Speech by His Majesty King Willem-Alexander at a state banquet on the occasion of his State Visit to Luxembourg
Your Royal Highnesses,
Thank you so much for your warm welcome here in Luxembourg, and for your kind words. My wife and I are delighted to be here. First because of the personal ties of friendship which we treasure, and which have united our families for so long. And second, because Luxembourg is one of the Netherlands’ closest allies.
How can you capture the character of Luxembourg in a single image?
One way might be to look back at its history – back to a discovery by the great Luxembourg scientist Guillaume Kroll.
Eighty years ago, Kroll became the first person to succeed in manufacturing titanium. A valuable metal with three special qualities.
First, it’s light, but extremely strong.
Second, it doesn’t age, because it doesn’t rust.
And third, it’s very stable and can easily withstand extreme fluctuations in temperature. That makes it the perfect material for all kinds of applications, from pacemakers in the body to satellites in space.
It seems to me that all three qualities could apply to Luxembourg itself. Like titanium, your country cannot rely on great mass or weight, but this is a strength rather than a weakness. Just look at Luxembourg’s position today. A country so prosperous it leaves the other EU member states in its wake. A country that enjoys the respect of the world. A country so strong and stable that it seems to hold the secret to eternal youth.
Your influence lies not in the power of numbers, but in your ability to unify different interests and ambitions. This is an art the people of Luxembourg have perfected over two centuries. It is surely connected to your position at the heart of Europe, surrounded by much larger neighbours. Luxembourg is emblematic of European cooperation. Of countries large and small joining forces as equal partners.
You have shown that small countries are capable of great things, even if those achievements are sometimes unseen.
New York’s highest skyscrapers were built using steel beams from Luxembourg…
Any country would be proud to have such an outstanding ally, but the Netherlands enjoys an especially close bond with Luxembourg. In two weeks’ time we will celebrate the sixtieth anniversary of the Benelux Union. Many countries in Europe view our cooperation within this forum with interest, and sometimes even a little envy.
The Benelux is the seed bed of many innovative ideas, a partnership from which people enjoy the fruits in their daily lives. Degrees in higher education that are automatically recognised in all three countries. Digital consignment notes that save companies tens of millions of euros in red tape. Police forces working together to tackle cross-border crime. In each of these key fields, the Benelux is a pioneer, paving the way for the EU. Together, let us look for even more areas in which we can play that role.
Countries that are so close must support each other wherever they can. The Netherlands is proud to promote the interests of the Grand Duchy in countries where Luxembourg does not have its own embassy.
More than two-thirds of the EU’s GNP is earned within a 500-kilometre radius of where we are right now. Luxembourg is the beating heart of an economic powerhouse. A heart that relies on arteries to other regions – not least to Limburg and the rest of the Netherlands.
'As Luxembourg demonstrates, it is possible to strike the right balance between pride in one’s national identity and openness towards others. It’s just one of many characteristics that make this country so intriguing.'
It’s inspiring to see how the people of Luxembourg deal with this. Your national motto, ‘Mir wëlle bleiwe wat mir sinn’ has lost none of its resonance in the last 150 years. Yet at the same time, no country is more international than Luxembourg. Many people from other countries live and work here.
As Luxembourg demonstrates, it is possible to strike the right balance between pride in one’s national identity and openness towards others. It’s just one of many characteristics that make this country so intriguing.
Your Royal Highnesses, you both embody the open spirit, self-confidence and warmth that characterise the people of Luxembourg. And those qualities give this state visit an added personal dimension.
We look forward to learning more about Luxembourg during our visit. Tomorrow we will explore your long economic history, from the steel industry that laid the foundation for your success to space mining, something in which this country excels today.
For Luxembourg, the sky is clearly not the limit!
For many years you have shown that small countries can achieve great things. You are an inspiration for all countries of modest size, including the Netherlands.
Your Royal Highnesses, may I now ask you to raise your glasses with me.
To your good health. To the happiness of your people. And to the friendship between the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg and the Kingdom of the Netherlands.