Belgian minister is unfit for top council job, say academics

Belgium’s outgoing minister of foreign affairs lacks the necessary commitments to human values needed for a top job at the Council of Europe and should not be considered for the role, according to an open letter signed by hundreds of Belgian academics.

At the start of the year, the outgoing minister, Didier Reynders, announced he was throwing his hat in the ring for the position of General Secretary to of the Council of Europe.

The main reason behind the academics’ opposition to Reynders’ candidacy is the outgoing minister’s decision to repatriate only orphaned Belgians from Syrian refugee camps.

The decision, according to the academics, is incompatible with the institution’s commitment to protecting children affected by armed conflicts.

“It is unacceptable that the door is slammed shut to all the other Belgian children in the camps,” the letter reads, saying the minister’s logic is that “one child is more innocent than the other.”

The letter was signed by 150 academics and sent to the Council of Europe on June 13, according to reports by Bruzz on Thursday.

In the letter, the academics call on the Council to seriously investigate the “inconsistencies” between the ministers’ official discourse and his actions.

Correction: A previous version of this article referred to the Council of Europe as a European Union institution. The Council of Europe is an international institution, not a European Union institution.

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