Speech by H.E. Yves Leterme, Prime Minister of Belgium at the presentation of Liège Expo 2017
La parole fait foiMinisters, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, Let me thank you for being here tonight. I would like to add to what Minister Vanackere just said that we very much rely on you to be – for once – our ambassadors in your country.And I am glad to be here to help you in this job. As you may know, I have been from the very beginning an enthusiastic supporter of this project.Je tiens évidemment à saluer la présence des représentants au plus haut niveau des autorités fédérales et régionales du pays. En particulier le Gouvernement wallon, représenté par son Vice-Président M. Jean-Claude Marcourt, la Province de Liège, représentée par son Gouverneur M. Michel Foret et – last but not least – le bourgmestre Willy Demeyer et les échevins de la ville de Liège.Mesdames et Messieurs les ambassadeurs, ces autorités régionales et locales vous accueillent avec moi ce soir parce qu’elles souhaitent entrer en contact avec vous pour vous aider à « véhiculer la bonne parole » jusque dans vos capitales respectives.Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, let me reiterate the main reasons for Belgium’s candidacy for hosting the international exhibition of 2017.First of all, we have chosen a theme for this Exhibition that is close to our heart and that we want to stress and to promote on all continents: “connecting the world, linking people - connecter le monde, relier les humains”. Communication is crucial for progress and for peace. The development, access and use of new communication and information technologies is an essential tool to further solidarity and cooperation between Mankind and to serve the sustainable development of humanity.Second, our bid is prompted by the fact that 2017 will mark the 60th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Rome, the founding treaty of the European Union, which was negotiated in Belgium. Belgium has always been unwavering and outspoken in its support for the European ideal, not least because it opens up a whole new world of opportunities. 2017 will provide an opportunity to celebrate this Europe that looks beyond its own borders.Thirdly, the city of Liege stands as a symbol of a city that has succeeded in moving with the millennia in a flexible and innovative way. It is called the “Cité Ardente”, the Ardent City, as a reference to its vivacity. The economic and urban transformation which is being performed, makes an inspiring combination of old and new and constitutes an example for other middle sized cities in the world. This city is at the heart of Europe, at a crossroads of European cultures, with over 60 % of the total European purchasing power within a 500 km radius. And with an easy access coming from the main European capitals.Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, communication and dialogue, economic and social cooperation and integration, creativity and innovation, these are some of the values Belgium stands for. These are values which we want to promote on a daily basis throughout the world. These ideals are at the core of the city of Liège’s candidacy.La communication et le dialogue, la coopération économique et sociale et l’intégration, la créativité et l’innovation, voilà quelques-unes des valeurs pour lesquelles la Belgique souhaite s’engager. Il s’agit de valeurs que nous nous efforçons de promouvoir par notre action dans le monde. Ces idéaux sont au centre de la candidature de la ville de Liège.I am and will remain a fierce supporter of this project, just as I am a fierce supporter of Liège’s football team. And I can tell you : Liège and Belgium will hold their ground in a fair competition.I now invite you to discover some images of Liège in order to stimulate your interest for our candidacy. Thank you again for being here. We very much count on your support.