Dominique Struye de Swielande became ambassador of Belgium to the United States on December 29, 2006. Ambassador Struye previously served as Belgium's permanent representative to NATO (2002-06), ambassador to Germany (1997-2002), head of cabinet for the state secretary for international cooperation (1995-96), and director-general for administration at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (1994-95). In addition, Ambassador Struye was diplomatic counselor and deputy head of cabinet for the prime minister (1992-94), head of cabinet for the minister of foreign affairs (1991-92), director of the European Section at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (1990), deputy permanent representative and consul general to the United Nations in Geneva (1987-90), as well as counselor in the cabinet of the foreign affairs minister (1984-87). He has also served postings in Zaire, Zimbabwe, Nigeria and Austria.
Ambassador Struye, who joined the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 1974, holds a doctorate in law from the Catholic University of Leuven, a master's of law from the University College London, and a master's of European Law from the University of Ghent.
Ambassador Struye describes the difficulty in defining common security interests between Europe, where ideas of security tend to revolve around individual welfare provided by the state, and the United States, where international terrorism is viewed as the predominant security threat especially after 9/11.
Ambassador Struye then describes three major multilateral institutions and their role in global security: the UN, NATO, and EU. He outlines how the UN has expanded in recent years, both in terms of membership and of issue areas. Belgium has been actively involved in security discussions within the UN, and has shared the disappointment of the US about the limited capacity of the UN to contribute to peace and security in the world. He then addresses NATO's recent evolution in the direction of "out of area" policy, influenced by American pressure for NATO to become a security provider outside of Europe, including as an "instrument of democratization." Finally, Ambassador Struye describes the development of political mechanisms of the European Union which are now moving toward building common foreign and security policy, which the ambassador sees as important even without a European military force.
The ambassador details several challenges, including the difficulty of evaluating common threats, determining how global a regional organization should be in its policy and how each organization should relate to the others, and a lack of a coherent global vision for how the world should evolve. Two policy areas where Ambassador Struye sees consensus are Afghanistan and missile defense. He concludes that although security policy is hard to define across regions, multilateral organizations are essential and the transatlantic alliance remains indispensable.
A discussion session following the talk included such issues as whether Turkey should be a member of the EU given its UN and NATO membership, how the ambassador views prospects for relations between North Africa and the multilateral institutions he describes, whether sufficient development funding should be available before military interventions in places like Afghanistan and Iraq, and whether the EU might come to serve as a world power in its own right.