Eerst vooral wens ik BELRIM & de sponsor WTW van harte te danken om mij hier vanavond te hebben uitgenodigd.

In Ms Lonhienne’s paper I discovered the acronym: VUCA “Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous,  it fits rather well the current state of international affairs.

“An entire generation of Danes grew up without fear of war in Europe and in a world that openend up …, Not only Europe, but the entire international community is in disarray” … I am reading out from the introduction in a sobering analysis on “Danish security and defence up to 2035”, published last Monday by a group of experts at the request of the Danish Government … The main author regrets the fact that it is gloomy indeed.

Rest assured, I have no intention to spoil the mood tonight but we cannot shy away from the fact that we do live in turbulent times.

In diplomacy we try not to loose sight of the longer term, to go beyond the current events … however …

When the British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan in 1957 was asked what is the greatest challenge for a statesman, he replied: ‘Events, dear boy, events’. The same is true for most leaders and organisations.

February 24, 2022 was not just an eventful day but a turning point … The war in Ukraine does impact our daily lives, the life of citizens, businesses but also Governments. The hybrid threats, the sanctions, energy crisis … it is a brutal awakening. This crisis is not going to disappear any time soon and will have a lasting impact.

As with the Covid crisis, we were confronted with our vulnerability, our dependency from third countries and our interdependency  … Economy has once again become security policy.

In tackling these challenges, we have to take into account the fact that we live in an era of digital and social communication, which is instant and never stops. Nowadays world leaders, politicians have to be able to react immediately. It make thing less predictable.

There are also fake news … it is all part of the new reality. Turbulent times enhance the need for dialogue and interaction, there is need for more diplomacy, not less. The time has not come yet to analyse how we ended up in the current crisis with Russia.

We still live in what is called a global village, but the speed of globalisation is slowing down, the dynamics are changing, The crisis has impacted our supply chains, we er moving from ‘just in time” to “just in case”.

We all have to adapt. I am confident that in Europe, we have drawn the right conclusions, we managed to stick together and are getting our act together. And to use a famous quote of John Maynard Keynes: not the one about the long term – but my preferred on: “It is better to be roughly right, than precisely wrong.”

Therefore, there is no need for pessimism but realism.  As the saying goes: Keep calm and carry on.


Michiel Maertens, Ambassador of Belgium



Read the speech of our BELRIM President during this event here

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