Belgian energy ministers pictured in passionate embrace on Antwerp mural

Belgian energy ministers pictured in passionate embrace on Antwerp mural
Credit: Bolt

A mural depicting an intimate kiss between Flemish Energy Minister Zuhal Demir and Federal Energy Minister Tinne Van der Straeten appeared on the facade of a building in Antwerp on Wednesday.

The work appeared on the corner of the Leopoldstraat and the Leopoldplaats in Antwerp, and was commissioned by green energy company Bolt. The company hopes that both ministers will "break down the wall" between the two governments and "work together as soon as possible to develop a solidarity-based and sustainable climate policy."

In recent weeks, Demir and Van der Straeten clashed several times, including about the dossier on the construction of new gas plants in Belgium.

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The graffiti work is based on Dmitri Vrubel's artwork on the Berlin wall, 'Mein Gott, hilf mir, diese tödliche Liebe zu überleben' ('My God, Help Me to Survive This Deadly Love' in English), also referred to as the Fraternal Kiss. On the mural in Antwerp, the text has been replaced with the Dutch translation of 'My God, Help Us to Overcome This Climate Crisis.'

"Communist fraternal kisses are rarely good news for the population," tweeted Demir, alongside a photo of both artworks. "I hope our cooperation is based on facts and common sense and not ideological love. Apart from that, a nice 'love is love' campaign."

Van der Straeten, too, tweeted a reaction to the mural, saying that she shared Bolt's sense of urgency for an ambitious climate policy. "Intense cooperation is crucial, I'm all in. You can count on my passion, Zuhal, but let's keep it professional."

According to a survey by Bolt, almost half of Belgians (47%) no longer have confidence in the current energy market and 70% are concerned about the energy supply. Additionally, 67% are worried about whether or not the climate objectives will be met.

It is "high time" for action and cooperation between all of Belgium's governments, Bolt said. For nearly 20 years now, Belgium's governments have been looking for sustainable energy solutions. In 2003, the Government approved the bill for a "gradual phasing out of nuclear energy by 2025."

Last week, however, Belgium decided to keep the two youngest nuclear reactors open for an extra 10 years, in light of Europe's energy crisis, which has been exacerbated by Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

"We notice that the cooperation between the governments is difficult. But they should be working together to boost the sustainability of Flanders and Belgium," said Bolt co-founder Pieterjan Verhaeghen. "It is time for reconciliation."

The mural, created in cooperation with artists Koen Deweerdt and Mike Suarez, will remain in place until the end of April.

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