A seasoned diplomat, Ariadne Petridis, takes up her duties as permanent representative (ambassador) of Belgium to NATO on Tuesday, becoming the first woman to occupy this post, diplomatic sources confirmed to Belga News Agency.
Mrs Petridis, who has the rank of Plenipotentiary Minister, becomes the fifteenth Belgian ambassador to NATO, after more than thirty years of career in Belgian diplomacy.
Until now, she was head of the Americas and Caribbean section at the Federal Public Service (FPS) Foreign Affairs, after having been posted to the permanent representation of Belgium to the European Union in Brussels. She joined Foreign Affairs in October 1990 as an intern.
Petridis was also posted to the Belgian Embassy in Kinshasa (from August 1994 to August 1996), then to the permanent representation of Belgium to the UN in New York (from August 1996 to August 2000). She later worked in Paris and Rome as well as at the Belgian representation to the United Nations in New York.
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Petridis, who lives with her family in Antwerp, succeeds Pascal Heyman, in office since November 2018 and appointed as Belgian ambassador to Switzerland. Her appointment to NATO was decided last December by the former Minister of Foreign Affairs Sophie Wilmès – the first woman to have headed Belgian diplomacy and to have been Prime Minister, again a first in Belgium's history.
The current head of diplomacy, Hadja Lahbib, told Belga News Agency this weekend that she “fully supports” Ms. Petridis in her new role. According to Foreign Affairs, Belgian diplomacy has 15% of women “heads of post” – that is to say occupying the position of ambassador, permanent representative and consul general.