Tag Archives: Anna van Densky

BRAFA: glorious Brussels art fair

Brussels 17.06.2022 Anna van Densky The 67th edition of the international BRAFA Art Fair takes place from Sunday 19 and Sunday 26 June 2022 at Brussels Expo. A unique occasion for art lovers to admire several millennia of artistic creation presented by 115 established and new art galleries.

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From 10,000 to 15,000 works ranging in different categories: from archaeology to contemporary art and design will be presented in Brussels. From a unique Murano blown glass luminary, to the painting ‘Les amoureux aux deux bouquets et le peintre’ by Marc Chagall, both collectors and art lovers will have the opportunity to enjoy exceptional drawings, paintings, furniture, sculpture, jewellery, tribal art, design…

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Whilst this change of scenery from Tour and Taxi to Brussels Expo has undoubtedly breathed new life into BRAFA, the Fair has also retained its essential values: quality, authenticity and eclecticism. Collectors will be able to explore the aisles where long-standing galleries and 18 new exhibitors will be displayed in a circuit that promotes discovery and a mix of styles.

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This year, amongst other novelties, and faithful to its constant evolution, BRAFA will be welcoming
the Galerie Kevorkian, specialised in the arts of the ancient East and Islamic Civilization, alongside
twenty other specialties. Traditionally than 80 independent experts were invited prior to the opening to rigorously scan thousands of works.

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Collectors will find fascinating objects from all over the world. As a Belgian fair, BRAFA boasts many precious pearls of Belgian art, including Samuel Van Hoegaerden, who will exhibit logograms by Christian Dotremont.
Francis Maere will present a stand devoted to the sculptures and drawings of Eugene Dodeigne. The
Collectors Gallery will exhibit a beautiful bracelet by Pol Bury, and two exceptional
Paul Delvaux masterpieces which can be admired at Stern Pissaro and De Jonckheere.

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BRAFA 2022 will also be a great opportunity to get to know the works of artists from outside Europe,
including the Cameroonian artist Barthélémy Toguo at Nosbaum Reding, the American artist Summer
Wheat at Zidoun-Bossuyt Gallery and the American-Kenyan artist Wangechi Mutu at Galerie
Boulakia.

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As the centrepiece of its stand, Montagut Gallery (stand 80) will be presenting an exceptional Soninke
statue, from the Dogon culture, Mali, thirteenth century.

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A selection of “fetishes” from the Democratic Republic of Congo will also be on display, at Didier Claes.
The exhibition “Nkisi” focuses on the beauty of these “force-objects” which, through the addition of various elements, were magically charged and enabled access to their ritual function of divination and
communication with the spirits. Dalton Somaré (stand 111) will present a very graphic portrait mask,
Baule, Côte d’Ivoire, late nineteenth century, with traces of polychrome.

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Borrell sends EU formal response to Lavrov

Brussels 10.02.2022 Anna van Densky: The European Union has formally handed over its collective response to the letter of Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on the European security issues, the EEAS spokesperson announced, and Russian diplomatic mission to the EU confirmed.

“Permanent Representative of Russia to the EU Vladimir Chizhov met Director Security and Defense policy at the European External Action Service Joanneke Balfoort, who on the instruction of the High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell handed over his address to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on behalf of foreign ministers of 27 EU member-states,” the Permanent Mission said.

The document is the response to the address of the Russian Foreign Minister on the security indivisibility topic, sent on January 28 of this year to top diplomats of certain European countries, the US and Canada.

Russian diplomatic mission made it clear that the EU does not anticipate to make the contents of this response public, the diplomatic mission source added, mentioning as a reference the name of Joanneke Balfoort, the Director Security and Defence policy at European External Action Service.

Meanwhile in Moscow Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has informed British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss of Kiev’s reluctance to implement the Minsk Agreements, as Lavrov had underlined at a press conference following his talks with Truss.

“We thoroughly explained the situation around Kiev’s reluctance to implement the Minsk Agreements as the Ukrainian regime is not only unwilling to fulfil them but openly rejects them,” Lavrov said .

According to the top diplomat Russia also “explained what steps we are taking to convince those who have influence on the Kiev regime to make [Ukrainian President Vladimir] Zelensky and his government implement their obligations under the Minsk Agreements, which were enshrined in the UN Security Council’s resolution,” Lavrov continued.

Further Lavrov added that Moscow and London interpreted the Minsk accords in different ways.

“We have different interpretations of the Minsk Agreements though I don’t understand how it is possible to have different interpretations of what is written in black and white,” the Russian top diplomat explained.

Russia closes DW office in Moscow

Brussels 06.02.2022 Anna van Densky Moscow took retaliatory measures towards German broadcaster Deutsche Welle following Berlin’s decision to ban RT DE in Germany to demonstrate that further steps in this direction will come at a cost, Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on Saturday, February 5 in an interview.

“We respond, we’ve been taught, we are doing this to demonstrate that further steps in this direction will come at a cost,” the diplomat stressed.

On February 2, the Commission on Licensing and Supervision banned the broadcasting of the RT DE TV channel in Germany since there was no required license under the media law.

The Russian Foreign Ministry announced earlier that Moscow was closing the Deutsche Welle’s news bureau in Russia as the first stage of retaliatory measures following the German regulator’s move to ban RT DE in Germany.

The other measures will include the withdrawal of credentials from all staff members at Deutsche Welle’s Russian bureau and the launch of a process aimed at identifying Germany’s government and public agencies involved in banning RT DE from broadcasting and putting other kinds of pressure on the Russian media outlet, who will eventually be barred from entering Russia.

“The decision by the Russian authorities to ban the German public service broadcaster Deutsche Welle from broadcasting in Russia, revoke the accreditation of its employees, suggest to consider designating it as a ”foreign agent” and close its office in Moscow, is unacceptable and lacks any justification” the spokesperson for the EU diplomacy said.

Belarus 1000 political prisoners

Brussels 28.01.2021 Anna van Densky “The number of political prisoners in Belarus has now reached 1000, and continues to grow. This shameful milestone reflects ongoing crackdown of the Lukashenko (pictured) regime against his own population. In addition, many thousands of protestors have fled the country to avoid persecution” reads the Statement by the EEAS Spokesperson on the political prisoners in Belarus.

“In today’s Belarus, the space for democratic political opposition and free and independent media activities has been drastically closed off . The Lukashenko regime continues detaining and imprisoning people in appalling conditions, exposing them to ill-treatment and torture and have them condemned to long prison sentences in political trials conducted behind closed doors.

“Legally defending political prisoners has become dangerous, with more than 40 lawyers reported to have their licenses revoked.

“Belarus must adhere to its international commitments and obligations within the UN and OSCE. The EU reiterates its demand for the immediate and unconditional release of all political prisoners. The EU will continue to work for justice for victims and accountability for perpetrators.

EU diplomacy focus on Russia

Brussels 24.01.2022 Anna van Densky “…On the Foreign Affairs Council today, we had important topics and we have been joined by two important guests. First, the United Nations Special Envoy for Syria, Geir Pedersen, for our discussion on Syria, and the United States Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, for the discussion on Russia and European Security” said the EU top diplomat Josep Borrell addressing Brussels press after the Foreign Affairs Council.

“Let me start with this last point right away, because certainly it has been the most important point on the agenda. The most important take-away is that we have reconfirmed our strong unity and our united approach on the challenges to European security. Our unity is our strength, and there is no doubt in the Council about this. In this regard, we agreed Council Conclusions that you have already seen – and they are, more or less, the ones we agreed on the informal meeting at Brest.

“The Russian military build-up in and around Ukraine and Russia’s attempts to re-create dividing lines on our continent, undermine the core foundations and principles on which European security is built and bring back dark memories of spheres of influence, which do not belong to the 21st century. We reaffirmed our full and unquestionable support to Ukraine and that any military aggression against Ukraine will have serious consequences and massive cost for the perpetrator.

“We have had a long exchange with Secretary Blinken and it was particularly useful to further assess the way ahead – jointly, the United States and the European Union – and we will continue our very strong and close coordination with our partners as we have been doing during this process. The European Union has not been absent in the talks with Russia, because before and after each meeting we have been coordinating, discussing, informing together the United States and the European Union. And I, personally, had phone calls and collective calls with the United States and NATO in order to be completely aware of what was going on.

There are three main elements that will guide our way ahead.

“First, our collective diplomatic efforts to convince Russia to take the path of dialogue will continue, even though the Russian rhetoric does not inspire a lot of confidence.

“From this point of view, Ministers have tasked me to continue coordinating the European Union position with all our key partners, notably the United States, NATO and the OSCE Chairmanship-in-office to ensure the effectiveness of our efforts. And we call on Russia to continue engaging constructively in established mechanisms, such as the OSCE and the NATO – Russia Council. We must also continue to support the efforts to reactivate the Normandy 4 process and the work of the Trilateral Contact Group on the implementation of the Minsk Agreements.

“We will also continue engaging with our international partners to explain what is happening in Europe and the Russian threats, and to try to clarify the disinformation that Russia is wide spreading about these facts. We need to step up our strategic communication and push back disinformation. I invite you to have a look at the EUvsDisinfo(link is external) publications in the network, where we debunk some dangerous narratives that are being spread. Today we have put on this webpage an explanation about the seven myths that Russia is wide spreading(link is external) about what is happening on the Eastern border of Europe.

“Secondly, should diplomacy fail – we are going to do our best for diplomacy to work – we are very well advanced in preparations of responses to a potential Russian aggression. And, certainly, it will be a quick and determined action with strong unity – not only within the European Union, but also internationally.

“Thirdly, we must step up our efforts to enhance Ukraine’s and other partners’ resilience. There are concrete actions that we can take and that we are taking. The President of the Commission [Ursula von der Leyen] announced today a financial assistance package made of emergency loans and grants to support Ukraine in the medium and long term. Doubling our grants, our support and providing an emergency financial support of €1.2 billion. That is a very important amount of money that Vice-President [of the European Commission, Valdis] Dombrovskis and my colleague Commissioner [for Neighbourhood and Enlargement] Olivér [Várhelyi] will visit Ukraine to announce and to share this news with the Ukrainian authorities.

“We are also looking out to support Ukraine in another key areas”.

EU: Macron highlights priorities

Strasbourg 19.20.2021 Anna van Densky President of the European Parliament Roberta Metsola and President of France Emmanuel Macron held a press conference on Wednesday at 14.45, after the debate on the priorities of France’s Presidency of the Council. (Image: illustration)

In Strasbourg, Emmanuel Macron gave the traditional speech marking the launch of the rotating presidency of the European Union, which France will exercise until June 30. Before the MEPs, and less than three months before the French presidential election, the Head of State expressed a vision deeply attached to this continent, a long symbol of an “intangible peace” but now subject to “doubts”. To “rebuild our Europe”, the tenant of the Élysée has drawn up the major projects to come and established three promises: democracy, progress and peace.

What is it to be European? It is to feel an equal emotion in front of our treasures. For the tenant of the Élysée, this presidency will also be that of European civilization – a culture that should be “promoted” through a “common project respectful of the singularities and identities of each”. To do this, historians and intellectuals will help to “build together the legacy of this common history” and make Europe “once again a cultural and educational democratic power, proud of itself”.

The president named two: the climate challenge and the digital challenge. For the first, “strong proposals” made by the European Commission must be implemented “in the coming weeks”, then be “deployed at national level”. A “summit for the oceans” is scheduled for February to defend biodiversity and the “great maritime power” that is Europe. “We have to move from intention to action,” said the head of state.

NATO-Russia Council step forward

Brussels 12.01.2022 Anna van Densky The NATO-Russia Council, which brings together all 30 NATO Allies and Russia, met in Brussels on Wednesday (12 January 2022) to discuss the situation in and around Ukraine, and the implications for European security.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, who chaired the meeting, said: “This was not an easy discussion, but that is exactly why it was so important.” He noted that NATO Allies are ready to meet again with Russia to discuss a number of topics in greater detail and to put concrete proposals on the table. “There are opportunities for constructive engagement which should not be missed, in the interest of security in Europe,” he said.

“We had a frank and open discussion on a wide range of issues, of course, focusing on the tensions, the difficulties in and around Ukraine. And Allies also of course again expressed a deep concern about the continued Russian military build-up along the borders of Ukraine. And combined with threatening rhetoric from the Russian side, and a Russian track record of willingness to use force against neighbours, of course, Allies are concerned. And we are clear-eyed about the challenges we face when we now sit down with Russia and try to find a political way forward. But the meeting was useful. And I think that, especially when tensions are high, it is even more important that we meet, and that all Allies and Russia meet and sit around the same table and address the issues that are of concern.

“On membership and the NATO’s open door all Allies are united on the core principle that each and every nation has the right to choose his own path. This is enshrined in a lot of fundamental documents, many different documents, which are the foundation for European security. And, therefore, also Allies totally agree that it is only Ukraine and 30 Allies that can decide when Ukraine is ready to become a NATO member. No one else has anything to say and of course Russia doesn’t have a veto on whether Ukraine can become a NATO member. Allies are ready to support Ukraine on this path towards membership, helping to implement reforms, modernise the armed forces to meet NATO standards. And then, at the end of the day, it has to be NATO Allies and Ukraine that decides on membership”.

The council meeting marked the second stage in a series of talks between Russia and the West on Russia’s proposals for European security. The first stage was the talks between Russia and the US that took place in Geneva on January 10, and the third stage will happen as an OSCE meeting in Vienna on January 13.

The Russian delegation in Brussels is led by Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Grushko and Deputy Defense Minister Alexander Fomin. NATO is represented by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman, and representatives of 30 NATO member states in Brussels.

The negotiations between Moscow and Washington dedicated to Russia’s proposed security guarantees concluded on January 10 in Geneva. On January 12, Russia-NATO discussed the security issue in Europe, as well as Russian drafts on security assurances at a meeting of the NATO-Russia Council in Brussels, and on January 13 at the Vienna session of the OSCE Permanent Council.

On December 17, 2021, the Russian Foreign Ministry published the draft agreements between Russia and the US on security guarantees and the measures of ensuring the security of Russia and NATO member states.

Kazakhstan: Borrell calls for restraint

Brussels 09.01.2022 Anna van Densky “We are concerned by the violence which has erupted, following peaceful protests, in Kazakhstan, which is an important partner for the European Union, with an Enhanced Partnership and Cooperation Agreement in force, and for the stability of the region” reads the Declaration by High Representative Josep Borrell on behalf of the European Union on the situation Kazakhstan.(Image: social media).

“We deeply regret the loss of life and strongly condemn the widespread acts of violence. It is important to prevent further escalations, to avoid any incitement to violence, to exercise restraint at all times, and to avoid exploitation of unrest for other purposes.

“We stand ready to provide assistance for a peaceful resolution of the crisis. Outside military support should respect the sovereignty and independence of Kazakhstan as well as the fundamental rights of all citizens.

“We urge Kazakhstan’s authorities to uphold their commitments at this challenging time, including respect for the human rights and fundamental freedoms of their citizens, particularly, the freedom of assembly, freedom of expression, and of the media”.

More than 160 people were killed and 5,000 arrested in Kazakhstan after the riots that shook Central Asia’s largest country over the past week. The interior ministry, quoted on Sunday, January 9, by local media, said initial estimates put property damage at about 175 million euros ($198m) after the wide-spread violence.

Additional holiday travel restrictions

Brussels 25.12.2021 Anna van Densky The Omicron variant is “in the process of becoming or has already become dominant in several countries, including Denmark, Portugal and the United Kingdom” according to the World Health Organisation, which is supposed to lead to an increase in the number of patients in need of hospiatlisation.

Sweden announced a restriction of the conditions of entry into its territory for travellers from other countries of the European Union, who will have from December 28 to present a negative Covid-19 test, even if they are vaccinated. However, children under 12 and travellers of Swedish nationality or residing in Sweden are not obliged to comply with this rule.

Seven other EU member states – Portugal, Ireland, Cyprus, Latvia, Italy, Greece and Austria – already require a negative test, even for those vaccinated from the EU, and Finland announced on Tuesday evening that she was going to do the same.

Thousands of travellers have cancelled their Christmas travel plans due to the spread of the Omicron virus worldwide, and in particular, forced by the travel restrictions imposed by the governments in a bid to halt the spread of the new COVID-19 virus variant.

Just in days before Christmas, Europe has been stepping up restrictions to cope with in upcoming surge of the Omicron variant. A variant “in the process of becoming or already become dominant in several countries, including Denmark, Portugal and the United Kingdom”, according to the WHO, and whose very high contagiousness could have serious consequences on the collective level – the outbreak of contaminations automatically leading to an increase in the number of hospitalised patients.

Travel within the European Union: the validity of the vaccination certificate limited to nine months. The validity of a European Covid digital certificate, when it concerns the vaccination of its holder for intra-EU travel, has been limited to nine months (270 days), the European Commission confirmed on Tuesday December 21, while vaccination campaigns are continuing in the EU for the booster dose.

This provision aims to harmonise the various rules in force in the Member States. The validity period adopted takes into account the guidelines of the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), according to which booster doses are recommended no later than six months after the end of the first cycle of vaccination. The certificate will remain valid for a grace period of three additional months, in order to allow the adaptation of national vaccination campaigns and citizens’ access to booster doses.

Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders defended this harmonisation, while several countries already require a PCR test when entering their territory, even for an intra-EU traveller who has already been vaccinated.

“Unilateral action in member states would bring us back to the fragmentation and uncertainties we experienced last spring. The nine-month acceptance period for vaccination certificates will give citizens and businesses the certainty they need to plan their trips with confidence. It is now up to the member states to ensure that the reminders are deployed quickly to protect our health and ensure the safety of travel “, commented the Belgian commissioner, quoted in a statement.

Persecution of Christians at rise

Brussels 25.12.2021 Anna Van Densky Global persecution of Christians has massively increased throughout the pandemic, according to various human rights monitor groups. Intolerance and massacre of Christians in countries like Nigeria or India has only led to more political outcry. Every day, 13 Christians worldwide are killed on grounds of their faith. And every day, 12 Christians are unjustly arrested or imprisoned, and another 5 are abducted.(Image: illustration).

The 2021 World Watch List (WWL) report, the latest annual accounting from Open Doors of the top 50 countries where Christians are the most persecuted for following the word of Jesus Christ.

However the process of the persecution of Christians has spread viral, and causing the UK to become one of the ‘most intolerant’ countries in Europe towards Christians. That’s the extraordinary claim of a report published this week by Observatory of Intolerance Against Christians in Europe (OIACE).

The report identifies the UK, France, Germany, Spain and Sweden as the top five countries driving what it describes as a “rising phenomenon” against Christians.

Last year, 45 nations scored high enough to register “very high” persecution levels on Open Doors’s 84-question matrix. This year, for the first time in 29 years of tracking, all 50 qualified—as did four more nations that fell just outside the cutoff.

Open Doors identified three main trends driving last year’s increase:
“COVID-19 acted as a catalyst for religious persecution through relief discrimination, forced conversion, and as justification for increasing surveillance and censorship.”
“Extremist attacks opportunistically spread further throughout Sub-Saharan Africa, from Nigeria and Cameroon to Burkina Faso, Mali, and beyond.”
“Chinese censorship systems continue to propagate and spread to emerging surveillance states.”

Open Doors has monitored Christian persecution worldwide since 1992. North Korea has ranked No. 1 for 20 years, since 2002 when the watch list began.

The cruel treatment of Christians minorities are common in countries such as Afghanistan, Somalia, Libya, Pakistan, Yemen, Iran, North Korea, China, and Nigeria, and they deserve serious political consideration. This year’s #RedWednesday campaign did a meaningful job of highlighting the persecution faced by millions of Christians, not least the Chrisitan girls and women living under the constant threat of abduction, sexual violence and forced conversion.

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