Samoa welcomes Belgium Ambassador

By Ilia L. Likou ,

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WELCOME TO SAMOA: Marjolijn van der Geer, Marc Mullie, Ambassador of Belgium to Samoa, Head of State, His Highness, Tuimaleali'ifano Va'aletoa Sualauvi II and Her Highness Fa'amausili Leinafo Tuimaleali'ifano.

WELCOME TO SAMOA: Marjolijn van der Geer, Marc Mullie, Ambassador of Belgium to Samoa, Head of State, His Highness, Tuimaleali'ifano Va'aletoa Sualauvi II and Her Highness Fa'amausili Leinafo Tuimaleali'ifano.

Belgium has a new Ambassador for Samoa.

He is Marc Mullie who presented his credentials to the Head of State, His highness Tuimalealiifano Va’aletoa Sualauvi II yesterday.

The presentation took place at the Office of the Head of State at Moto’otua.

Mr. Mullie said Samoa and Belgium’s diplomatic ties have a significant history and the two countries have long been friends. 

“We were the number 10 country in the world to establish diplomatic relations with Samoa,” he said.

“That was done in May 1973 and the first visit of a Belgian ambassador to Apia goes back to December 1973." 

“The ties between our countries have since been strengthened by establishing an Embassy of Samoa in Brussels and by the presence of a small, but outstanding Belgian community in Apia, including Dr. Walter Vermeulen, who will be recognized tomorrow for his numerous contributions to the good health of the people of Samoa.”

He explained that they have welcomed in Brussels some outstanding representatives of Samoa, including Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielagaoi, where he and his family lived for several years during his stint with the A.C.P. Secretariat.

“Your Highness, we recognise the close and deep relationship that your country has with the ocean, ranging from the economic dependency on maritime activities, fisheries and tourism, to the role the ocean plays in your culture and society."

“Despite their importance, our oceans and marine resources are increasingly threatened and degraded or even destroyed by human activities, pollution and climate change." 

“Action must be undertaken now.”

Mr. Mullie recalled last year during the June Ocean Conference in New York where Belgium officially recorded 34 formal commitments to prioritize oceans as part of international agenda. 

“Belgium also contributed substantially to the Green Climate Fund (G.C.F.) and on March 19, we will launch a workshop in New York on ‘climate financing for the most vulnerable countries’. 

“Experts of the most important climate funds will meet to discuss with representatives of the Small Island Developing States (S.I.D.S.) to ensure fair access to these funds." 

“Please let us also work together on the greenhouse gas emissions of the shipping industry. Within the International Maritime Organization, Belgium is, with your support for which we are very grateful, a leading member of the so-called High Ambition Coalition." 

“My country is also strongly in favour of concluding a treaty to ensure the conservation of biodiversity beyond national jurisdiction."

“The work of our Governments should be complemented by the work of our companies and non-government organisations."

“We do have a number of Belgian companies active in the field of dredging, seabed mining, water treatment and green technologies." 

“It will be my duty to better inform them of the opportunities available in Samoa.”

 In May 2015, the Samoa signed a visa-waiver Agreement with the E.U. 

“We are proud that we contributed actively to that decision. We must now negotiate a new future for the E.U.-A.C.P. partnership as the Cotonou agreement expires." 

“The first high-level political talks on this subject were held last year. Samoa has also expressed interest to join the existing Economic Partnership Agreement between the E.U. and some Pacific States. We look forward to a positive outcome,” Mr. Mullie added.

Belgium is also a founding member of the U.N. and contributes actively to securing peace and collective security.

Because of its strong credentials, Belgium introduced its candidature for a non-permanent seat on the Security Council during the period 2019-2020. 

“Once we are in the Council we do not want to work for our own agenda, because we have no own agenda, but for the interests of all smaller countries including the S.I.D.S.,” he said. 

“It is our intention to support the request to put climate change on the agenda of the Security Council as a regular security issue."

“The election, in which Belgium is a candidate, takes place in June next year."

“We trust we can count on the support of the Independent State of Samoa and we look forward to pursuing our existing co-operation in the U.N. context."

His Highness Tuimalealiifano spoke about the Belgian nationals who have made Samoa their home. 

“I am pleased to learn that Dr. Walter, a Belgian who has made Samoa his home, will receive the Knight in the Order of Leopold from the King of Belgium." 

“Your excellency also arrives just days after the recent events, where Samoa as a nation, have again experienced firsthand what natural catastrophes and the impacts of climate change. Tropical Cyclone Gita has highlighted again the importance of building resilience and the protection of our people and their livelihoods from such natural disasters." 

“Therefore, global climate action continues to be an urgent priority for our small island nation. Mr. Mullie graduated with a Master of Law at the Ghent University in 1982 before furthering studies in Master in International and European Law in 1984 and a Bachelor of Art Sciences and Archaeology in 2012 at the Free University of Brussels. 

From 1984-1985, he began his career as a Legal Advisor to the Belgian Textile Convention then later became a Regional Delegate for South East Asia, World Resources NV, Aalst from 1985-1986. 

In 1987 he was the Eligibility Officer at the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees before beginning his diplomatic service in 1988. 

Later he was assigned to many of the following diplomatic posts: First Secretary at the Embassy in Damascus (1990-1994); in Seoul (1994-1997); and in Kuala Lumpur (1997-2000). In 2000, he returned to Belgium to become the Advisor at the Office of the State Secretary of Foreign Affairs. 

He later became the Deputy Head at the_Office of the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs from 2002-2003; then becoming the Consul General of Belgium in Shanghai from 2003-2006, prior to his assigned post as the Ambassador of Belgium to the Oceania and Pacific Region.

He was the appointed Ambassador of Belgium to Malaysia from 201l-2014. Mr. Mullie also has management experiences such as being a Member of the Board of Governors of the King Baudouin Foundation and later became the President of the Management Board of the Royal Palace from 2006-2011. 

He can speak French, German, Spanish and Dutch. 

The Ambassador-designate will be visiting E.U-funded projects with an emphasis in combating climate change in the Pacific. He will also host a reception in honour of Dr. Walter who will receive the Knight in the Order of Leopold from the King of Belgium. Mr. Mullie will be based in Australia and will return this week with his spouse.

He was accompanied by his spouse, Mrs. Marjolijn van der Geer.

© Samoa Observer 2016

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