N 02°

                     Belgium Unlimited                                                                             ...
THE ECONOMY / BUSINESS 

         Federal government recovery plan 
On 11 December 2008 the federal government – with Yves...
                                                                                                                 
     Rus...
Chinese Sinomax group invests in Wallonia: company to build firework factory in Vresse‐sur‐Semois 

The Minister-President...
New contracts for Zetes  

Zetes Industries is a Brussels based company that offers market
solutions and services for the ...
TRANSPORT / LOGISTICS 
    Regional airports achieved good results 
    in 2008                                           ...
                                                                                                    Stronger partnership b...
SCIENCE  




     Astronomers  at  the  University  of  Liege 
     equip  themselves  with  Trappist  telescope         ...
Researcher  at  UGent  discovers  way  cortisone                                Museum of Natural Sciences in Brussels 
  ...
CULTURE 
        Royal Greenhouses soon to open to the public again (17 April – 10 May 2009)
  In the 19th century advance...
Exhibition: From Van Dyck to Bellotto. 
      Splendour at the Court of Savoy.                                    Televisi...
Ghent one of the most authentic 
                                                                                         ...
Aalst Carnival 

The annual carnival in Aalst (between Ghent and
Brussels) took place at the end of February. Aalst
carniv...
BELGIUM ON THE INTERNATIONAL STAGE 

        François‐Xavier de Donnea appointed 
        President of the Club du Sahel  ...
Belgian humanitarian aid supplies for                                       Belgium to take command of maritime task 
    ...
AGENDA 
TOP EVENTS IN 2009                                  EVENTS IN BELGIUM                                   COMIC STRI...
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  1. 1. N 02° Belgium Unlimited 2009 News from Belgium January - February 2009 THE ECONOMY / BUSINESS    TRANSPORT / LOGISTICS  SCIENCE   CULTURE  BELGIUM ON THE  INTERNATIONAL STAGE       AGENDA   LOCAL NEWS  © Yslaire-Futuropolis Tintin, Snowy and Captain Haddock rue de l’Etuve (Brussels) 2009 Year of the comic strip in Brussels   © Hergé-Moulinsart The Brussels authorities have decided to make 2009 the year of the comic strip. This was a logical choice for a city that has been home to so many comic strip artists and the cradle of a few legends of the Ninth Art. Hergé (Tintin), Franquin (Gaston Lagaffe) and Peyo (the Smurfs) are all from Brussels. Besides, the Belgian Comic Strip Centre is also located in Brussels, in a superb Art Nouveau building. And as a matter of fact, it will have existed for 20 years in 2009. Brussels also has a long tradition of festivals, so 2009 will offer the perfect opportunity to celebrate the Ninth Art, with exhibitions, events and even on the walls of the city (murals as well as special installations). Even more than before, Brussels will be the capital city of the comic strip in 2009 (28/02/2009-31/12/2009)! http://www.bruxellesbd.com http://users.skynet.be/martinod/stripmuur-fr.html http://www.brusselscomics.com Tintin in the Brussels Underground (Stockel) © Hergé - Moulinsart - OPT JP Remy
  2. 2. THE ECONOMY / BUSINESS  Federal government recovery plan  On 11 December 2008 the federal government – with Yves Leterme as Prime Minister still - decided to work out a recovery plan to get the economy back on track. The government of Herman Van Rompuy, the new Prime           Inauguration of the Microsoft     Minister, agreed to implement the recovery plan without           Innovation Centre in Mons   delay. In the meantime a number of measures have been approved, including some to stimulate energy efficiency                  on 4 March 2009  and others to give business new impetus. For companies and organisations that employ researchers, On 4 March 2009, the Microsoft Innovation Centre for example, we note an increase in withholding tax (MIC) opened its doors in the parc technologique exemption from 65% to 75% as of 1 January 2009. There Initialis in Mons, in the province of Hainaut. MIC is a will also be a general increase in withholding tax exemption public-private partnership between Microsoft and the to 0.75% on 1 June 2009 and 1% from 1 January 2010. Walloon Region. Its objective is to stimulate In addition, there will be a monthly tax credit refund for entrepreneurship and help start-ups by offering sectors which, due to the nature of their activities, build up operational, financial and technological support. It VAT credits (mainly construction and export). will be focussed particularly on supporting start-ups in the domain of e-health with the development of technological solutions for the health sector. MIC’s goal is to contribute to the establishment of 5 to 10 new companies a year and 200 to 250 new jobs. http://www.envirodesk.com/node/47804 http://www.belgium.be/nl/binaries/herstelplan_tcm117-29600.pdf Apart from that it will also support 50 research and http://www.belgium.be/fr/binaries/planderelance_tcm116-29600.pdf development projects annually and deliver 500 training certificates. Wygwam and Eonix, two small and medium-sized SMEs specialised in new health and welfare technologies plan to anchor themselves in the new project. Voo (communication via cable) and Hewlett-Packard (HP) Benelux have recently associated themselves with the project, too. HP will supply hardware (PCs, servers, printers and storage devices) and Voo will Belgium had a good 21,000 fewer  eventually offer applications for internet television for unemployed in 2008 than in 2007  the wider public. At the end of December 2008 there were 386,253 MIC will move into a building of approximately 550 unemployed jobseekers receiving benefits from Belgium’s m2 in parc Initialis in Mons, where it will form part of NEO (National Employment Office). That is 21,221 fewer a “Digital Innovation Valley” with Virtualis and than at the end of December 2007. Technocité. The number of unemployed jobseekers under the age of 25 receiving benefits from the NEO came to 55,033 (or 2,315 http://www.awt.be/web/res/index.aspx?page=res,fr,foc,100,085 fewer than the previous year). Finally, at the end of December 2008 there were 194,006 unemployed jobseekers who had been receiving benefits from the NEO for two years or longer. This is a drop of 23,347 compared to the previous year. There was a reduction in each category in each of the three Regions - the Flemish Region, the Walloon Region and the Brussels Capital Region. http://www.rva.be/D_new/Press/Mededelingen/2009_01_22/StatFR.pdf 1
  3. 3.       Russian steel giant Severstal  Belgium is the most globalised  Sonaca concludes contract  opens subsidiary in  country in the world  with Bombardier   Antwerp  According to the KOF index 2009, which is Sonaca, an aerospace construction Severstal, a Russian company active calculated by the Swiss ETHZ company in Gosselies, has mainly in the steel and mining industry, (Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule concluded a 19.6 million euro has opened a subsidiary in Antwerp. Zürich), Belgium is the most globalised contract with the Canadian airplane The world’s 15th largest steel producer, country in the world, with a score of 91.02 builder, Bombardier, for the Severstal is the second largest in points. Belgium has been at the top of the development, design and production Russia after Evraz Group and has ranking since 2004. This year it shares first of fixed wing leading edges, production facilities in Russia, the US, place with Ireland. components for the new Learjet LJ85. the UK, Italy, France and Ukraine, Delivery will start in 2012. amongst others. The headquarters of The KOF index measures the economic, Severstal are located in Cherepovets, social and political level of globalisation and Russia. is calculated on the basis of 24 variables. The data was collected in 158 countries during the period 1970 to 2006. http://www.rtbf.be/info/la-sonaca-decroche- http://de.rian.ru/business/20090113/119473276.html un-contrat-avec-bombardier-generant-196- http://globalization.kof.ethz.ch/ http://www.severstal.com/ millions-76918 New  law  should  reduce  Belgian becomes Chairman and CEO of Swedish  number of bankruptcies   company Atlas Copco   On 15/01/2009 the Chamber of The Board of Directors of the Swedish company, Atlas Copco, has Representatives approved a bill to appointed the Belgian Ronnie Leten as CEO and Chairman. He reform the law on legal settlement. will succeed the present CEO, Gunnar Brock, on 1 June 2009. This settlement is an agreement that Ronnie Leten comes from the province of Limburg. He is only the a company in difficulties may make second non-Swede to head the company since the concern was in order to get on top of its problems founded in 1873. Mr. Leten will lead Atlas Copco from the R. Leten and avoid bankruptcy. Incidentally, headquarters in Nacka, Sweden. © Atlas Copco the new law on legal settlement is called the “law on company Leten previously worked for Atlas Copco as head of the Airtec division and the Industrial continuity”. Air division. In 2006 he became Chairman of the Compressor Techniques department. It relaxes the conditions for starting 33,000 people work for Atlas Copco worldwide. In Belgium Atlas Copco Airpower employs the procedure for a legal settlement. 2,780. It also provides specifically for the possibility of companies reaching an http://www.atlascopco.com/benl/news/corporatenews/090120_new_president_and_ceo.asp out of court settlement with their creditors and offers a better framework for the takeover of a company in difficulties. The law will come into effect on 1 April 2009. http://www.just.fgov.be/communiques/2008/ 11/06.html 2 © Atlas Copco
  4. 4. Chinese Sinomax group invests in Wallonia: company to build firework factory in Vresse‐sur‐Semois  The Minister-President of the Walloon Region, Mr. Rudy Demotte, has announced a new Chinese investment in Wallonia. The Chinese group, Sinomax, is to build a European production centre for fireworks in Vresse-sur-Semois in the province of Luxembourg. Specialised in the import and sale of fireworks, Sinomax has been active in our country for the last 20 years, though at the moment it imports the fireworks from China – around 1500 tons in 2007. Now the group plans to establish a European production centre in Sugny. This will strengthen its position at the European level and keep it competitive, as well as giving it access to European technology for the manufacture of its products. Sinomax’s environmental footprint will also be reduced as a result of the drop in imports from China and the reduction in transport on our soil. In addition it will create new jobs. The choice of the former military depot in Sugny is no coincidence. The Sinomax group has used this site for a long time to stock material imported from China before its distribution in Belgium and the rest of Europe. Apart from that it is also the ideal location for production for safety reasons, as it is in an isolated zone. In the initial phase (second half of 2009) the plant will provide 20 new jobs. In the course of 2010 (second phase) that figure will rise to between 50 and 80. An investment of 500,000 euro is involved. http://demotte.wallonie.be/site/Textes.asp?DocID=582&v1ID=&RevID=&namePage=&pageParent= Saudi investment in Genk   Belgian Wilfried Verstraete to head Euler Hermes SABIC, Saudi Basic Industries On 1 April 2009 the Belgian Wilfried Verstraete will Corporation is a producer of chemicals, become CEO of Euler Hermes group, the world artificial fertilisers, plastic and metals. market leader in credit insurance with its The first stone of the new branch of this headquarters in Paris. Euler Hermes, which is part of Saudi Arabian company was laid in the German Allianz Group, has branches in more Genk, in the province Limburg. than 50 countries. Reinforced plastic granules for the European automobile industry will be Between 2004 and 2006 Wilfried Verstraete led produced at the new plant, which will Euler Hermes’s competitor, Atradius. Before that he provide employment for 75 people. The held senior positions at, amongst others, France company should be operational by 1 Telecom Group, Mobistar, Wanadoo and Orange. January 2010. With a working area of Verstraete studied economics at the VUB and W. Verstraete 70,000 square metres, the Sabic branch earned a master’s degree in Financial Management in Genk will be the Saudi Arabian group’s at the Vlekho in Brussels. He is an alumnus of the largest plant in Europe. INSEAD International Executive Program. At the moment he works for Allianz Global Corporate & http://www.eulerhermes.be/ http://www.sabic.com Specialty. http://www.sabic-genk.be
  5. 5. New contracts for Zetes   Zetes Industries is a Brussels based company that offers market solutions and services for the automatic identification of goods and people (Goods ID and People ID). Having previously secured a project for the personalisation of ordinary biometric passports, Zetes has concluded two new contracts with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ivory Coast. One of these is for the personalisation of diplomatic and service passports and the other is to supply biometric visas and consular registration cards intended for Ivorian citizens resident abroad. Thanks to the solutions and equipment supplied by Zetes, both Ivorian citizens who travel abroad and people who visit Ivory Coast will have identification documents produced in conformity with the most up-to-date security methods. Zetes has also concluded a contract with the government of Togo Campaign SNEDAI (Ivory Coast) to supply 500 mobile biometric kits for updating the electoral lists. This contract is a follow-up to the project for the compilation of the © Zetes electoral lists for which the Togolese also used Zetes, in March 2007. Now the Togolese authorities need to bring the electoral lists made for the parliamentary elections of June 2007 up to date in order to register voters who have reached the voting age since last year and to scrap from the lists people who have died or have lost their right to vote. The kits work with software applications that were developed by Zetes. The validity of the lists is ensured by AFIS technology which makes it impossible for the same person to vote more than once thanks to a system of digital fingerprints. All 500 kits are expected to arrive in Lomé before the end of the first half of 2009. In 2005 Zetes signed a contract with the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) for the biometric registration of its population for the general election. Now Zetes has concluded a new agreement with the United Nations to update six thousand registration kits. These should make it possible for the Independent Electoral Commission Biometric registration solution Zetes to update electoral lists for the local elections that are to take place soon. Citizens who have recently reached the age of majority will be added, whilst deceased voters will be removed © Zetes from the lists. Besides this, Zetes will also be responsible for training the Independent Electoral Commission’s trainers and for technical support in the field during registration. The project is worth € 2 million euro and will last for a few months starting in the first half of 2009. Zetes has signed a contract worth around £ 6 million with the British supermarket chain, Morrisons, the fourth largest shopping chain in Great Britain. Morrisons is in the process of updating its whole IT infrastructure. Zetes will supply technology which will allow thousands of the British supermarket chain’s warehouse staff to receive their instructions via voice computer. As a result they will no longer have to check off orders on paper. The contract will be carried out over a period of two years. 4 http://www.zetes.be Voices technology Zetes
  6. 6. TRANSPORT / LOGISTICS  Regional airports achieved good results  in 2008  3.6 % growth for Brussels National Airport    Brussels Airport received 18.5 million travellers Liege Airport   in 2008, which is 3.6 % more than in 2007. This growth is mainly due to the success of new long-haul flights and the arrival of new low cost In 2008 Liege Airport handled nearly 6 % more freight airlines. However, in the course of the year than in 2007 and 20.25 % more passengers. This growth slowed as a result of high fuel prices and growth is mainly due to the arrival of new airline the worsening general economic situation. companies that have chosen Liege as their European hub, such as El Al, Ethiopian Airlines and Ukraine International Airlines; an increase in charter flights http://www.brusselsairport.be/en/news/newsItems/333151 organised by the tour operators present in Liege; as well as the successful launch of new scheduled flights to Tel Aviv, Pristina and Tirana. In the summer of 2009, 20 destinations will be available from Liege Airport. Thanks to the new Cargo City Nord zone, which will be devoted completely to freight handling, Antwerp Central Station one of the most beautiful in the  Liege Airport can receive new operators and new world   airline companies. The American magazine Newsweek rates the recently renovated Antwerp http://www.liegeairport.com Central Station one of the most beautiful stations in the world, ranking it in fourth place. Antwerp Central has always been a magnificent building, but by contemporary Charleroi Airport  standards the capacity of the station was too limited. Radical structural work was needed to allow the high speed train to the Netherlands to pass through The airport at Brussels South Charleroi (BSCA) the station, so a rail connection was laid under the city. Eurostation, a welcomed around 20% more passengers in 2008 than subsidiary of the Belgian national railway company, NMBS/SNCB, used the in 2007. These positive results are a consequence of compensation grouting method to carry out the work without the historic station the excellent occupancy rates to all destinations, the building subsiding or cracking. Thanks to this it was not necessary to put the successful expansion of the airline companies and the station out of use during the renovation work either. Qua architecture, arrival of Jetairfly. In addition, in 2008 new routes were engineering and planning this was a technical tour de force that won launched by Wizz Air, Ryanair and Jetairfly, which international acclaim. have proved popular with travellers. The tunnel under the city and the historic station building caught the interest of foreign railway companies, too. A number http://www.charleroi- of them have already called on airport.com/doc.php?nd=o62&tid=62&lg=3&docid=471&site=1 Eurostation’s services. The company was actively involved, for example, in the construction of a bus terminal in Jamaica, the modernisation of the train stations in Rumania and a consultancy job in Moscow. Antwerp Airport   http://www.newsweek.com/id/178825 The Airport in Antwerp received 1.2% more http://www.eurostation.be passengers in 2008 than in 2007. This growth is mainly the result of an increase in local flights, such as © Carolus maiden and private flights. The number of charter plane passengers also rose by a good 25 %. In total 56,000 flight movements were carried out, that is 8.7 2008 good year for the Port of Brussels   % more than in 2007. The number of passengers on training flights rose from 46,000 to 54,661 units. The The Port of Brussels finished 2008 with good results. Its own traffic rose by 13 % number of charter flights came to 178 units as compared to 2007, and amounted to about 49 million tons. Global traffic came to opposed to only 140 the year before. nearly 8 million tons, an increase of 6 % compared to 2007. Container traffic rose too (+5 %) and reached almost 18,000 TEU (Twenty-foot Equivalent Units). Rail traffic in the outport rose by 7 % to slightly above 360,000 tons. The main sectors http://www.antwerp-airport.be/ that booked increases were building materials, liquid fuels and various goods. http://www.lloyd.be/nieuws/id23536-Le_trafic_du_port_de_Bruxelles_augmente_de.html 5
  7. 7.   Stronger partnership between ports of  Traffic at Port of Liege breaks historical record   Antwerp and Tangier   The Port of Liege performed well last year in terms of both inland The port cities of Antwerp and Tangier Mediterranean are traffic and global transhipments. Inland traffic was good for a strengthening their ties. On both the Moroccan and the Belgian transhipment volume of 16 million tons, 1.5 % more than in 2007 and a sides there is a desire to build on existing relations. new historic record. Taking all modes together, 21.8 million tons were Partnerships such as those between the universities of Antwerp transhipped last year, 2.63 % more than the previous year. All modes and Oujda and between the ports of Antwerp and Tangiers are of container traffic together grew by 14% to 27,459 TEU. being encouraged by both parties. Tangier Med, a container port that has undergone http://www.lloyd.be/nieuws/id23547- very rapid expansion, is an Le_trafic_portuaire_de_Lige_tablit_des_records_historiques_en.html extremely ambitious project. The first containers were handled there in 2007 « Dipcity »,  first  partnership  between  European  and the objective is to handle 8 million TEU in inland ports   2015. On 29 January 2009 the port authorities of Brussels, Liege, Lille and In addition, a 5,000 hectare industrial zone is being developed, Paris presented the final report of the DIPCITY project, which was which should provide 300,000 jobs in the space of 5 years. financed by the European Union’s INTERREG IIIB programme. This Major companies from the Port of Antwerp, like CMA and MSC, partnership was started in 2005 with a view to having the four ports already have a terminal in Tangier Med. Other companies with collaborate and share their experiences in a number of dossiers: the a branch in Antwerp are interested in the Moroccan port, too. valorisation of waste transport via the waterways, the attractiveness of port areas and urban integration, multimodality, the role of ports in Trade between Belgium and Morocco is worth some 700 million urban distribution, the introduction of measures aimed at improving the euro annually. In particular, phosphate, petroleum products and environment and the security of port areas. the import of Moroccan fruit to Europe occupy an important The DIPCITY project was a stimulating opportunity for the four partner position. ports to combine their know-how. Each port could learn from the experiences of the other ports with a view to introducing strategies for http://www.jamiati.ma/Pages/ConférenceportuaireàAnvers.aspx the development of port activities as well as making them more http://www.portofantwerp.com/ efficient instruments to serve the city and the region. In addition, the partners of the Port of Antwerp and Port Authority of New  DIPCITY project have decided to York and New Jersey sign Memorandum of  submit their candidature again for the Understanding   Interreg project, this time in the framework of the Interreg IVB programme. On 24 February 2009 the Port of Antwerp and the Port There is a project proposal aimed at Authority of New York and New Jersey signed a Le port de Liège © Aerialmédia developing a greater sense of Memorandum of Understanding in order to strengthen the responsibility towards serving the existing ties. The Memorandum of Understanding is aimed population in the regions in which the at increasing traffic between the ports. In 2008, about 4.3 ports are situated. The partners will million tons of freight was transported between the ports of address several themes focussed on Antwerp and New York & New Jersey. Mr. Bruyninckx, heightening this sense of public director of the port of Antwerp, together with Mr. Colpin, responsibility and finding ways to head of the Belgian Customs and Duty Agency, also integrate their installations into the received a security award from the National Nuclear fabric of the cities around them. Security Administration for the exemplary support provided This type of approach should make it throughout the implementation of the National Nuclear © SOMEF Security Administration’s Megaports Initiative at the Port of possible to maintain the logistical functions of the ports as well as Antwerp. The award recognizes Antwerp Port Authority’s developing various others. All of these strong commitment to increase the security of both the Port functions are essential for both the of Antwerp and the global maritime system as a whole. economy and town and country Under the Megaports Initiative, which provides radiation planning at a European level. This new detection equipment, training, and technical support to key project could also be extended to international seaports to scan cargo containers for nuclear include new partners. and other radioactive materials, monitoring is carried out at more than 40 detection sites in the port of Antwerp since © SOMEF 2007. 6 http://www.havenvanbrussel.be/?node=&id=24&lng=fr http://www.lloyd.be/nieuws/id23747- http://www.liege.port-autonome.be/en/news/74- Les_dirigeants_portuaires_flamands_se_rendent__New_York.html bruxelles-liege-lille-et-paris-satisfaits-de-di.aspx http://nnsa.energy.gov/2288.htm
  8. 8. SCIENCE   Astronomers  at  the  University  of  Liege  equip  themselves  with  Trappist  telescope  Partnership between Vanderbilt University and  for observation of exoplanets and comets   Janssen Pharmaceutica, for research into new  treatment for schizophrenia  2009 marks the 400th anniversary of the first use of the Janssen Pharmaceutica, a telescope for the observation of the sky. pharmaceutical company from Beerse, In those 400 years there has been one major discovery and the American Vanderbilt University after the other and Liege has contributed in no small way to are collaborating on research to find this ongoing astronomic revolution. Some examples of this molecules that may be interesting for are the testing of the XMM, Herschel and Planck space the treatment of schizophrenia. telescopes at the space centre in Liege, and the The objective is to be able to move development and design of instruments such as the forward in the treatment of this auxiliary telescopes of the Very Large Telescope in Chile at disease, which affects approximately a liege-based company, Amos (Advanced Mechanical and Stef Heylen 1% of the world population. Optical Systems). Researchers at the University of Liege have also been responsible for astrophysical discoveries such as planetary Stef Heylen, Chief Medical Officer of RED Europa, sheds some aurorae, stellar oscillations, mirages and gravitational light on the agreement: quot;Vanderbilt University has developed lenses, as well as for recording massive stars and the new ways of treating schizophrenia which may eventually offer discovery of new chemical elements in comets. the prospect of a cure. It is rather unique for a renowned This autumn astronomers from the university are going to university to collaborate closely with a pharmaceutical research the Atacama Dessert in Chile to install the Trappist company. telescope (acronym of Transiting Planets and Planetesimals Small Telescope). This telescope is 60 cm in The American university is pinning its hopes mainly on drugs diameter and completely automated. It will be operated by that regulate the general metabolism of our brains, like remote control from the Institute of Astrophysics and glutamate. It has brought in experienced experts from the Geophysics at the University of Liege. industry to steer its research in the right direction. Now there is Financed by the Fonds de la recherche fondamentale an opening it has turned to Janssen because of the many years collective, Trappist will have two main types of objective. A of experience we have in this domain.” team from Liege led by Professor Magain will work closely with a Swiss team to track the transit of exoplanets Janssen Pharmaceutica has in fact been a global leader in the (extrasolar planets) in front of stars other than our sun, and treatment of schizophrenia for more than 50 years. quot;Thanks to the telescope will also follow numerous comets for several medicines like RISPERDAL and INVEGA the symptoms of the months in order to study their outgassing as they approach disease can be kept reasonably under control, but a real cure is the sun. still not possible. This is why more research is needed. This will mainly be carried out within the company itself, but co-operation http://www.ulg.ac.be/cms/c_203963/la-tete-dans-les- agreements with other companies and universities could etoiles?portal=j_55&printView=true increase our chances of success”, concludes Stef Heylen. http://www.astro.ulg.ac.be/ http://www.amos.be http://www.mc.vanderbilt.edu/news/releases.php?release=446http://www.janss 7 enpharmaceutica.be/index_E.asp
  9. 9. Researcher  at  UGent  discovers  way  cortisone  Museum of Natural Sciences in Brussels  works  opens Gallery of Evolution   Anyone who has ever had an inflammation has had something to On 12 February 2009, the 200th anniversary of the birth of do with the hormone, cortisone. But exactly how cortisone works Charles Darwin, the Museum of Natural Sciences in and how it is able to suppress most of the symptoms that occur Brussels opened its new Gallery of Evolution. with inflammation has remained a mystery until now. Every cell in The exhibition tells the story of life in 6 ½ chapters. 1000 a human body consists of a cell nucleus, containing DNA, and a specimens take the visitor on a journey through the cell plasma, through which inflammation signals have to pass via Cambrian, Devonian, Carboniferous, Jurassic and Eocene a sort of domino effect. periods to the present day. Under the guidance of Dr. A glance at the future gives an idea of how life might evolve Karolien De Bosscher and Prof. further and it also sheds light on the mechanisms of Guy Haegeman, Ilse Beck, a evolution. A breathtaking voyage of discovery. researcher in the Department of Physiology at the University of Ghent, has discovered that the © Thierry Hubin, Museum des Sciences naturelles cortisone hormone is able to drive the protein MSK1 out of the cell nucleus towards the cell plasma. MSK1 is a key factor in every inflammatory disease, providing the motor of the inflammation process in the cell nucleus. Besides these pioneering discoveries, Dr. Beck has also paved the way for a new anti-inflammatory strategy whereby cortisone is combined with another anti-inflammatory. Research shows that this strategy would offer an unmistakable advantage for patients, as the anti-inflammatory effect would be equally efficient with lower doses of cortisone and therefore fewer adverse side-effects. Dr. Beck’s findings were published in the authoritative scientific publication, The EMBO Journal. http://www.sciencesnaturelles.be/museum/evolution/evolution_hall/index_html http://www.ugent.be/nl/nieuwsagenda/nieuws/persberichten/cortisone.htm/ Researchers  from  Biotech  Company  Galapagos  and  KU  Leuven  make  important  discoveries  about  Alzheimer’s disease   Scientists from the Flanders Interuniversity Institute for Biotechnology (VIB) and KU Leuven (Department of human heredity), working in conjunction with the biotechnology company, Galapagos, have discovered that the protein GPR3 can play an important role in the search for a new medicine for Alzheimer’s disease. Alzheimer’s is a disease that slowly destroys the brain cells. First of all the memory degenerates, but later cognitive capacity declines too. The presence of amyloid plaques is typical for the brains of Alzheimer’s patients. These are abnormal build-ups of the protein beta-amyloid between the nerve cells. Researchers investigated whether other substances might be involved in the formation of these plaques and identified the protein GPR3 as a new player. The researchers were able to show that blocking GPR3 would lead to a reduction of the plaques. Galapagos will continue the search for a medicine and develop it. The scientists’ findings were published in the authoritative journal, “Science”. 8 http://www.glpg.com/press/2009/8.htm http://med.kuleuven.be/dme http://www.sciencemag.org http://www.glpg.com/press/2009/8.htm
  10. 10. CULTURE  Royal Greenhouses soon to open to the public again (17 April – 10 May 2009) In the 19th century advances in construction techniques and especially in the combination of metal and glass as building materials gave rise to a new sort of building – the green house. In 1873 the architect, Alphonse Balat, designed a complex to adjoin the classical-style Castle of Laeken for King Leopold II. The silhouette of the greenhouses is like a glass city situated in the rolling park landscape. The monumental pavilions, the glass domes, the long galleries that criss- crossed the land like covered streets, were not just about exotic botanical gardens, the constructive use of iron and glass, or a building programme called “ideal glass palace”. . The Royal Greenhouses are the result of extensive discussion and the exchange of many letters, sketches, studies and designs between the architect, Alphonse Balat, and King Leopold II. Above all the greenhouses were a source of inspiration for the new Belgian architecture of the time and, along with Art Nouveau, they became famous all over the world. The present plant collection in the Royal Greenhouses is uniquely valuable in three different ways. First of all, some of the plants are still the original ones planted for King Leopold II. Secondly, the present collection as a whole still corresponds to the spirit in which the original collection was conceived. And finally, the Royal Greenhouses still contain many extremely rare and valuable plants. Every year in the spring the greenhouses at Laeken are opened to the public for around three weeks, a one hundred year old tradition that is still upheld. This year the public can visit them from 17 April to 10 May 2009. Photographs : © Polet O and Hamerlijnck E, Les serres royales de Laeken, 2006, Olivier Polet, Sofam-Belgium http://www.monarchie.be/fr/activities/agenda/index.php Exhibition in New York on Resolution 1325 of the UN Security Council From 6 March to 11 April 2009 an exhibition will take place in the Chelsea Art Museum in New York, in which eight Belgian women artists will engage in a dialogue with eight of their American female colleagues. The inspiration for this exhibition is Resolution 1325 of the UN Security Council, which deals with women, peace and security. Resolution UN-SCR-1325 particularly emphasises the impact of war on women and their contribution to conflict management and peace. The work exhibited shows women’s reactions to neglect, discrimination and intolerance. It shows how conflicts can be the motor for positive change. Yasmine Geukens and Marie-Paule De Vil took the initiative to organise the project. The Belgian artists participating are Berlinde De Bruyckere, Sofie Muller, Cindy Wright, Marie-Jo Lafontaine, Kati Heck, Karin Hanssen, Joëlle Tuerlinckx and Ann Veronica Janssens. The UN-SCR-1325 exhibition is supported by the Belgian Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Belgian Representation to the UN and the Consulate General of Belgium in New York. quot;Evequot; by Sofie Muller, white bronze , height: 126 cm. Courtesy Geukens & De Vil Antwerp http://www.geukensdevil.com http://www.chelseaartmuseum.org http://daccessdds.un.org/doc/UNDOC/GEN/N00/720/18/PDF/N0072018.pdf?OpenElement 9
  11. 11. Exhibition: From Van Dyck to Bellotto.  Splendour at the Court of Savoy.  Television  series  “De  smaak  van  De  Keyser”        (Bozar, Brussels, 20/02‐24/05/2009)  wins prizes at the Biarritz International Festival  of Audiovisual Programming   Following the success of the Ensor to Bosch Exhibition in 2005, the Centre for Fine Arts and the Flemish Art The Flemish television series, “De Collection will join forces again in the spring of 2009. smaak van De Keyser” (the flavour of De Keyser) won several prizes at the This time they will have a third partner, the Galleria International Festival of Audiovisual Sabauda in Turin, home base of the superb art Programming in Biarritz (FIPA). collections of the Court of Savoy. This unique collaboration will highlight the attraction the This ten-part series by Frank Van Passel and Jan Matthijs is a Flemish masters held for the family that gave Italy its family saga about three generations of women at a jenever (Dutch very first king. gin) distillery in Hasselt. But it is also the story of an exciting and mysterious search for the truth and … the ultimate flavour of Discover the masterpieces of Jan “Velvet” Brueghel the jenever. The series won three FIPA D'Or prizes, for best series, Elder, Peter Paul Rubens, Anthony van Dyck and their best actress (Marieke Dilles) and best music (Wim De Wilde). The th th Italian colleagues from the 15 to the 18 century. international jury commended “De smaak van De Keyser” for its many qualities - the directing, the scenario, the set and the Bernardo Bellotto, for example, who inherited a recreation of various different periods. This is the first time that photographic vision from his teacher, Canaletto, excels in FIPA has selected a Belgian television series. “De smaak van De View of Turin from the Royal Garden. Keyser” was produced by the Brussels production house, Caviar. The ten-part series is on both Flemish and French-language In 2010 Turin will receive a selection of masterpieces channels. from the collections of the fine arts museums in Bruges and Antwerp - a fair exchange for the Flemish Art Collection, which is lending its scientific expertise for the http://www.lempereurdugout.be/default.aspx exhibition at the Centre for Fine Arts in Brussels. Anton Van Dyck, Guido Reni, Orazio Gentileschi, Highlights le Prince Thomas de Savoie Saint Jean-Baptiste The Annunciation • One of the most important collections of Flemish painting in Europe. • Paintings by Italian and Flemish masters, including two Rubens that have never been on display in Belgium before. • A separate room on painting in the footsteps of Caravaggio. • Two splendid illuminated manuscripts from the collection of the Royal Library of Belgium. • A collection of valuable Brussels tapestries, a first for Belgium. • A multidisciplinary festival brings the contemporary Turin artistic scene to Brussels. • A unique collaboration with the Royal Museums of Fine Arts Belgium and the fine arts museums in Antwerp, Bruges and Ghent, which will pick up the theme of the exhibition. http://www.bozar.be/activity.php?id=8292 10 Jan Brueghel the Elder (“Velvet Brueghel”), © Galleria Sabauda La Vanità della Vita Umana
  12. 12. Ghent one of the most authentic  places in the world   Ghent comes third in a global ranking of the most authentic historical destinations in the new edition of National Geographic Traveler Magazine. quot;An interesting range of cultural experiences: churches, medieval castle museums, and rich painting collections, well-preserved and - presentedquot; are the jury’s comments on Ghent. The ranking contains 109 destinations and was drawn up by 280 professors, journalists and tour operators. http://traveler.nationalgeographic.com/2008/11/historic- destinations-rated/europe-text/2 Young  Belgian  takes  home  prizes  at  international  dance  competition in Switzerland   From 27 January to 1 February the 37th edition of the prestigious Prix de Lausanne took place, an international competition for young dancers (15 to 18 year olds) of all nationalities who are not yet with a professional dance company. The purpose of the Prix de Lausanne is to help young dancers embark on a professional career by awarding them a scholarship for the country and the school of their choice where they want to continue their studies. The jury consists of important personalities from the dance world with international reputations. This year 73 candidates from 21 different countries took part in the competition, including Edo Wijnen from the Royal Ballet School of Antwerp. This 16 year old Belgian took home 2 first prizes. Edo Wijnen During the finals on 1 February Edo Wijnen finished in 4th place. He danced a superb contemporary choreography by John Neumeier (Spring and Fall) with a great deal of feeling and expression, and impressed the jury with a classical choreography by Petipa. Thanks to his excellent performance he won one year’s free tuition and a grant to cover his living expenses for the year. He also received the prize for the best contemporary dance interpretation awarded by the Nestlé Art Foundation. This prize goes to the finalist who shows exceptional potential for contemporary ballet. The prize includes a traineeship at a ballet school as well as travel and lodgings. 11 http://www.prixdelausanne.org
  13. 13. Aalst Carnival  The annual carnival in Aalst (between Ghent and Brussels) took place at the end of February. Aalst carnival is listed by UNESCO as intangible cultural heritage. The Carnival of Binche  The 2003 UNESCO Convention for the safeguarding of the intangible cultural heritage is a supplement to Even today the Carnival of Binche is a unique and lively the 1972 UNESCO Convention on monuments and example of patrimony, an exceptionally popular and human landscapes, which is also know as the World social event which was also recognised by UNESCO as Heritage List. The Convention for the safeguarding intangible world heritage in 2003. of the intangible cultural heritage deals mainly with traditions, festivals, dances, rituals, stories, old crafts This folkloric event has developed from a long oral and methods of healing, in other words, non-tangible tradition. It is, as it were, a ritual that gives every participant or incorporeal heritage. It came into effect in June the feeling of experiencing something unique. And 2008. according to the inhabitants of Binche, of course, there is “only one Binche in the world”… The jesting character of the carnival in Aalst makes it an inextricable part of the identity of the town of Every year the town of Binche and its population spend the Aalst and its inhabitants. month of February preparing for the carnival. The festivities The oldest written sources on carnival celebrations last for three days and undoubtedly constitute the most in Aalst date from 1432. In subsequent centuries the important event in the lives of its inhabitants. Crowds pour public fancy dress parties developed into a solid in to admire the costumes, the music, the parade and the tradition. Whilst carnival celebrations became less fireworks, with the procession of around 1000 “Gilles” as and less popular in the rest of Flanders towards the the apotheosis on Shrove Tuesday (Mardi Gras). end of the 19th and early 20th century, in Aalst they remained very lively. Since then there has been a big annual parade through the streets of Aalst’s city centre. Thousands of volunteers in dozens of carnival associations spend months working on their floats and costumes in the city’s workshops. They all feature local history or national or international current events in a highly satirical way. http://www.aalst.be/default.asp?siteid=2&skin=carnaval2009|fun © Laurent Dussaussois www.carnavaldebinche.be 12
  14. 14. BELGIUM ON THE INTERNATIONAL STAGE  François‐Xavier de Donnea appointed  President of the Club du Sahel   Belgian naval officer participates in international  battle against drugs in the Caribbean  The Minister of State and Member of Parliament, Mr. The Council of Ministers has given the Minister of Defence, François-Xavier de Donnea, has been nominated President Pieter De Crem, the green light to allow an officer from the of the Sahel and West Africa Club (SWAC). Belgian Navy to participate in the Southpac antidrug operations in the Caribbean. Mr. De Donnea will use his expertise to boost SWAC’s activities. SWAC is In the battle against an international organisation linked drugs trafficking to to the OECD and is financed by Belgium and the rest of voluntary contributions from the Europe, a senior developed countries. SWAC’s Belgian naval officer mission is to support African will be deployed from 8 initiatives and efforts for further April to 15 October to development and to promote African operation Southpac on capacities using a network of actors board the American from the North and the South. frigate, USS GARY. SWAC has numerous partners in Africa as well as within the OECD, © Information Service of the Federal Council of Ministers Directorate General External Communication – Office of the Prime Minister and regularly works with international organisations like the F-X. de Donnea World Bank, the FAO and UNDP. The organisation’s field of action covers the whole of West Africa, an important region for Belgian development co- operation, which supports various projects and programmes National plan of action “1325: women, peace and  there. security” Implementation of UN Security Council  One of the problems that SWAC will tackle in 2009 is the resolution 1325: women, peace and security  exploitation of children in the cacao sector in West Africa.   This initiative, which was suggested by Minister Charles On 20 February 2009 the Council of Ministers took note of the Michel and has his support, is aimed at regional solutions, Belgian plan of action “1325: women, peace and security”. The and involves governments from the North and the South, as plan was presented by Mr. Karel De Gucht, Minister for Foreign well as the private sector, the international organisations, Affairs, and Ms. Joëlle Milquet, Minister of Labour and Equal NGOs and the West African producers associations. Opportunities. It aims at increasing gender equality through national and international policies. http://www.diplomatie.be The plan of action intends to implement UN Security Council resolution 1325 and covers the period 2009 - 2012. This resolution, which was adopted by the Security Council on 31 October 2000, calls for the protection of women and girls in Belgian  lawyer,  Christine  Van  Den  Wyngaert,  situations of armed conflict, the prosecution of perpetrators of violence against women and increased participation of women in elected as judge at the International Criminal Court  decision-making on peace and security.     In New York the Belgian The national plan of action “1325: women, peace and security” lawyer, Christine Van Den contains guidelines and actions aimed at improving gender Wyngaert, has been elected equality in humanitarian missions, peace negotiations, as well as as a judge at the International in rehabilitation and reconstruction programmes. It proposes a Criminal Court. national strategy to improve the coherence and efficiency of Given the emphasis Belgium existing efforts. A first evaluation will take place in the second half traditionally puts on of 2010 (Belgian Presidency of the EU) and a second one in 2012. international criminal justice her election is very gratifying. Belgium is one of the first countries that developed a national plan of action. All partners at the federal and regional levels were involved in the discussions. Up until now Mrs. Van Den Wyngaert has been a judge at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in The Hague in the Netherlands. © Information Service of the Federal Council of Ministers Directorate General External Communication – Office of the Prime Minister 13 http://www.icc-cpi.int/press/pressreleases/463.html
  15. 15. Belgian humanitarian aid supplies for  Belgium to take command of maritime task  Palestinian victims in Gaza  force of UNIFIL, the UN mission in Lebanon  Belgian humanitarian supplies destined for the Palestinian victims of the military operations in the Gaza Strip were officially The United Nations has accepted Belgium’s offer to take handed over to the Jordan Hashemite Charity Organisation command of UNIFIL’s maritime task force. A commanding (JHCO) on 21/01/2009 as part of a B-Fast mission. officer and staff will carry out this task from on board a frigate that will serve as the command platform from 1 March to 31 The JHCO was responsible May 2009. An Allouette III helicopter will also be stationed on for transporting the goods to board for the entire period. Gaza and for passing them on to UNRWA (United Nations The commanding officer will be Thierry Pynoo, who will have Relief and Works Agency for the rank of Fleet Admiral for the duration of his command. Palestine Refugees in the The frigate, the Leopold I, which participated in the UNIFIL Near East). UNRWA took operation once before, in 2008, left Zeebruges for Lebanon care of the distribution of the on 16 February with a staff of 23 men on board, consisting of aid supplies to the population officers and petty officers from Belgium and elsewhere. The of Gaza. The aid consignment transfer of command took place in Beirut at the end of involved mainly medically February. The frigate is commanded by Frigate Captain GS equipment and, more Jean-Marc Claus and has a crew of some 144 men and particularly, emergency kits women. and equipment to allow for the long-term treatment of serious UNIFIL MTF is tasked with burns in the hospitals in preventing the smuggling of Gaza. arms and military equipment to Lebanon with 'maritime interdiction operations' as well as carrying out patrols in Belgium was one of the first European countries to send aid UNIFIL’s maritime operation supplies via Jordan and this took place in parallel with the zone. The MTF will also operation whereby wounded Palestinian children were flown to provide support for the Belgium for medical care. Lebanese Navy so that it can carry out more independent The Belgian First Aid & Support team is an interdepartmental military and security tasks in rapid intervention service which organises urgent assistance for territorial waters. catastrophes abroad. The Council of Ministers founded B-Fast on 10 November 2000. http://www.mil.be http://www.un.org/unrwa/ http://www.dailystar.com.lb/article.asp?edition_id=1&categ_id=2&article_id=99125 B‐Fast humanitarian operation: Belgium first European country to evacuate and care for seriously wounded  Palestinian children from the Gaza Strip  On 14/01/2009, after receiving prior permission from the Egyptian authorities to land at El-Arish airport, close to the border with Gaza, a Belgian Embraer airplane evacuated six seriously injured Palestinian children between the ages of 21/2 and 18 from the Gaza Strip, and transported them to various hospitals in and around Brussels, in function of the capacity available and the care required. The children, who were seriously wounded and traumatised in the armed conflict, were selected by the World Health Organisation (WHO). One close family member per child accompanied the children and was accommodated in the hospitals with them. The patients’ state of health has, on the whole, evolved favourably in the weeks since the evacuation. A number of the children were able to leave hospital within a matter of days. In order to guarantee their optimal recovery, the children who left hospital and the family members accompanying them were transferred to a reception centre run by the Red Cross in Yvoir. Everything was done there to ensure the right environment for the continued recovery of the patients, who have, after all, been through extremely difficult experiences not just medically but also psychologically. Besides the necessary medical and psychological support, Arabic speakers were also on hand to help. In addition, a shuttle service was organised to transport the children to the hospitals where they were being treated. The patients are being returned to Gaza as soon as circumstances allow and they themselves wish it. 14 http://www.diplomatie.be/en/press/homedetails.asp?TEXTID=95552
  16. 16. AGENDA  TOP EVENTS IN 2009 EVENTS IN BELGIUM COMIC STRIPS – BRUSSELS 2009 Kunstenfestivaldesarts (performing arts and For general touristic information about EVENTS FOR THE WIDER PUBLIC : visual arts) Belgium: Opening: Balloon Day, a big parade from North 30 April – 23 May 2009 Station to South Station via Blvd Adolph Max and Brussels, several theaters and art houses http://www.visitbelgium.com/ Blvd Anspach. (28/02/09) http://www.kfda.be http://www.agenda.be Grand Prix Michel Vaillant http://www.opt.be/accueil/fr/index.html Opening of the Sleen Foundation /Nero House Opening Museum Hergé http://www.wallonie- Brussels Independent Comic Strip Centre May 2009 tourisme.be/contenus/agenda__culturel/fr/181.html Comic strip artists route (September 2009) Ottignies Louvain-la-Neuve http://www.cfwb.be/index.php?id=portail_theme_cul Largest comic strip plaque in the world ture Comic strip tour Opening Museum René Magritte http://www.visitflanders.com Comic strips in the city and parks 2 June 2009 http://www.cultuurweb.be/CNETPortal/Home2.aspx Brussels http://www.opbrussel.be/ www.fine-arts-museum.be EXHIBITIONS Opening M Leuven (renovated Museum of 3 special exhibitions: Leuven) TEMPORARY EXHIBITIONS - Les regards croisés de la BD belge (another & Exhibition Rogier van der Weyden look at Belgian comic strips) 27/03-30/06/09 at “1400|1464 – Master of Passions” Oceania: signs of ritual, symbols of authority. the Royal Museums of Fine Arts Belgium. 20 September – 6 December 2009 23 October 2008 - 15 March 2009 - The Sexties: Crepax/Cuvelier/Forrest/Peellaert Leuven Brussels, ING Cultural Centre (25/09/09-03/01/10 at BOZAR) http://www.mleuven.be and http://www.ing.be/about/showdoc.jsp?docid=32679 - Willy Vandersteen: the Brussels epos (24/06- http://www.rogiervanderweyden.be 6_en&menopt=iso|exo|pre 27/09/09 in the Town Hall) Europalia China That’s Opera. 200 years of Italian music. Other exhibitions: October 2009 – February 2010 14 November 2008 - 15 March 2009 - In the Belgian Comic Strip Centre: From yellow Brussels and other Belgian cities Brussels, Thurn & Taxis http://www.europalia.be http://www.thatsopera.com/ peril to world comic (24/02-07/06/09), The worlds of Lanfeust (09/06-27/09/09) and, Comic Strips … 20 Years Later (19/09-06/12/09). Flemish tapestries for the Dukes of Burgundy, MUSIC Emperor Charles V and - In the Jewish Museum of Belgium: From Superman to the Rabbi’s Cat (06/05-16/08/09). Ars Musica (contemporary music) King Filip II. 10 March - 10 April 2009 21 November 2008-29 March 2009 Exhibitions in collaboration with the Autrique Brussels, different locations Ghent, Sint-Pietersabdij House, individual communes, the Raymont http://www.arsmusica.be http://www4.gent.be Leblanc Foundation and the Comic Strip House. Queen Elisabeth International Music The Terracotta army of Xi’an. Competition - violin Treasures of the First Emperors of China. 2009 is the year of the comic strip in Wallonia, too. 4 – 30 May 2009 1 October 2008 – 31 March 2009 Brussels, Conservatoire Royal – Palais des Maaseik, Minderbroederskerk Beaux-Arts http://www.museamaaseik.be http://www.cmireb.be/ It’s our Earth! FAIRS 18 October 2008 – 26 April 2009 http://www.beurskalender.be Brussels, Thurn & Taxis http://mineco.fgov.be/enterprises/fairs/home_nl.h http://www.expo-terra.be tm Pierre de Caters, the first Belgian aviator. CONFERENCES 29 November 2008 - 3 May 2009 http://www.conferencealerts.com/belgium.htm Brussels Army Museum http://www.conference- http://www.klm-mra.be/agenda/en1.html service.com/conferences/be/index.html Survivors of the X-TREME. 15 October 2008 – 30 August 2009 FILM FESTIVALS Brussels, Museum for Natural Sciences Anima Film Festival http://www.naturalsciences.be 20-28 February 2009 Brussels Omo: people and design. http://www.animatv.be/anima.php?pageID=1&ln= 7 November 2008 - 31 August 2009 3 Tervueren, Royal Museum for Central Africa http://www.africamuseum.be/omo Brussels International Fantastic Film Festival 9 – 21April 2009 Destinations Delvaux. Brussels 14 November 2008 – 13 September 2009 http://www.bifff.org Liège http://www.insidefilm.com/europe.html http://www.destinationsdelvaux.be 15 © Geluck-Casterman

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