Awarding reception of the grade of Grand Officer in the Order of the Crown to the Honourable Minister of Defence of Canada, Peter MacKay

Brussels, Ministry of Defence, June 29th 2012


- - - The spoken word alone prevails - - -



Honourable Minister MacKay, Dear Peter,

Dear Nazanin,

Excellences, generals,

Ladies and Gentlemen,



It is a pleasure for me to welcome you here at this very special event. What brings us here together today is a mixture of deep respect and friendship between our two countries and a shared view of what we need to do today in order to build a better future.


As I mentioned in April during your last visit, Belgium and Canada are very similar, except for their surface. A great physical distance separates Canada and Belgium but we share the same culture, we cherish the same values and we are both willing to take up our responsibilities in this world.



Peter, it has pleased His Majesty the King, on my proposal, to bestow on you the title of Grand Officer in the Order of the Crown. In so doing, His Majesty wants to pay tribute to a great Minister of Defence, a true friend of NATO and a close ally of Belgium and Europe.


Through this honour, Belgium wants to express its gratitude for the spirit of duty and sacrifice characterizing the Canadians and the Canadian military throughout your history. We Belgians had the privilege to experience this spirit of duty and sacrifice during the two World Wars. And, as you know, we wish to remember this in a proper way with the commemoration of the Great War starting in 2014.



Peter, today we acknowledge that, under your leadership, this spirit of duty and sacrifice has been kept alive through the peacekeeping missions in which Canada participates. Canada, as Belgium, has participated in almost every UN-mission since its inception.


In our joint period as Ministers of Defence, we also do realise that Canada has paid a high human price in Afghanistan.



We sincerely respect also the role of Canada in international politics, as a real bridge builder. The beginning of the 21st century has not been characterized by a decrease in conflicts worldwide, to the contrary. The more tensions increase, the more strong and trustworthy gatherers will be needed and we know Canada is such a country.



Conflicts ignore national borders in this globalized world. What happens in one place has an immediate and tangible effect on the entire world. Major challenges still await us in the field of security and defence. As Ministers of Defence, we are both convinced that the future of our armed forces lies in the reinforcement of cooperation between partner states.



It is only by working together that we will be able to tackle these challenges in a quick and efficient way. Therefore, maintaining a strong transatlantic bond is essential.



Minister MacKay,

Dear Peter,



The Kingdom of Belgium is grateful for your accomplishments as Canadian Minister of Defence, for your efforts in increasing the cooperation between allied countries and to strengthen the transatlantic relations.



It is therefore, with great pleasure that I will know proceed in handing over to you the Star of Grand Officer in the Order of the Crown.



But before so doing, let me conclude by thanking you all for being with us today and let me in particular thank Mr Ambassador de Lorimier, as you are soon leaving our country, for having been such a precious representative of your country in Belgium.



Positions like yours, Mr Ambassador, are demanding for partners just as they are for Ministers’ partners. I am therefore also grateful for Mrs MacKay’s presence today. We honour in fact both of you.



“By the powers vested in me, I have the honor, in the name of His Majesty the King of the Belgians, to confer to you, Peter MacKay, the distinction of Grand Officer in the Order of the Crown”.



Pieter De Crem

Minister of Defence


- - - The spoken word alone prevails - - -

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