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Inter-parliamentary dialogue between Kazakhstan and Belgium is expanding

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Ambassador of Kazakhstan to Belgium Margulan Baimukhan met with the Chairman of the House of Representatives of the Parliament of Belgium Eliane Tillieux, during which the parties discussed the current state and prospects of bilateral cooperation between Kazakhstan and Belgium.

Ambassador M. Baimukhan spoke about the ongoing political and socio-economic reforms in Kazakhstan, initiated by the President of Kazakhstan Kassym-Jomart Tokayev within the framework of the concept of «hearing state». The issues of vaccination in Kazakhstan and production of the Kazakhstani vaccine «QazVac» were also discussed.

E.Tillieux, representing the large French-speaking Socialist Party (PS) in the Belgian parliament, gave a positive assessment of the socio-political transformations and the level of vaccination of the population in Kazakhstan.

Discussing the issues of expanding inter-parliamentary ties between the two countries, the Belgian speaker noted the growing dynamics of the inter-parliamentary dialogue between the two countries. According to her, online negotiations with the Chairman of the Majilis of the Parliament of Kazakhstan Nurlan Nigmatulin in May 2021, as well as a trilateral meeting of two speakers of the Belgian parliament with the head of the Majilis on September 8, 2021 in Vienna within the framework of the 5th World Conference of Speakers of Parliaments gave an additional impetus to development of the inter-parliamentary dialogue.

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The parties also welcomed the ongoing development of cooperation between the parliamentary friendship groups. The last meeting of the Chairman of the Committee on International Affairs, Defense and Security of the Majilis of the Parliament Aigul Kuspan with the Head of the Interparliamentary Group on Cooperation «Belgium - Central Asia» Tim Vandenput was held in June 2021.

In the context of economic diplomacy, the parties welcomed the upcoming visit of Belgian enterprises to Kazakhstan, planned in November 2021 with the support of the Belgian investment agencies AWEX and FIT. Today, Belgium is one of the largest investors in the economy of Kazakhstan, the volume of Belgian investments is more than 9 billion US dollars.

A separate topic of conversation was the development of civil society, gender equality in Kazakhstan, higher education, ecology, regional security and the situation in Afghanistan. The Belgian politician, noting the significant role of women in political life, welcomed the growing number of women in the Kazakh Parliament and political parties. In addition, the situation around the Aral Sea, Kazakhstan’s efforts to combat climate change in the context of the upcoming UN Conference on Climate Change in Glasgow (COP-26) aroused a certain interest in E.Tillieux. Answering questions, the Kazakh diplomat also spoke about the international initiatives of the First President of Kazakhstan - Elbasy Nursultan Nazarbayev in the nonproliferation of nuclear weapons and the Semipalatinsk nuclear test site, the 30th anniversary of its closure is marked this year.

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At the end of the meeting, Ambassador M. Baimukhan reaffirmed the invitation of the Kazakh side for the Belgian Speaker E.Tillieux and the Belgian deputies to pay an official visit to Kazakhstan.

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Belgium

Clashes break out in Brussels in protests over coronavirus restrictions

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Police and protesters clashed in the streets of Brussels on Sunday (21 November) in demonstrations over government-imposed COVID-19 restrictions, with police firing water cannon and tear gas at demonstrators throwing rocks and smoke bombs, witnesses said, write Christian Levaux, Johnny Cotton and Sabine Siebold, Reuters.

About 35,000 people took part in demonstrations, police said, which began peacefully before violence broke out.

Protesters wearing black hoods threw stones at police as they advanced with water cannon at the main junction in front of the European Union Commission headquarters, Reuters journalists said.

Facing up to the police lines, the protesters held hands and chanted "freedom". One protester was carrying a placard reading "when tyranny becomes law, rebellion becomes duty".

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Police forces stand guard as people protest against coronavirus disease (COVID-19) measures near the European Commission in Brussels, Belgium November 21, 2021. REUTERS/Johanna Geron

Protesters also threw smoke bombs and fireworks, the newspaper Le Soir reported. The situation calmed down later, police said.

Belgium tightened its coronavirus restrictions on Wednesday (17 November), mandating wider use of masks and enforcing work from home, as cases rose in the country's fourth COVID-19 wave. Read more.

There have been 1,581,500 infections and 26,568 coronavirus-related deaths reported in the country of 11.7 million people since the pandemic began. Infections are increasing again, with 13,826 new cases reported on average each day.

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Violence has also broken out in anti-restriction protests in Belgium's neighbour the Netherlands in recent days. On Friday, police in Rotterdam opened fire on a crowd.

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Belgium

'When the Smurfs meet Monkey King'

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'When the Smurfs meet Monkey King' is a children's art exhibition celebrating the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Belgium.

The successful art exhibition celebrating the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Belgium in La Louvière, the birthplace of Surrealism in Belgium that ended on 24 October gave the opportunity to nearly 300 local primary and middle school students in just one week to depict their vision of friendship between China and Belgium.

On 17 October, during the opening ceremony, Françoise Ghiot, Laurent Wimlot, aldermen of La Louvière, and their guests from China and Belgium attended the event. Counsellor Yang Qing, wife of the Chinese Ambassador to Belgium, also recorded a video for the inauguration of the event.

Counsellor Yang Qing said in her speech that she admired the exhibition held in La Louvière. Using pure and innocent artistic perspective, extraordinary creativity and imagination, the children have well defined the cultural elements of both countries. Celebrating the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Belgium with children’s eyes, sincere feelings, those future ambassadors of friendship have expressed their visions of a better collaborative future between the two nations.

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Ghiot said in her speech that she was very happy on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Belgium to see children’s paintings from China. The art exhibition opened a skylight of artistic exchange for local children.

This children's art exhibition was jointly curated by the city of La Louvière, the Nardone Gallery, and Yellow Vitamines. Through the LPGA (Little Painter Global International Art Exhibition), covering 40 cities and 500 aesthetic education training institutions in China, 5000 children’s work were collected and 200 were finally selected to focus on Belgium. With the innocent help of children's brushes, imagination and understanding, art and culture provided an ideal medium to understanding differences and strengthening the bond between China and Belgium.

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Animal welfare

Commission carries out unannounced inspections in the animal health sector in Belgium

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The European Commission is conducting unannounced inspections at the premises of a pharmaceutical company active in animal health in Belgium.

The Commission has concerns that the inspected company may have infringed the EU antitrust rules that prohibit the abuse of a dominant position. The Commission officials were accompanied by their counterparts from the Belgian competition authority.

Unannounced inspections are a preliminary investigatory step into suspected anti-competitive practices. The fact that the Commission carries out such inspections does not mean that the companies are being found guilty of anti-competitive behaviour nor does it prejudge the outcome of the investigation itself.

The Commission fully respects the rights of defence in its antitrust proceedings, in particular the right of companies to be heard.

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The inspections are conducted in compliance with all coronavirus health and safety protocols to ensure the security of those involved.

There is no legal deadline to complete inquiries into anti-competitive conduct. Their duration depends on a number of factors, including the complexity of each case, the extent to which the companies concerned co-operate with the Commission and the exercise of the rights of defence.

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