Sophie Wilmès says goodbye as Belgian Foreign Minister – POLITICO

Belgian Foreign Minister – and former Prime Minister – Sophie Wilmès is stepping down to look after her ailing husband She announced on Twitter on Thursday, with Prime Minister Alexander De Croo taking over the foreign affairs portfolio.

Wilmè’s husband Christopher has a brain tumor. She said that providing care and doing her job – which she says requires “rigor, availability and total dedication” – “would not allow me to offer the help and comfort that Christopher and our children need in this difficult time”. Because of this, she said she is stepping down for the time being.

During her leave, her portfolios – including foreign policy, European affairs, foreign trade and Belgium’s federal cultural institutions – will be covered by De Croo of the Flemish liberal party Open VLD and two of their Francophone Liberals, David Clarinval and Mathieu Michel.

De Croo will take on the largest portfolio and take on foreign and European affairs, likely fueling rumors that he is looking for a top international job after his tenure as prime minister ends.

Clarinval, currently in charge of agriculture, will handle foreign trade.

Michel who is State Secretary for Digitization and brother of EU Council President Charles Michel, will lead the cultural institutions of the federal government.

A relative An unknown figure until she led the country through the first waves of the coronavirus pandemic, Wilmès was the country’s first female prime minister and led an interim government from 2019-2020. She was appointed Secretary of State when De Croo took over as Prime Minister.

Wilmès’ name circulated as a possible contender for the post of the next NATO Secretary General, although incumbent Jens Stoltenberg’s term in office has since been extended.

Wilmès and her family will consider the next steps in their careers over the summer, their statement said. If Wilmès were to step down as minister, her portfolio would likely be split, as a host of Belgian diplomats and officials said they were concerned that one person would have so much to do during Belgium’s EU presidency in 2024. Sophie Wilmès says goodbye as Belgian Foreign Minister – POLITICO

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