Frédérique RIES, Belgium's Secretary of State for European and Foreign Affairs returned this morning from a three-day visit to Israel.
Mrs Ries traveled to Israel in order to represent Belgium at the prize-giving ceremony during which Belgian scientists François Englert and Robert Brout (both professors at the Free University of Brussels - ULB) were awarded the 2004 Wolf Prize for achievements in physics on Sunday 9 May in Jerusalem.
Frédérique Ries had a long series of top level meetings during her stay. In addition to her talks with the President of the State of Israel Moshe Katsav and the Minister of Sciences and Technologies Eliezer Sandberg - whom she met during the prizegiving ceremony - Frédérique Ries also discussed the regional situation, European and Belgian-Israeli relations with the Director General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Mr. Yoav Biran as well as with Mrs. Colette Avital, a member of the Israeli Parliament in charge of the Labour Party's external relations. U.S. Ambassador Dan Kurtzer was among other personalities Fredérique Ries held talks with.
In Jerusalem, Frédérique Ries met members of the families of victims of terrorism in Israel. The Secretary of State said she was "deeply moved by the fact that people so cruelly affected by violence nevertheless speak of their quest for justice and do not allow it to be obliterated by the thirst for vengeance, and nor do they allow resignation and withdrawal dash their hopes for the return of peace."
On 10 May, the Secretary of State also visited Nazareth to meet Father Emile Shoufani. Of Palestinian extraction, Catholic faith and Israeli nationality, Father Shoufani continues to fight relentlessly for peace by bringing the Jewish and Arab-Muslim communities in the Middle East closer together. Received by Father Shoufani at his school of Saint Joseph on the heights of the city, Frédérique Ries expressed her huge admiration for the energy and selflessness he continues to display each and every day in his struggle for peace and education in the region. "Acknowledging others through knowledge. It is this kind of undertaking and courage we must foster if we are one day to build the peace we all aspire to."