By Nawab Khan
BRUSSELS, Feb 21 (KUNA) -- The chief of the Belgian navy, Rear Admiral Jean-Paul Robyns, has lauded the progress made by Kuwait during the last 20 years after the liberation from the Iraqi occupation. "I am very , very happy to be here. I participated in the liberation 20 years ago. I am so glad that Kuwait in just 20 years of time grew to what it is today," he told the Kuwait news agency, KUNA. Robyns described Kuwait as "a state with a vision, a state which is trying to play a central role in the region, a state that is shifting from a unilateral economy to a spread economy." "All that is due to the Kuwait people, to their imagination, to their fight for freedom and I am sure they will have a splendid future," he added. He was speaking to KUNA after a recent dinner event hosted by Kuwait's ambassador to Brussels, Nabeela al-Mulla, to honour the Belgian naval officers who took part in the demining operations during the Iraqi occupation.
"This celebration is meant to thank Belgium which was instrumental in the process of demining in the Kuwaiti waters," al-Mulla told KUNA.
She noted that the event coincides with celebrations to mark the 50th Independence Day, the 20th Liberation Day and the 5th Anniversary of His Highness the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah being in office.
Francois-Xavier De Donnea, Belgian Minister of State, chairman of the foreign relations committee in the Belgian parliament and President of the Belgian-Kuwaiti parliamentary committee told KUNA that "I congratulate the Kuwaiti people for their fifty years of independence and for their 20 years of freedom after the liberation from Iraq." "My message to the Kuwaiti people is that they should go on as they did in the near past. They developed their country very well and rebuilt their country in a very wise way," he said.
Professor Dr. Paul Devroy, director of Centre for Reproductive Medicine at the UZ hospital in Brussels said "Kuwait is playing a very important role in the world." "I have been many times there and I must say that our collaboration with Kuwait has been excellent and development of new technology has been seen with an open mind," he added. Bassam al-Qabandi, counsellor at the Kuwait embassy in Brussels, noted that important personalities of the Belgian navy who participated in the demining operation during the liberation of Kuwait from the Iraqi occupation were attending the event. "We thank Belgium for their contribution to establish peace and security in the Kuwait waters during that time," he told KUNA. A large number of Belgian naval officers, EU, Belgian and NATO officials and western and Arab diplomats attended the event which was titled "Belgians at Sea." In her welcome remarks, al-Mulla told the gathering that "Belgium was one of the first to answer our call for help for liberation from Iraqi occupation.
"It is in tribute to Belgian naval admiralty for the liberation of Kuwait that we meet here" She said that five Belgian naval ships have participated in the demining mission. Guest speaker Rear Admiral Jean-Paul Robyns thanked the Kuwaiti ambassador for organising the dinner event in order to honour him and his officers for "the modest contribution to the liberation of Kuwait." He pointed out that the Belgian navy cleared 234 mines and destroyed over 500 mines in the Kuwait waters. In his speech, Robyns spoke about the history of the Belgian navy and the importance of maritime transport in world trade today. The dinner event concluded after al-Mulla presented Kuwait's official celebrations seal to the Belgian naval chief. (end) nk.bz.
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