On Monday, January 25, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Sophie Wilmès met with the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Slovenia, H.E. Mr. Anze Logar, during his visit to Brussels. It was a first meeting with her counterpart. The bilateral relationship between Belgium and Slovenia, beyond the European framework, is excellent.
On Monday January 25, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sophie Wilmès, participated with her counterparts to the Foreign Affairs Council held in Brussels. It began with exchanges on topical issues during which the European ministers discussed the political situation in several regions of the world, but also the future of transatlantic relations or the European strategy to facilitate access by third countries to vaccines against COVID-19. An exchange of views was also held with the Japanese Foreign Minister, H.E. Toshimitsu Motegi.
This month, Belgium takes over the presidency of the Benelux for one year. Initially, Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Sophie Wilmès was to present the priorities of this presidency at a ceremony in Brussels, but given the sanitary evolution and the outbreak of new variants, a meeting with her Dutch and Luxembourg colleagues Stefan Blok and Jean Asselborn will be held at a later stage.
On Thursday January 21, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Sophie Wilmès met with the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Turkey, H.E. Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu on the sidelines of his visit to the European institutions. This was a first meeting with her counterpart. In a frank atmosphere, the Deputy Prime Minister had the opportunity to discuss a number of important issues for Belgium but also to express some concerns.
Tomorrow, 31 December, Belgium's sixth mandate in the UN Security Council (VNVR) will come to an end. Two and a half years ago, our country had received the support of no less than 181 countries to sit at the table of the most important body for international peace and security for two years. During those two years, Belgium has been active on all the dossiers on the agenda of this body.
Belgium is supporting the activities of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in Syria with a contribution of 2 million euros, in response to the organization's 2020 call for contributions for the country. The ICRC's action is essential and its neutral and independent humanitarian approach, in accordance with the mandate given by the States, makes it a key player in the protection and assistance to the populations affected by the conflict in Syria.
No country in the world will be safe from COVID-19 as long as not all countries are safe. That is why the Belgian Minister for Development Cooperation Meryame Kitir is making 4 million euros available for the COVAX initiative. COVAX is a global collaboration with governments and pharmaceutical companies to ensure that COVID-19 vaccines are available and accessible to all countries worldwide.
On Thursday December 17 and Friday December 18, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Sophie Wilmès held successive bilateral meetings with the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Armenia, H.E. Ara Aivazian, and her counterpart of Azerbaijan, H.E. Jeyhun Bayramov, on the occasion of their visit to Brussels and in the margins of the partnership dialogue with the European Union.
On Monday 14 December, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Sophie Wilmès spoke at the 19th session of the Assembly of States Parties to the Rome Statute, the founding text of the International Criminal Court (ICC). Due to the health situation, Minister Wilmès participated in this meeting, held in The Hague, virtually.