King Filip calls for “open and respectful dialogue”

On the eve of Belgium’s National Day our country’s Head of State King Filip has made his traditional address to the nation. The address is one on two televised speeches the King makes each year in each of Belgium’s three official languages. The address is broadcast for the first time ahead of the 1pm lunchtime news by the Flemish public broadcaster VRT and the Francophone public broadcaster RTBF. 

In his speech King Filip spoke of the difficult task faced by politicians given the result of the elections almost two months ago. Although their task is difficult, the King doesn’t believe it to be impossible. He believes that the election result reflects a number of concerns that are also shared by people in other countries.

As most of these concerns transcend the various levels of political competence in our country, they need to be addressed swiftly through cooperation between the authorities at a federal, regional and language community level. 

Meanwhile, many people are acting to address these concerns by getting involved in numerous voluntary organisations. The King praised the efforts of charity fund-raisers such as the VRT’s cancer research fundraiser Kom op tegen kanker, the Flemish commercial broadcaster VTM’s Red Noise campaign, the Francophone public broadcaster RTBF’s CAP 48 fundraiser, etc.…

King Filip says that this shows that Belgians don’t just sit on the side lines, but rather get involved with projects in which they believe. He believes that it is important that this is recognised and supported. The Belgian monarch added that we need strong projects that stimulate people to get involved.

Open and respectful dialogue is key to bringing about projects that bring people together. In order to achieve this it is important that people listen to each other and that you are able to leave your own emotions and sentiments aside for a while. This allows you to respect and value your interlocutor, which is important because at the end of the day you will need them in order to build something.

King Filip stressed that we should guard against thinking simplistically or believing that issues are simply black or white.

He also spoke of the issue of fake news “there is no room for lies or hurtful words” as this only makes it more difficult to find solutions. Fake news misleads and hurts people, the King said.

Cooperation between the various levels of political competence is the key to address the issues of concern to people in Belgium today such as climate change and unemployment. When addressing these issues attention should be given to their complexity and those taking part in the debate should do so in a nuanced way.

King Filip also spoke of the many positive examples of people cooperating in Belgium. Furthermore, Belgians haven’t gone unnoticed on the international stage. In the world of culture these are plenty of examples of Belgian artists, film directors, musicians and theatre directors that have gained international recognition. This is also true of numerous Belgian academics.  

King Filip cited the Belgian Pavilion and the Venice Biennale as a fine example of successful cooperation between Belgium’s various language communities.

The King concluded that we Belgians are diverse, but our differences serve to complement each other. This is part of our identity and it is something that we should be proud of. Our diversity make us stronger.

Our country’s Head of State believes that from this will grow positive and productive ambition that will serve to counterbalance fear and desperation.