King Philippe’s speech for this year’s National Day 20 07 2016

on

 

koningshuis

Ladies and gentlemen,

Since the beginning of the year we went through all hardships. The attacks hit hard and leave us with a feeling of insecurity. The crises at the borders of Europe and their effects inside our country have created a climate of instability and uncertainty. To all this add the turbulence which the European Union after the British referendum.

These events reveal fractures within our societies. Between rich and poor. Between young and old. Between those who have access to information and knowledge and those who do not. Between those who feel at home and those in search of a home. Between those who take the lead and those who are afraid of losing. Avoid false prophets, playing on emotion, not exploit these fractures and these vulnerabilities. By designating scapegoats, they only widen the gaps between religions, between peoples and ultimately all of us.

In this context I want to encourage you to strengthen everything that contributes to social cohesion and justice in our society. To do that, we have major assets.

First, we have a long tradition of openness and commitment. The search for unity in diversity drives the majority of those living in our country. We have a culture of consultation and involvement of citizens in decision making. We have a network of associations and civil society that have been proven. You are the engine and the kingpins of associations that you get involved in revitalizing your neighborhood or to recreate welcoming public spaces, which you reach out to those who now feel abandoned or discouraged, you are all heirs to this tradition. The Queen and I see your beautiful daily commitment, professional or voluntary basis, throughout the country.

Then, the sense of belonging and the need for participation is expressed in a new and creative way for youth. You young people are looking increasingly good living together before the material comfort. You aspire to contribute to something bigger than you. You learned how to open up to others, to other countries and other cultures. You know that this generates the exchange of ideas, creativity and innovation, cultural enrichment and personal development. The platforms that show you associate a shared desire and innovative common good. It is this same spirit that we find in the real startups nursery and social enterprises emerging in our country. And you, young people who still are looking for a new start or a job, you have within you a latent energy that we want to help you activate.

Finally, we have a third important quality: courage. The courage which I think is more than temerity. It overcomes the trials based on what is beautiful and great. It expresses an inner strength that rejects the comfort of defeatism. The Queen and I, recently, witnessed the courage, after the terrorist attacks of 22 March. You, the injured and the members of the affected families have responded to this challenge with infinite dignity. You members of the security services and intervention, you acted with extraordinary dedication. This courage is given as an example. It helps keep confidence – in ourselves, in others and in our institutions – when crises succeed and shake our certainties.

It is this same impetus now needs the European project. It is no coincidence that the strongest majorities in favor of keeping Britain in the European Union have expressed youth. They are not left confused by the false dilemma between EU and Member States. The two are complementary. And our Union is more necessary than ever. Again, it will take courage to defend it and to continue to improve.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Become aware of the advantages that we have. Joining forces in Belgium and Europe. Let us trust in the future. The Queen and I wish you a great National Day.

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