The Kingdom of Belgium has appointed and introduced its Honorary-Consul to Liberia after eight years of absence.
The Honorary Consul now representing Belgian investors and citizens in Liberia is Frederic Vloeberghs, who serves as a country manager for Belgian Airlines that flies the SN Brussels.
Making the introduction on January 22, 2014 during a reception at the Mamba Point Hotel, Belgian Ambassador accredited near La Côte d’Ivoire, Peter Huyghebaert, stressed that bilateral relations between Liberia and Belgium had been hampered since 2005 when his country could not host a consulate and an Honorary Consul here.
He noted that that situation happened at the time when Liberia was entering the stage of peace and stability with a high need for socio-economic development and reconstruction.
He, however, expressed joy that after being absent for such a long period, he and his compatriots were delighted to be establishing a consulate followed by the appointment of an honorary-consul.
Unlike an ambassador who is sent by a President with Letters of Credence to represent his or her government in another country, the Honorary-Consul is appointed. He can either be a native of the country sending him or her, or an individual of another nationality to represent the economic and business interests of citizens of the country he or she represents.
Recounting activities of Belgium in Liberia Ambassador Huyghebaert noted that his country has many companies investing in the country, citing Jan De Nul (Dredging and marine construction company), Monrovia Oil, NHV (Operator of helicopter flights for the oil industry), as well as the agro-industrial company Socfinco.
According to him, the presence of Socfinco has given employment opportunities to thousands of Liberians in the rubber plantation sector.
Ambassador Huyghebaert further noted that there is a steadfast and remarkable symbol of Belgian presence in Liberia which is the Brussels Airlines that flies the SN Brussels.
“A steadfast and remarkable symbol of Belgian presence in Liberia is of course our national carrier, Brussels Airlines that has firmly established itself in the country, operating four (4) flights a week between Monrovia and Brussels. The Belgian carrier is a most reliable gateway to Europe,” Ambassador Huyghebaert stressed.
He described the Honorary-Consul as “Polyglot” who he said has strength in the English Language with a little knowledge of Krio, a dialect in Sierra Leone.
Ambassador Huyghebaert further indicated that Belgium’s interest in Liberia is not only in commercial interests; instead, it is an active partner in international development cooperation.
“Although there is no direct bilateral co-operation between our two countries, we remain indirectly engaged through the European Union, multilateral organizations, as well as NGOs.
Other available co-operation instruments deployed in Liberia include the Belgian Investment Company for Developing Countries (BIO) as well as a budget line to promote peace building and conflict prevention,” he said.
He commended President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf for her role played in the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) agenda which he said was dear to his country.
Speaking briefly, the newly appointed Honorary Consul, Frederic Vloeberghs extended gratitude to his country for the appointment and pledged to work in harmony with Liberia in ensuring that the interest of his country is met and the relationship between Liberia and Belgium is sustained.
Also making remarks, Commerce & Industry Minister Axel Addy recounted the role of Belgium in Liberia’s economic recovery and specifically emphasized the role of the Brussels Airlines as key to this process.
Minister Addy stressed that SN Brussels is one airline that first began operations in Liberia after the war, and has served as transport channel for Liberians to other parts of the world, especially Europe and the United States.
The occasion marking the opening of Belgium Consulate and appointment of its Consul was attended by scores of foreign diplomats including US Ambassador Deborah Malac and a host of government officials.