Vanuatu’s Ambassador to the Kingdom of Belgium and to the European Union (EU) based in Brussels, John Licht formally presented his Letter of Credence to the King of the Belgians amidst a special ceremony held at the Royal Palace in Brussels on 11 September 2018.
In welcoming and equally extending his warm words of congratulations to Ambassador Licht, a brief courtesy audience was arranged immediately.
On the occasion, King Philippe Léopold Louis Marie, highlighted his keen interest on Vanuatu and its people and on its economy.
King Philippe also recalled the devastating impacts of Tropical Cyclone Pam and asked how Vanuatu was able to recover from it.
The king was earlier reliably informed that Vanuatu is a bilingual country which also has French population with a vibrant mixture of culture.
During the brief courtesy, the king assured the Ambassador his keen support and assistance.
Seizing the opportunity, Ambassador Licht capitalized and shared a number of priorities currently in the pipeline for Vanuatu covering, the need for engagement with the EU on the Post Cotonou Negotiations through the ACP framework and bilaterally, the engagement with the EU member countries on specific areas of interest especially on issues pertaining to Climate Change, Humanitarian issues that require global attention and support with the king.
He reiterated the Vanuatu Government’s continued push for issues of gender and access to basic human rights, the engagement on the EPA negotiations and what maybe some opportunities and benefits as a small island state.
Similarly, maintaining and strengthening strong relationships with the other countries that the Embassy is accredited to, which includes Belgium, UK and France and using the occasion to explore potential areas of co-operation at bilateral level covering economic and social development.
Vanuatu established diplomatic relationship with Belgium on June 10, 1981. In February 1997, the Council of Ministers in Vanuatu approved the opening of Vanuatu’s diplomatic mission and the appointment for an Ambassador to the European Union with residence in Brussels, Belgium.
Belgium is one the founding member of the EU as well the host to the European Commission and the headquarters of the EU. It contributes about 7% of the total contributions to the EU to which Vanuatu is a recipient of its aid programs.
Thus, a closer and stronger relationship with Belgium is highly sought after and to be maintained at all levels into the future.