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Nato hands former Evere HQ back to Belgian state
Nato has officially handed back its former headquarters to the Belgian state, which plans to use the site for a future trial over the March 2016 Brussels terror attacks.
The organisation occupied the vast site in Evere from 1967 to 2018, when it moved 4,000 staff into brand-new €1.17 billion headquarters built on the other side of the Boulevard Leopold III, in Haren.
The former headquarters had been built in less than six months in 1966, when Belgium agreed to host Nato in Evere and Shape in Casteau, near Mons. The Evere buildings were meant to only be temporary - but lasted for 51 years.
The site was handed back to the Belgian defence ministry in a short ceremony on Tuesday. "We said a final goodbye to our former headquarters, which served Nato for decades and where so many historic decisions have been made by the Allies," a Nato spokesman said.
"We thank Belgium for loaning it to the Alliance for so long and we are grateful for Belgium's continued hospitality in our new headquarters, across the road."
Belgium intends to use the site, after some modifications, to hold the trial for the suspects of the 22 March 2016 terror attacks at Brussels Airport and Maelbeek metro station, provisionally in 2021 or 2022.
In the long term, the former Nato site is expected to be turned into a new community development measuring 90 hectares - or twice the size of Tour & Taxis.
It will include homes for 3,000 people, a new headquarters for Belgium’s defence department, a new European school for up to 2,500 pupils, a business district and the office of Partnership for Peace, which works to build relationships between Nato and states of the former Soviet Union. There will also be a park with a lake and 20 hectares of forest.
The Brussels region signed an agreement with neighbouring Flanders last spring to enlarge the territory into Flemish territory - a first of its kind for the two regions.