A conversation with IFE Diplomatic Steward, H.E. Dirk Wouters, Ambassador of the Kingdom of Belgium to the United States: “Go for the win-win on both sides, even if it’s difficult and build a bridge.”
We had the pleasure to discuss with H.E. Dirk Wouters, Ambassador of the Kingdom of Belgium to the United States, on how the collaboration with IFE started and what is the secret ingredient to maintaining good and mutual foreign relations. “Keep the channels of communications open and try to find common ground”, the ambassador said. We couldn’t agree more that the two missions, both of IFE and the Belgian Embassy, overlap in many ways. Read the full interview to find out his opinion on Brexit, how embassies adjust when administrations change and how technology can improve academic diplomacy.
Raluca Barbulescu: How did your collaboration with IFE start and what is your involvement with the IFE community?
Ambassador Dirk Wouters: Here’s a fun story. Not that many people know that Coach Kathy Kemper got engaged in the Belgian residence here in Washington. So, there has always been a kind of connection with the Belgian ambassador, and there’s now the fact that the Belgian ambassador is the diplomatic steward of IFE. When I arrived in September 2016 here in Washington, to serve, one of the first propositions I received, was to continue this diplomatic stewardship. As the missions, the two missions both of IFE and the Belgian Embassy, kind of overlap, there was no question of not accepting this honor. As far as my involvement is concerned, I look every year forward to hosting IFE events at my residence and to attending also the fabulous events that IFE organizes in other venues.
RB: Are there any particular IFE events that are dear to your heart?