Danish ambassador on saying “äddi” to Luxembourg
(CS) The Danish embassy in Luxembourg will close its doors at the end of this month, but it isn't a final farewell for Louise Bang Jespersen, who will continue to serve the Grand Duchy when she takes up her next ambassadorial post in Brussels.
Moving to Luxembourg from Denmark in 2010, Jespersen has enjoyed the past four years in the country. “I think it's very easy to settle in Luxembourg,” she said, speaking to wort.lu/en, “and you cannot help but be impressed by how so many nationalities and languages melt together in such a good way.”
It has been a busy time for the diplomat, with the embassy involved in bringing exhibitions, Danish design and Danish film to Luxembourg, promoting cycling in the capital, but also joining charitable activities such as the Relais pour la Vie, as well as hosting delegations and professional conferences, for example on finance and IT, and energy efficiency.
“For a small embassy to do many different things is very fulfilling and very satisfying,” Jespersen commented, also crediting her team in Luxembourg for their hard work. “We've had really good partners to work with in Luxembourg,” she added. “They've been open-minded and helpful. Good partnerships have been established and they go on.”
Ensuring a smooth transition
Still, the closure of the embassy on August 1 will inevitably mean a change for the Danish representation's activities in Luxembourg. “Closing an embassy is not a very pleasant thing to have to do,” Jespersen explained. “It's not something that is done lightly.”
All in all, 25 countries are affected by a comprehensive overhaul of international representations by the Danish Foreign Affairs Ministry. New embassies will be opened in Nigeria, the Philippines, Colombia and Myanmar. Meanwhile, as resources are limited, tough choices had to be made: in addition to Luxembourg, embassies will be closed in Cyprus, Switzerland, Slovenia and Slovakia, among others.
The plan was announced earlier this year and followed an in-depth analysis of the foreign service, involving companies, trade organisations, NGOs and other parties involved. “Now, of course, we have to find new ways of working together,” Jespersen said about cooperation between Luxembourg and Denmark, “but we still have the same level of ambition on bilateral relations.”
While the number of initiatives run by the embassy in the Grand Duchy will inevitably decline, the ambassador said she will continue to support relevant projects when she takes up her new post as ambassador to Belgium and Luxembourg, based in Brussels. “It's important for me to make sure that the transition is as smooth as possible.”
Additionally, the ambassador expects to be in Luxembourg frequently. “To understand what's going on on the political scene but also in society in general, you need some kind of presence. You need to speak to people at all levels and in different areas of society on a regular basis.”
For the Danish community in Luxembourg meanwhile, the Danish consulate - “rich in experience and well settled” - will take over day-to-day business.
In Brussels, new challenges await, from taking up the bilateral part of being ambassador to Belgium and working more closely with the European institutions, to aiding Danish companies with global public affairs. “I have been working with companies on export promotion and innovation. I look forward to being able to do more in this area,” Jespersen said.
“All countries are different,” the ambassador added. “That's what I'm also looking forward to experiencing. I lived in Brussels for half a year as an intern at the EU Commission and later went on to Bruges to do part of my economic studies in the beginning of the 90s. I know a bit of Belgium and I appreciated Brussels and the international environment there.”
A little bit of nostalgia, however, is mixed with the anticipation of things to come. “I have so many fond memories of Luxembourg. I've made so many friends and that's something I will take with me as I move on.”
Like so many expats, Jespersen was won over by the green heart of Europe. “I'm very happy that I will continue to be ambassador for Luxembourg,” she said. “I will always have Luxembourg in my heart after these four years.”