to

transparency to effective marketing. Our duty in this regard

is to make sure the trade is embracing the expectations of

21st century consumers. Is it a sustainable trade? Is it fair?

And do people understand the good diamonds do for so

many people in developing countries?

The industry, as a whole, needs to continue erasing the

causes of doubt among consumers if it wants to have a

prosperous future. We need to stay current so the younger

generations will still want our product in twenty years. This

is not so obvious any more. We have come a long way in

cleaning up our reputation and earning their trust, but we

still need to improve and stay focused. On the other hand,

it may be the case that the industry is sometimes judged

unfairly. In this regard, we need to make more efforts to

educate people about the trade. As for factors internal to

the trade, there are many. Rising prices for rough goods

and stagnating polished prices leave manufacturers and

traders in the midstream with very small margins. Access

to financing is still a major challenge, and high-profile cases

centered around certain bad actors do not help. To this end,


we need diamond companies to have clear and transparent

accounting and trade practices, and we are working to give

them the tools to have that.

It is also the case that AWDC’s commitment to promoting

the 5th C of compliance and CSR in the Antwerp trade

sometimes left us at a short-term disadvantage compared to

other trade centers that pay less attention to these matters.

However, we fully believe that in the long run, implementing

sustainable business practices is putting us in a better

position to succeed.

Could you share with us how process innovation and

technology, from vertical chain point of view, both in

mining and craftsmanship and distribution will evolve

the diamond business in the next coming years ?

We have already seen significant amounts of streamlining

throughout the industry, particularly from major players as

they harness technology to control their supply chains from

mine to finger. This is commonly referred to as ‘track and

trace’ technology. For example, in the last two weeks alone

we have seen major announcements from leading industry

organizations concerning innovations designed to bring

greater transparency to the trade.

The world’s largest diamond grading lab, the GIA

(Gemologicial Institute of America), just announced the

launch of their pilot program, together with Hong Kong/

China’s leading jewelry retailer, Chow Tai Fook, which will

use blockchain technology to deliver secure, digital diamond

grading reports to consumers for the first time. Then we

heard that the United States’ largest diamond jewelry

retailer Signet will be participating in De Beers’ blockchain

pilot for tracking diamonds by providing a digital link

from diamond production to retail. Every diamond on the

blockchain will carry a digital certificate storing its key

attributes and transactions, enabling consumers to know

that a stone is natural and conflict-free. They started this

project with the Diamond Development Initiative, an

organization we have long supported, which advocates on

the behalf of small-scale artisanal miners in Africa.

Then you have one of the leading miners, Lucara Diamond

Corp., rolling out a digital platform aiming to transform

the way diamonds are sold. Finally, right here in our own

back yard, we have the winner of our Hack4Diamonds

Blockchain challenge, DiaVest, which focused on finding

a solution for invoice financing. Building their prototype

on the Hyperledger Fabric, they developed an alternative

financing method whereby third-party financiers could

bid to service an invoice for a diamond purchase at very

favorable rates, supplying the capital needed to purchase

goods. Using blockchain technology, they built in a system

of checks to validate transactions and ensure invoices match


It is safe to say the digital revolution has finally taken root

in the diamond industry, and its transformation is well

underway. People are still exploring how they might be able

to implement the latest technology, but we are clearly on the

way to achieving a great deal more clarity as to how goods

move and are sold throughout the supply chain. This will

only increase in the coming years.




You are travelling all over the world to compose

a thorough view of your business. Do you see

certain evolutions that could affect the position

of stakeholders in the global diamond business?

Perhaps the best way to address this is to look at market

developments. Globally, diamond demand should grow

at approximately 3%, based on trends in the U.S., China

and globally. The United States market continues to be the

bedrock of global diamond demand, representing nearly

50% of the market. In this regard alone, we should have

reason to feel confident about the strength of the market.

US consumer confidence hit an 18-year high just a couple

months ago, reflecting its stable economic environment.

And the dollar has trended down, making diamonds

cheaper to import and to purchase. Statistics from the US

show that jewelry demand as a whole rose by about 7%

from 2016 to 2017. We just have to make sure that they are

buying diamond jewelry.

this lowers the barrier to a repeat purchase. So, sales might

rise, but I worry that margins could stagnate, particularly if

rough prices remain high, and every indication is that they

will, as we are gradually heading toward a scenario where

demand will outstrip supply. We have seen polished prices

increasing in 2018, but De Beers, for instance, has also

raised their rough prices to match. This makes it tough on

our market.

Concerning the large and upcoming markets, Greater

China’s consumer demand for diamonds is now about 20%

of global demand and is clearly on the rise. The economic

downturn of 2015 seems to be in the rear-view mirror.

The market’s largest jeweler, Chow Tai Fook, has seen

several consecutive quarters of sales growth, and the other

major retailers have experienced the same. The sheer fact

of middle-class population growth in Mainland China

and India will continue to be a consistent driver of global


The fears that millennials are no longer interested in

diamonds have really been calmed by the facts and figures

from the major diamond retailers. They are still buying

diamonds whether they are getting married or not. The

one negative is the trend for purchasing smaller goods,

which is spreading beyond the US and into China. Then

again, once consumers have acquired their first diamond,

AWDC has been a pioneer related to stress the

importance of a global sustainable diamond

business environment and create the necessary

tools to manage this sustainable process. How do

you see the future of ethics, audit processing and

certification schemes – like the Kimberley Process

Certification Scheme – evolve?


At the risk of repeating myself, the AWDC takes great pride

in promoting what we call the “5th C” (referring to the 4Cs,

which define the parameters of a diamond), standing for

Compliance, Confidence, and CSR. This is the core of our

business model and a strong focus in our medium and longterm

strategy, not only for the Antwerp diamond industry,

but also for the global diamond industry. We deliberately

opted several years ago to make this a focus of our business

model. I am proud to say that the AWDC made sustainable

business a priority in the diamond industry well before

many others had even woken up to the idea, and now we

are seeing it start to pay off, as the industry moves in this


More and more companies and organizations are reaching

out to their suppliers and customers to work together on

issues of sustainability, environmental responsibility, ethics

and compliance. Unfortunately, there are still companies,

and diamond trade centers, that have refused to get on

board. Some players in our industry continue to believe

the myth that the only legitimate way of doing business is

to brush aside concerns for anything but the bottom line.

We do not view this as a viable approach any more, as

adherence to a sustainable diamond trade is here to stay.

We are hoping for the best with regards to the Kimberley

Process moving forward on its reform agenda, but the

structure dictates that reform is only adopted by consensus

rather than majority. Regardless, we are promoting

progressive reform, and hope the global industry will


Personal trust and the simple gentleman’s

transactional agreement are still key factors in

closing multimillion-dollar sales of diamonds. Do

you see these old school personal relations evolve in

a digital age?

It is true that trust in gentlemen’s agreements continues

to play a major role in the industry, but with finance and

bankability being such crucial issues these days, we apply

more than old-school faith in a handshake. To put it bluntly,

the banks no longer trust our system of trust. We are hard at

work to build their confidence, and take many initiatives in

this regard.

For instance, together with our counterpart in India, the

GJEPC (Gem & Jewellery Export Promotion Council),

we have set up an industry-wide Know Your Customer

exchange platform, called my KYC Bank. And we have been

developing a Blockchain platform, which has the ambition

to get all active diamond traders to use it. It will be a system

for the largest companies already receiving bank financing

to disclose their invoices and related information, and it will

increase the bankability of smaller traders by simplifying

their accounting and making it accessible to the banks. In

other words, when it comes to sealing diamond deals, it

will be a significant step toward replacing the romanticized

handshake with invoices and normal terms and conditions.

We also hold regular seminars and provide information

to traders in Antwerp about proper financing and about

anti-money laundering, and have provided them access to a

huge KYC database. We help them to stay aware of their tax




obligations and try to make sure they follow best practices.

The industry is evolving quickly toward heightened

compliance and transparency, and we intend to stay at the

top of the evolutionary ladder.

diamond trade. To put that in hard figures: in 2017, the

AWDC’s Diamond Office registered imports of nearly

31 million carats of rough diamonds from Russia,

representing a total value of 2.7 billion dollars.

In April you visited Russia, being part of an

economic mission of the City of Antwerp.

The baseline of the mission to Moscow and

St. Petersburg was named ‘connecting worlds,

moving to solid partnerships’. Russia and especially

Alrosa are preferred partners of Antwerp for rough

diamonds for ages with a solid history. How do you

see this relationship evolve?

As you know, Russia is now, without a doubt, Antwerp’s

most important commercial partner, representing 32% of

all rough goods traded in the diamond capital in terms

of volume, and 25% of the total value of Antwerp’s rough

Over the years, our relationship with ALROSA has

become much more than just a formal strategic

alignment. We have redoubled our commitment to

building this relationship between the world’s largest

diamond producer and the world’s leading trade center.

With this in mind, in April we signed a new cooperation

agreement that goes further than the previous ones.

With this cooperation agreement, ALROSA and

AWDC commit to supporting one another across a

broad spectrum of topics, from the open exchange

of information to the promotion of joint marketing



Antwerp Diamond Quarter © AWDC


It also seals our commitment to protect the integrity and

transparency of the diamond value chain by supporting the

work of the World Diamond Council and the Kimberley

Process, and reaffirms our efforts to improve consumer

confidence in our product. Signing this agreement sends a

clear signal that we embrace our leading roles in the global

diamond industry, and that the AWDC and ALROSA will

continue working together, commercially as well as from a

leadership perspective, for what I believe will be a long time

to come.

How could universities and schools create or

adapt special programs that stimulate and build

knowledge and expertise to a new generation of

entrepreneurs, professionals or masters in diamond

cutting? AWDC in collaboration with the University

of Antwerp will organize a 2 week summer school

in August-September. Last year the summer school

was attended by students, young professionals and

researchers from 4 continents. How can you grow

these educational programs?

We are very proud of the success of the very first Antwerp

Summer University last year, and are looking forward to the

second edition this year. The registrations are well ahead of

our expectations already. We should also not forget all of the

diamond training courses on offer by HRD Antwerp, which

offers a wide assortment of certified courses in diamond

grading, polishing, sorting and planning, among others.

AWDC encourages businesses to provide apprenticeships

to diamond cutters and polishers in training, and last year

we collaborated with a local university college to create a

diamond-themed syllabus for children aged 10 to 12 for use

in schools, to generate interest from a young age.

We also offer many seminar-style lectures and discussion

groups about a wide variety of topics for people in the

industry, and are encouraging cross-pollination with other

industries, for example during a recent ‘power breakfast’,

where we invited innovators from various backgrounds to

share their expertise with diamond industry members, but

also people from outside our industry. The first session was

well-received, and we already have a second session planned.

Early May, Antwerp was host for the second time to

CARAT+, an important trade fair for diamonds and

jewels in a b-to-b context. How important is this fair

for Antwerp as a diamond centre?

AWDC was proud to be a Main Partner of CARAT+. After

bursting onto the diamond scene last year with a successful

maiden edition, we knew CARAT+ represented the future of

diamond trade shows in Antwerp, and also knew we wanted

to be part of it. The second edition of CARAT+ was another

giant step forward in their objective to become the world’s

premier diamond event.

We agree with the organizers that the Diamond Capital

needs a trade fair worthy of this title, one where diamonds

are the main attraction rather than a side-show. We feel

it is important to support our traders – whether they deal

in loose stones, jewelry or diamond services – by bringing

in buyers and showing the world that Antwerp is open for

business, and that we offer more than the harsh concrete

streets of the diamond district. We think it will continue to


In parallel with Carat+ the first Diamond

Hackathon – Hack4Diamonds – took place

in Antwerp. Over 60 hackers challenged the

diamond industry in its core processes. Specific

and confidential data that moves around, related

to financial transactions, trade and sales,

certification, shipping, communication with

government and general documenting, the flow of

process information is enormous. What were the

results of the hackathon and how do you see the

role of blockchain evolve in your business?

I was very pleased with the results from this maiden

Hack4Diamonds. By implementing new technologies, such

as Blockchain, Antwerp intends to secure for the future its

leading position in the global diamond trade. We might be

the most important diamond trade center in the world right

now, but the task at hand is to make sure we stay there,

and this means proactively searching for solutions to the

challenges our trade faces. Thanks to Hack4Diamonds, we

have some new ideas to start working on.

The first week of May DIVA – the new diamond

museum in Antwerp – opened as an interactive

museum, telling stories while showing magnificent

pieces. What are your personal highlights in the

DIVA museum?

The interactive nature of DIVA as a whole, which makes

it an engaging experience center rather than just another

traditional museum, was one of the highlights as such. In

this way, it welcomes people of all ages and walks of life,

rather than people already interested in diamonds like a

traditional ‘museum’ might offer. Antwerp was really in

need of an accessible focal point for people to learn about

the trade and to experience some incredible pieces of

jewelry, and DIVA is just the ticket.

Personally, I am a little biased as a result of my position in

the industry, but I particularly enjoyed the interactive globe

showing the various diamond trade routes and the history

of the trade, demonstrating how Antwerp came to be the

diamond capital of the world. The vault is a really engaging

and informative space, and the spectacular diamond boots

are a cannot-miss.

Bruno Devos and Barbara Dietrich


www.divaantwerp.be - www.caratplusantwerp.com

Furthermore, in order to stay ahead of global competition,

it is important that we engage with external businesses and

professionals, and listen to their insights and particular

expertise. This culture of co-creation, led by the inaugural

Hack4Diamonds event in Antwerp, is what will truly spur

innovation across our industry.

As I already mentioned, we have been developing a

Blockchain platform, which has the ambition to get all

active diamond traders to use it. It will be a system for

the largest companies already receiving bank financing to

disclose their invoices and related information, and it will

increase the bankability of smaller traders by simplifying

their accounting and making it accessible to the banks. We

are also excited to see the result of the invoice financing

solution currently being developed by our Hack4Diamonds

blockchain challenge winner DiaVest, which I mentioned


Barbara Dietrich and Ari Epstein



Season 2018—2019


dancers Ballet Vlaanderen

from 08.09.18


Richard Wagner

from 20.09.18


Akram Khan

from 16.10.18


Philip Glass

from 18.11.18



Georges Bizet

from 14.12.18


Tankard / Brown / Brabants

from 19.12.18


Cherkaoui / Graham / Béjart

from 25.02.19


Paul Hindemith

from 03.02.19


Inger / Ekman

from 29.03.19



Hèctor Parra

from 24.04.19


Benjamin Millepied

from 19.05.19


Giuseppe Verdi

from 21.06.19


Jacques Fromental Halévy

from 10.03.19

Beeld: Hans Op de Beeck










At a meeting with Prime Minister Shinzō Abe of Japan,

Diplomatic World presented a 'Peace Angel' by Ulrike

Bolenz. Thanks to the support of Mr. Kiury Usmanov.

The Peace Rally is a part of St. Petersburg International

Economic Forum (SPIEF).

"Rally of the World 2018 - Monaco - St. Petersburg -

Monaco", the first run of which was held in 1911 under the

patronage of Prince Albert I of Monaco and the Emperor

of Russia Nicholas II.

'Peace Angel' by Ulrike Bolenz





Meta-Morphosis specializes in preserving cultural

and industrial heritage and visualizing memories

through the conservation or re-orientation of

patrimony and objects. Their strength lies in the

ability to balance complex subjects and rendering

them intelligible and appealing.

Meta-Morphosis was founded in June 2015 by Axel

Ruhomaully and Franck Depaifve after the discovery of

an ancient coalmine in Belgium: le Hasard de Cheratte.

The “Ceci n’est pas que du patrimoine” project intended

to introduce children who lived near the mine to their

patrimony and show them that their roots have a rich

history. Ruhomaully and Depaifve then built a company

around their shared vision: the active preservation of

historical places and the memories attached to them. With

their work they wish to convey a sense of pride to the next

generations, ensuring that a lack of interest does not destroy

the memory of historical places, even when they themselves

have transformed or disappeared.

Many treasures are dormant in museums and historical

places. Therefore, Meta-Morphosis makes deals with

them to photograph the pieces, exposed or non-exposed.

The photographs can be sold and 30% of the earnings are

donated to the place or institution where the pieces are

kept. Simultaneously, Meta-Morphosis scans the historical

locations and makes models to present them to clients for


Meta-Morphosis also publishes books and editions of

certain projects. In 2019, they will bring out a new artbook

celebrating the 150th anniversary of the Justice Palace in

Brussels, with Stockmans Art Books as a co-publisher.


Do not forget to find pleasure in what you do

Do not fear coincidence or the unknown

Listen to experts

Feed children’s imagination

Find beauty in everything

Open a range of possibilities

Accept perceptions as reality

Build bridges to give meaning

Be where you are not expected

Show pride that inspires

During these explorations (of industrial terrains,

administrative buildings, museums, …) they often discover

objects, furniture or accessories that have no museum

value but that have an important historic ‘charge’.

Meta-Morphosis certifies their origins, repairs them when

necessary, cleans them up and then sells them in their

original state or after they have been treated by an artist.

The results of these sales fund the realisation of

Meta-Morphosis’s multimedia projects.

Pages 80-89


© Meta-Morphosis















Page 81

©Axel Ruhomaully / Meta-Morphosis

La Fonderie, Museum of Industry and Labor, Brussels,

Belgium, 2016

Used by the biggest art foundry in Belgium, la Compagnie

des Bronzes, this plaster lion is the foundry model for the

monuments for the Bronx Zoo in New York. Twenty-two

animals are represented there with Sultan, the lion of the

Atlas, as their crown jewel. Whether you choose to go to

Brussels or New York, you can admire Sultan in both places.

The plaster statue is exhibited at the Brussels Museum of

Industry and Labor.


Page 82-83

©Axel Ruhomaully / Meta-Morphosis

Ancient coal mine of Hasard de Cheratte, Belgium, 2015

“Ceci n’est pas que du patrimoine” or “this is not just

patrimony” is the first preservation project by Meta-

Morphosis. After the discovery of an old Belgian coal

mine, le Hasard de Cheratte, Meta-Morphosis intended

to introduce children who lived near the mine to their

patrimony and show them that their roots have a rich

history. Conveying a sense of pride to the next generations,

ensures that a lack of interest does not destroy the memory

of historical places, even when they themselves have

transformed or disappeared.


Page 84-85

©Axel Ruhomaully / Meta-Morphosis,

Musée de la Pharmacie, La Habana, Cuba, 2017


Page 86-87

©Axel Ruhomaully / Meta-Morphosis

Verviers, Belgium, 2016

The steel industry was the first to develop in Wallonia, but

the city of Verviers quickly made a name for itself thanks

to the textile industry that brought a lot of prosperity from

1799 onwards. Nowadays, Verviers still has one of the most

extraordinary collections of machines in the textile industry.

Meta-Morphosis gained the city’s permission to access and

photograph this discrete and prestigious collection.


Page 88

© Axel Ruhomaully / Meta-Morphosis

Museum of Musical Instruments (Brussels)

Adolphe Sax (1814-1894) developed the saxophone in

his father’s ateliers in Brussels, where he presented the

first design in 1841. He patented the instrument in Paris

five years later. His instrument, available in different

sizes, brought a radically new voice to the musical world.

Nowadays, the saxophone is used in a wide range of genres,

from classical to modern, and is one of the universal icons

of jazz.

Meta-Morphosis Organisation & Productions

175 Rue Bara - 1070 Brussels - Belgium

20 avenue Dorade - Sorèze - Mauritius

T +32 25 60 21 53 - info@meta-morphosis.org


Franck Depaifve - Co-fondateur


Axel Ruhomaully - Co-fondateur







I write this article on a Monday morning having

been enraptured, like many other people around the

world, by the marriage of Prince Harry and Meghan

Markle. Whatever one’s political views or beliefs

and whether a royalist or not it is hard to ignore the

collective joy, emotion and unity that was radiating

from the love of two people for each other and the

celebrations that surrounded this event. Traditional

but with an emphasis on looking forward. Of

evolving and growing. As someone said to me

“we all need something to celebrate.”

Fabergé has always been about celebration and gifting and

therefore sharing happy moments and special milestones

in life. The late Frederic Zaavy, the first workmaster

for the reunified Fabergé, said of his sea horse brooch:

“When he looks at you and when you look at him there is

something happening that somehow makes you feel better

and lighter.”

The name of Fabergé seems to have stayed in people’s

minds for many years. This history of Fabergé is a

long and chequered one with many ups and downs.

French, Russian, Royal families, eggs, jewellery, objet,

even perfume and we continue to discover additional


We all want to feel better and lighter and weddings,

whether royal, family or friends make us feel just that.

A common interest and harmony is of course what

connects us all. As I approach the age of 60 I find

this a time for reflection. I like to think that if I have

learned anything in this life it is a greater appreciation

of the differences between us and tolerance for another

view. Listening more, talking less and not jumping to

automatic assumptions.

We never stop learning from one another. I recently

attended an international conference in Brussels entitled

“Air, land and sea - vital challenges of this century”

which looked at major environmental challenges to life.

The fundamental message was that without the blue (sea)

there is no green. A simple statement but one which

carries so much weight and stays in the mind.

Gustav Fabergé

information. The name evolved over the years through

Favri, Fabri, Favry, Fabrier to Fabergé. We know that the

Favris were Huguenots living in Northern France when

Louis XIV revoked the Edict of Nantes in 1685. The

family escaped persecution and sought refuge in what is

now Eastern Germany. We can pick up the story in 1800

with a Peter Favry who had settled in Pärnu, in modern

day Estonia where the family took on Russian citizenship.

It was Peter Favry’s son Gustav, a goldsmith, born in 1814

who started a jewellery company in St Petersburg in 1842

and so you can say that the company that was to become

so famous was “born” in Russia.

It was Gustav’s son, Peter Carl Fabergé who took the

company to international acclaim. As a trainee goldsmith

he served an internship at The Hermitage where he saw

and handled the treasures of the Romanov household.

Some years later the Fabergé company made a replica of

a Scythian Treasure from The Hermitage collection and

displayed it at an exhibition in Moscow in 1882. The fine

workmanship caught the eye of Tsar Alexander III and by

1885 Fabergé was “Goldsmith by special appointment to

the Imperial Crown”. So began the special commissions

and the famous Fabergé eggs. Primarily a jeweller, Fabergé

didn’t just make eggs but many other luxury items and

accessories including: picture frames, timepieces, cigarette

cases, table top wear, carved hardstone figures and many

other items too numerous to mention here. Peter Carl

described himself as an “artist jeweller” painting with

coloured stones. The company was renowned for its use

of different coloured golds, coloured stones and guilloché

enamel. As success grew the Company opened branches

in Moscow, Odessa, Kiev and London. It made perfect

sense for the company to open in London because the

Romanov Family were related to the British Royal family

and Fabergé was a popular gift, not only among the Royal

Families of Europe but eminent business people of the


Peter Carl had five sons. The youngest, Nikolai (known

as Nicholas), came to London to oversee the running

of the London branch of Fabergé. He was married to

Marion Tattershall, a beautiful red-haired woman who

was painted by the artist Sir Lawrence Alma Tadema. An

artist himself, Nicholas was also a keen photographer

and opened a studio in Fulham, London. His interest in

photography lead him to meet my grandmother Doris

Cladish, a beautiful young model with red hair.


They fell in love, and Doris became pregnant with my

father Theodore. He was born in 1922. Even though they

all appeared to be living an artistic and bohemian life this

situation would, at that time, have caused a scandal if it

had become public news. Therefore, baby Theodore was

given to Doris’s married sister Linda to raise as her own

with her husband Norman Woodall. Theo’s real identity

was to be kept secret for many, many years. My father

recalled meeting his “Aunt Doris” regularly and, as a very

small boy being taken out for afternoon tea on Saturdays

by Doris and a gentleman. We can assume this was


The First World War followed by the Russian revolution

of 1917 resulted in the closure of Peter Carl’s Fabergé

Company. He managed to escape to Switzerland and died

near Lausanne in 1920 a broken man. However, this is not

the end of the story but merely the closing of one chapter.

Young Theodore, known as Theo, was growing up in

England. He excelled at draughtsmanship and design.

He trained as a fine instrument maker and engineer.

Known as “an ideas man” he could always find a solution

to technical engineering problems. A natural creative

Peacock Egg of 1908, Courtesy of the Tatiana Fabergé archive

(I have a table that he made at around the age of 14

and candlesticks that he turned on a lathe) he always

had a notebook with him, sketching ideas and planning

inventions. Theo “Woodall” never had any suspicion that

he was not the son of Linda and Norman until, at the age

of 47, he attended the funeral of an aunt who advised

him to seek out his birth certificate. You can imagine his


Photo of Theo in his studio

Nicholas Fabergé (edited)

surprise when he discovered that his mother was in fact

his aunt and his father was Nicholas Leopold Fabergé!

Theo was a very sensitive and artistic man and this

discovery affected him deeply. It answered many questions

within him as to his artistic nature and character. At the

time of this discovery he was the owner of a small but

niche light engineering company. He decided to devote the

second half of his life to following his creative nature. He

had always had the ability to repair antiques without any

formal training. I remember a Boulle table in his workshop

that he restored beautifully but it was at ornamental

turning on a lathe that he would really excel. His

engineering background meant that he was already skilful

on a lathe. He took lessons from a friend and mentor

and went on to win many awards from The Worshipful

Company of Turners of London, to the ancient Guild

which represents the Art and Craft of Turning on a lathe.

He also designed and approved designs for a Company

called The St Petersburg Collection. Talks and displays of

his work took him around the world. My father remained

passionate about his work until, at the age of 80, ill health

prevented him from continuing. He died aged 84 in 2007.

He was of course my dear father whom I adored but he is

also the link between Fabergé past and present. A natural

ideas man, a creative designer/maker, who lived his life,

you could say in two halves, that is pre and post Fabergé.

As I write this article I am planning to make a film about

his extraordinary life.



In 2007, I was invited, together with my cousin Tatiana

Fabergé along with family friend and Fabergé connoisseur

John Andrew, to form the Fabergé Heritage Council for

a company that had bought the Fabergé trademark from

Unilever. The Fabergé family, through no fault of their

own, had lost the right to use the trademark in 1951. The

new owners intended to reunite the Fabergé family with

the trademark and to once again create jewellery and

objets. The Heritage Council exists to advise and guide

the new Fabergé company on its history and heritage. We

also work closely with Dr. Géza von Habsberg, Curatorial

Director of Fabergé. On 9 September 2009 at 9am, the

Fabergé Company was relaunched at Goodwood House

in Sussex with a collection of high jewellery created by

our aforementioned workmaster, the late Frederick Zaavy.

He understood our wish to revive the spirit and ethos of


Zaavy Seahorse


the “artist jeweller”, painting with coloured stones to use

them to their finest advantage. Today’s company has gone

on to create a wide collection of jewellery, including of

course egg pendants and objets. We do not make copies

but take inspiration from our past. For example, our Lady

Compliquée watch is inspired by the Peacock Egg created

for Tsar Nicholas II and presented to his mother, the

Dowager Empress Feodorovna in 1908. The rock crystal

egg contains an automaton peacock. Our watch tells the

time using individual peacock feathers which spread out

minute by minute, folding back again on the hour. This

complicated movement was created for us by Jean-Marc

Wiederrecht in conjunction with our in-house design and

watch teams.

Today’s Fabergé company continues to be inspired by the

spirit and ethos of Peter Carl Fabergé and his workmasters

to create jewellery and objects for the 21st century. We

take forward the concepts of fine craftsmanship, creativity

and collaboration not only with our makers but also with

our clients. Last year my son Joshua joined the company

and I am looking forward to seeing future chapters unfold.

Fabergé aims to stir the emotions. After all, we all need

something to celebrate!

Sarah Fabergé



Lady Compliqée Peacock Watch


Fabergé Heritage Pendants (002)


Theodore (known as Theo) was a Grandson of Peter

Carl Fabergé. He was not raised by his parents Doris

Cladish and Nicholas Fabergé but by his maternal aunt

and her husband as if he were their own son. It was not

until a great aunt suggested that he obtains a copy of

his birth certificate years later, that Theo discovered his

true identity. At 47, his ‘aunt’ became his mother and

his ‘mother’ his aunt. He was no longer Theo Woodall

(his aunt and uncle’s name) but Theo Fabergé. He had

always excelled at fine instrument making, engineering

design and craftwork. Naturally creative and artistic

this newly found knowledge answered many questions

for Theo. He set out to learn all he could about

silversmithing and ornamental woodturning. With his

career background these skills came naturally to him.

In 1974, he sold his successful engineering business

and began to earn a living restoring antiques and

creating objets d’art. He excelled at ornamental turning

and entered a box made to commemorate the Silver

Jubilee of HM Queen Elizabeth II into the 1978 annual

competition of the Worshipful Company of Turners. He

was awarded the Lady Gertrude Crawford Medal, which

is the highest award for ornamental turning. He was

also granted the honour of Freeman Prizeman of the

Turners Company. This honour had not been bestowed

for 22 years; the medal had not been awarded for nine.

In 1984 he entered a life-long contract to design for the

Saint Petersburg Collection. At the age of 80, Theo’s

lifetime achievements were once again recognised by

The Worshipful Company of Turners and this time he

was made an honorary liveryman of the Company. Sadly,

Theo’s health deteriorated rapidly from the age of 80

onwards. He was, however, delighted to learn that the

Fabergé trademarks had been secured from Unilever by

a group wanting to restore Fabergé’s original heritage of

excellence in creativity, design and craftsmanship, and

with his daughter Sarah he agreed to become a founding

member of the Fabergé Heritage Council. He passed

away shortly afterwards in August 2007.


A selection from our EMOTION ring collection


Like her late father Theo, Sarah has always been

interested in the arts. However, she pursued a career

in management training and development until she

decided to follow in her father’s footsteps when she was

invited to design and approve designs for a company

called the Saint Petersburg Collection. She maintained

both careers until 2007 when Sarah resigned from the

Saint Petersburg Collection in 2007 to join and work

solely with Fabergé Limited with the aim of helping to

resurrect and reposition Fabergé once more, as a creator

of high and fine jewellery and objets. A keen supporter

of the artisan and individual craftsmanship, Sarah is

a Liveryman of the Worshipful Company of Turners

of London. This ancient Guild supports the craft of

turning on a lathe and aims to raise the profile of this

unique art through its Wizardry in Wood Exhibitons

and Competitions. Together with her father Theo,

cousin Tatiana and family friend and Fabergé scholar

John Andrew, Sarah became a founding member of the

Fabergé Heritage Council. Today, as Director of Special

Projects, Sarah works closely with the Fabergé team and

is an ambassador for the Company.




For the past two years Belgian National

Orchestra has been undergoing

a company-wide rebranding and

rejuvenation operation. Maria Roberts

caught up with CEO Hans Waege to

find out what it takes to reinvigorate a

national institution.

I met up with intendant Hans Waege at a bar in New York

as he’s on his way to another meeting. He lollops over

to me, a great ball of energy, chatting at speed. He’s

a likeable character: friendly, commanding, cheerful

and intensely passionate about developing the Belgian

National Orchestra (BNO). Once managing director

of the Rotterdam Philharmonic, and CEO of the Royal

Flemish Philharmonic, his portfolio to date has seen him

reinvigorate regional orchestras, giving them the edge in

a competitive market and a strong unique identity. Waege

has been at BNO since April 2016, and set about the task

with the diligence of a house renovation. He began by

stripping the operation back to its individual components

and clearing the decks so that the orchestra could freshen

up its offer for modern audiences. The essence of BNO,

he says, had fallen by the wayside. As a seasoned change

maker, he made it his responsibility to tackle despondency

among the ranks by means of a dynamic strategy.

now we are more connected with BOZAR, innovate with

the schedule of the orchestra, and we have many exciting

young conductors that broaden the repertoire. This season

James Feddeck, Stanislav Kochanovsky, Elim Chan and

Constantinos Carydis will come to BNO for 2018-19,

“Much of an organization’s success comes down to the

morale of its staff,” he tells me over a glass of white

wine. “That’s probably the most important thing to talk

about. It happens anywhere. With any company, with any

institution, you go through ups and downs. When I arrived

at BNO I saw the urgency of change: it was a company

that didn’t innovate especially well. “Over the last 10 years

the orchestra had been resting on its laurels, playing the

main repertoire, introducing few new conductors. And

at BOZAR, the home of BNO, the orchestra was very

much on the back burner. “Together with the arrival of

our new chief-conductor, Hugh Wolff, I thought it was


very important to refocus the strategy on different levels:

Hans Waege

© Veerle Vercauteren

Hans Waege

© Veerle Vercauteren

and the musicians reacted wonderfully to that, they are

very happy.” Waege’s strategy at BNO has four key areas:

one of which was the name and logo of the orchestra. “A

meaningless three letter abbreviation wasn’t very helpful

in terms of corporate marketing, especially regarding

the international profile of the orchestra,” he reveals. So

they opted to use the English title in its branding. The

intendant adds that he wanted to ‘dynamize’ the repertoire

by programming contemporary music. Going forward, he

plans to modernise the use of BNO’s marketing tools and

rich data.

More importantly, he wants to add family programmes

to the schedule which somewhat remarkably (and almost

unbelievably) had remained non-existent. The new

approach, he says, has been well received: “Strangely

enough, when you take the risk of new music seriously,

and when you take your audience seriously, you are

sometimes surprised by the positive reactions you get.”

Despite being an academic himself (he’s been a professor

at Ghent University for almost 20 years), his objective

is to present music that gets a raw emotional response

from the audience. “We avoided some of the repertoire

that was, what can I say, inwardly intellectual towards the

classical music and too theoretical, we kept away from

that in preference for something that is reflective.” This

portends to contemporary works as well as the classics.

“This season we have a focus on John Adams and Ligeti.

Although Ligeti is not quite so easy, it is superb music

that reaches right into the emotions of the audience.

The idea is to get an audience that is willing to come to

whatever you programme, and to eradicate this feeling



of ‘Oh my God, contemporary music is awful’. “The most

daring project during the current season was a Webern-

Ligeti-Kodaly programme. We also had Scriabin’s Mysterium

in March at Klarafestival. When you have your audience

endlessly applauding after the Ligeti Requiem, you know

that your orchestra has done something special. To be able

to bring the Hungarian National Choir over to Brussels for

this Ligeti concert was the icing on the cake. Doing this type

of concert for your musicians and your audience is extremely

rewarding. If an audience enjoys the concert, they will come

back to take a chance on other lesser-known programmes,

that’s what we call building trust with your audience.” He

references Mahler here, adding that the great Austrian

composer had a way of connecting with the audiences of his

time by making use of music they were familiar with.

“I want to find this vibration that links contemporary

composers with the sounds and the music of today. This

is a very special task, I’m not here to commission yet

another violin concerto.” Has BNO’s modern take on

programming refreshed the approach of the rank and file

players? “Absolutely. They needed this change because

they had been playing the same repertoire on loop.

They love to be challenged with fascinating pieces of

music and exciting concert programmes.” Waege pauses

for a moment to reflect on what he has just said: “I’m

probably sounding too positive: yes, it’s not easy to make

changes and we will make mistakes, that’s true, but the

whole purpose of reinvigorating your players is to give

them a challenge and you can do this by bringing young

conductors and composers, from a new generation, who

carry that energy with them.”

How is BNO measuring up to the ‘cool’ vibe he created

in Rotterdam? “I think we do much more contemporary

repertoire at BNO than Rotterdam, and that’s good, it

makes the musicians feel that they are relevant to today.

At the same time, we’re also bringing more established

conductors like Hartmut Haenchen, recently elected

“dirigent des jahres” by Opernwelt, who will bring a

complete Brahms-Bruckner cycle over several years. He’s

over 70 years old and says his life’s work now is to focus

on Bruckner as a last big statement. To bring a conductor

of that level to your orchestra is a gift to the city, the

people and the musicians.

Much like any renovation project, Waege is doing more

than plastering over the cracks but digging deep to create

a sturdy framework. He also embarked on a fundraising

initiative so that BNO could buy more instruments.

“One of the first things we did was raise more money

to invest in the orchestra by buying new double basses,

they are important as they are the basis of the sound for

the orchestra.” But it’s not all work and no play; BNO

has also been zany in some of its activities: “We started

some riskier high-profile concerts. While classical music

has been presented in nightclubs by chamber groups and

soloists, it’s not so common to place a full symphony

orchestra in a nightclub. We did this at the Bloody Louis

in Brussels with a Bates-Mozart-Beethoven programme.

There were a few issues with lighting and acoustics, you

run into practical issues and make mistakes on projects

like these, but it sounded OK.” Was he discouraged by the

experience? “Even though we ran into certain practical

problems, that’s not a reason not to do it. It’s not our

focus to go into a nightclub per se, but it is our focus to

go into the city again and to meet our audience. Yes, we

play Mozart, but we also play Mason Bates [a Grammynominated

American composer of symphonic music and

DJ of electronic dance music who was recently named the

most-performed composer of his generation and the 2018

Composer of the Year by Musical America].” What are the

principles he follows as intendant at BNO? “The guideline

is that we are not serving one community, for example the

core audience of symphonic music, but we are serving a

community of communities. I don’t mean this with regards

to gender or race, as we all mingle nowadays, instead I

refer to our fragmented spheres of interest.”

And how does BNO fit in with the wider cultural offer

in Brussels? “Enjoyment, having a good time, and

nourishment inform what we do. A huge proportion of our

audience will have been working hard all week and when

they come to us on a Friday evening, for example, we must

make sure that it isn’t too complicated an experience. At

the same time, we must remember that we are bringing

them into a zone that is not natural: the beauty and

success of a concert comes from managing that tension

in the hall. Yes, sometimes it is wise to present easygoing

evenings but sometimes you need to present wellconsidered

complex programmes that bring people into an

inconvenient, demanding world.”


This article is written by Maria Roberts and was first

published in ‘International Arts Manager’.










60 years – a long time, much content, and a lot of

success! Today we are grateful to our predecessors.

With their important economic input, they were

building a Europe of freedom, democracy, rule

of law and human rights. EUROCHAMBRES

contributed a lot to that.


We can be proud of the result and at this point we want to

give a cordial thank you to all stakeholders that influenced

Europe in the last 6 decades. In ten years, we will be

celebrating our 70th anniversary. What will Europe look

like in ten years’ time? You may say future predictions

are always uncertain. However, as businesspeople we are

used to doing critical analysis. Ten years of Euro crises are

behind us and now we are in a period of two years of Brexit


Today Europe is in a difficult situation: We depend on the

United States, we are afraid of Africa and Asia and our

relations with Russia are worsening constantly.

Europeans make up only 7 percent of the world's

population, but account for 25 percent of the world's

economy and of more than 50 percent of social and

environmental expenditures. These are our European

standards of living. How can we keep that up for the next

10 years? What should Europe look like in 10 years? The

other important world regions are very dynamic. Europe is

saturated. The alarm bell is ringing! Wake up Europe!

Many people have lost confidence in the European project.

Nationalism, egoism, and populism rule Europe instead

of unity and solidarity. There are fears of globalisation,

technological innovations and migration including

integration. But is nationalism an answer? Nationalism has

caused the most terrible events in Europe’s history in the


Should this then be the concept for the future? No, we have

to go another way. As the business community, we want an

open Europe, free trade agreements around the world and

fruitful corporation with all continents. Yes, China, India and

others will become stronger. However, that must not weaken

Europe. We can remain competitive and successful, too.

With a clear goal, a clear strategy, and the following

principles we can achieve that.

1. Do not divide Europe! You know all the clichés: the rich

north paying for poor southern countries, the democratic

west against the autocratic east … Instead, we should find

a way back to unity.

2. We have to reform our European Institutions, by a

supplementary treaty with voluntary access for those

countries that want to participate. We have many ideas to

suggest in this point.

3. New economic priorities: innovation, qualification, skills

and creativity will enable us to form the future.

Moreover, we need one essential thing: Mental change to

transform fears into hope. We must see Europe not as a

fortress, but as an open society. Europe always was an idea

to overcome borders and integrate cultures.

The President of France, Emmanuel Macron, made a

suggestion to make integration work within the local

communities and subsidise them. I would like to add: why

not also help companies doing the same?

Christoph Leitl - President of EUROCHAMBRES

© veldemanphoto

Within the next 10 years, that will be a profit for all of us.

We will compete in the global competition; we will keep

our prosperity and have additional life perspectives for the

young generation. A win-win situation.

We can have innovation-driven growth and employment.

We can have a common foreign visibility, towards the other

parts of the world.

Economy can contribute to Europe’s strength! With its

help, Europe will be among the three economic powers

in worldwide comparison in 10 years. And remain in the

economic champions league of the world!

But we have to work on that! Who is showing us the

way? Do we recognise visions? And are we able to realise

them? Who are our European leaders with vision and


EUROCHAMBRES can accompany this way! With 46

members, we are a support for the business in Europe

and a bridge-builder for politics. 1.700 regional and local

chambers and 20 million companies give the response to the

challenges of our time. They employ, educate and innovate!

As part of our compromise with Europe, EUROCHAMBRES

plays an active role, a role which we will use in a very

proactive way during the election campaign of the European


There will be no political integration without economic

integration. And there will be no economic integration

without the chambers.

Time passes by and in a few years, we will be in 2049. This

year will be a remarkable date for Europe: 100 years ago–

1949– the Council of Europe was founded in Strasbourg. It

was dedicated to the rule of law, human rights and cultural

cooperation. It was very important for the traditional values

of Europe to be put down in writing. With European talents

and creativity, with European values and philosophy, we will

win the competition with autocratic systems and proof that

our kind of government is the better one.

It will be the better one, if bureaucracy is not killing

democracy! We urgently need efficient democracy, meaning

respecting the rights of our citizens and delivering quick

decisions. It is a matter of surviving and becoming

successful in 2049.

Finally, for us Europe is a great vision and fascinating to

contribute to. A few days ago, a young woman was telling

me: “Europe is so far away!” I answered: “No, it’s very close

to all of us including you. It’s also your life perspective.” The

young woman answered: “Perhaps you’re right, Europe is in

our minds, but not in our hearts!” She is right. Let’s make

Europe a matter of our hearts! This is the best response for

the coming challenges!




Living Tomorrow is all about what we are going to

be doing in the near future. The concept is unique

in the world. Located in Brussels, Living Tomorrow

provides a hub for innovative enterprises where

visitors can experience products and services that

could vastly improve the quality of our future life,

home and workplace. Together with its partners,

Living Tomorrow offers an experience of future

possibilities and innovations to the thousands

of visitors it receives. Visitors are given expert

explanations, while Living Tomorrow and its

partners receive valuable feedback. The latter

can then be used to inform future research.


Living Tomorrow is an innovative meeting place that offers

three special qualities. The first is a forum for companies to

meet each other and exchange best practices and concepts.

The second is a unique location to highlight a company’s


Living Tomorrow representation, Joachim De Vos – CEO Living Tomorrow - TomorrowLab, Celie Dehaene, Herman Van Rompuy - President Advisory Board,

Frank Beliën – CEO & Founder Living Tomorrow, Jacques Heynen - President Strategy Board

latest products, services or plans to clients, business

relations and employees. Thirdly, Living Tomorrow acts

as a medium to literally be acquainted with the future:

visitors connect with tomorrow’s technologies in a real-life

environment and companies get connected with the market

and customers of tomorrow, visiting Living Tomorrow. This

is much more efficient than any market research could offer:

it’s a real-life experiment.


Living Tomorrow also forges plans to go international once

again. In May 2018 a delegation of Living Tomorrow, led by

Living Tomorrow founder Frank Beliën and joined by Living

Tomorrow curator Barbara Dietrich, travelled to Moscow.

There they were accompagnied by Ashot Danielian, owner

Even Bill Gates, Chairman of Microsoft, who inaugurated

the project in Brussels back in 1995, clearly understood the

long-term importance of the project: “… I think a project

like Living Tomorrow - where you are brainstorming about

what is possible and you’re getting people to come, look,

and talk about what this all means – is really fantastic … I

am certainly impressed with what I’ve seen …”.

In 2012 the project in Brussels evolved to “Living Tomorrow

2020”, integrating brand new innovation areas, such as the

“Smart Cities area” with real-life innovation like for example

the street of the future, smart grid at home, the solar fast

charging station for e-drivers and augmented reality in

public transport. Other new concepts that were realized are

the Restaurant of the Future and a brand new Office of the


Currently Living Tomorrow is back to the drawing board

preparing a next phase of innovations to be announced in

the capital of Europe later on.




of the company Termoros, who has been living and working

in Moscow for decades himself. A few weeks earlier he

came to visit Living Tomorrow in Brussels and saw the

opportunities for a similar project in Moscow.

The prospection tour took the delegation to the Russian

“city of the future” Skolkovo, an innovative urban

environment of 400 hectares. It is exactly here that Living

Tomorrow plans to create the Living Tomorrow Moscow

2030 project. Frank Beliën: “Skolkovo is so much more than

just a city. It is a city for living, science and business with

parks, avenues and family areas. It is a city with a modern

infrastructure, a city of scientists, innovators and inventors,

a city of successful businessmen and a city of gifted students

and teachers. A visit to Skolkovo is a true experience. It is a

site built on the foundations of R & D, innovation, scientists

and inventors. That’s why we from Living Tomorrow,

breathing innovation, feel at home here. Skolkovo, like

Living Tomorrow, creates synergies between companies,

governments, universities and people.”

The Living Tomorrow 2030 Moscow project will be the

new Living Tomorrow demonstration and innovation

platform that investigates and sensitizes how our future will

evolve. It will consist of several “Future” demonstrations

and show solutions for tomorrow and a future on the long

term. This "Smart City 2030" project will demonstrate the

future vision of governments, cities, government-companies

and companies active in Russia, Moscow and the rest of

the world. Frank Beliën: “The innovative strength of a

country is a cultural issue, the innovative climate strongly

determines motives and opportunities for innovation. As

a neutral catalyst, Living Tomorrow wants to play a role

in broadly cultivating the innovation idea by bringing

innovative companies to the attention, by stimulating

synergies with and between its participants and by showing

concrete results of these collaborations.”

As he continues: “We take into account that eighty percent

of the innovations we show are market ready (or will be

in a few months’ time), that they are accessible to a large

target group. Twenty percent of the project focuses on

visions for the future, where affordability is less important

still, but in the first instance a total solution for a problem

must be sought through cooperation between governments,

cities, universities and companies.” Themes that could be

developed in Living Tomorrow Moscow 2030 are mobility,

sustainability, services and care, technology, communication

and automation, safety, energy, environment and garden,

food, relaxation, health and wellness, media, education and

information, art and leisure, construction and architecture,

design and interior.

Living Tomorrow Moscow 2030 aims to open its doors in







On Sunday, 22 April 2018, the doors of Living

Tomorrow in Brussels were once again open to

the general public. This Public Event was devoted

entirely to the theme of the mobility of the future:

electric cars, drones, smart street lighting and street

furnishings, charging stations for e-drivers and

much more. Visitors were immersed in a world of

innovation and experience!

It is estimated that by 2050, 66% of the world’s population

will be living in urban areas. How can we keep the

city liveable? Easy: by making it smarter and more

sustainable. Mobility will play a major role in this. Public

transport with appropriate waiting spaces, electric and

self-driving cars, smart road surfaces and innovative street


lighting. During the Public Event, the guides at Living

Tomorrow showed visitors the latest state of play.

The guided tour also moved on to other topics to do with

housing, living and working in the future. What kinds

of sustainable technologies will further optimize our

energy use? Or how will smart appliances in the home be

integrated in order to make our lives even more agreeable?

What about the evolution of health care? And will we soon

all be wearing “smart clothing”? Plenty to think about!

In addition to the tours, additional experiences were

offered such as a test ride in electric cars, virtual reality

experiences and drone flights.

Living Tomorrow seeks to provide its visitors with an

experience centre focused on innovation and to get people

to think about the future in an entertaining manner. In that

matter, it aims to be the most beloved place to experience

and explore the future.

More info: Living Tomorrow Brussels





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

Topchef Marc Clément






Interview with Anton von Golub

Co-founder Lykke, Advisory Board Member

Forctis AG, Co-founder TRUST SQUARE

Right in the heart of Switzerland’s financial center and right

in front of the Swiss National Bank (SNB), in world famous

Bahnhofstrasse, Trust Square has opened its doors for the

Blockchain community.

The private Hub and Lab replaces the Liechtensteiner VP

Bank, who left the 2.300 sqm location on Zurich’s most

expensive street in March 2018. Offering 200 workplaces

Trust Square was already rented out within the first few

days. Blockchain technology is the common denominator,

that brings together entrepreneurs, businesses, investors as

well as academics and researcher in an open and diverse

environment. And despite the hype, there is one vision: to

completely transform how we will exchange assets.


To make a very general statement: I do believe that

Blockchain is the greatest discovery of our lifetime. The

same way the internet has transformed how we exchange

information, Blockchain will completely transform how we

will exchange assets. Blockchain will be the infrastructure

that supports the global marketplace, where people can

freely exchange assets. Unimaginable 30 years ago, but today

we have the ability of complete democracy in accessing

information, a few years ahead we will have the ability

of complete democracy in exchanging assets. In the end

blockchain is a technology, and a technology can support

a vision. My father, who is a retired veterinarian living in

Croatia, can have the same power in finance, in exchanging

assets, as Jamie Dimon, who is the CEO of JPMorgan Case,

which is the largest bank of the planet. This is my vision

of the blockchain – complete democracy in finance. This

is what actually motivates me every day to wake up and try

to fulfill my mission. Swiss is the birthplace of the crypto

world and Zurich is the natural center. Trust Square is a

Blockchain Hub in the center of Zurich and in the Center of

the Swiss financial system. Since April 2018 we opened the

gates of the former VP Bank building, exclusively for Crypto

and Blockchain Companies.


Bahnhofstraße 3 is a very special location. We directly

face the Swiss National Bank, SNB. I think that is kind of

symbolic. A Chinese friend used to say: “new money” and

across the street it's “old money”.

I personally believe that Switzerland is the birthplace of the

cryptoworld for many different reasons and naturally the

most prominent center in Switzerland is Zurich. Definitely

Blockchain, Cryptocurrencies and Cryptoassets are an

integral part of Zurich. Indeed it is absolutely natural,

that everybody of the Blockchain community gravitates

towards Zurich. It was our "job" and mission to create the

Blockchain Hub in this beautiful city.

Trust Square is co-founded by Daniel Gasteiger,

Semih Kacan, David Simon, Pascal Grämiger,

Manuel Krieger and Anton von Golub – Ed.



From the very beginning Trust Square is fully booked up by

over 30 Blockchain companies with an excellent substance -

this is absolutely the key. We do host the largest blockchain

and crypto companies here in Trust Square, as well as

mid-sized startups. We host the world’s largest blockchain

venture production studio, global marketplace platforms,

Mining facility producer, crypto exchanges and many more.

Besides we all have our own Blockchain projects.

Apart from regular company access, we especially attach

importance to academic collaboration, and we do have very

strong partners: The Swiss Federal Institute of Technology

in Zurich (ETH Zurich), the University of Basel, the

University of Zurich, the University of Applied Sciences

Rapperswil (HSR Rapperswil). Our transparent and active

community is very important for the success of the project.


Trust Square has to take a life of its own. Actually we are

just at the beginning. Imagine the internet in 1982, which

is where we are exactly with the development of blockchain

technology today. We barely had a few successes like the

simple exchange of crypto currencies. The development we

will see in blockchain is to really make it work constantly

and smoothly. We will improve the technology, so that any

user experiences the benefit and an amazing joy to use

applications on the blockchain.

Making the blockchain a mainstream application for the

global marketplace, that is the hot topic.


My mission is that my father, who is a retired veterinarian,

in 10 - 15 years is as powerful as the CEO of the biggest

bank on the planet. And I may be provocative: maybe 20

years ahead we even don't have banks anymore. Maybe

we will have something different. That is my goal. The

imagination, that maybe 20 years ahead my father is proud

to say that his son was a part of this big initiative of a

group of people to create democracy in finance. That is my


Nina Anne Pahnke




Artificial Intelligence (from now on referred to

as “A.I.”) is a term or concept that undoubtedly

invokes mixed feelings. One might see it as a threat

to our humanity because, as far as we know, we

are the only intelligent species in our universe.

But to another it might be a vessel to transcend

our limitations.


Tensions between conservative and progressive forces are

at an all time high: FUD (Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt)

is completely ignored by believers who see A.I. becoming

reality like in the 1927 Fritz Lang epic movie, Metropolis.

But is there reason to fear or doubt? I would like to share

my personal thoughts on this regarding mobility. Statistics

show that 93% of all traffic accidents are caused by human

error. The first step towards traffic safety could be the

development of driver assistance systems, leading to an

increase in passive security, such as power steering, ABS,

ESP, airbags, rear view cameras, park assistance, ... A.I. will

eventually enable the upgrade to a (semi) autonomous and

connected vehicle network.

A.I. that will slowly replace human drivers never gets

tired, is uninfluenced by alcohol, distractions or bright

traffic lights. But does this evolution, which is undoubtedly

positive, have a dark side?

Will this actually improve our mobility? Will our road

capacity increase? Will traffic run more smoothly?

But most importantly: how and by whom will this system

be operated, organized and monitored? What of the parallel

evolution of technologies that improve the quality of our

traffic control, like smart cameras and radar? What will

become of the automation of our control-punishment process?

Many believe that this might bring forth a society like

George Orwell described in “1984” and Aldous Huxley

did in “Brave New World”. One that comes terrifyingly

close to a “Big Brother”-esque A.I. that orchestrates our

world from the shadows. I personally share the opinion of

multiple speakers at the European Automotive Forum of

2018 in Brussels. If our approach to traffic regulation stays

the same, there will be no other outcome than a “mobility

crisis” while it is a fundamental construct of our society and


If we are to guarantee mobility, we have to chance our train

of thought and should act consistently, even if this breaks

certain dogmas. It is without a doubt that our privacy

will come into question, coming to no one’s surprise. The

smartphone, our largest threat to privacy, has already been

accepted into our lives and has integrated itself to a degree

that it’s essential to our way of living.

Mobility will go down the same path: privacy will be

sacrificed at the altar of comfort and safety. As politically

correct protecting our privacy is, citizens themselves will

give up this right, as long as they gain immediate advantage

from it. Recent surveys show that the majority of drivers

are willing to let their driving behavior be monitored in

exchange for cheaper insurance policies. In other words: the

right to protection of personal privacy is no longer sacred

and certainly not untouchable.

It seems to me it’s rather a question of how flexible we are

and how fast we are able to assimilate the approaching

evolution. In most cases, it simply involves gadgets like

those presented at the 96th Car Show in Brussels: park

assistance through smartphone, ISA-systems (Intelligence

Speed Adaptation) which relieves you of braking and

changing gears in traffic jams. Other aspects are more

complex, involving and complicated to incorporate into our

traditional way of thinking.

First and foremost, we will have to think three-dimensional.

By introducing drones and the explosive evolution of it,

we will not only have to think in a horizontal orientation,

but also in a vertical one. Namely, in contrast to airplanes,

drones actually will play a larger role in daily mobility

because of their physical proximity.

Furthermore, we will have to accept that A.I. is self-learning,

which in turn requires integration of ethical values and

premises into the learning process. More importantly,

supervision and regulation over these premises are required to

insure its improvement and technical evolution. For example:

• In case of danger, the protection of a life and the physical

integrity prioritizes material goods and damages.

• If bodily harm cannot be avoided, there can be no

differentiation based on race, gender, age or any other

human factor.

• Et cetera.

Finally, A.I. will also affect the most conservative forces

in our civilization: law and regulations. Who will claim

property rights when A.I. becomes “self-learning”? Who will

be responsible for possible damages caused by self-learning

machines? The A.I., the human, or the system administrator?

(At present, the question is critical as autopilot controls

are not yet fully capable of functioning without human

intervention – but they’re good enough to lull us into a false

sense of security.) Who will be allowed to gather data? How

and by whom will this data be used? How do we protect

ourselves from cybercrime and cyber terrorism?

The challenge before us is phenomenal. The question

is, how will the law system keep up with the technical

evolution? How can we ensure that the law is future proof?

Certainly to be continued ...

Jean De Brabander, Lawyer

Legal drone expert & consultant




Like mindfulness and meditation

before it, creativity today has become a

mainstream commodity, creating some

holistic benefits and self-fulfillment.

Artists declaim their ability to push the boundaries of a

chosen genre. We all walk a thin line between inspiration

and aspiration. A life only coordinated by order and ratio

reduces men to tools of productivity. Creativity, investing

disproportionately in love, dreams and hope, is driven

by curiosity, not by fear or rules. Non-direct utility and

uncertainty are essential in this personal expression. It

helps to make sense of a deluge of sensorial information by

updating our expectations by trial and error.

Thanks to the growth of big data, better computer

technology and hardware, algorithms can copy human

neural networks better than before. Such a system copies

a selection of the brain’s most efficient neural connection

patterns, but developers often do not know how their

self-learning networks arrive at their decisions. AI became

the leading differentiator in manufacturing, services, retail

and transportation. It is made by humans and behaves

like a human, until its self-learning capacity (ML) starts

Our brain constantly tries to predict the future and updates

his expectations to match reality as much as possible.

Therefore, high-level processing brain centers, such as those

in the parietal or temporal cortices, create internal models,

according to our sensorial input. The bottom-up sensory

systems interact with top-down information of the cortices

to generate an awareness of a prediction error, first nonconscious

and then conscious. This signal returns to higher

brain-computing centers, creating fresh guesses about the

perceived reality.

Machines already exceed human abilities for specific

tasks. AI is mainly American (GAFA) and Chinese, not

a European business. Could AI become creative in a

meaningful way by replicating part of a human brain? Can

AI and virtual reality (VR) play a transformative role in

human culture? Dory is a new kind of neuro-morph-chip

produced by ‘Imec’ (Leuven) based on OxRAM, a new

kind of memory.


Its expert systems make associations between actual

experiences and earlier ones. After being fed with musical

menuets, it makes a new one. Similar self-learning tools

produced a new Rembrandt portrait. Is AI challenging

human creativity by expressing art’s traditional concerns?

Jan De Maere

to modify the initial program without any human control.

Analysts creating algorithms make mistakes and are biased,

since they are human. Their product should be statistically

reliable and fair to all. Only reverse engineering of the

program can reveal its flaws and mistakes. AI is directly and

narrowly target-oriented to anticipate our needs in a strictly

rational and defined way. Computers don’t have intentions;

they repeat and adapt learned patterns. But our intelligence

is profoundly influenced by context and emotion, and

therefore sensitive to nuances and aesthetic awareness.

The major aspect of human perception is its ontological

complexity, beyond the grasp of today’s algorithms and the

understandings of the analysts creating them. The glitches

of AI can have dangerous consequences.

To make AI more sensitive to the complete scope of

human thought requires insight and collaboration with

people with highly specialized domain knowledge. On

the other side, since wellbeing is not an exact science,

the immense variation of individual conscious and nonconscious

requirements will have to be centralized roughly

in a pre-determined number of prototypes. This will lead

to a schematic reduction of human diversity. Orwell is

not far away. How will the deep-learning algorithms adapt

themselves to the real-life circumstances of their targets

without being connected to a refined application of all

fields of cognitive science, sociology, psychology and a final

human control? The simple fact that they modify themselves

continuously to upgrade their performance will make it

nearly impossible to monitor them in real time. No amount

of human ingenuity will eliminate this threat. Moreover, the

main concern is that the analysts, creating AI algorithms,

will not necessarily be motivated by a human-centered

morality. Underrepresented communities will not be taken

into account. The threat of job displacement is real. The

only question is: How much, where and when?


Collectors are progressively more interested in using the

Internet to manage their collections. According to the Art

Market report (2018) of Art Basel and UBS, online sales

increased 10% year-on-year to $5.4 billion and accounted for

8% of the value of global sales in 2017. Since 2011, ‘Google

Arts & Culture project’ combines AI with image data of

artworks and art historical content. On the basis of selfies,

produced by the social media, it searches their ‘doubles’

in art history, making amazing random connections. It

discovered that the ‘Irises’ of Vincent van Gogh used the

same colour-chromatism palet as the ‘Waterlilies’ of Claude

Monet. Its algorithms classified 30.000 photographs of the

New York MOMA’s exhibition archives since 1929, all the

photographs of TIME magazine, etc. You can search them

with tags such as: love, sorrow, babies, etc. Google Cultural

Institute’s director Amit Sood declared that 1500 museums

and cultural institutions in 70 countries contribute images

(already 6.000.000) to it. The Google Art Camera takes

images in such high resolution that each brushstroke is

visible. It’s the closest one can get to the traditional ‘handson

experience’ of a connoisseur. Its Art & Culture website

produces cultural content in an organized way, gathering

huge social media impact. The cultural world of museums

and collectors is neither organized nor easy accessible,

Google is. Everybody can see the Grand Tour series, the

Horse race in Sienna or stories told by museum curators

about their institution’s works.

In the online art market, buyers want total transparency and

certainty, because the financial services industry looks at

art as an alternative asset class that requires data. Buyers

look for information, but also for expert opinions about the

artness of art and the way social media reflect the art world.

Artsy, claiming 24.000.000 visitors yearly, is a new power

player/matchmaker in the art market. It is a facilitator to

existing trusted brands such as Gagosian Gallery, providing

live-bidding technology. Live video capability is essential to

maintain the feeling of excitement in online auctions. 2.000

galleries around the world publish inventory and exhibition

lists on the site, driving $20 m of monthly sales. Last

year, Artsy acquired ArtAdvisor to lean more heavily on

personalized data to create actionable insights and to create

a better customer experience.

Boston based Invaluable.com, including a vast auction

price database, has monthly more than 5.000 sellers,

3.000.000 visitors and $3 bn in listed items. It acts as a

personal shopper across 5.000 auction houses, going trough

10.000 catalogues. Sales totaled $217 m last year. EBay

and Sotheby’s use Invaluable since 2015. The Dallas-based

Heritage Auctions is the market leader with $348,5 m in

sales last year (2016).

ArtAssistant, developed by the Belgian Alexander Tuteleers

is one single and secure online site for all actors in the

art world. It uses leading edge technology and AI on its

platform, such as Blockchain for transactions. Collectors

need an inventory of their collections. They follow their



favorite artists and like to know in good time when

exhibitions or sales are being held. Transactions should be

honest and transparent, without excessive costs, preserving

privacy and discretion. ArtAssistant manages the websites

of museums, auction houses, art dealers, galleries and

collectors. They all need a single portal, allowing them

to: manage their databases; automate the production and

distribution of catalogues and invitations; access specialised

translators; call on experienced insurers, shippers and

carriers; make inventories; promote future events.

With ever-tightening budgets, museum curators can access

a detailed database of works to borrow for exhibition.

Collectors want to preserve their privacy. Artists search to

be recognized and represented. ArtAssistant displays their

works online. Everybody can stage online exhibitions and

sales. All these activities are accessed by one ArtAssistant

software program, syncing all others, and a CRM (customer

relations management) system. We all can be curators

today in a free world. The power of the art experience will

always be in art itself and with the artists who make it.

Online censorship pops up more and more. In this media

and online hurricane connoisseurship is seldom present.

In order to distinguish copies from masterpieces, one

has to differentiate hands and individual characteristics.

This needs experience and skill to understand an artist’s

creative power, clarity of line, his specific way of abstracting

recurring motifs, patterns and sureness of form. In the

immediacy of the digital world, this becomes a rare


Less and less people hold the power to decide what kind of

art is made visible. Censorship pops up in China, Turkey

and other autocrat regimes, boosted by populism. Art is our

last free continent to explore unconsciously the roots of the

self and our aspirations.


“Facing Change!” is an ongoing column by

senior media industry expert and Diplomatic

Council’s Chairman Global Media Forum,

Dieter Brockmeyer. He throws a light on

burning issues of our digitalization driven

global societies from his own perspective.


This kind of shitstorm was to be expected at some

point and Facebook and its founder Mark Zuckerberg

are in their biggest crisis so far. However, the moment

and the occasion are peculiar. The facts were known

for over a year and nothing new has happened since: a

service provider forwarded Facebook user data illegally

to their client Cambridge Analytica who used it in a

highly questionable manner to promote its client – the

Trump campaign during the last US presidential election.

Cambridge Analytica used this info right after the Trump

success for its own public relations and the facts are public

ever since without anything happening for long.

Let’s look at the harm really done: Facebook’s mistake

was that of not communicating in a transparent way and

failing to close the breach. Let us try to analyze the harm

done. Cambridge Analytica was able to define people that

could be accessible for the Trump message, so they could

be addressed directly. Well, would they not have received

the message anyway, one way or another since they were

open for the Trump arguments?

This is nothing but my personal view: I’m very skeptical of

how reliable personal profiles really are that you can create

from social media data. People lie on Facebook and liking

a page does not really mean that you are open to this

subject. Most of my likes are because I want to support

a friend without knowing the band or the organization –

and I never take a closer look at it.

Of course, it was a mistake that should never have

happened and as it did, Facebook should at least have

been more transparent immediately. Now to quit Facebook

or to demand a shutdown of the entire service is just

overdoing things once more. Facebook – and other social

media – has become part of our lives. To shut it down

most likely would create more harm to both businesses

and individuals that run global campaigns or friendships

on the platform.

Therefore, Facebook will react, and it is very likely that

Facebook will rise stronger from the ashes. Already now

we see with astonishment that this “scandal” had no

impact on the company’s quarterly financial statement!

If we look towards China, with its totalitarian regime

and society’s completely different approach to privacy

and see how big data is used there to control people

by sanctioning un-social behavior we really see a dark

scenario of an unfree and illiberal society. That is what

we should defend! This can not be compared to the socalled

Facebook scandal. We need to look out for the real


Anyway, social media users should do what they should

have done from the very beginning: being aware of what

to post and who to let it see! Because no system is perfect,

and leaks can always happen – and there are always those

who want to take advantage of it.

Profiles created out of that data therefore are not reliable

since a significant share of social media profiles is not


Dieter Brockmeyer,

Chairman DC Global Media Forum and initiator

and curator of the annual Global Media Innovator





Two years have passed since the untimely death of

British architect Zaha Hadid in March 2016 and yet

her international legacy continues to grow as large

scale international projects are won by her architect

studio, Zaha Hadid Architects. As more and more

cities around the world realise their ambition to

build inspiring development projects, the dominance

of the British architect’s firm serves to demonstrate

the huge demand for bold and striking architectural

centre pieces.




Opened in 2017, the new headquarters for the rapidly

expanding Port of Antwerp is one such centre piece. The

building features a vessel shaped, diamond like surfaced

addition which sits positioned atop of a listed former fire

station. The Port of Antwerp, who sought to re-position

their new headquarters between the old historical port

and the modern sprawling port, wished to create a striking

new port hub from which new international and local

connections could be forged. The building is a shining

beacon at the centre of an open and globally facing port.

If the building in Antwerp can be seen as part of a business

plan engaged with enriching and developing international


Tom Monballiu, Deputy Port Ambassador - Antwerp Port and Inspiring Culture Team

(Sabrina Tacca-Pandolfo, Raizo Wang, Pick Keobandith, Edward Liddle)

© Inspiring Culture

Port of Antwerp

© Inspiring Culture

trade development, then the 70.000 square metres and 1.800

seat Guangzhou Opera House acts to show how culture

and the christening of a new cultural centre is another way

in which bold and innovative design is part of how cities

are choosing to promote themselves internationally. These

are projects to inspire, projects which seek to go above and

beyond purely functional architectural design.

Hadid’s love for the art movement Suprematism can still

be seen in the projects which continue to bear her name.

The influences of the abstract art movement, which is

characterised by strong simple geometric forms and which

was named by the Russian artist Kasimir Malevich in 1913,

remain the focus of the designs, giving preference as they do

to the stylised distortion, abstraction and fragmentation of

architectural forms.

These stylised forms continue to intrigue clients around the

world as bigger and more ambitious projects are awarded

to Zaha Hadid Architects. Two such projects of note and

which are both part of large airport expansion plans will be

built in China and India. Beijing will be home to the biggest

airport terminal in the world whilst the project in Mumbai

will be, once completed, the biggest airport in India.

All of this begs the question of what the impact of such

projects is and whether they are merely a shining jewel in

the crown of a country wishing to confirm their position

internationally? Criticism has been raised that the ways

in which the buildings are experienced by those living and

working in them are placed as secondary to the ambitions of

the client, who wish to have their very own sparkling Hadid

project regardless of the consequences.

It cannot be ignored that the countries which wish to

be seen as promoting photogenic, avant-garde inspired,

ambitious buildings are the countries which have

experienced rapid unparalleled economic growth during the

past years and who, due to this increase in wealth continue

to grow as world powers.

It is not that the world is unaware that countries such as

India and China are now leading the world in economic

growth but rather it must be noted that much like the

historical leaders of the past, the leaders of today understand

and continue to place the role radical architecture has in

international image building as a high priority.

Dr. Pick Keobandith



Guangzhou Opera House

© Hufton + Crow Photographer

Guangzhou Opera House

© Iwan Baan

Guangzhou Opera House

© Iwan Baan






Roads and railway tracks across thousands of

kilometres between Asia and Europe, ports and

airports, power plants, pipelines and logistics

centres in Pakistan and Poland – China is investing

900 billion dollars in the “New Silk Road”.


The network of trading routes on land, water and in the air

is to link up the Asian, African and European states situated

between China and the Old World. It is also being called

“One Belt, One Road”. The mammoth project that has been

pushed by head of state Xi Jinping since 2013 is probably the

largest development programme ever in the world.

The Chinese “World Public Diplomacy Organization”

(WPDO) has now been founded with its head office in

Geneva as part of implementing the Silk Road objectives.

WPDO has set itself the target of stabilising the political

and economic links between the East and West. Diplomatic

World spoke to lawyer Helmut Naujoks, President of WPDO

in Germany. “We want to build bridges to strengthen the

harmony between nations,” says Naujoks, summarising the

WPDO’s visions as follows: “We want to help shape the

economic future between the East and West. We are building

bridges out of music, art and language and bringing the

world’s states and people together.” The WORLD PUBLIC

DIPLOMACY ORGANIZATION uses art as the means of

communication for this dialogue between cultures. “Art is

a suitable medium to sustainably support harmony between

nations,” accentuates Naujoks to Diplomatic World.

WPDO proudly presented itself for the first time during “The

Silk Road Concert” gala by the United Nations Alliance of

Civilizations (UNAOC) and Fundación Onuart at Palais

des Nations, United Nations, in Geneva in October 2017.

“The Silk Road Concert” brought together the Symphonic

Orchestra of the Balearic Islands directed by Maestro Pablo

Mielgo, with eight distinguished artists from Silk Road

countries, namely the violinist Yasmine Azaiez and the

singers Bing Bing Wang (Soprano, China), Burak Bilgili

(Bass, Turkey), Fatma Said (Soprano, Egypt), Huiling

Zhu (Mezzo, China), Vladimir Galouzine (Tenor, Russia),

Warren Mok (Tenor, China), and Yuan Gao (Soprano,

China). The musical performance was preceded by remarks

by Michael Moller, Director-General of the UN Office in

Geneva, Joaquín Alexander Maza Martelli, President of the

UN Human Rights Council, Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser,

UN High Representative for the Alliance of Civilizations

(UNAOC), and Miguel Ángel Moratinos, President of

Fundación Onuart. The setting of the Human Rights and

Alliance of Civilizations Room in the Palais des Nations in

Geneva provided the ideal backdrop to promote dialogue

and peace around the world through music. A special dinner

attended by prominent figures from political, diplomatic,

social, and media circles followed the concert.

Sylvia Gallus, member of the WPDO Board in Germany,

explains that The Silk Road is going to create thousands

of jobs worldwide. “A close network of trading routes is

evolving that links Central Asia with the Old World and the

roughly 60 countries situated between them,” emphasises

Sylvia Gallus. WPDO wants to contribute to this: several

infrastructure projects are being developed along the routes,

such as new railway and road links, airports and ports,

logistics centres, commercial and industrial parks, pipelines

and power plants.

SMEs with huge expertise and international experience are

predestined for the planned infrastructure projects in the

Eurasian region. Machinery and plant manufacturers as

Zhenxuan Ma and Helmut Naujoks

well as suppliers of special equipment in the energy, railway

technology and port development sectors in particular can

rely on packed order books, says Sylvia Gallus. The SME

segment in particular can find respect in its worldwide unique

innovation pool that also reliably completes complex projects

under difficult conditions, states Sylvia Gallus.


“No authority provides any information when presented with

such a document.” The business card is similarly important.

It is considered to be the “key to Asian business”. A bilingual

card in English and Chinese is recommended. It is a deadly

sin in the Far East to take a partner’s business card without

reading it carefully and then put it in your back pocket. “As

then,” according to Naujoks, “the Chinese feel that you are

sitting on their face when you sit down.”

Wanting to understand the Chinese culture is mainly crucial

for success. “Patience is important,” knows Helmut Naujoks.

“I recommend entrepreneurs to seek dialogue time and time

again. It is part of the Chinese way of working to proceed

cautiously. European impatience is not helpful, quite the

opposite. Cultural and interpersonal aspects determine success

or failure,” says Naujoks, who is in China ten to twelve times

a year. The Chinese are polite, issue invitations to potential

business partners, give them gifts. “But that doesn’t say

anything about a possible deal,” explains the China expert. “It

may even be the case that you never hear from the potential

Chinese partner again.” Nevertheless, European entrepreneurs

should overcome their shyness towards the Chinese and

exercise patience: “Nothing happens quickly in China. It takes

a lot of talks before something binding ends up on the table.”

Supposedly mere formalities are also given top priority in the

land of smiles. The company stamp is given a prominent role

as a result. “Even a document with a signature does not have

any legal significance without a stamp,” clarifies Naujoks.

WPDO has set itself the specific goal of confronting any

fears about China. “The new Silk Road shows how visionary

China is in its thinking and action.” The development of

infrastructure links between Asia and Europe is “a major

opportunity for China and Europe’s citizens and national

economies.” Of course there is a different culture in the

People’s Republic of China than in Europe: “But I see this

culture as being open and trusting,” says Naujoks who

regularly meets up with investors in China throughout the

year who are looking for collaborations in Europe. He

advises European entrepreneurs taking a leap into China to

be willing to adapt and develop good contacts: “Otherwise

you will fail there.” “Friendship comes before business.

Or in business German: sustainability creates prosperity,”

according to Naujoks. One thing is certain for WPDO: a

close economic and cultural belt between Asia, Africa and

Europe serves to stabilise world peace. “WPDO is committed

to this all over the world month after month; this is our

contribution to maintaining peace in the world,” explains




A unique multilateral organization, the Organisation

Internationale de la Francophonie (OIF) has some

84 states and governments, including 30 Europeans,

which is why it opened a Permanent Representation

to the European Union in 1995. Today, the OIF

counts 17 member states of the European Union

and others are already applying for membership

on the occasion of its imminent Summit of Heads

of State, to be held in Yerevan on 11 and

12 October 2018.

What are the main projects at the core of your action

as representative of the Organisation Internationale

de la Francophonie?

The action led by the Representation of the Organisation

Internationale de la Francophonie (OIF), in order to unite

and mobilize the different francophone influence actors who

are active on the Brussels scene, is based on the work with

several influence groups, such as the Group of francophone

Ambassadors of Brussels (which includes 106 Ambassadors),

the office of the francophone Members of the European

Parliament, the francophone journalists of the Press club, the

francophone European officials, businessmen and bankers.


Francophonie S. Lopez and King Philippe

Manneken Pis

More precisely, events, projects, debates and conferences with

these groups are organized on topical issues of the European


The OIF Representation to the EU also participates in the

meetings of the Committee of Ambassadors of the African,

Caribbean and Pacific Group of States (ACP Group).

Therefore, the Representation is working, through strategic

advocacy, to consolidate the achievements of the ACP-EU

relationship and its strengthening at the end of the post-

Cotonou negotiations, particularly on issues related to the

official development assistance, immigration management,

digital development and economic and trade relations.

How have you celebrated the recent International day

of la Francophonie on March 20th?

The Permanent Representation celebrates the foundation of

its Organization every year and this year on the occasion of

the International Day of la Francophonie, it came up with the

initiative to offer, for the first time, a costume inspired by the

colors of the Organization and its States and Governments

to Manneken Pis. The ceremony was held according to the

ancient Belgian tradition and represented the expression of

francophone diversity and richness as well as a symbol of

unity in the name of common values of democracy, solidarity

and peace to which francophones are truly committed.

To achieve the goal of maintaining an effective connection

between the various francophone groups of actors, the

Permanent Representation invited the francophone

Ambassadors of Brussels, the francophone Members of

the European Parliament, the European and international

francophone officials, as well as other academic and

associative personalities, to celebrate the International Day

of la Francophonie at the reception organized at the Château

Malou. On the occasion, the Permanent Representative,

his Excellency the Ambassador Stéphane Lopez, made a

very committed speech highlighting the responsibility of

francophones to federate and mobilize in order to increase

and enhance the place of French language in the European

Union debates. To highlight French, Moroccan, Canadian,

Quebec and Laotian Francophonies, the Permanent

Representation organized, for the same occasion, shows

and concerts in collaboration with the Embassies of these

countries in Brussels and with the Federation Wallonie-

Bruxelles. Each year different countries, members of the OIF,

are chosen to organize similar events.

Dr. Pick Keobandith














On May 12th, in the evening news of the French television

channel TF1, Bulgaria was presented as the Eldorado for

startups. “Attractive features are: the average monthly

salary of 460 euro (compared to 2.250 euro in France),

the flat tax rate of 10% for companies and persons, the fast

launch of startups within a week, the absence of customs

formalities since Bulgaria joined the EU.” Moreover,

broadband communication is widely available throughout

the country, and higher education institutions are excellent

at providing technical and scientific skills to young talents.

Also, universities feel the urge to participate actively in

innovation and in economic and societal impact creation.

As an example, TF1 news mentioned that Sofia University

is offering lab space free of charge for a smart clothing

startup. Finally, however, on the negative side, the persistent

perception of corruption was mentioned as one of the main

factors deterring investment in Bulgaria.

I am situated in Bulgaria”, where the traditional sectors

of manufacturing, food and agriculture remain the only

meaningful poles of economic activity. These contradictory

messages are typical for a country in transition. While,


During the CIDIC mission in Sofia, the encouraging climate

to attract foreign investors and business collaborations

to Bulgaria was highlighted on several occasions and, in

particular, at the Bulgarian Chamber of Commerce - BCC.

Local VC funds, incubators, co-working spaces and a

growing entrepreneurship spirit are emerging, while “10

years ago there were no startup companies,” said a BCC

employee. But we also heard less enthusiastic echoes: the

brain drain is a serious problem, certainly in the ICT sector

(which was already a focus in Soviet times), and universities

are not organized and equipped for technology transfer.

The CEO of a young startup told us, “My problem is that

© Barbara Dietrich

© Barbara Dietrich

politically, Bulgaria is integrated in the EU, economic

and academic integration is proving a slower process that

is still ongoing. However, internet browsing reveals the

existence of startup ecosystems and startup success stories,

including some first exits due to explosive startup growth.

To my perception, these are still single shot successes of

exceptionally talented entrepreneurial individuals, rather

than a systematic and sustainable approach to enable

startup creation, coaching and growth.

Therefore, one of the DEAC mission’s academic panels

“Startups, motors for new economic and societal activity”

focused, first, on understanding the startup landscape

and then on the more specific subject of the role of

universities in the startup landscape, including social

entrepreneurship, education, spinoff and entrepreneurial

talent creation. The other academic panel was dedicated

to “16+1 in EU-China relations”. The 16+1 cooperation

framework refers to different mechanisms and

arrangements involving China and the 16 Central and

Eastern European Countries (CEEC). The 16+1 fits in

with China’s more general Belt and Road Initiative (BRI)

that re-imagines the Silk Road. Bulgaria’s interest in

becoming more deeply integrated within the EU and the

implications of China’s growing relations with the CEEC

were central themes of the panel.

The subjects were covered from a political and an economic

(diplomacy) point of view. The 16+1 framework is also

full of symbolism and is often perceived as a threat to EU

cohesion, so the subject could not be left unaddressed. In

addition, during the CIDIC mission in Sofia a particularly

caustic report about the BRI, cosigned by 27 of the 28 EU

Ambassadors in China, leaked into the press. Although the

report emphasizes that Chinese state-owned companies

are the primary beneficiaries of the BRI, it was a slap in

the face for the European companies which had prepared

themselves to join the economic boost triggered by the BRI.

China invests heavily in infrastructure, and infrastructure is

equivalent to strategic power. But building walls around the

EU is no option either. China strongly limited the outflow

of Chinese capital in 2017 to protect its own vulnerable

financial system and Chinese companies are becoming

more reasonable in their foreign takeovers and investments.


Despite these kinds of self-regulating mechanisms, the huge

BRI initiative and the associated Chinese strategic vision,

comparable to the Marshall plan after the Second World

War, merit critical academic attention to avoid populist

reactions that are often based on perceptions and intuitions

that are unsubstantiated by facts. It is an excellent subject

to initiate the adhesion of Sofia University to BACES

– Brussels Academy for China European Studies – that

focuses its research on contemporary China and EU-China


In the session at the National Assembly, the CIDIC

delegation was received by parliamentarians representing

the different political factions. The general theme of the

discussion was “Bulgaria as a bridge between the Western

Balkans and the EU”. The Q&A session was initiated by

two short presentations: “On the importance of Economic

Diplomacy, the Brussels Diplomatic Academy (BDA)

and international collaboration perspectives”, by Gunter

Gaublomme, Director of the BDA, and “The role of the

Bulgarian Development Bank (BDB) for the development of

small and medium-sized companies” by Sophia Kassidova,

Financial Strategy Advisor of the BDB.




The core business of the university remains research and

education based on research. Research is the unique selling

proposition with respect to other actors in higher education.

But also, community services and the creation of societal

and economic impact are part of the “new normal”. Towards

our students, we have the social responsibility to help them

ensuring their lifelong employability, and therefore not only

research but also entrepreneurship and entrepreneurial

attitudes have to be incorporated in the learning outcomes

of the curricula. The latter are core competences that

are expected from our graduates: “Some will want to

become entrepreneurs, all will have to be entrepreneurial”.

This transformation is crucial to avoid the danger of a

new societal “divide” between entrepreneurs and nonentrepreneurs.

The Bulgarian Ministry of Economy, represented by

Tihomira Palova, wants to encourage entrepreneurship

and innovation in new companies. Sectors of primary


From right to left: Prof. Lyu Jie, Deputy Director, International Office, RUC; Prof. Zhang Xiaohui, Deputy Director, President Office, RUC; Prof.

Yang Weiguo, Dean School of Personnel and Human Resources, RUC; Prof. Zhang Jianming, Executive Vice President, University Council, RUC;

Prof. Song Xinning, Director of Confucius Institute at VUB and Jean Monnet Chair ad personam at RUC; Prof. Huang Weiping, Chairman of Academic

Board, Centre for European Studies; Ms. Song Yiran, International Office, RUC – Renmin University of China

From left to right: Prof. Zhang Jinming, Executive Vice President University council RUC, Prof. Jan Cornelis, Pro Vice Rector VUB,

Prof. Anastas Gerdjikov, Rector Sofia University

© Barbara Dietrich

importance are manufacturing and knowledge-intensive

services. Thematic priorities are mechatronics and

clean technologies, informatics and ICT, health and

biotechnology, creative and recreational industries. “In

2016, 40 % of young people aged less than 24 years in

the EU preferred to be self-employed and only 4,1 %

succeeded”. Therefore, the ministry encourages universities

to promote entrepreneurial skills in the curricula and to

build new systems for structured knowledge and technology


At first view, in my opinion, the type of support instruments

provided by the government are the right ones, but the

structure to ensure their effective exploitation is still

under construction, certainly at the universities. Hence

this deserves at least a follow-up workshop on exchange

of best practices – Belgium being a country where

structured university technology transfer has existed for

at least 25 years. Maria Niculescu, Directrice de l’Ecole

Supérieure de la Francophonie pour l’Administration et le

Management (ESFAM) – Sofia, talked about how to include

entrepreneurship practice in the curricula. She elaborated

a particularly original example: ESFAM students from

developing countries can choose a special project to carry

out under supervision during their studies, giving them

the opportunity to prepare for the subsequent launch of a

company in their homeland.

Abdellah Touhafi, professor at VUB and CEO of the spin-off

company Lumency (smart lighting), made a presentation on

the development of Lumency, emphasizing the symbiosis

between his entrepreneurial ambitions and the different

players in the regional innovation ecosystem, including the

university’s technology transfer office.

Nikolay Dentchev, Professor Entrepreneurship and

Corporate Social Responsibility at VUB, emphasized

the need for support mechanisms to create (social)

entrepreneurial dynamics and to coach potential social

entrepreneurs. He presented a very successful model,

namely VUB’s social entrepreneurship platform, and gave

an open invitation to share the platform structure with a

similar endeavour in Bulgaria. As a result, in follow-up to

the CIDIC mission, a workshop on new business models

will be organized from 26 to 28 June 2018 in the Bulgarian

University of National and World Economy.

Teodor Sedlarski showed a video presenting Sofia Tech

Park, a successful example of interaction between private,

public and academic institutions. Ivan Todorov, head expert

at Invest Bulgaria Agency, spoke about the policies for



foreign investments in Bulgaria. The Bulgarian startup

association (BESCO), an active organization that takes

up an important interface function in bridging the gap

between the startup ecosystem and government agencies,

was represented by its vice-chairman Dobromir Ivanov.

Milanka Slavova, Professor at the University of National

and World Economy, presented the results of a 2008-

2009 study on attempts to establish technology transfer

infrastructure in Bulgarian universities. At that time, these

were unsuccessful. She analyzed the main bottlenecks,

a traditional story that I often encountered in classical

universities: they are at the forefront in research but tend

to be ultraconservative when it comes to their internal

structuring and governance.

Professor Desislava Yordanova quoted an OECD

report “Bulgarian higher education institutions exhibit

narrow understanding of the concept innovative and

entrepreneurial university (OECD, 2014)”. She confirmed

the most important bottlenecks hampering the transition

towards an entrepreneurial university. She ended her talk

with some of the best practices at the University of Sofia,

illustrating that “times are changing”. Let us collaborate

in an international context, skip some transition phases

in the transformation process towards an entrepreneurial

university and accelerate the change. As a result of the

CIDIC mission, a joint workshop is being set up in Q4 of


“Cooperation between academia and business is a

good proxy for the quality of both, but it is rarely

institutionalized and above all virtually unknown even

within academia and business circles,” says Professor

Todor Yalamov. This statement has indeed been confirmed

quantitively in many studies. He mentions that in Bulgaria

academic entrepreneurship has been a story of ups and

downs: “Academic entrepreneurship has deep roots in

technical universities: highly institutionalized in the

80s, banned in the 90s leading to a lot of exits from

academia, invisible in the 00s, too noticeable in the 10s.” I

appreciated his statement that academic entrepreneurship

not only exists in technological domains, economics and

finance but also in the humanities such as for example

philosophy (ontologies). Establishing a meaningful

involvement of humanities is indeed a challenge to be

developed everywhere in the world.

“Our ambition for research is that it impacts society.

We used to think of impact as starting with an idea, then

developing that idea into a prototype, then turning the

prototype into a product, then marketing the product,

and so on – it is a long march and the problem with long

marches is that most ideas don’t make it. I will provide

examples of a different model, one where society is part of

the research process,” said Prof. Robert Calderbank (Duke

University, International Francqui Chairholder 2017-2018

at VUB), in his lecture on “Data+”.

These new models require a large paradigm shift for

universities: living labs, citizen science, transdisciplinary

R&D, and research and innovation platforms are bringing

new societal stakeholders in the core of Campus life

and require novel university governance attitudes and

mechanisms. These developments provide valuable

opportunities for a country like Bulgaria – where the

classical sequential way of societal impact creation

sketched by Calderbank is not yet fully structured

inside the university – to skip a few stages and join the

international community in these change dynamics.







On 27 November 2017, the 6th CEEC-China in Budapest

decided that Bulgaria will host the “7th Meeting of State,

Government leaders of China, CEE Countries” in 2018.

With this as a background, the Confucius Institutes at

VUB and Sofia University decided to organize a panel

on 16+1 in EU-China relations on 25th April in Sofia.

Scholars from Central and Eastern Europe and China

discussed EU-China relations in general and CEEC-

China cooperation as well as Bulgaria-China relations.

H.E. Mr. Haizhou Zhang, the Chinese Ambassador to

Bulgaria, gave the keynote speech. According to him,

EU-China relations went through development periods of

constructive partnership, comprehensive partnership and

comprehensive strategic partnership, and three dialogues,

namely high-level strategic, high-level economic and

trade, and high-level people to people. The EU is China’s

number one trade partner and China is the EU’s number

two trade partner. In 2017, bilateral trade reached US

$616.92 billion, with increases of 8% and 20% in exports

and imports, respectively.

EU-China cooperation provides the fundamental basis

for the growing relationship with the CEEC. The 16+1

framework forms an important part of this, and serves as

a valuable addition to EU-China relations. Collaborative

projects between China and the CEEC should not,

therefore, divide the EU and hamper European


Foreign policy is to serve domestic politics and economic

development. Professor Chunrong Liu from the Fudan

Centre at Copenhagen University discussed recent

Chinese domestic political changes and their impact

on Chinese foreign relations and the interconnectivity

with the EU and the CEEC. Professor Nako Stefanov

from Sofia University commented on the Chinese “new

normality” economic policy. He concluded that “new

normality”, together with the fourth industrial revolution

(based on the fusion of diverse technologies) for which

China is well-positioned, explained China’s active

international cooperation programmes such as the

Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), providing bigger

opportunities for further EU-China and CEEC-China


EU-China and CEEC-China cooperation

is important for both sides

Professor Chun Ding, Jean Monnet Chair of the Centre

for European Studies at Fudan University, Shanghai,

gave an overall review of EU-China economic relations.

Specifically, he discussed several key areas of ongoing

EU-China economic disputes such as the free market

economy status, trade imbalance, comprehensive

investment agreements, European skepticism on the BRI,

… He remained quite optimistic about the future of EU-

China relations and especially the CEEC-China economic

cooperation. Professor Weiping Huang, Jean Monnet

Chair of the Centre for European Studies at Renmin

University of China, compared the advantages of CEEC-

China cooperation for both China and the CEEC.

For China, it is an opportunity to promote further market

reform and innovative capacity development. China and

the CEEC have a long-standing deep-rooted friendship.

The six-year 16+1 mechanism has already produced

an early harvest. He suggested five fields for further

cooperation, namely trade and investment, connectivity,

cooperation modes, financial support, and people to

people communication.

The Role of the Balkan region and Bulgaria in

EU-China and CEEC-China relations, and the BRI

Professor Dinko Dinkov from Sofia’s University of

National and World Economy, gave a presentation on “The

Balkans Crossroad: Opportunities for enhancing EU-China

Relations”. He argued that the Balkans are well located on

the crossroad connecting Europe, Asia and Africa. It is a

paradox that the region’s infrastructure remains very poorly

developed, with restricted capacity to support the current

high level of interactions in all fields of social and economic

life. The CEEC-China cooperation framework and the BRI

provide good opportunities for the region to promote the

interests of the EU and China, as well as the region itself,

and to reinforce the development of Balkan infrastructure,

transport, communication and trade.

Professor Georgi Chobanov from Sofia University

provided a picture of Balkan short cuts in a modern silk

road. It seemed to him that the BRI can be regarded as

a world geo-political and geo-economic development,

and a win-win project for generating additional resources

and furthering the historical convergence of Eastern and

Western Civilizations. He also advocated the concept of

the “Rose Road”, i.e. “the short cut of the Silk Road via

Bulgaria”. The city of Bourgas and the Port of Bourgas

could serve as a logistic centre on the Silk Road, both

on land and sea, with further railway connections to

Plovdiv–Sofia-Vidin and Central Europe. Professor

Evgeniy Kandilarov from Sofia University gave a detailed

analysis of the role of Bulgaria in the 16+1 and the BRI.

The inclusion of the 16+1 cooperation mechanisms into

the BRI was the most important and promising element

for the CEEC.

The Bulgarian government declared its strong commitment

to supporting Chinese companies wishing to invest in

Bulgaria in sectors in which Bulgaria has traditional

strengths, especially those providing high added value and

increased competitiveness, such as engineering, automotive

technologies, electronics, information and communication

technologies, the chemical and pharmaceutical industry,

agriculture and the food industry, increasingly supported

with the facilities of new industrial zones and hi-tech parks.

Bulgaria has always emphasized its desire to attract Chinese

companies to invest in Bulgarian industrial zones, which

are supported by the National Company Industrial Zones.

Professor Xiang Deng, Jean Monnet Chair from Sichuan

University in Chengdu, described recent developments of


the China-Europe cargo railway. So far there have been

more than 6.300 trains from 33 Chinese cities, which have

reached 36 cities in 13 European countries, including

1.000 trains from Chengdu to Lodz, Poland. But they

also experienced some problems, such as high outbound

transport costs, high operating expenditures, low bargaining

power of the stakeholders and high subsidies. Further

expansion will be subject to local dynamics, and further

opening up of the BRI within a long-term perspective.

European-Asian cooperation

in higher education

Professor Maria Stoicheva, Jean Monnet Chair and Vice

Rector for International Cooperation of Sofia University,

presented a new project called EURASIA: European

Studies Revitalized Across Asian Universities, co-funded by

the EU’s Erasmus+ Programme. The project, coordinated

by Sofia University, includes five European, two Chinese

and two Indian universities. The main objectives are to

contribute to capacity building in the field of EU studies, to

strengthen the internationalization of education, to improve

competences and skills in the partner institutes for higher

education, to encourage intercultural communication, and

to provide faculty and young researchers with innovative

opportunities for training, mobility and learning exchanges.

Everyone in the panel agreed that educational cooperation

should be promoted as a very important component of EU-

China and CEEC-China relations.

countries. Bulgaria-China trade increased 29.8% in 2017,

but the total trade only represented a combined value of

US $2.13 billion. Professor Xinning Song stated that EU-

China relations are entering a new era. China’s strategy of

seeking a stable and balanced power in its relationships,

and of positioning China as a safeguard for global peace,

a contributor to the world economy, a participant in

global governance and a maintainer of international order,

provides new opportunities to deepen the EU-China





The underlying themes of the discussion at the Bulgarian

National Assembly were economic diplomacy and political

economy. “Economic diplomacy is the field of diplomacy,

whether or not in partnership with non-state actors, aiming

at maintaining and creating domestic economic prosperity

by means of policies and actions in relation to foreign

countries,’ explained Gunter Gaublomme, Director of

the Brussels Diplomatic Academy. The strength of this

definition is that it refers to what economic diplomacy really

is, namely securing a nation’s domestic economic prosperity,

and that this purpose is realized not only through the

commonly known instruments, such as trade fairs, economic

missions, … but is also taken care of by the legislature and

the executive (i.e. government and diplomats).


Discussion and conclusions

The European and Chinese participants had great

expectations about the further evolution of EU-China and

CEEC-China relationships. Professor Antonya Tsankova

from the Chinese Studies Department of Sofia University

appreciated the achievements of the 16+1 cooperation and

the BRI over the last five years. At a recent meeting, leaders

from Bulgaria, Romania, Greece and Serbia confirmed

their willingness to work together in support of the 16+1

and the BRI initiatives. Increased efforts are needed to find

new, concrete formulae for cooperation. Although CEEC-

China cooperation has progressed, trade and investment

between the CEEC and China are still limited. In 2017, the

trade volume was US $67.98 billion, an increase of 11.6%,

but this is still only 1.65% of China’s total foreign trade,

and 9% of China’s trade with Europe. The CEEC is still

not the main destination of China’s FDI in Europe. Some

90% of China’s FDI is still with the traditional developed

Rumen Gechev, Bulgarian parliamentarian, remarked that

sometimes the preliminary studies on potential economic

and financial impacts of laws adopted by the parliament are

inadequate, resulting in insufficiently refined laws that often

have to be modified and brought into line with EU directives

afterwards. This creates a perception in the international

community of instability which is harmful for business and

investments. He welcomed regular meetings with mixed

delegations such as the CIDIC mission.

Gunter Gaublomme proposed to create a Balkan Chair in

the Brussels Diplomatic Academy. He felt that diverging

views can lead Eastern and Western Europe to grow apart:

“I am convinced that a lack of mutual understanding

lies at the basis of this threat to European construction.”

The Chair would aim to bring together the positions of

both sides, from the point of view of society, business,

academia and governments, so that enhanced awareness

and understanding would facilitate European cooperation.

A university, being a neutral platform for discussion, is the

ideal forum to host this dialogue.

The Bulgarian Development Bank, represented by Sophia

Kassidova, described its business model that is aimed at

developing and invigorating the economy, as well as its

policy in support of small and medium-sized companies,

startups and infrastructure. The infrastructure connecting

countries within the Balkans has not been sufficiently

developed in the aftermath of the recent turbulent history

and wars in the area. The BDB also has a policy of

promoting international relationships and cooperation,

particularly with Asia and Europe.

As with the previous CIDIC missions, the CIDIC DEAC

days in Sofia were overwhelmingly rich in terms of content

and camaraderie among all participants, and they have

directly resulted in several new exciting collaborative

initiatives that will take place in the coming months.



Economic diplomacy is as old as diplomacy itself.

Together with security and military politics, it forms the

DNA structure of diplomacy. One can argue that the

establishment of the League of Nations in 1927 marked

the sudden interest in and rapidly increasing importance of

economic diplomacy. Business representatives, economists

and diplomats came together to answer the question how

international trade could be promoted. The idea was that

the elimination of trade barriers could stimulate growth

in international trade. Till then, economic diplomacy had

consisted of bilateral trade diplomacy; now a new dimension

was added: multilateral negotiations. Bilateral trade treaties

were incorporated in a multilateral network based on the

principles of free trade. As such, international trade became

based on a set of uniform rules and agreements.

Other milestones in the process of enhancing the role of

economic diplomacy, were the Bretton Woods system and

Europe’s economic integration. Furthermore, it was Bill

Clinton’s famous words “It’s the economy, stupid!” that

gave economic diplomacy a significant boost in the 1990s.

America’s economic diplomacy went into overdrive. The

main aim of the United States’ foreign policy became that

of regaining the apparently deteriorating American power

position in the world economy. Old market positions had to

be recaptured and new market shares had to be sought after.

The reemergence of economic diplomacy was noticeable

in nearly all OECD countries. There are several reasons

to explain its renewed importance. Shifting economic

power balances, sharp international economic competition,

monetary instability, the extension of the trade agenda

to include services and ICT, and the promotion of

deregulation, all caused an uncertain environment for

companies to operate in. Companies had to knock on the

door of their governments asking for help; governments had

no other choice than to help them, otherwise they would

have been disadvantaged by their foreign competitors. 1

Economic diplomacy’s important role is also clearly

illustrated by its economic return. In the Netherlands, for

example, trade missions led by experienced government

officials increase the country’s welfare by 100 to 200

million euro per year. 2 Knowing that this kind of mission

only represents a very small part of economic diplomacy

activities, one can only conclude that economic diplomacy

– at least in this case – succeeds in its aim to increase the

country’s economic prosperity.




Under the auspices of H.E. Mrs. Maya Dobreva,

Bulgarian Ambassador to Belgium, H.E. Mr. Francois

Bontemps, Belgian Ambassador to Bulgaria, and

supported by strategic partners: UNICA – Network

of Universities from the Capitals of Europe, BDA

- the Brussels Diplomatic Academy, Diplomatic

World, UBB - part of the KBC group, BMW.

April 24th: Visit to the municipality authorities,

guided tour of the city, working session and B2B

meetings at the Bulgarian Chamber of Commerce,

CIDIC European Awards Ceremony, diplomatic

reception at the Belgian Ambassador’s residence.

April 25th: Two parallel discussion panels at Sofia

University, session at the National Assembly,

CIDIC’s dinner

April 26th: Visit to the National History Museum

and Boyana Church

1 Coolsaet, R., Kesteleyn, J., Na honderd jaar: wederopstanding van de

economische diplomatie, in Internationale Spectator, vol.: 64, issue: 2,


2 Okano-Heijmans, M., Hantering van het begrip economische

diplomatie, in Internationale Spectator, Jaargang 64 nr. 2, Februari

2010, p. 73.



SOFIA 2018

PRINTIVO is a young biotech company working in the

field of bio-fabrication and tissue engineering. The staff

developed a cutting-edge 3D-bioprinting technology and

a unique bio-ink formula capable of sustaining cellular

life and proliferation. Currently, they are focusing on

3D-bioprinted bone and cartilage grafts for dental and

orthopedic procedures. Several private clinics are involved

in pilot tests and trials. The business model is a print-ondemand

platform for highly customized and personalized

tissue grafts. They plan to widen their portfolio to five

different tissue analogs by the end of 2019. Printivo received

the international CIDIC award for its capacity to become

a real game changer in biomedical industry, based on new

technology developed in-house, its creative innovation

potential and the synergy within its interdisciplinary team.

MICAR INNOVATION is a drug discovery factory. The

company has found a niche where it is able to create a large

societal impact by improving the quality of life through new

blockbuster drug molecules for a large class of diseases.

It focuses on non-clinical Proof-of-Concepts (POCs) in

preclinical R&D and Hit-to-Lead (H2L) achievements in

areas such as neuroscience, oncology, cardio-vascularity,

dermatology, rare diseases. MICAR21 is their drug

discovery platform for small molecule drug candidates.

The business model is based on licensing their intellectual

property to commercial partners and on the creation new

spin out companies. Micar Innovation received the CIDIC

award for its well-chosen positioning in a complex and long

value chain, where it can create key-value contributions by

delivering non-clinical POCs. The company can be qualified

as a fountain of intellectual property and an IP broker for

new pharma startups and big pharma industry.

AMMEX, SPADEL and EUROSENSE, companies rooted

in Belgium, received the international CIDIC awards for

their involvement in strong commercial and collaborative

activities with Bulgaria.


From left to right: Prof. Anastas Gerdjikov, Gerdjikov, Rector - Sofia University, Prof. Zhang Jinming, Executive Vice President University council – Renmin University

of China, Prof. Jan Cornelis, Pro Vice Rector – Vrije Universiteit Brussel, H.E. Mrs. Maya Dobreva – Bulgarian Ambassador to Belgium. © Barbara Dietrich

© Barbara Dietrich

BACES and Sofia University received a joint International

CIDIC award presented by the Bulgarian Ambassador to

Belgium, H.E. Mrs Maya Dobreva, for their multicultural

and trans-disciplinary approach in bridging the gap in

intercontinental contemporary societal studies and building

bridges of mutual understanding.



BACES, the Brussels Academy for China and European

Studies is a platform for exchanging new ideas concerning

contemporary China and China-Europe relations. It promotes

understanding and critical analysis in this area. BACES

was officially launched in China, at Diaoyutai State Guest

House in Beijing, on 6 September 2014 by EU Commissioner

Androulla Vassiliou and China’s Vice premier Liu Yandong,

in support of the EU-China High Level People-to-People

Dialogue. From the start, BACES was supported by the

Huawei chair on Contemporary China Studies. The founding

members are: the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB), Renmin

University of China (RUC), Sichuan University and Fudan

University. After the launch, membership has been extended

to three European universities, Ghent University, Lancaster

University and Sofia University. This extended membership

fits into the strategy to establish among European partners

several geographical foci, currently Bulgaria and the Balkan

area, UK, Belgium and Western Europe. The platform

provides post-initial education, research and policy advice.

It is supported by the scholarship programmes of CSC

(China Scholarship Council). At this moment it operates

along 4 thematic clusters: Competition, Governance and

Representation, Investments, Innovation & Technology


The signature of the BACES partner agreement

with Sofia University took place on 24 April 2018 in

Sofia. Rector Anastas Gerdjikov of Sofia University

signed the agreement after prior signature by the

Rector of VUB Caroline Pauwels. Prof. Zhang

Jianming (Executive Vice Chairman of the University

Council at RUC) and Prof. Jan Cornelis (Pro Vice

Rector Internationalization at VUB) co-signed as

witnesses. BACES and Sofia University received

a joint International CIDIC award presented

by the Bulgarian Ambassador to Belgium, H.E.

Mrs Maya Dobreva, for their multicultural and

trans-disciplinary approach in bridging the gap in

intercontinental contemporary societal studies and

building bridges of mutual understanding.

BACES: www.baces.be





PILOT4DEV is an independent initiative

that connects global stakeholders active in

Pilot development initiatives in the areas

of Climate, Cities, Governance, Conflicts/

Stability, the Environment and more generally

the implementation of SDGs including Gender




Environment and Climate Change are increasingly gaining

momentum among decision-makers, the private sector and

civil society. Initiatives and opportunities are mushroomed:

36.000 jobs linked to circular economy should be created

in Belgium only before 2020, the European Union has

issued a new strategy on circular economy, management

of plastic waste in the last weeks. The pledges of the Paris

Agreement to keep Global Warming below the threshold of

1,5C is a strong basis for actions, reinventions, changes and

transitions to more sustainable actions including renewable

energies as a growing market, and energy efficient buildings.

SDGs provide a logical and needed answer to the challenges

of the world we have created.

tragic: we are not enough aware of it. It does not care

about good feelings and virtuous outrage … not even about

justice”. According to recent estimates released last June

by newspapers The Guardian, 1,2 million plastic bottles

are bought every minute, and this figure only reflects an

ocean of challenges. The impacts of human activity on

climate but also on health and the environment are often

underestimated. The European Parliament’s reports indeed

show that half a million premature deaths occur yearly in

Europe because of poor air quality. Floods, heat waves and

desertification will be increasing, while the level of seas is

threatening coastal areas. Oceans are becoming acid and

polluted with plastics and micro-beads. Agriculture and

fisheries in specific areas are threatened, and mega cities of

more than 5 million inhabitants become the norm creating

enormous challenges …

They recognise the need for systemic change and integrated

action on all dimensions of sustainability. While the actions

for climate change are both ambitious and timid, growing

world’s population and economic activities increase

pressure on resources and results in an unjust distribution

of wealth and inequalities. There will therefore be no easy

victory, and among certain circles, awareness raising on

the dangers of climate change are still insufficient to lead to

consistent action.


Experience, research and history show that country’s

choices and decisions aren’t always rational and based

on rational choices. French political scientist Raymond

Aron used to write about the 20th century “History is


Another threat is unpredictability linked with instability.

The geopolitical situation is more instable and unclear

than in the last decades because of the emergence of new

threats. We have moved away from clear and identified

blocks and partnerships to “less formal alliances”. The

necessary search for stability in a new quickly changing

environment will need to go hand in hand with economic

needs, and the fight against climate change. The way things

look, climate may appear at the bottom of the priorities’

list … while we need stronger leadership, improved global

governance and better mobilization of financing potential.

The third problem, and equally important is the lack of

clear-cut solutions to solve climate change. In the areas

of energy, green economy, waste management, growing

demography or even sustainable urbanization, there is

no easy solution. It is almost impossible to find a holistic

approach where partners could agree. But why is climate

always presented on the bottom of priorities whereas

drastic choices are needed? The question of fossil fuels, but

also demography booming to 9 billion in the next decades

are likely to hamper optimistic forecasts and scenarios.

One of the findings of U.N. International Resource Panel

is that “the richest countries consume on average 10 times

more materials than the poorest ones and consumption

has been in the last decades a stronger driver of growth

in material use than the population growth.” Inequalities

and climate justice are really a big part of the problem in a

context where Official Development Aid is decreasing …

In addition, there is no international convention on the use

of the resources … In particular, the question of fossil fuels

being at the center of the world’s production and economy

starts becoming problematic in the view of the current


In conclusion, we should nurture all possible progress.

Jobs created by circular economy in Belgium for instance

are very good news. It shows that we can make progress

and involve civil society, industries and governments in

finding solutions. But optimism will not be sufficient.

We will need a lot of raising awareness, coordinated

international action, better measurable solutions and

certainly additional resilience and mitigation measures …

This is why we have created PILOT4DEV to share

thoughts, ideas, strengthen existing actions and policies,

connect initiatives to decision-makers. We fight for

Sustainable Development!

Please join us and get in contact www.pilot4dev.com





Encyclopedia of Russian avant-garde – is the

first publication of its kind, comprehensively

reviewing the history and theory of the

avant-garde movement in Russia, dating

back to 1907-1932 by the authors. The chiefeditors,

authors of the idea and leaders of the

scientific and editorial work are art historians

Andrey Sarabianov and Vasily Rakitin.

Published in three volumes, the encyclopedia contains

more than 1.200 encyclopedic articles and 4.000

illustrations. The first and second volumes of the edition

are devoted to biographies of participants of avant-garde

movement - artists, architects, writers, playwrights,

everyone who played a more or less significant role in a

given context. The third volume, consisting of two books

is dedicated to the history and theory: ideas, concepts,

schools, exhibits and more, that are important and

necessary for understanding the avant-garde art.


The publication is intended to fill numerous gaps in the history

and correct inaccuracies and errors that occurred in the avantgarde

science in previous years. To succeed in this ambitious

goal the team of 238 of the best professionals around the

world was formed by the chief-editors of Encyclopedia. The

"Encyclopedia of Russian avant-garde" was created with the

active participation of 88 foreign and domestic museums.

The edition received a number of national awards, including

the "Book of the Year" and won the national contest

"Best Books of the Year - 2015". At the end of 2016,

the encyclopedia was published in French (1st and 2nd

volume), and in March 2017, it was presented at the Georges

Pompidou Center in Paris. The publisher has already started

work on the English edition and is negotiating with potential

partners interested in financing this large-scale project.

To order books in Russian:


To order books in French:


To buy books in Paris:

Librairie Flammarion Centre Pompidou





This report is about people who made it based on

their skills for negative headlines: counterfeiters.

Deception/counterfeiting was already used by the

primeval hunters when they imitated the sounds of

animal calls. Cave painting proves that. This deception

would have been considered a vital skill, and no one

would have begrudged the hunters success.


When spectacular art forgeries become publicly known,

the skill of the counterfeiter is admired, like the skills of

the early hunter. On the other hand, the experts who have

previously recognized the counterfeiter’s art as the work of

great masters are being taunted.

The enthusiasm to discover the yet unknown and to make

the first in the world goes hand in hand with a lack of care.

Numerous forgeries aroused attention: alleged Hitler diaries

by Konrad Kujau, for which the magazine “STERN” paid

almost 10 million DM in 1983; the Hungarian Elmyr de

Hory, about whom Orson Welles made a film; Christian

Goller, whose Grünewald-counterfeit graced the wall of a

museum; in 2005, the discovery of an edition of Galileo

Galilei with hitherto unknown pen- and ink drawings,

celebrated by experts as genuine and authentic - the list

could be considerably continued.

sculpture of a Cupido, in which the young Michelangelo was


There are two versions of the story. Cardinal Lorenzo di

Pierfrancesco, for whom Michelangelo worked in Florence,

recommended that Michelangelo should bury the statue of

Cupid in order to make it look antique and sell it in Rome

at a high price. Another report says that it was the art

dealer Baldassare di Milanese who buried the Cupido in

his Roman vineyard and then sold it as an antique for 200

scudi to Raffaele Riario, Cardinal of San Giorgio. The scam

was discovered when a cardinal’s visitor stated that he had

seen the Cupido in Florence when it was not yet antique.

Milanese had to take back the Cupido against payment of

200 scudi. Michelangelo had previously been paid only 30

scudi, the Cupido unfortunately could not be sold for a

higher price. Michelangelo as a cheated cheater? Vasari’s

report suggests it, no matter which version is right.


Three forgers have drawn my attention since my early years:

the sculptor Michelangelo, the violinist Fritz Kreisler and

the painter Henricus Antonius “Han” van Meegeren.


Giorgio Vasari (1511-1574) narrates in his 1550 and

1568 published “Le Vite ...” about more than 100 artist

biographies, including the forgery of an 80 cm marble


Forgery/counterfeiting happens in all areas of art, even in

music. The world famous violinist Fritz Kreisler (1875-1962)

was not only celebrated as a virtuoso performer, but also as

a composer.

He named some of his own compositions as the works

of great masters whose autographs he owns: Antonio

Vivaldi, Gaetano Pugnani, Giuseppe Tartini. The music

critics were enthusiastic about the discoveries that Kreisler

presented in his concerts. The ever-increasing desire of

musicologists for insight into the compositions, for the

purpose of classification into the respective complete work,

led to a scandal in 1935, when Kreisler had to declare that

he had composed them himself. The music critics that

were previously cheering, were ashamed. The popularity of

Kreisler did not get detracted by that.

Incidentally, Leopold Mozart is also said to have taken over

the art of decorating Tartini in his violin school.


Berthold Brecht’s “Die Dreigroschenoper” refers to John

Gay’s Beggar Opera, some of his poems to François Villon.

In recent years it has become public knowledge that the

dissertations of many politicians are plagiarized/forged.

In New York, Chinese Pei-Shen Qian paintings sold at a

famous gallery for tens of millions as Rothko, Pollock and

de Kooning.

Meegeren were really forged/counterfeit for over two years.

Finally, the “white lead” containing white polymers of the

20th century proved the counterfeiting.

In addition, “white lead” did not exist in Vermeer’s time

period. Since 1967, these analyses have finally been

confirmed and accepted. However, there were already

experts in van Meegeren's lifetime who called his Vermeer

paintings as forgeries. Han van Meegeren was not convicted

as a forger or counterfeiter, but for fraud and tax evasion.

The government also claims taxes on forged/counterfeit


And: the ingenuity will not create a counterfeiter fate if he

remains unrecognized.

How many unrecognized genius forgers/counterfeiters are

still out there?

Maximilian Krenn


A successful forger/counterfeiter was the Dutchman Han

van Meegeren (1889-1947). His Vermeer paintings were

bought at enormous prices by museums, dealers and


Even Reichsmarschall Hermann Göring bought a van

Meegeren -Vermeer for 1,650,000 Gulden. This led to an

indictment of van Meegeren in 1945 for collaboration with

the enemy. To keep his honor and deny the collaboration, he

declared that he had painted the Goering-Vermeer himself,

which no one believed.

In prison, he proved his allegations and painted an

additional Vermeer, and listed the other paintings made by

him. Van Meegeren had thoroughly prepared himself for his

counterfeits. He studied the technique and materials used

by the old masters; he painted on canvases of old paintings;

he used color pigments that were common in artists time

period. Even he himself made errors that were recognized:

much later and only by chemical analysis.

An international commission of experts appointed by the

court examined whether the paintings mentioned by van

Maximilian Krenn, Art Curator & Collector






In today’s increasingly competitive business

environment, efficient network communications

are the key to success in many organizations.

UltiNetS (Ultimate Internetworking Solutions) is

headquartered in Malawi and registered office

in the USA.

UltiNetS is a technology-driven social enterprise and licensed

Internet Service Provider (ISP) with extensive expertise in

providing innovative, advanced internetworking and cloudbased

technology consultancy services and solutions to

businesses and individuals.

“These real world solutions allow businesses to successfully

respond to the constantly increasing demands of the local

and global marketplace and capitalize on technological

changes that are forever becoming part of our society.

UltiNetS design, manage and operate the ultimate transport

infrastructure and enabling services for our clients to

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- Network and Transaction Security Management

- Cloud and Internet Access Provisioning.”

- More than 20 Years of Highly trained and experienced

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- Our proven, Comprehensive UltiNetS Integrated Solutions.”

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“UltiNetS services are marked out by creative conception

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Malawi is one of the world’s least developed and poorest

countries, beset in recent years by declining GDP growth,

high inflation, and a rapidly depreciating currency.

Telecommunications operators have been affected by

currency devaluation, which has delayed their ability to fund

network upgrades. In addition, the government in mid-2013

instituted a tax on internet services, the additional cost of

services being passed on to consumers. Mobile penetration

remains very low in comparison to other African countries

average, this allows for considerable opportunities for

further growth. Internet market in Malawi is characterised

Esther De Valliere

by mobile network operators and internet services providers,

a national fibre backbone, and the country recently gained

access to international submarine fibre optic cables for the

first time when a transit link via neighbouring countries was

completed. SimbaNET (part of Wananchi Group) has been

contracted through funding from World Bank, to build and

operate a fibre-optic cable linking Lilongwe the capital, where

there is a virtual landing point to Tanzania for access to the

sub-marine cables. These developments provide tremendous

opportunities for UltiNetS in terms of accessibility of

wholesale price and reliable international bandwidth

resulting in low consumer cost.

As a landlocked and densely populated country that suffers

from widespread poverty, Malawi has one of the lowest rates

of internet access in the world. Currently internet penetration

in Malawi is at 6.8% against a mobile SIM penetration of 40%

of the population with mostly the rural communities heavily

underserved. However, the regulator has recently established

a Universal Service Fund (USF) in an effort to accelerate

internet and mobile services penetration in the rural areas.

Malawi has a high demand for high speed internet in terms of

multimedia applications especially in rural areas where fixed

broadband connectivity is very limited or non-existent. While

currently internet penetration is still very low there is still

potential for growth beyond the current 6.8% based on linearly

projected growth. The broadband internet market is very

competitive in the urban areas compared to rural areas with

almost five major broadband wireless access service providers.

Quality of service (QoS) is very poor which results in

extremely substandard quality of user experience (QoE) with

lack of enforceable service level agreements (SLA). UltiNetS

passionately believes with advanced development of wireless

access technologies, harmonisation of legislative pieces and

consolidation of global efforts to connect the unconnected at

lower tariffs is achievable and should be a human right.


One reason that discourages broadband service deployment

in rural areas is the cost of recovery on investment.

Basically, many operators do not see any business sense in

the rural areas. Such an initial investment cost is largely

the cost on base transceiver station (BTS) equipment and

the associated client premise equipment (CPE) in the case

of fixed broadband wireless service. However, following

a global coordinated move for Digital Switchover (DSO)

by discontinuing analogue TV transmission, the world was

presented with a Digital Dividend offering real opportunities

for wireless innovation. One such innovation opportunity



is the concept of dynamic spectrum sharing and white

spaces created by Digital Dividend (470 - 690 MHz TV

band).Television White Spaces (TVWS) technology has the

potential to cover extended ranges or distances compared

to traditional fixed broadband solutions due to its robust

propagation characteristics. This implies fewer BTS and

CPE infrastructure and hence reduced cost. Other reasons

for the reduced cost on TVWS infrastructure deployment

is the reduced power consumption on the TVWS BTS

compared to traditional telecommunication equipment. These

characteristics attract new approaches to fixed broadband

connectivity in rural areas with high possibility to achieve

universal access to ICT services.

The term TV White Space spectrum refers to frequencies in

the ultra-high frequency (UHF) television broadcast bands that

are either unassigned or unused by existing broadcast or other

licensees. Television broadcasts occupy designated channels in

the UHF bands, with the assignment of channels to broadcasts

varying by location. Not all the designated channels are in

use for broadcast in any given market, giving rise to “White

Spaces” in which a channel that is not used for broadcast

may be available for other purposes. Unused TV channels

are available in the UHF band, allowing for throughput of

up to 30 Mbps. The reach is over 20 km even under nonline

of sight (NLOS) conditions. TVWS radios in the UHF

band can easily overcome hills and other obstacles while still

providing broadband connectivity of over 3 Mbps bandwidth.

NLOS technology is ideal for hilly areas and also allows the

penetration of obstacles such as buildings and forest foliage

as illustrated below, this sets TVWS technology apart from

competing technologies using higher radio frequency bands.

The cost and complexity associated with traditional

wired broadband infrastructure makes TVWS the optimal

solution for the significant broadband coverage gaps in

the underserved areas. Even though market opportunities

for fixed access in developed markets seem limited, TVWS

technology can use the low deployment cost of wireless to

provide wide range of next generation ICT solutions and

quality broadband internet services in developing markets.

UltiNetS is currently deploying a countrywide broadband

infrastructure in for commercial use. On completion, the

network will comprise more than 80 core nodes connected

to speeds of up to 1.24 Gbps, more than 100 TVWS base

stations sectors connecting in excess of 3.000 TVWS client

nodes connected to almost 15.000 Wi-Fi access points and

serving a user subscription of more than 1.2 million.

UltiNetS took a decision to build its own wireless national

backbone and tower locations across the country. “We’ve

bought all that equipment, and we will be the only ISP with

a countrywide footprint. Most operators have cherry picked

the premium users. We’ve taken a different model, we want

to blanket the country and offer services to the underserved

consumers in much simplified and affordable fashion. We

took a conscious decision to build our own towers because

the current co-sitting fees (on other operator’s towers) are

very high.” UltiNetS considers TVWS technology to possess

the ability to change the current communications paradigm

and give users the power to shape and control the processes

of accessing and utilising the communication networks. The

time has come for an integrating technology that simplifies

broadband internet connection for all humanity. TVWS

technology can provide a cost-effective broadband access

solution in areas beyond the reach of traditional DSL and

cable. Currently we have an operational link to a refugee

camp 40 miles north of the capital Lilongwe in Dowa

district. User connectivity is provided through TVWS and

local Wi-Fi access points. According to UNHCR, the camp

has almost 30,000 inhabitants so it is really a town in its

own right. UltiNetS built, manages and operates the wireless

access points covering part of the camp and are looking

to increase in order to provide coverage to the wider local

host community through the purchase of vouchers to enable

access to the Internet.


Malawi is an agro-based economy, meaning with increased

connectivity and real-time access to localized data, TVWS

can bring new efficiencies to this country’s agriculture

industry. Farming drives the rural Malawian economy,

contributing significantly to gross domestic product; it

should be a priority to provide farmers across the country

with all available resources and innovations to help them

succeed domestically and internationally. Esther De Valliere

an entrepreneur and founder of GreenXtraPower Ltd.,

a company based in Malawi producing Moringa leaves

and oil since 2011, is working with UltiNetS to deploy

innovative TVWS-driven agriculture technology solutions.

GreenXtraPower is an ecologically organic farm in district

Nkhotakota with more than 35 workers on a 45 hectare land.

The Moringa leaves and oil are purely organic, pesticide-free

and handmade with care by local farmers and exported to

many countries and is known for its anti-bacterial and antiinflammatory

benefits. Integrating data-driven techniques

in the Moringa farming will help boost productivity by

increasing yields, reducing losses and cutting down input

costs. These techniques have seen sparse adoption owing to

high costs of manual data collection and limited connectivity

solutions. This project will build an end-to-end Internet of

Things (IoT) platform for the farm enabling seamless data

collection from various sensors, cameras and drones with

very different bandwidth constraints. The solution will be

designed to ensure system availability even in the face of

power and Internet outages due to bad weather; scenarios

that are fairly common for a farm. Cloud connectivity for the

sensor data will enable persistent storage as well as long-term

or cross-farm analytics.

In deploying the GreenXtraPower farm with an IoT

solution, we solve three key challenges. First, to enable

connectivity within the farm, the solution leverages recent

work in unlicensed TVWS to setup a high bandwidth link

from the farmer’s home Internet connection to a novel

weather aware solar powered IoT base station on the farm.

A sensor, cameras, drones and smartphones will connect

to this base station over Wi-Fi; this ensures high bandwidth

connectivity within the farm. Second, Internet connection to

the farm is typically weak, expensive or non-existent, making

it challenging to transfer high bandwidth drone videos

(multiple GBs) to the cloud and enable farm management to

access accurate and timely market information. Furthermore,

farms are prone to weather-related network outages that last

weeks. Such system unavailability impedes a farmer’s ability

to take adequate preventive actions, do inspections and leads

to loss of valuable sensor data. The solution uses a PC at the

farmer’s home as a gateway for the farm data while serving

two purposes: a) it performs significant computation locally

on the farm data to consolidate it into summaries that can be

shipped to the cloud for long-term and cross-farm analytics,

and b) the gateway is capable of independent operation to

handle periods of network outage, thus leading to continuous

availability for the farmer.

Finally, while drones are one of the most exciting farm

sensors today, they suffer from poor battery life. Getting

aerial imagery for a farm requires multiple drone flights and

a long wait time in between when the batteries are being

charged. We use the fact that farms are typically very windy,

since they are open spaces. Thus, we incorporate a novel

path planning algorithm in the farm gateway that leverages

wind to help the drone accelerate and decelerate, thereby

conserving battery. This algorithm is motivated by how

sailors use winds to navigate sailboats; the system will enable

precision agriculture applications where farm inputs over

different parts of the farm depending on the requirement

are adapted. This technique requires a precision map with

information about each location in the farm, for example,

the soil temperature, soil moisture, nutrient levels, etc. To

construct this precision map, existing solutions for precision

agriculture require a dense deployment of in-ground sensors

which is expensive (as well as cumbersome to manage) as

the size of the farm monitoring grows. Unless these sensors

are deployed densely within a farm, the estimated precision

map can be very inaccurate. Since the gateway has access

to both the drone videos and sensor data, it enables a novel

low-cost mechanism that uses drone videos in combination

with sparse ground sensors to generate precision maps for

the farm. Beyond application in precision agriculture, the

system can be used for other applications like monitoring

temperature and humidity in storage spaces to ensure that

the produce does not go bad, using cameras plugged at

different locations, to monitor cow sheds, selling stations and

integrating surrounding smallholder farmers etc. To the best

of our knowledge, this will be the first integrated system of

its kind in a sub-Saharan Africa region automating the entire

value chain. The direct connection between smallholder

farmers and clients will boost income of the farmers in

Malawi while cutting transaction costs, intermediate

administration and save time.


Executive Chairman - Richard Chisala is a social

technopreneur and highly qualified internetworking

specialist with enormous experience working in senior

technical positions at Accenture, Siemens, BBC, Intel

Corporation and Middlesex University, UK, Designing

Internetworking Infrastructures and Integrating

Telematic Products and Services including the first UK

privately owned fixed broadband wireless network in

Cambridgeshire. Richard holds a BSc. in Electronics

and Communications Engineering from Newport

University, USA and MSc in Telematics from Middlesex

University, UK. He is currently studying for an MBA in

International Business at University of Cumbria in UK.

Richard holds a number of Industry accreditation in

Networking, Security and Storage technologies.





“These are excellent pieces of work achieved by

our nurses under the supervision of Sheba. It is

gratifying to note that our nurses have distinguished

themselves. I believe they are now ready to work at

the University of Ghana Medical Centre. There's

no doubt that the training has been excellent and

I firmly believe that the knowledge and experience

they have gained will be translated into action at

UGMC when it starts. We want to be unique in

Africa and we want to start right. Our nurses have

got it. Congratulations to all who have contributed

to this success story.”

The opening of a new hospital is always an important

occasion and a source of pride to any community and the

establishment of an advanced Academic Medical Center in

Africa is a cause for great celebration.

The University of Ghana Medical Centre would, in the words

of Former President (2012-2017) John Dramani Mahama, be

“among the best centers for medical training in Africa”, and

the impact on medical training would be enormous across the

country. “The 650-bed facility is the first of its kind in West

Africa and second to only a few in South Africa.”

The construction of the $217 million medical center,

initiated by the Government of Ghana and the University

of Ghana, was undertaken by the Israeli company EDC.

The International Division of the Sheba Medical Center,

Tel Hashomer, Israel, was commissioned to develop and

undertake training programs for the future senior staff of

the hospital.

this unique health project had the highest level of clinical

and academic experience as well as a pioneering vision.

The training programs were thus specifically designed

to enhance their leadership and management skills

in preparation for their future role as the foundation

upon which the new hospital could integrate the latest

technologies and medical equipment as an advanced

functioning living medical center.

The Sheba Medical Center (SMC) participated in the staff

recruitment and selection phase and shortly afterwards,

started receiving the newly recruited senior staff at SMC for

hands-on training sessions in groups of 30 at a time.


From the very beginning it became abundantly clear that the

senior staff of the hospital (managers, physicians, nurses,

administrators) shared the dream of establishing the new

hospital and making it the crème de la crème of Ghana’s

hospitals. All those who were selected to participate in

Professor Aaron Lawson

These phenomenal women and men left their families,

country and patients for periods of 3 to 18 months, believing

in their ability to make a significant difference to health

care in Ghana. The training program undertaken by Sheba’s

senior staff included presentations, lectures, workshops,

clinical work, tours, medical literature reviews, conferences

and more. The many subjects covered included: the principles

of hospital management; management of care models:

protocols, medical records and clinical standards; personnel

management: employee recruitment and retention; conflict

management skills; Implementation of new technologies

and equipment; patient safety and risk management; IT in

the medical field; principles of bioethics: health promotion

messages and preparing for the new hospital.

The Sheba Medical center is proud to act as a facilitator

for this project, combining the many different elements of a

hospital together and making them into a single viable entity.

Most of the Ghanaian medical staff did not know each other

before arriving at SMC; clinical, administrative and service

standards were non-existent and each of the selected leaders

had their own individual agenda, experience and habits.

Over the training session period, very close and warm

relationships developed between the Ghanaian and Sheba

teams and importantly among the newly recruited Ghanaian

staff. The feelings of the many nurses are best shown in the

wonderful letter we received:

“I deem it a great privilege to represent this group in thanking

all who have made this training program a success. Our utmost

gratitude goes to God almighty whose grace has been with us

from the onset till today. We say a big thank you for accepting

us and accommodating us during our clinical experience at

the various departments. Our appreciation also goes to Dr.

Ella Koren, Principal of the Ziva Tal Academic School of

Nursing and your vibrant team, who took us in and made your

premises available for some of our lectures, simulations and

demonstrations, and above all giving us a pool of knowledge to

tap from. Organising such an experience requires meticulous

planning and execution with an eye for detail. We cannot

thank you enough for all the care, love and support shown

towards us in these past three months: the food, shelter, our

numerous and diverse needs and demands and the tours.

In the words of Oscar Wilde, “the smallest act of kindness is

worth more than the grandest intention.”

God bless you all. We will miss you.

We look forward to seeing you in our new hospital in Ghana.”

It was SMC's greatest privilege and honor to be part of the

establishment of Ghana's new advanced academic medical

center. Our interaction with the wonderful and talented

personnel from Ghana was a truly enriching experience for

the staff of the Sheba Medical Center and we look forward

to a long lasting friendship and collaboration.




“This synagogue will inspire our patients and

provide them with the spiritual strength to heal.”

Featuring an eye-catching combination of modern design

and traditional motif, Sheba Medical Center unveiled its

spectacular new “Beit Yehuda and Tamar” synagogue mid-

May at a ceremony that attracted rabbinical luminaries,

community leaders, noted philanthropists and the hospital’s

executive staff.

Prominent businessman and philanthropist, Lev Leviev,

along with his wife Olga, who have contributed to several

major projects at Sheba in the past, highlighted by the Olga

and Lev Leviev Heart Center, spearheaded the renovation

and expansion of the synagogue along with several other

families, who donated funds to create the one-of-a-kind

architectural marvel. Artistic high glass-stained windows, a

ceiling diamond and a hanging Torah Ark in the shape of a

Star of David accentuate the synagogue’s unique design by

German painter and glass artist, Yvelle Gabriel, a Christian

born in Mainz, who was deeply inspired by the work of

Marc Chagall. Gabriel created the artistic design of the

synagogue and was motivated by building spiritual bridges

between Germany and Israel, between Christians and Jews.

Chagall’s last work ever before his death were the amazing

windows in the St. Stephan Cathedral in Mainz.

Brimming with pride and excitement, Professor Yitshak

Kreiss, director General of Sheba Medical Center said, “It

is important that we treat our patients in a humane manner.

This synagogue will inspire our patients and provide them

with the spiritual strength to heal.”


Synagogue Opening - Ceremony

© Sheba Medical Center

© Sheba Medical Center

Mr. Leviev revealed, “This hospital is such a special place.

I have seen people coming to the old, original synagogue,

which did not have enough room to accommodate every

patient, many of whom were attached to their infusion

lines, crying during the prayers. It is my wish and hope

that this new, larger synagogue with its amazing glass art

will provide them the comfort they need to pray for mercy

from the Almighty and recover quickly from their illnesses.”

Synagogue, church or mosque – all houses of worship!

At Sheba, the synagogue is open to all patients in need of

spiritual support and comfort, regardless of origin, color

and creed.


Synagogue Opening - Chief Rabbi of Russia

© Sheba Medical Center

Synagogue Opening - Yvelle Gabriel and Prof. Yitshak Kreiss with Certificate

© Sheba Medical Center


Synagogue Opening - Lev Leviev, Rabbi Yitzhak Youssef, Prof. Yitshak Kreiss

© Sheba Medical Center





Prof. Yitshak Kreiss

Director General of the Sheba Medical Center

Israel’s National Hospital and City of Health since 1948

For his direct involvement and devotion to

aiding any human being in need of assistance, from all walks of life.

For treating victims of conflicts and

disasters all over the world.

For his ground-breaking research which has helped

to develop state-of-the-art natural disaster medical relief concepts,

making him a global expert and leader in this category.

For his steadfast contributions to current global medical challenges.

June 14, 2018

Barbara Dietrich

Diplomatic World

Owner and CEO




Jacqueline Couder (Director International Relations

at VUB), Ami Azar (Project Coordinator Arabic

language courses), Jan Cornelis (Academic Attaché





In October 2016, the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB)

launched a project on Arabic language learning for children

aged 6-15 in Brussels. The children follow extra-curricular

courses, four hours a week. The project was designed in

response to the large migration influx, the need for new

innovative answers to integration problems in the host

countries and concern about the quality of teaching and

teachers for Arabic language learning as a second language.

We are convinced that teaching about important social

themes and intercultural values in the children’s mother

tongue or language of their country of origin, will help them

in developing a strong positive image of their own identity.

Language is indeed pivotal in this development. More

languages mean better mutual understanding, tolerance and


Children take their graduation certificate and gift from VUB.

of our courses is the modern curriculum, independent of

religion and illustrated with cartoon figures from Arabic

and European origin. We just finished the first course

book, tailormade for this type of classes. It is now ready for

printing – the first of eight! The project received a financial

contribution from the King Baudouin Foundation.


You can read more about the societal and individual

offspring of the Arabic Language Classes in Diplomatic

World 54. Since 2016, the success has been impressive: the

first year we had 164 children, now 300 with a waiting list

of another 300 candidates. A unique selling proposition

The main characters of the curriculum. (two from Arabic origin

and two from European origin)

On 5 May, VUB organised the graduation ceremony for

graduates of the 2nd year of the Arabic Language Classes.

Despite the competition with the Iris festivities in Brussels

and open-door events in several schools, a total of 8

buses packed with cheerful children and parents arrived

on campus from the 4 locations of the Go School Group

in Brussels where classes are organised. After a word of

welcome by prof. Sonja Snacken, VUB Vice Rector for

International Relations, the children danced and sang

their hearts out, accompanied by the Wassel music band.

H.E. Dr. Yousef Bataineh, Ambassador of the Hashemite

Kingdom of Jordan in Belgium, H.E. Jasem Mohamed

Albudaiwi, Ambassador of the State of Kuwait in Belgium,

H.E. Mohammed Ameur, Ambassador of the Kingdom of

Morocco in Belgium and H.E. Fadi Hajali, Ambassador of

Lebanon in Belgium, addressed the lively audience with

great enthusiasm.

The Kuwaiti ambassador Mr. Jassim M. Al-Bdaiwi, the Jordanian ambassador Mr. Yousef Bataineh, the Moroccan ambassador Mr. Mohammed Ameur,

vice rector VUB for international relations Prof. Sonja Snacken, the wife of the Lebanese ambassador Mrs. Ksenia Hajali, the Lebanese ambassador

Mr. Fadi Hajali, pro vice rector VUB Prof. Jan Cornelis, director international relations office Dr. Jacqueline Couder, Directeur Foundation

& Fellowship Mrs. Isabelle Marneffe.

The ambassadors awarded the certificates to the children, as

well as some goodies from VUB and a t-shirt offered by H.E.

Albudaiwi. The audience and the project team went ecstatic

when H.E. Albudaiwi announced financial support for the

project. The children were the center of attention, but the

VUB students were not forgotten by H.E. Bataineh, who

announced 5 internship places at the Embassy of Jordan.

The members of the VUB International Relations office,

the VUB experts in linguistics and the team of teachers

are already preparing for the next schoolyear and the

summertime will be devoted to further development of

course materials. As of September 2018, Arabic language

classes will also be broadcast by Radio AraBel for a broader

societal outreach.

The Kuwaiti ambassador Mr. Jassim M. Al-Bdaiwi


“I was so pleased to take part in your team's endeavors

who obviously exerted genuine efforts with sincerity and

passion. I congratulate you all. I am certain this event and

the program will be a milestone in the life of many graduate

children. Many of them have been inspired to work for a

brighter future.”

Extra efforts are still necessary to reach sustainability

of the project. The VUB Foundation

www.vubfoundation.be is looking forward to receiving

your suggestions: consultation of your network for

potential donors, direct financial contributions or

other creative ideas.







Stop and sit for one minute before reading those

words, and Imagine. Imagine that you are able

to see the world from the inside out. If you can

visualize that, picture you have the key for society

transformation, evolution and revenue opportunities.

The world is perceived by constant social development

challenges. We are used to analising society deductively and

not inductively and both are necessary. Too many children in

Africa, too few children in Europe, overpopulated civilisations

and scarce business mindset owners. The list continues.

We can express opinions aloud and try to convince

ourselves that the power remains only externally but

the solid rock is formed internally, after which we move

externally. Multilateral perspectives are a question of global

survival. Propaganda marketing techniques are breakable at

a little breeze of challenge. True professional relationships

mean true results in the right timing and the positive

momentum of corporate values.

Like Mark Twain said, “Whenever you find yourself on the

side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.” After

serving more than a hundred countries, there are two global

laws of Business Prosperity that usually not all companies

recognise immediately: it’s the financial value of Cultural

Relationships Intelligence and Corporate Diplomacy. The

foundations of the ability to build and maintain reputation

with real business development while its protocol must be

integrated into the daily lives of our organisations.

To communicate well at the global professional ground is

key to success, and will impact any future venture. Different

stakeholders have different histories, values, backgrounds

and even economic philosophies and those facts makes us

question if there are social and professional boundaries of

loss and gain in the balance sheet.


The current businesses and social environments are

multicultural, multi-generational and multilingual. This

context will push any business and public institution to

examine new models of communication around the world

constantly. Businesses don’t want to wait, governments

don’t want to speed up. This is what I call, a moment of

impact, the way the choice is made. To wait when timing

demands speed when the green light is there.


Conscious of diversity, we need to re-balance social,

international and business relations, thus creating

improvement and confidence at any position. Understanding

corporate diplomacy importance starts with awareness, but

moves to a question of consciousness.

Not as easy as it sounds because future failed

organisations simply don’t invest in long-term

relationships and are confused on the concepts of

flexibility and opportunity.

An Innovation in Diplomacy methodology within a solid

corporate diplomacy strategy awards us a self-awareness of

who we are and what we stand for in our corporate culture.

“The empires of the future are empires of the mind,” said

Winston Churchill, and it is valid today.

Corporate Diplomacy and Cultural Intelligence are

blistering topics inside of an organisation today. The job

market demands men and women who are cross-culturally

astute in dealing with the stakeholders to build a productive

relationship — a relationship in which a stakeholder is

helped to obtain his objectives while delivering on added

value. In any given situation, knowledge of those skills is a

talent that can be learned.

Business success in international markets is more than just

being the greatest in the known bubble. It requires building

bonds of understanding within and across distinct strategic

communication philosophies. Therefore, it is a central

instrument for today’s official, manager or professional

ready for worldwide opportunities.

If we are thinking about a big investment decisions of

100 million euros or small investments of 10 million,

firms follow business models, indicators and analyses

that were previous defined. When we define corporate

diplomacy methodologies as add-on indicators, we are not

talking about vague introductions or non-valued business

development actions but quantifiable results through

partnerships and reputation measurement tools that clearly

show the financial and social impact in the workplace.

Ines Pires

to create the ecosystem that helps to channel and quantify

the market opportunities and avoid mistakes that cost

organisations millions of euros by failing to develop

intelligence-care with external stakeholders.

Now stand up, imagine you can see the world from outside

in. If you can visualize both pictures now “inside out” and

“outside in” you have the key for society transformation,

evolution, revenues opportunities but above all to impact


In her new book, Corporate Diplomacy, The ISPD+

Innovation in Diplomacy Group founder, Ines Pires

advises public and private organisations to build the

capability to communicate strategically to develop

long lasting alliances.

We update the momentum and monitoring progress

of initiatives such as business innovation and state

sustainability with whatever indicators they are tracking.

Corporate diplomacy strategies linked with cultural

intelligence figure out how external stakeholders link into

the existing indicators and how we can monitor those addons

and improve upon those existing indicators.

To strengthen innovative strategic communication in

organisations we must make the structural changes to adapt

to new markets in new realities. Relationships are built and

maintained based on reputation and trust. Partnerships

among sectors, industries and philosophies will continue


Ines Pires is an economist, human interactions

scholar and entrepreneur. Due to her vision to fill

the gap between cultural intelligence learning across

industries and business development results, she is

an interactions innovator. She has different awards

and advised Forbes 500 corporations, governments

of more than 100 countries and she is a published

author. She is the founder of the ISPD Group and the

global network Innovation in Diplomacy.







The Automobile Club de Monaco is a motoring club

that organizes the Monte Carlo Rally, a car race

that starts at points all over Europe and converges

in Monte Carlo. Its first edition took place in 1911,

starting from 11 cities in Europe including

St. Petersburg.

The Monte Carlo Rally was ordered by Prince Albert I

of Monaco, as an important means of demonstrating

improvements and innovations to automobiles. On January

21st, 1911, 23 cars set out for the first Monte Carlo Rally

from 11 different locations. The rally was judged on driving,

the elegance of the car, passenger comfort and the condition

in which it arrived in the principality. Andrei Nagel was the

fastest driver of the race that started in St. Petersburg.

The early days of the motoring sport in Russia began

in 1898 when the first races took place just outside of

St. Petersburg. In 1902, the country’s first and most

influential automobile association, the St. Petersburg

Automobile Club (or “SPAK”), was founded. It promoted

the automobile culture by holding races, exhibitions and

cooperating with newspapers and magazines devoted to the

auto industry.


Tsar Nicholas II

One of SPAK’s founders was Andrei Nagel, the most

famous automobile journalist and car racer in Imperial

Russia. He was somewhat of a celebrity, with fans referring

to him as “a man who eats distances and snacks on tires.”

Nagel not only organized and took part in car races

and exhibitions, but also participated in international

competitions in Europe. For example, in 1911 he beat 87

competitors and finished first in his Russo-Balt car in

the St. Petersburg to Monaco rally that crossed 3.257

kilometres in 195 hours 23 minutes. For his victory Nagel

received a state prize from Tsar Nicholas II. In 1902, Nagel

also founded the first magazine devoted to the automobile

industry in Russia named Automobile.

During the first Rally, the weather conditions were extreme

during the journey in Central Europe to the Principality

of Monaco. The racers went via Riga (where they were

chased by a pack of wolves and were nearly devoured),

Königsberg, Berlin, Heidelberg and Belfort. The weather

only softened from Lyon to reach Avignon. Nagel and his

companion Mikhailov arrive as first competitors in the

Principality by following the road from Berlin. The total

distance was 3.257 kilometres, with a peak speed of 167


Nagel and Mikhailov were ranked ninth in the Rally

overall. Their car was decorated with flags for their victory

tour and at the princely palace they received the Longest

Course Award, and that of the resistance. The Imperial

Automobile Club gave a gala evening where they were

offered a bonus of 600 francs at the time. Upon Nagel’s

return, the Tsar awarded him membership of the Order of

St. Anne.

Prince Albert I






What associations come to your mind when you

hear the "International Economic Forum"?

Probably, like most of us, you imagine presidents, bankers,

owners of the largest corporations, in a word – the

authorities and the powerful ones who gather to solve

global problems and tasks at the highest level. And of

course, the media and journalists who are rushing to tell

everything most important and significant on air, not

missing a single detail. Unwittingly or not, we are watching

this major event in the global economy on TV screens, in

newspapers and magazines, on the Internet. Not always

understanding the meaning of what is happening, but all

hoping for a change for the better, we follow the Forum

with interest, where so many influential people from all

over the world are gathered and huge sums of money are

spent. However, this is what we see from the outside. How

does the Forum look from within, and who are those

members of the Forum?

I was lucky to participate in such a project called “The

Peace Rally’, which is a part of the program of the

St. Petersburg International Economic Forum 2018. After

receiving an invitation from the organizer of the rally and

the President of the Future of the Motherland Foundation,

I started this exciting journey. Without any exaggeration,

I would like to express my gratitude to the organizer of

the Peace Rally and the president of the Future of the

Kiury Usmanov, David Datuna, Denny Greve and Jüri Tamm

Denny Greve and David Datuna

© Barbara Dietrich

Motherland Foundation Kiury Usmanov, not so much for

the invitation, but for his active participation and charitable

projects contributing to the unification of Europe and


At the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum, I

found myself surrounded by famous people with whom

I could communicate without cameras and restrictions.

However, before I talk about those with whom I had the

rare opportunity to talk, I want to note the very atmosphere

of the event. We must not forget that the Peace Rally was

first held in May 2017, and was attended by representatives

of the European aristocracy and business elite of the Old

World on personal rarity cars. The rally was held under the

slogans: "Europe loves Russia", "Europe supports Russia"

and "We are together". Participants of the rally passed

through the territory of 11 states of Europe, appealing

for peace and cooperation with Russia. We may say that

the peacekeeping mission that began in 2017 found its

continuation in 2018. Now the retro cars were joined by

sports cars, and in addition to representatives of aristocratic

circles and business elite, famous figures of show business

took part in the rally. The motto of the Peace Rally 2018

was "The countries of the West and Russia have a common

peacekeeping road". All of this had reflection in the spirit of

the event, which was held in a warm, friendly atmosphere.

Despite the fact that participants of the Peace Rally were

from many countries, there was absolutely no stiffness in


Of course, one should recognize the great merit of the

organizers of the project in this. Despite the rich program,

everything went very smoothly and clearly. We did not have

to wait or suddenly rush somewhere, almost everything was

thought through to the smallest detail. Perhaps, that is why

the participants had plenty of time for informal friendly

communication, which, in my opinion, is the key to further

successful business relations. Of course, we were very lucky

with the weather – warm sunny May in St. Petersburg added

success to the event.

Among the world-famous people invited to participate in the

Peace Rally with whom I had the opportunity to talk I want

to highlight Jüri Tamm, Olympic athlete, Honorary Consul

of Monaco in Estonia, Vice President of the National

Olympic Committee of Estonia, and David Datuna, an

American artist. Sports and art have long gone hand in

hand in strengthening peace and friendly relations not only

between people, but also between countries. Therefore, it

was quite logical that I met these people on the Peace Rally.

According to numerous publications David Datuna is one of

the most sold and expensive artists in the world. He became

famous for his works made with a unique technique. With

the help of modern technologies, diligence and brilliant

ideas, he proved that despite ethnic and cultural separation,

the whole world is bound by a chain of outstanding

personalities and actions. The flags of nearly 80 countries,

created by him for several years, help us to understand how

far his work is spreading and that it really has no limits.

Kiury Usmanov

© Kiury Usmanov

But also because the very concept of his art, emphasizing

the individuality of any object, makes us think and look at

something that is familiar to us in a completely new way.

In my opinion, the Peace Rally, which is a part of the

St. Petersburg International Economic Forum, is also trying

to change the stagnant stereotypes and offer a softer type

of dialogue between countries. As a representative of the

Kingdom of Norway, it was very important for me to make

my own small contribution to this project, since diplomacy,

the establishment of friendly and mutually respectful

relations in all spheres of activity are the fundamental

principles of Norwegian society. This event has left an

indelible mark on my heart, with warmth I remember

a few days spent on the Peace Rally in communication

with people who really worry about the future and are

contributing to the strengthening of peace.

When I found out that David Datuna was invited to

the Peace Rally, I certainly had a desire to talk to him

personally. How surprised I was when after personal

communication this famous artist turned out to be a very

sincere, open person, without a drop of arrogance, a man

who is really passionate for his job. Almost immediately,

I realized that if one of the modern representatives of the

creative elite could be invited to the Peace Rally, this person

should only be him, David Datuna. Not only because his

work is permeated with modern technologies and meets the

goals of the event itself. After all, the Peace Rally has farreaching

goals, and therefore needs the newest technologies.

© Barbara Dietrich



© Barbara Dietrich



30 May 2018

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