Category Archives: BELGIUM

EU «grave concerns» over China leap in Hong Kong

Today the EU top diplomat Josep Borrell has issued the Declaration on behalf of the European Union on Hong Kong:

The EU expresses its grave concern at the steps taken by China on 28 May, which are not in conformity with its international commitments (Sino-British Joint Declaration of 1984) and the Hong Kong Basic Law. This risks to seriously undermine the ‘One Country Two Systems’ principle and the high degree of autonomy of the Special Administrative Region of Hong Kong”.
“EU relations with China are based on mutual respect and trust. This decision further calls into question China’s will to uphold its international commitments. We will raise the issue in our continuing dialogue with China”.

At presentlChina is proposing to introduce a new national security law, which critics believe could be used to crack down on rights and political activists.

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‘Mad Meg’ is back to Antwerp Museum

Pieter Bruegel the Elder’s Mad Meg is back home at the Mayer van den Bergh Museum in Antwerp after a two-year absence. The painting will be back on show as one of Mayer van den Bergh’s star attractions from 22 January onward. Having undergone thorough restoration at the Royal Institute for Cultural Heritage (KIK-IRPA) in Brussels, the painting first travelled to the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna for the major Bruegel exhibition there.

Pieter Bruegel the Elder’s Mad Meg has come home. Visitors can renew their acquaintance with the work from 22 January at the home of its discoverer, Fritz Mayer van den Bergh, where it will be on prominent display once more as one of the museum’s star attractions. Previously known as a dark and weird landscape, with a deep-red sky and touches of brown, the painting looks considerably fresher since its restoration. The yellowed layers of varnish and later overpainting have been removed and the splendid original colours are back. The palette of colours has become brighter and more varied, and the panel reveals details that were long invisible, such as the teddy bear, the finely executed helmets and the magnificent landscape in the background. Bruegel’s brushwork and exceptional painter’s talent are visible once more. The sense of space has been restored and the scene as a whole displays a much clearer effect of depth.

In addition to the general Bruegel celebrations in 2019, the Mayer van den Bergh Museum has another reason to mark the return of Dulle Griet: on 5 October, it will be 125 years to the day since Fritz Mayer van den Bergh bought the painting at an auction in Cologne. The strange work was hung high up on a wall and attracted little interest from prospective buyers. Fritz Mayer van den Bergh proved more alert than the various prestigious museums and was able to acquire the painting – a masterpiece previously believed lost – for just 448 old Belgian francs. Mayer van den Bergh had a nose for brilliant discoveries like this and he was fascinated by art that had fallen out of fashion and been forgotten.

Florent Van Ertborn, who acquired around a hundred of the masterpieces now in the Museum of Fine Art in Antwerp, was similarly ahead of his time and also had an eye for the beauty and quality of medieval and Renaissance art.

Starting on 5 October 2019, the Mayer van den Bergh Museum is devoting an exhibition to the shared passion of these leading Antwerp collectors. In addition to Mad Meg and masterpieces by Jean Fouquet, Rogier van der Weyden and Gerard David, visitors will discover the stories behind the acquisitions. Whether these were bargains, investments or brilliant discoveries, Fritz and Florent had a connoisseur’s eye that is clearly visible in the chosen works from their collections. In collaboration with the Royal Museum of Fine Arts in Antwerp.

Antwerp politics scandalized by ISIS children return

In response to controversial decision of Belgium first instance Court to repatriate six children and two women – wives and children of Islamic state (ISIS) terrorist group militants , Flemish politician Filip Dewinter published a video of “Jihad school” for very young boys, who are taught radical Islam at very early age. (Image above: Al Nusra school in Syria).

In a shocking footage young children phrase Osama bin Laden, and explain that he is the hero they look up to. They also say they would be honored to become martyrs.

Flemish-speaking Court of First Instance had ordered the government to take “all necessary and possible measures” to return children from Syria. The government must deliver within 40 days or face fines of 5,000 euros a day per child.

The children’s mothers, Tatiana Wielandt (26), and Bouchra Abouallal (25), are both Belgian citizens married to ISIS militants fighting in Syria. After their husbands vanished, they were locked up in the Al Hawl camp near the Iraqi border. Both women were sentenced  in absentia  by a court in Antwerp earlier this year for involvement in terrorist activities, and will face five years in jail if enter Belgium.

Filip Dewinter is a Member of Flemish Parliament, and one of the leading members of Vlams Belang nationalist party.

VIDEO: The Lion Cubs Religious Academy, one of several schools run by al Qaeda’s Syrian affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra.  Medyan Dairieh, the filmmaker, gained exclusive access to the group, spending time with the militia’s current leadership and the younger generation being indoctrinated to replace them.

#21juillet: Belgium National Day

On the occasion of Belgian National Day, on 20 and 21 July the FPS Chancery of the Prime Minister, the Ministry of Defence, the FPS Home Affairs and the federal and local police, in close cooperation with the Association for the Advancement and Promotion of Brussels, have organised and hosted the activities for the general public in Brussels. National Day has been intended to become a large-scale popular event, offering fellow citizens the chance to celebrate in the heart of our capital.

Just like the federal campaign “Belgium, uniquely phenomenal”, the festivities of 21 July contribute to promoting a positive image of Belgium.

King Philippe of Belgium and Queen Mathilde at military parade next to Royal Palace, Brussels.

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Belgium is a home to  NATO Headquarters since 1967, hosting over 5,000 meetings every year.

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50 years of presence of NATO SHAPE in Mons, Belgium.

PHOTO: Anna van Densky courtesy to @brusselsdiplomatic

Bomb alert at Brussels Airport Zaventem

The Federal police informed about the conclusion of the security operation in Brussels Airport Zaventem – no suspicious elements have been found after the intensive search.

The police perimeter has been established after the presumably terrorist writings were discovered in a gentlemen toilet (19:45). Belgium sources report “Allah Akbar!” message and a threat of a bomb explosion. The ground police operation has not disturbed the departures and arrivals of the passengers, the Airport services underlined. (PHOTO: illustration).

 

ALERT! Dogs poisoned in Brussels

 

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ALERT for dog-owners:

‘A several dogs have been poisoned in recent days in the gardens of Abbey  of La Cambre (Ixelles, Brussels). My colleagues at SOS Vétérinaire confirm this information. They have been called several times for dogs, walked in these gardens. The animals exhibited ptyalism, vomiting or convulsions,” – said veterinarian Laurence de Meester, who is also a member of Council for animal welfare.

Belgium is a home to one and a half million dogs. Every third family in Belgium owns a dog, with German shepard being the most popular pet, however the population of chihuahua has grown rapidly in recent years. There are already 16 official breeders of this canine race in high demand.

Belgium national newspaper La Libre issued an alert.

 

Pol Bury at BOZAR

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BOZAR 23/2-4/06/2017  The Belgian artist Pol Bury (1922-2005) is one of the founders of kinetic art. After his beginnings in painting, marked by the influence of Magritte, and time spent with other members of Jeune Peinture belge and CoBrA, he decided to follow a new path. His fascination for the art of Alexander Calder resulted in him turning towards sculpture and incorporating motion in his work. Thanks to his deeply personal work, which is both a successor of surrealism and bursting with innovation, he made a name for himself in the Paris and New York art scenes, thus obtaining international recognition.

This retrospective is an opportunity to discover Bury’s vast and diverse oeuvre. Paintings, sculptures, mobile works, fountains, jewellery, graphic and written creations are all on display in the biggest exhibition Belgium has dedicated to this major artist in twenty years.

 

 

 

Brexit: "heafty bill"

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Britain will need years to negotiate a future trade deal with the European Union after it quits the bloc and will be landed with a “very hefty bill” from Brussels on leaving, EU chief executive Jean-Claude Juncker said on Tuesday.

Noting that the Brexit talks expected to be launched next month would last two years before Britain withdraws from the bloc, Juncker said in a speech to the Belgian parliament: “To agree on the future architecture of relations between the United Kingdom and the European Union, we will need years.”

Brussels Airport 26th ranking

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Brussels Airport ‘Zaventem’ is declared the 26th in ranking of all European airports in terms of annual passenger numbers.

It received more than 21.7 million passengers in 2016, per figures published on Friday by ACI Europe, an association representing 500 airports in 45 European countries.

Passenger numbers at Brussels Airport, which have decreased by 7% over the year, suffered as a result of the attacks perpetrated on March 22nd, 2016.

Compared to 2014, passenger numbers at the top Belgium airport have slightly decreased by 0.5%. Brussels Airport is below Lisbon Airport and above Berlin-Tegel Airport. Last year, Brussels Airport held 21st place in the rankings.

Brussels South Charleroi Airport is in 63rd position, with nearly 7.3 million passengers in 2016. The growth in passenger numbers on the tarmac of the leading Walloon airport was 5% compared to 2015, and 13.5% compared to 2014. Last year, Brussels South Charleroi Airport scooped 61st place.

EU Court refuses terrorist related asylum-seeker

terroristsToday the Court of Justice of the European Union – the highest justice instance – decided to reject the appeal of suspect in link to terrorist asylum claim.

The case of Moroccan national Mostafa Lounani, jailed for six years in Belgium for assisting in forging documents as part of a network sending volunteer jihadis to Iraq.

Lounani applied for refugee status because he feared persecution if he were returned to Morocco. The European Court of Justice ruled that even if someone is not involved in jihad personally or does not support terrorists directly,  asylum can be denied for indirect forms of assistance to fighters helping to recruit, organize or supply foreign fighters with equipment.

“…The Court notes, first, that it is clear from the file that Mr Lounani did not personally commit terrorist acts, or instigate such acts, or participate in their commission.

Nonetheless, the concept of ‘acts contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations’ is not confined to terrorist acts. The Court notes in particular that, in Resolution 2178 (2014), the United Nations Security Council expressed its ‘grave concern over the acute and growing threat posed by foreign terrorist fighters’ and its concern with regard to the international networks established by terrorist entities enabling them to move between States fighters of all nationalities and the resources to support them.

Consequently, application of the ground for exclusion of refugee status laid down in the directive cannot be confined to the actual perpetrators of terrorist acts, but can also extend to the persons who engage in activities of recruitment, organisation, transportation or equipment of individuals who travel to a State other than their States of residence or nationality for the purpose of, inter alia, the perpetration, planning or preparation of terrorist acts. The Court states that the final assessment of an application for international protection is the task of the competent national authorities, subject to review by the national courts.

However, the Court notes, among the factors to be taken into consideration, as stated by the Belgian Conseil d’État itself, that Mr Lounani was a member of the leadership of a terrorist group operating internationally which was registered, on 10 October 2002, on the United Nations list identifying certain individuals and entities that are subject to sanctions and which has continued to be named on that list, as updated since that date. His logistical support to the activities of that group has an international dimension in so far as he was involved in the forgery of passports and assisted volunteers who wanted to travel to Iraq. In the opinion of the Court, such acts can justify exclusion from refugee status.

Further, the fact that Mr Lounani was convicted of participation in the activities of a terrorist group and that conviction has become final is, in the context of the individual assessment that must be undertaken by the competent authority, of particular importance”.  Court of Justice of the European Union

 

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