WELCOME TO BELGIUM, MR. PRESIDENT!!!
...and if you got some spare time, MFBB will be more than honoured to show you another Belgium you may not be aware of:
(some Belgian icons: clockwise the Royal Palace, the Atomium, the so-called "Giant's Grave" in the Ardennes' south and the Belfry in Bruges)
On Sunday evening February 20th, 9pm local time, President George W. Bush arrived on Brussels International Airport for a 5-day long journey to Europe. On Monday morning he and the First Lady will be welcomed by the Belgian King Albert II and his spouse Queen Paola in the Royal Palace. Later in the morning PM Verhofstadt will receive the Presidential Couple. On Monday afternoon the President will hold a "key speech" on transatlantic relations in the Concert Noble Hall, and in the evening he will meet French President Jacques Chirac on a working dinner in Brussels.
Tuesday morning he will have breakfast with British Prime Minister Tony Blair, the rest of the day a dual summit with European heads of states and prime ministers and with NATO officials is scheduled. For Tuesday evening a dinner with the European Commission is planned.
On Wednesday, President Bush continues his journey to Mainz, Germany, where he will meet German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder and visit US troops in the area. In the evening, he flies to the Slovak capital Bratislava where on Thursday a meeting with Russian president Putin is planned. Belgian blogger Luc Van Braekel has more (in english).
President Bush’s three-day visit to Brussels has provoked security measures hitherto unknown in Belgium. Apart from the President's own 800 security agents deployed for "close protection", Belgian police has mobilized 2,500 officers to safeguard not only the presidential convoy but also the presence of no less than 34 heads of state and prime ministers. The Crisis Centrum of the Ministry of Interior will be three days long on High Alert. Twenty-five representatives of all concerned offices (Ministry of the Interior, Foreign Ministry, Mixed Group Anti-Terrorism, State Security, Army and Police) are on standby in case anything should go wrong. The operational command of the security operation, under Brussels Corps Chief Roland Vanreusel, is situated in a bunker with undisclosed location.
Needless to say, MFBB wholeheartedly welcomes the President and his charming wife. Over the past four years, Mr. Bush has shown himself a steadfast leader who not only clearly understands the multiple - and very serious - challenges and threats facing the West, but who also took direct and resolute action in implementing measures to quell them. In doing so, he always acted with the greatest level of decency and respect to all those - and how numerous they were and are - who rejected his views and gravely insulted him.
Not so his adversaries, who kept losing themselves in whining along the sidelines. The result is that anno 2005, as we can clearly see the fruits of his policy begin to blossom, these heads of states, premiers, chancellors and presidents, political analysts, academics, "informed commenters", political contenders and the like, find themselves still trodding in the same tracks they have been standing in since 2002, repeating the same old worthless arguments and lies, while the Bush doctrine's implementation is speeding ahead and its vision of unlocking a sixty-year old stalemate in the Middle East is looking more promising day by day. Let us also not forget the large proportion of the public opinion, at home and especially abroad, who stubbornly refused to look for a moment beyond the baseless bias and the hate offensives directed at George W. Bush. They now consequently find themselves still holding positions and opinions as irrelevant as those of an earlier generation, when another Great President who neutralized the horrible threat of a Nuclear Holocaust, was mocked and spit upon.
However, do not think this unrightful distate is universal. Everywhere across the globe President Bush has his fierce supporters, and as always quality will win over quantity. Let me quote Belgian MP Gerolf Annemans of the Vlaams Belang, formerly Vlaams Blok, as he welcomes the President (translation via LVB):
I warmly welcome president Bush. You won't hear me say that I agree on everything with the man, but his policies have given the US an advantage of ten years compared to Europe. With him, the pendulum has swung in the opposite direction, away from all that is left-wing and progressive. That evolution is gradually coming to Europa too. Bush finds conservative values as important as we do, with an emphasis on the family and the own identity. [...] We don't need a new Bush: the old one wasn't bad. I agreed with the intervention in Iraq and I refuse to confirm at this time that it was an error or a failure. If Bush were Flemish, he would be welcome at Vlaams Belang.
Mr. and Mrs. Bush, enjoy your stay in Belgium!!!