Shake-up in world of Belgian diplomacy
The Belgian Foreign Minister Didier Reynders (Francophone liberal) has announced major reforms to the country's diplomatic service.
The Foreign Ministry will check whether Belgium's network of embassies and consulates meets the requirements of the country's current needs and geopolitical realities. The operation will also result in cost-cutting.
The Belgian Foreign Ministry says that an analysis is being made country by country. Each country's political and economic importance will be checked in the light of Belgian interests. The need for consular services and a country's importance in the international development field will play a part in the audit too.
Belgian diplomats will co-operate more closely with their Dutch colleagues. A spokesman pointed to Belgium's extensive network in Africa and the strong Dutch presence in South America that are complementary.
Belgium is letting offices to the Dutch in the new chancellery building that is currently under construction in the Congolese capital Kinshasa.
A Belgian office will open in the Dutch embassy in Caracas (Venezuela).
In Europe there will also be closures. The Belgian Embassy in Malta will shut and will be replaced by an honorary consul in the island. The Belgian consulate in Milan (Italy) is being closed too.
In Paris the Belgian embassies to France, UNESCO and the OECD will be brought together. Similar operations will happen in Rome and Vienna.
The Belgian consulate in Tangiers (northern Morocco) is to close, though the consulate in Yaoundé in Cameroon is to become a fully-fledged embassy. The Belgian embassy in Costa Rica is to close, while a Belgian embassy will open in Panama.
A Belgian consulate is being opened in Chennai in southern India, while Myanmar will get an honorary Belgian consul.
[Flandersnews.be / Expatica]