Candes Saint-Martin, my favourite spot in La Touraine.

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

A city under siege

Last week and the week before Brussels seemed like a city under siege. On several occasions different parts of the city were closed for all traffic. Even buses and trams were deviated from their usual route. Tunnels were closed, sewers inspected and public dustbins sealed. Police dogs sniffed their way around two or three top hotels, looking for explosives. Building sites were evacuated for the duration and snipers manned the roof tops of buildings in the sealed off areas.

What caused this sudden and very impressive show of high level security? Well, President Obama was in Belgium for the very first time. He arrived on Tuesday evening from the Netherlands and left the next evening for Rome to meet with the Pope. He travelled with his staff of … nine hundred people. He also brought ‘The Beast’, his famous armoured car.

Commuting into Brussels when President Obama is visiting?
No, this is something completely different.
Any idea what this is?

The morning after his arrival, he visited ‘Flanders’ Fields’ cemetery in the ‘Westhoek’ were some the fiercest battles of WWI were fought and many US soldiers were killed in action during the last years and months of the war. The short, yet very moving ceremony was also attended by our King Filip and our Prime Minister Di Rupo.

In the afternoon President Obama met with the President of the European Council, Herman Van Rompuy and the Chairman of the European Commission, Manuel Barroso. Shortly after 9 p.m. Air Force One took off from Brussels with aboard, the President and his staff. A spotless and smooth visit without any known security hick-ups.

That was two weeks ago. Last week the Chinese President visited Brussels. Although security was less ‘visible’, commuting into Brussels using a car was once again an ordeal. That was on Monday. Later that same week, the European Trade Unions marched through the city to the European district to ventilate their grievances and demands in and the around the square where the European institutions are located! Again de centre of the city was under siege.

For once I was glad that our offices are located on the outskirts of the city. A situation that will change in three years when we move to the ‘heart of the action’! Ahhh, the joys of working in the capital of Europe!


chm said...

Happy birthday, Martine, and many, many happy returns of the day.

I'll be landing in Paris on May 2nd for three months!

ladybird said...

Thank you chm! Happy to read that you're coming to France. Hope to see you soon! Martine

Jean said...

Happy birthday from us too!

I confess I didn't know it was your birthday until I read CHM's prompt, but now I have the date in my diary!!

I had to check I had read your post right first time though. 900 is an awful lot of people for an entourage. It would be hard luck for anyone else who needed a room in town for business that day!

The Beaver said...

Joyeux Anniversaire Martine

We will make the trip to Paris also this yr ( May 24th tot June 1st)

Normandy and Paris won't be fun on June 6.7,and 8th.

chm said...

Bonjour Cousine,
Peut-être se verra-t-on à Paris?

The Beaver said...

Bonjour Cousin,
Pourquoi pas :-) C'est une bonne idée.
J'avais envoyé un e-mail le 29 Janvier dernier pour vous en informer ( earthlink address).

On sera sur Rue de Sèvres cette fois…

ladybird said...

Thank you Jean for your kind wishes.

Hi Tb, Un tout grand merci!