First-ever Flemish Week kicks off in Germany


A series of conferences, concerts and bilateral meetings will take place this week in Germany’s western-most region during Flemish Week

German region is ‘a top priority’

The very first Flemish Week kicked off in Aachen, Germany, yesterday, when minister-president Geert Bourgeois and his counterpart in North Rhine-Westphalia opened a concert by Mechelen ensemble Zefiro Torna. The ensemble, which specialises in music from the middle ages to the Baroque, performed together with top students from Musikschule der Stadt Aachen.

The festival opening continued in Bonn with a concert by the new Leuven orchestra Le Concert Olympique. Specialising in music by Beethoven, the orchestra played in the city’s Beethoven house.

Flemish Week runs until 24 March and includes conferences, workshops and exhibitions covering a wide variety of topics. North Rhine-Westphalia borders Wallonia and is separated from Flanders by a thin strip of the Netherlands. Flanders has, therefore, pledged equal bilateral relations with North Rhine-Westphalia as it has with the Netherlands.

Flemish ministers have embarked on several co-operation agreements with the German region of North Rhine-Westphalia over the years in such areas as culture, labour market integration, energy and transport. In January of this year, no fewer than 17 cross-border co-operation agreements were signed between the regions.

Climate, ports and cinema

“North Rhine-Westphalia is a top priority in terms of Flanders’ foreign affairs policies,” said Bourgeois. “A Flemish Week is evidence of not only a thorough and meaningful relationship with the German region but also the perfect opportunity to draw attention to our ongoing co-operation and to Flanders itself in many respects.”

On the agenda today is an energy conference and a Port Day in Düsseldorf. Tomorrow sees a focus on education, and later in the week are conferences and meetings around health care, integration, the environment, chemicals and cinema.

“That Flanders chose North Rhine-Westphalia for its first Flemish week is proof of our close working relationship,” says Armin Laschet, minister-president of the Germany region. “I am extremely pleased that we can put into practice decisions made during our governmental sessions in January. We are happy to have Flanders on our side as a key partner.”

Photo: North Rhine-Westphalia minister-president Armin Laschet (left) and Flanders’ minister-president Geert Bourgeois
©Courtesy Geert Bourgeois/Twitter