H.E. Philippe Beke, Ambassador of Belgium to Bucharest :Responsibility and mutual understanding as guideline principles for past and present

Recent historical research has shown clear evidence that families coming from what is today Belgian territory, established themselves in the 13th and 14th centuries in the triangle Sibiu-Braşov-Sighişoara. Several local dialects still spoken in this area, show that the speech of their ancestors was kept to a certain extent. Also in the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century, Belgians came to Romania where they were essentially engaged in commercial and industrial activities. Vincent Duqué, now 90 years old and living in Ploieşti, is the grandson of Gerard Joseph Duqué who end of the 19th century as an engineer started the Belgian cement factory in Cernavoda which until the Second World War was the main producer of cement in Romania. He was equally the energetic promoter of Belgian oil companies before 1914 and afterwards with the creation of Petrofina-Concordia also in the 1920’s and the 1930’s, when Belgium held the third position in foreign direct investment in Romanian oil exploration, exploitation and refinery, appreciated as industrialist in Romania. These rich pages of history were written thanks to the understanding between men that wanted progress in society. Also the origins of  the Romanian post, the Romanian National Bank services, the fortress defense lines around Bucharest and several legal provisions of which the most important is the clear inspiration of the Belgian constitution to the Romanian constitution of 1886, next to the redaction of a number of chapters in the Romanian civil code.

When in 1988 the Ceaucescu systematization policy stood to be implemented in many rural areas, Belgian lawyers, economic actors and intellectuals decided to create a solidarity format allowing Belgian municipalities to adopt Romanian municipalities that were threatened by disappearance under the systematization policy. Opération Villages Roumains – Adoptie Dorpen Roemenië quickly convinced some 350 Belgian municipalities to participate in this political action which spread over its neighboring countries by 1989, counting more than 4.500 partnerships at the moment of the December Revolution. The line which was drawn from there, supported the country in its democratic build-up in the 1990’s and its ambition to become a member of the European Union. Today, some 150 partnerships have kept contact which in several cases has led to projects in which the ownership has become Romanian.

In 2014, Belgium entered the top-10 of foreign direct investment in Romania, proving the interest of Belgian business to operate and seek for new opportunities in developing outsourcing, near-shoring and regional market expansion. All over Romania, Belgian economic actors are providing in 2015 directly to 22.000 employees a position that daily rewards their talents. Believing in sustainable development and corporate social responsibility, 280 Belgian operators having more than 10 employees, seek every day the best possible business and social environment. It then comes as no real surprise to notice that the Belgian Romanian Business Association (BEROBA) has decided to create a Social Economy Award. With this mark of appreciation for interesting initiatives in Romania which cover at the same time an economic and a predominant social action, the Belgian business environment in Romania wants to flag its responsibility in creating the best possible social economic environment in Romania. That is also the reason why BEROBA has joined the Coalitia pentru Dezvoltarea Romaniei, a wide business platform of employers organizations and associations, which want to truly engage with the government in order to shape the right legal and administrative basis in order to strengthen the position of Romania as productive and creative country, receptive for foreign investments and capable to market  its products in a globalized world. With an all time record on the overall bilateral trade in 2012-2013-2014, Belgium and Romania have steadily developed their exports. In the Romanian exports, a striking fact is that Dacia has shown a yearly growth over the last 3 years of more than 10% per year. Another relevant reality is the presence of an important number of Belgian decision makers working in non-Belgian companies in Romania. They prove their universality, showing that Belgian technical and management skills transcend the national component. On the other hand, an increasing number of Belgian companies rely on talented Romanian managers which operate their activities.

Every year in theatre, music, cinema and plastic art, Belgian artists come to Romania and Romanian artists travel to Belgium. The Belgian participation in the Sibiu theatre festival in recent years was inspired by a support for those initiatives that in the cultural sector have proven to provide to Romania the necessary charisma. As a token of true appreciation for those that want to reach higher grounds, Constantin Chiriac received end of May 2011 a decoration of Officer in the Order of the Crown.

When former Belgian King Albert and Queen Paola visited in July 2009 Sibiu, they had the occasion to discover the beauty of the Brukenthal Museum where major Belgian painters from the 14th till 16th century occupy an own environment, namely the Flemish Room. It was Dr. Jan De Maere who discovered in 1999 a wonderful Van Eyck painting which was kept in one of the depositories. The Belgian Royals could during this state visit witness the excellent political economic society and cultural relations.

With a state to state partnership of 135 years but with 175 years of diplomatic relations, Belgium and Romania have shown  that in the different periods of history, there has always been an appreciation for each other’s excellence in political, economic and cultural domain.







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