New Zealand Embassy & Mission to the European Union, Brussels, Belgium
Message to New Zealanders in Belgium from the New Zealand Ambassador to Belgium and the European Union, Vangelis Vitalis
Dear fellow New Zealanders
I am writing with sincere regret to advise that unfortunately I will be unable to participate in the ANZAC Day ceremony this year.
As some of you may be aware, I was recently appointed by our Government to take on an additional role from Brussels as New Zealand’s Chief Negotiator for the Customs Union (Russia-Belarus-Kazakhstan)-New Zealand Free Trade Agreement.
Our Government is hoping to conclude the negotiations for this FTA before the APEC Leaders’ meeting in Vladivostok in early September this year. This has meant an intensification of the pace of our negotiations and means that I find myself in Moscow from 22-28 April in the midst of trade negotiations with the Customs Union members. Unfortunately, I cannot therefore be present at the ANZAC day commemorations here in Belgium which I sincerely regret, not least because this would have been my first opportunity to attend the services here in Belgium.
I am very sorry indeed that I will not be able to be present with you to commemorate what is a key event in our country’s history. I have also written to pass on my apologies to the various Belgian officials and Mayors who play such an important role in commemorating this event. I have also been in touch with my Australian counterpart here in Brussels, HE Dr Nelson, to advise him, with regret, of my absence.
On a personal note I can only tell you how deeply disappointed I am that I will not be present at this vitally important commemoration – an event we are honoured to share with our Australian colleagues and friends as well as the people of Belgium in general and those in Flanders in particular.
For your information, my Deputy, Paul Ash will be Chargé d’Affaires in my absence and he has my full confidence in leading the commemoration services for our country. I hope you will be able to support him as I know you would have supported me. Once again, I do apologise that I cannot be with you this year.
New Zealand Embassy to Belgium and Mission to the European Union