Lieven's Blog

What's on my mind...

Bruxelles ma belle...!


clipboard-with-pencil_16x16 Together with my wife and son we celebrated New Years eve in the heart of Brussels. We booked a nice hotel in the center of the city and had dinner in a delicious Thai restaurant. In the middle of the Grand-Place de Bruxelles (the historical market place) stood the Christmas tree and the buildings were beautifully lit. A real feast for the eye. This year there were no fire works due to the terrorist threats and yes, everyone who wanted to go on the Grand-Place was checked by police officers. Nevertheless it created a beautiful atmosphere. Although there were a lot of people, the atmosphere was calmer than usual. Tourists and locals were taking pictures and celebrating the beginning of the new year. #noonecanstopus #thankyoupoliceandarmy

Next morning I got up and went to the Grand-Place to get the special coffee orders I received from my family members. Guides with tourist groups were enjoying our capital and everywhere you looked were people with selfie sticks. It was dry and not very cold, and I walked down the road that leads to Manneken-Pis. The atmosphere was great. People were eating Belgian Waffles, trying Chocolates and were buying souvenirs. Always good for our economy. When I passed by a group of tourists, I couldn’t overhear the tourist guide saying: “Yes, we are living in a very small country and we have seven governments. That’s why it takes so long before we take a decision.” He was holding his hands to his face in a dramatic gesture while he went on. “And then there is this tension between the Walloons and the Flemish people…”.

I can’t understand this. It is a perfect morning of a new year and you have 30 tourists in front of you who decided to visit our country, and you are surrounded by the beauty of this historical place and the best thing you can think of is talking about the political inefficiencies of our country…? He brought it in such a way that the only image you could picture in your head is that we must be a country of fools. I was wondering how this man receives guests at his home? Does he respectfully introduce his wife to the guests and does he praise her cooking skills and does he talkes proudly of his kids who are now joining middle school? Or does he “entertain” his guests with some dreadful stories about his boss who does not grant him his promotion and about how the high costs of daily life is preventing him of going on holidays? Every family, community or nation has its positive and its negative stories. But you have guests in front of you, who travel hundreds of miles to visit your country and who want to have a good time. So why being so selfish and create an image of our country that does not encourage them to come back or promote our country to their friends or family. Every time we talk negatively about our country, we decrease the chances of attracting potential investors or receiving more tourists.
#beingcynicaldoesnotsolveanything #theglassisalwayshalffull

Yes, our country is politically complex, but we are not unique in this. We are in fact a kind of ”Mini-Europe” when it comes to political decision making. The same dynamics that prevent us in Belgian to take fast and efficient decisions when faced with important challenges, are existing on the European level too. To unite 3 communities in Belgian or 28 member states on the European level, confronts us with the limitations of our current Democratic principles. Even in the United States where there have “only” two parties who have to agree in a democratic way, created a government shutdown for several weeks in 2013.

After I picked up the special coffee orders, I walked back to the hotel via the Grand-Place. By day you look as good as you do by night my beautiful Brussels. Happy New Year to everyone!