By Pierre-Louis V. Lorenz, Ambassador of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg.
Representatives of today’s Limburg and Luxembourg were consulting each other on matters of common interest as early as 1600. Both countries became closer associated during most of the 19th century when in 1815 the Congress of Vienna entrusted the then grand duchy as private property to the King – Grand Duke Willem 1st to be governed separate from the kingdom, but in personal union. This era came to an end in the year 1890 when Luxembourg changed for its own separate dynastic head of State. The original of the equestrian statue of Willem 2nd that can be visited on the Buitenhof in The Hague is standing in Luxembourg’s central square ‘Guillaume II’ as a reminder and tribute to that shared past. Cooperation in the 20th century with growing interdependence in manufacturing, commerce, infrastructure and communications evolved into a next logical stage together with our common neighbour Belgium in the framework of Benelux as a regional initiative, complementary of the common European project. The Benelux experience was considered so beneficial that a new, enlarged, Benelux Treaty was negociated and signed in The Hague in 2008 and entered into force in 2012. Benelux has and continues to inspire many successful cross-border projects and increasingly includes the larger region like neighbouring Germany. At the start of 2014 the yearly rotating Benelux presidency was handed from Luxembourg to the Netherlands.
Luxembourgers believe in their European destiny, looking out to their capital’s skyline marked by the distinct architecture of the manifold European institutions based in the european quarter of the Kirchberg. The country today is multicultural with 45% of its resident population holding European and other nationalities, and multilinguism is part of its educational system. Its economy is future oriented, investing into innovation and research, communications, logistics, and intellectual property. Its financial service sector with a 32% share of the European fund industry is adapting to post-crisis requirements.
Our economies being interdependent, the port of Rotterdam, together with the port of Antwerp are vital connection hubs for land-locked Luxembourg. The Netherlands are Luxembourg’s 4th economic and commercial partner. The local Dutch community in Luxembourg is one of the largest national groups and its vitality contributes to our multicultural diversity. Dutch visitors and tourists alike appreciate trips to the wooded and rugged landscapes of Luxembourg’s North where they often take up half or more of the recreational tourist offer.
Bilateral relations today are at their best. Memories of the shared past come alive when like in 2013 newly enthroned King Willem Alexander and Queen Maxima choose Luxembourg as the destination for their first official visit abroad.
It is the story of an ongoing successful relationship, working together for our common European future. And even if we might not see eye to eye on all matters, we always share many attitudes and closeness of views. Or as we once in a while like to remind ourselves, even so we do not speak the same language, we certainly have a good and close understanding of each other.
Top picture: DL_129864.jpg: © Christof Weber / SIP, all rights reserved.