India-Belgium talks: Closer cooperation to fight terrorism
The visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Brussels is an important moment in the India-Belgium relationsUpdated: Mar 28, 2016 21:44 IST
Just a few days after the 22/3 attacks on Brussels our thoughts continue to go to the victims and their families. This cowardly act of violence has made victims of citizens from many countries, including India. We are grateful for the declarations of solidarity and sympathy we received from the Indian authorities, Indian public and from our friends all over the world.
Little knowledge about Belgium has led a few commentators in some media to present wide-ranging interpretations and conclusions about my country, which were at times completely inaccurate. The important thing to remember is that Brussels was hit recently by blind terrorism. The capital of Belgium and of Europe joined the list of cities that have been hit by such violence in recent years. A peace loving country with a history of non-violence was hit in its heart.
The Belgian authorities, together with our friends in Europe and abroad, are taking action. Reflection on and analysis of how to reinforce our security arrangements and how to implement them better, is taking place. After last year’s Paris attacks some measures were already taken in Belgium. The latest events have, once again, shown that efficient internal and international cooperation is important and has to be taken to the next level.
The visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Brussels is an important moment in the India-Belgium relations. Bilateral cooperation in many areas is on the agenda of the talks between Prime Ministers Charles Michel and Modi. One of the important topics will be our common fight against terrorism. Belgium, Europe and India share characteristics that make us somehow vulnerable. We are open, democratic and multicultural societies. Individual freedom is one of our fundamental values. And we are resolved not to put it on hold in our response to terrorism.
We are also looking forward to the upcoming EU-India-summit, which will take place after the India-Belgium talks. It will provide an opportunity to discuss the issue of the fight against terrorism, one of many topics on the agenda of the talks between the EU and India.
Belgium will never forget the Indian soldiers who fought for us in World War I. In 2011, a monument in their honour was inaugurated near the Menin Gate in Ypres. In 2017, we will celebrate the 70th anniversary of our diplomatic relations. Our economic and academic ties are showing remarkable dynamism. Our trade relations are well established and they have a potential for becoming stronger. Belgium and India can learn from each other’s know-how and cooperate in fields such as sanitation, renewable energy and infrastructure development. Cooperation between Indian and Belgian universities is increasing. Scientific institutions from both countries are working together. For many years a wide range of people-to-people relations have been established. The warm support we have received from India after the recent events underlines our close ties.
Belgium looks forward to welcoming Modi.
Jan Luykx is the ambassador of Belgium to India
The views expressed are personal
First Published: Mar 28, 2016 21:44 IST