Small Country, Large Responsibilities

  • Wilfried Martens

It is sometimes said of Belgium that it is small inside but big outside. Indeed, for geographic and historic reasons, Belgian foreign policy is closely linked to its internal politics and vice versa. There is generally widespread consensus about the nature and degree of relations with other countries; sometimes foreign policy is internalised, however, and the classic Belgian differences of opinion crop up in dossiers that at frst glance have little connection with national politics.

Since the Second World War, the main areas of focus for Belgium's foreign policy, besides the European integration process, have been transatlantic cooperation, especially in the context of NATO, and relationships with its ex-colonies — Congo, Rwanda and Burundi. In each of these three areas, I was confronted as Prime Minister with serious crises, and each time I played an active role in stabilising, improving and intensifying the external relationships. This was pre-eminently the case during the cruise missile issue, which put pressure on our good relations with the United States; the troubled relations with Mobutu in what was then still called Zaire; the ethnic tensions in Rwanda that preceded the genocide of 1994; and the re-launch of the drive to European integration after a long period of “Eurosclerosis”.


Prime Minister Nuclear Weapon Foreign Affair Cruise Missile Peace Movement 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Copyright information

© Centre for European Studies 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Wilfried Martens
    • 1
  1. 1.Handelstraat/Rue du Commerce 10BrusselsBelgium

Personalised recommendations