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NATO flag flies under Cinquantenaire arch as alliance celebrates 75th anniversary

NATO Day - 75th anniversary - Cinquantenaire arch Brussels
17:52 04/04/2024

Landmark buildings in the Belgian capital have joined in anniversary celebrations marking 75 years since the signing of NATO’s founding document.

While NATO’s flag fluttered under the Cinquantenaire memorial arch, Brussels’ city hall and Egmont Palace were illuminated in NATO blue, and the city’s iconic figure Manneken Pis participated in the party by donning a special NATO Day costume.

For the special occasion, the Belgian Royal Mint has issued 3,000 commemorative €10 euro coins. They are collectors’ pieces that each cost €54.95 due to the metal employed.

Meanwhile, foreign ministers gathered at NATO headquarters on 4 April for an anniversary ceremony, with secretary general Jens Stoltenberg declaring that “NATO is bigger, stronger, and more united than ever.”

The historic treaty, normally kept in Washington DC, was on display for the first time in the headquarters, according to a NATO press statement.

“Never has a single document with so few words meant so much to so many people,” said Stoltenberg. “So much security, so much prosperity, and so much peace. All because of its solemn promise: that we stand together, and protect one another, as we have for 75 years."

It was on 4 April 1949 that 12 countries signed the North Atlantic Treaty in Washington. Around the table were Belgium, Denmark, France, Great Britain, Italy, Iceland, Luxembourg, Norway, the Netherlands and Portugal, in addition to the United States and Canada. Today, it has 32 member countries.

The Belgian capital has been home to the organisation's headquarters since 1967, when France withdrew from the integrated command. All political and administrative functions as well as military staff have been housed in Haren for almost 60 years. NATO’s new headquarters, inaugurated in 2018 opposite the old site, welcome nearly 4,000 people per day.

NATO's Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE) has also been located in Belgium since 1967, in the village of Casteau, near Mons in Hainaut.

Photo: ©NATO

Written by The Bulletin