BRUSSELS: A group of Belgian students mainly of political relations and international diplomacy have expressed their admiration and praise for Kuwait’s diplomacy in the region and around the world. This was stated by the 12-member group following an event organized by the Ambassador of Kuwait to Belgium, European Union and NATO, Jasem Al-Budaiwi, at his residence in Brussels Thursday evening. “Our event today goes with the embassy’s effort to reach out to all sectors of the society in the Kingdom of Belgium,” Budaiwi said after the dinner reception for the group who are members of United Nations Association (UNA) in the Flanders region of Belgium.
Budaiwi noted that the event is part of the UNA youth diplomacy series where members are invited to visit an embassy and learn about the political viewpoints of countries all over the world. “It has members from different cities and sectors in Belgium. Most of them are students of political science and international relations. They are the future of Belgium and Europe,” he said. “Today’s event provided the Belgian participants a coherent picture of the role Kuwait plays regionally and globally in many aspects including the humanitarian aspects and the role of His Highness the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah who was named as the world humanitarian leader by the international community,” he said.
Budaiwi spoke about Kuwait’s diplomatic efforts to establish peace and security in the region be it in Syria, Yemen and Palestine and to sort out differences among the Gulf countries. He also referred to Kuwait’s growing and strong ties with both the EU and NATO. The Belgian participants were given a first-hand briefing by two Kuwaiti diplomats, Ali Al Yahya and Abdullah Al-Sharrah, through a direct a video-link with Kuwait’s representation in the UN in New York. The two diplomats presented Kuwait’s priorities and activities as the current non-permanent member of the UNSC as well as its relationship with the UN and answered to questions posed by the Belgian students.
A number of the Belgian participants spoke about their impression about the dinner event. Mariere van Iseghem, a law student from the University of Ghent, said she is very interested in international politics and relations. “The gathering was very good and friendly,” she said and added that her impression about Kuwait has changed after the event. “I had an opinion that Kuwait was a very harsh country and there were lots of laws and rules, but now I can see it is not like that and everyone is friendly. I found that Kuwait is actually doing a lot of things which I did not know before like the role of women in Kuwait and that they were allowed to take up high positions, also diplomatic positions,” she said. “I am quite impressed and would like to visit Kuwait,” she added.
Ricardo Avelar who is studying political science at the Free University in Brussels said he discovered many things about Kuwait. “I am really, really impressed by the contribution that Kuwait gives to the rest of the region and to the rest of the world. I was not aware of this before,” he said. Alevar who is President of the UNA of the Brussels branch said the mission of the association is to show how the UN works. “It has been an incredible opportunity to see the openness of Kuwait and the doors of the Kuwait embassy were open to show the students the role of Kuwait’s foreign policy.
I will share this knowledge with the other students of the university,” he said and added “if you ask me which country I would like to visit in the region I would definitely say Kuwait.” Simon Herteleer, who works for the Atlantic Treaty Association (ATA), said one of the problems that people face in Europe is that they consider the Middle East as one region rather than many countries living together. “And this kind of events really helps us to see the differences within the region but also commonalities how the different countries live together,” he said.
Brussels-based ATA is an international civil-society organization of 38 countries that trains, educate, and informs on foreign affairs and security issues relevant to NATO. Herteller who has visited Egypt and Palestine said he loves the Arab culture. “It is a very warm culture.” His previous impression in his mind about Kuwait was “oil, oil, oil,” but you see Kuwait’s role in the world is much larger and similar to Belgium. It wants to build bridges and be a connector between different cultures.”
“Even in the UNSC one of Belgium’s goals is to foster peace and you can see that it something that Kuwait is working on that as well,” he said. Both Belgium and Kuwait are currently non-permanent members of the SC. “Today’s event showed that even if you are a small country with a small population you have a big and positive impact,” he added. Hanne Vandersteegen, who is doing her Masters in governance and development in the city of Antwerp, said she got intrigued by the Arab culture during her visit to Jordan last November. “It is very nice that the Kuwaiti ambassador invites us to his residence and takes the time to explain everything that we want to know. He was open and we could ask him about everything and I know more about Kuwait now” she said.
Hanne said she found the presentation by Kuwait’s diplomats in New York about their work very interesting. The United Nations Association Flanders Belgium was established in 1976, to inform the public in Belgium of the work of the United Nations, the principles of international cooperation, and how the UN system addresses and resolves contemporary global issues. Through activities such as conferences, seminars, lectures, it raises awareness about the need for international cooperation and consultation. – KUNA