In the 20th century, Belgian diplomats began to play a not insignificant role in all the multilateral organisations, from the League of Nations to the UN, NATO and of course the European Union. The values which have inspired these diplomats since 1830 are ones of tolerance, surpassing nationalisms and the search for compromise. As the author points out, Belgian diplomats have distinguished themselves through three essential qualities: motivation, the sense of responsibility and representation. One has to be motivated to travel around the globe, listening to others and learning their languages, in order to understand the country’s political and economic development and seek out all manner of ways to strengthen bilateral ties. One has to thrive on responsibility when sent on a posting to manage complex dossiers, negotiate trade agreements, organise repatriation or any initiate representation to the highest local authorities. The author quite rightly describes Belgian diplomats as “all weather diplomats”. Finally, representation is not merely an exercise in social niceties. It is about presenting the most favourable image of all aspects of one’s country, both in public and private.
Une version française est également disponible (éditions Mardaga) ainsi qu’une version néerlandaise (éditions Lannoo).