Mon06262017

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On Friday 23 June 2017, H.E. Ambassador Sylvie Lucas and Embassy staff welcomed fellow diplomats, people of Luxembourgish heritage and friends of Luxembourg to celebrate the National Day in Washington DC.

In her brief remarks, Ambassador Lucas provided a historical background for the special relationship between Luxemourg and the United States – a friendship cherished on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean. She described Luxembourg’s role in the founding of the European Union and the importance attached to the EU.

To facilitate singing of the Luxembourg national anthem, Deputy Chief of Mission Véronique Dockendorf and staff handed out a copy with English translation. This made it easier and everyone in attendance joined with vigour and enthusiasm to sing the national anthems of Luxembourg and the United States.

The embassy staff had gone to a lot of trouble and were eager to entertain the friends of Luxembourg while providing information about the Grand Duchy, including serving delicious hors d'oeuvres. They made available an informative flyer about the Luxembourg Embassy in Washington. Under the caption, “A historical house,” the leaflet states “Luxembourg and the United States share a common history that goes beyond 1903 when we officially established diplomatic relations.” The reader learns about some important historical background about the building “lodged in a Louis XV limestone and brick manor build in the early 20th century... During her stay in North America (in exile), Grand Duchess Charlotte purchased the mansion from the Stewart family and her mother Grand Duchess Maria Anna resided in it until her death in 1942.”

With pictures of the beautiful rooms and accompanying text, the reader learns that the “Luxembourg Embassy has been at the heart of many of the developments that took place in the bilateral relationship... Among the highlights are the State visits paid by HRH Grand Duchess Charlotte in 1963 and HRH Grand Duke Jean in 1984.” Also, on 14 September 2004, sixty years after the liberation of Luxembourg, HRH Grand Duke Henri laid a wreath at the World War II Memorial in Washington to mark Luxembourg’s remembrance and gratitude.

Valuable information about the renovations to the building during 2002-2004 communicates the level of effort that went into the planning and execution of this important project “transforming it into a harmonious fusion of American tradition and contemporary art of the Grand Duchy.” Two Luxembourg artists, Jean-Marie Biwer and Tina Gillen were invited to work on the design and renovation of this historical building built by the late Congressman Alexander Stewart of Wisconsin. The emphasis of the renovation was to brighten the atmosphere of the mansion while preserving the remarkable woodwork.

An iconic picture of the US President John F. Kennedy with Grand Duchess Charlotte in the leaflet and also in the building is a reminder of the close bilateral relationship which is expressed in the closing sentence of the document: “Luxembourg deeply cherishes the common history and culture, the common values and our longstanding cooperation with the United States of America.”

Sincere words of friendship were put into action by Ambassador Lucas, Deputy Chief of Mission Véronique Dockendorf, Counsul Stan Myck, assisted by Social Secretary Elisabeth Herndler and Victoria Vieru as well as the entire embassy staff. Feelings of mutual respect and expressions of joy radiated from the friendly faces of enthusiastic guests who filled the beautiful embassy building.

Photo by C. Naseer Ahmad

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The European Commission has published its 2017 edition of the European Innovation Scoreboard; overall, the European Union's innovation performance improved further, partially catching up with the United States and Canada.

Luxembourg ranks 8th, well above the European average. Luxembourg is described as a "strong innovator". Thus, innovation performance improved by 1.4% compared to 2010. The European Commission particularly mentions the attractiveness of the Luxembourg research system, calling it the European leader. Luxembourg was singled out as a leader in "attractive research systems and registration of intellectual assets".

Marc Hansen, Minister for Higher Education and Research, particularly welcomed this first European position of the Luxembourg research system, and stated "It is the fruit of long-term work and the result of a a highly engaged government policy aimed at building a strong and sustainable research ecosystem at the service of society and the economy. The reforms of recent years, based on the recommendations of two OECD evaluations, are beginning to bear fruit and I am convinced that the national research system will be able to unleash its full potential in the years to come."

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Luxembourg's Ministry of National Education, Children and Youth has brought together many partners to launch the first ever Science Week Luxembourg, from 3 to 9 July 2017.

This week is intended to promote science in all its forms, across numerous industries, careers, activities, resource centres, public and private initiatives, etc., and develop the interest of young people in science subjects.

Science Week highlights the emergence of a true scientific culture in Luxembourg

From 3 to 9 July, numerous events are being held throughout the country to welcome schools and the general public: there will be awards of the Olympiad in mathematics or computer science, water day, inter-school challenge addressing mental calculation, workshops in physics and biology, experiments to be carried out in Luxembourg Science Centre, a presentation of Made in Luxembourg technologies, a workshop on anamorphosis and stereography, a visit of an industry specialising in robotics ...

Registration is open and the programme can be viewed online at www.scienceweek.lu

The launch of Science Week Luxembourg is set for Friday 30 June at the Science Centre in Differdange, in the presence of the Minister of National Education, Children and Youth, Claude Meisch, and the Minister of Economy, Étienne Schneider, to celebrate Asteroid Day 2017. Numerous scientific experiments will be offered to visitors around the theme of space.

The closing event is scheduled for 9 July on the ponds at Colmar Berg with a regatta of solar-powered boats.

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On Friday 23 June, Luxembourg's national day, the Grand-Ducal couple and the Hereditary Grand-Ducal couple attended the official ceremony and concert at the Philharmonie in Luxembourg-Kirchberg with members of the government and other dignataries, as well as members of the public who were lucky enough to get (freee) tickets.

This was the second year in a row in which the national day formal celebrations were held at the Philharmonie, following the Grand Theatre being used the previous year. The current government marked a change in the official ceremony which had tradionally been held at the Notre Dame Cathedral, which still hosts a Te Deum service attended by the BGran dDuke and members of his family.

As well as the concert by Luxembourg's military band, the Grand Duke bestowed honours on a number of people from different secors and society.

Following this ceremony and concert, and the 21-canon salute from Fetschenhaff, the Grand Duke and other members of the royal family departed for other official engagements, including the military and civil defence parade on the Avenue de la Liberté in Luxembourg city centre.

Photo © SIP / Charles Caratini, tous droits réservés (L-R): Xavier Bettel, Prime Minister and Minister of State; Liliane Ries-Leyder, President of Aide à l’enfance de l'Inde; HRH the Grand-Duke; Mars Di Bartolomeo, President of the Chamber of Deputies

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The Luxembourg Chronicle, in collaboration with Wiltz Festival, is offering FREE tickets to the performance of Voyage Musical du Nil à l'Oural at the Wiltz Festival on Saturday 1 July 2017 at 20:00. For details on how to enter, see below.

The 65th annual Wiltz Festival is being held from 28 June to 23 July 2017, with most performances being held in the outdoor (covered) amphitheatre in the shadow of the chateau. See www.festivalwiltz.lu  for further details including ticketing. Please remember there is a special Wiltz Festival train where ticket holders can get a discount when parking their cars at the Luxembourg-Gare (and other) train stations and taking the train to/from the venue. See www.cfl.lu.

PROGRAMME

- Wed 28 June @ 20:00: Agnes Obel (Danish singer-song-writer)

- Sat 1 July @ 20:00: Voyage Musical du Nil à l'Oural (choir & orchestra)

- Sun 2 July @ 15:00: Das Dschungelbuch, Theater Lichtermeer (An enchanting musical about Mowgli and his friends)

- Mon 3 July @ 10:00: Das Dschungelbuch, Theater Lichtermeer (An enchanting musical about Mowgli and his friends)

- Thu 6 July @ 20:00: Maxime Bender, Universay Sky (jazz concert)

- Fri 7 July @ 20:00: Soirée Tango, with the Luxembourg Chamber Orchestra & Jean-Guillaume Weis

- Sat 8 July @ 19:30: Weeltzer Musek: Sou schmaacht Wooltz (Dinner concert)  

- Fri 14 July @ 20:00: Carmen by Bizet (opera)

- Thu 20 July @ 20:00: Pol Belardi's Force (jazz concert)

- Fri 21 July @ 20:45: The Loser(s) (Circus)

- Sun 23 July @ 18:00-23:00: José González / Dillon / Monophona / Joy Wellboy (electro pop concert)

For the full festival programme details, see www.chronicle.lu/categoriesculturefestivals/item/21371-new-look-and-feel-for-65th-annual-wiltz-festival

To apply for your FREE tickets to see Voyage Musical du Nil à l'Oural at the Wiltz Festival on 1 July, please send an email to info@Chronicle.lu with “Wiltz: Voyage Musical” in the subject line (without the quotation marks), with your name and mobile number in the body of the email. The draw will be made at 12:00 on Wednesday 28 June. Winners will be contacted directly. Winning tickets will be available at the venue on the day.

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At the Paris Air Show in Le Bourget on 21 June 2017, the European Space Agency (ESA) announced Europe’s first innovation competition on space exploration, the “Space Exploration Masters”; Luxembourg's Ministry of the Economy and its SpaceResources.lu initiative are featuring a special prize in this competition, focused on ideas targeting the utilisation of space resources.

The “Space Exploration Masters” competition, launched by AZO on behalf of ESA, is looking for innovative business ideas in space exploration that provide major benefits for the global society and the economy. This international competition aims to identify the best technology transfer business successes, as well as to empower and foster business innovation around space exploration activities in low Earth orbit for the benefit of society and humankind.  Applications to take part in the competition can be made until 8 September 2017 at www.space-exploration-masters.com

There are two prize categories, “Technology Transfer Success” and “New Business Innovation”. The Ministry of the Economy of Luxembourg hosts the “Luxembourg Prize” in the category “New Business Innovation”, alongside several other prices.

The “Luxembourg Prize” integrates perfectly into the SpaceResources.lu initiative, as it aims to discover innovative ideas and business cases complementing the Grand Duchy‘s growing portfolio of activities in space resources utilisation. The challenge addresses companies, universities, scientific institutions, start-ups, and individuals willing to set-up a sustainable business and to create economic substance by establishing and registering a company in Luxembourg. The call for submissions covers the full value chain of space resources of prospection, extraction, processing, utilisation and distribution.

The proposals submitted by the participants will be assessed by an interdisciplinary jury. The proposals should offer a long-term vision for space resources utilization, but also be able to generate an economic return in the short and medium-term, by using their solution in existing space and terrestrial markets. The winners will be announced at the NewSpace Europe conference hosted by Luxembourg on 16 and 17 November 2017.

The Grand Duchy offers two awards within the frame of the “Luxembourg Prize”. The first one is designed to support for up to €400,000 a study under the Luxembourg national space programme that is managed by ESA. The other award is intended for projects that are ready for early-stage funding. This award will offer a crowd investing campaign on www.spacestarters.com with a €30,000 value of services to prepare the campaign for launch.

The Luxembourg Ministry of the Economy will support both award winners by incubating their companies in one of Luxembourg’s incubators. On top of that, one of the two winners will be selected as the official winner of the “Luxembourg Prize” and will thus be eligible for the “Excellence in Space Exploration – derived Business Innovation” overall prize of the Space Exploration Masters’ “New Ideas for Business Innovation” competition category.

Mathias Link from the Ministry of the Economy was present at the Paris Air Show in Le Bourget when ESA announced the “Space Exploration Masters”. He presented the “Luxembourg Prize” and said: “The Space Exploration Masters are yet another great opportunity for our SpaceResources.lu initiative to find new companies with innovative projects. I am convinced that we will receive numerous interesting applications for the “Luxembourg Prize” and that we will thus foster the further development of Luxembourg’s space sector and start-up ecosystem.”

Photo © ESA-Philippe Sebirot (front right): Mathias Link, Ministry of the Economy, with the other co-organisers of the Space Exploration Masters

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On Saturday 1 July at 14:00, the Russian School (Kalinka) in Luxembourg will hold its traditional end of year concert entitled "Visiting a fairy tale"

The event qill take place at the Arts and Crafts Luxembourg Technical Lyceum's concert hall at the Lycée Technique des Arts et Métiers (19 rue Guillaume Schneider, L-2522 Luxembourg) and is to be a lively and colourful show based on Russian fairy tales.

Kalinka is the leading Russian school of complementary primary education in Luxembourg. Opened in February 2010, the school is registered since 2012 as a non-profit association with the aim of organising a structured primary education which implies teaching a range of disciplines, including reading and writing in Russian, as well as music, singing and drama. The school appreciates sharing what the children have learned, with their family, friends and everyone else who is interested in Russian culture; that is why it often arranges open-access theatrical celebrations for the general public and mass media: they dance, sing, recite poems, and these are real musical performances!

"Visiting a fairy tale" is a lively and colourful show based on Russian fairy tales: «Tsokotukha the Fly», «Buratino», «The Wolf and the Seven Young Goats», «The Gigantic Turnip», «Frog Traveler», «Cat House». Spectators will also see on stage heroes of such world-famous stories as «Cinderella», «Mary Poppins», «Town Musicians of Bremen»; fascinating stories told and shown by students will not leave anyone indifferent thanks to the support and guidance of highly qualified, professional teaching staff and the universal language of music that is intelligible to any general public. Dance moves, musical compositions and costumes designed by the school choreographer and music teachers specifically for the end of year concert, make the performance colourful and original.

The Kalinka Russian School is not only a place where more than 170 children aged three and older and living in Luxembourg, Germany, Belgium and France, study the Russian language, where we use a unique method designed specifically for a complex polylingual environment. It's not only is a place where about 20 teachers work and where Russian language courses are available for adults as well. It is also a social institution shaping communication and open to numerous representatives of the local Russian-speaking community, including those from former Soviet republics, as well as all people interested in Russia, Russian language and culture, folklore and classics. This institution is constantly developing, expanding its activities and is playing an increasingly important role in the social life of Luxembourg.

The event is being sponsored by East-West United Bank (EWUB), as well as the Embassy of the Russian Federation in Luxembourg and the Russian Center for Science and Culture in Luxembourg.

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Following the unanimous vote by Luxembourg's parliament - at the Chamber of Deputies - of the resolution on the rejection of the transgenic maize crop introduced by the deputy Henri Kox in open session on 1 June 2017, Ministers Lydia Mutsch, Carole Dieschbourg and Fernand Etgen havve reiterated their commitment against any authorisation for the cultivation of genetically modified organisms in the Grand Duchy.

The Ministers have sent a letter to the European Commission confirming their rejection of the application for authorisation to plant the "1507" maize developed by DuPont / Pioneer and Syngenta corn "Bt11", as well as the renewal of the authorisation of maize "MON810" from Monsanto. By the same letter they have asked the European Commission to respect the opinion of the vast majority of the Member States and therefore not to allow the cultivation of the three varieties of genetically modified maize in the European Union.

The government can only support the resolution of the Chamber of Deputies, as it underlines the position of Luxembourg, as defined in the government programme.

A strong signal to the European Commission

"The unanimous vote on this resolution is very important for our country," the ministers said in a statement. "This initiative by the Chamber of Deputies reflects the opposition of the Luxembourg population to the cultivation of GMOs across the Grand Duchy. This is a strong signal to the European Commission!"

The Ministers recalled that this initiative is an additional good way to remind the European Commission that Luxembourg is of the opinion that, in addition to the risk analysis of EFSA (European Food Safety Authority), there are also other legitimate arguments.

Revision of the GMO Act and commitment of an expert in the matter

The Luxemourg government has stated that it will invest all its energy in the implementation of the legal means at its disposal in order to maintain the ban on the cultivation of GMOs in Luxembourg and to control them more effectively. To this end, the law on GMOs will be revised and the control powers will be reframed.

In addition, the Ministry of Health, in consultation with the Environment Department of the Ministry of Sustainable Development and Infrastructure, and the Ministry of Agriculture,Viticulture and Consumer Protection, has hired an expert specialised in this field.

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On Friday morning, Luxembourg's national day actiities included a very pulic open-air parade down the Avenue de la Liberté in Luxembourg city centre; this followed the formal celeration at the Philharmonie earlier in the day, plus the previous evening's eve-of-the-national-day festivities across the Grand Duchy, in particular the torchlit parade and fireworks display of the Pont Adolphe.

Luxembourg’s military parade happens every year on the National Holiday, also considered the Grand Duke's official birthday, on 23 June, and has happened every year since 1961. Because most teenagers and young adults celebrate long into the night of the eve of the holiday, those who often come to these events are predominately the elderly, families and journalists.

That ceremony started at 10é00 and wrapped up near 11:30, giving few a chance to travel down to Avenue de la Liberté ahead of time, the wide road that goes over the newly reconstructed Pont Adolphe and heads off towards Luxembourg-are. After a long, and particularly hectic, night, especially for parents with young children, the atmosphere was much quieter as the timing of the beginning of the parade grew nearer and passed. Thankfully, the weather had picked up a bit of cloud cover and a light breeze, a pleasant change from the sweltering, arid heat of the bright, beating sun over Luxembourg for the past few weeks.

The parade itself was slow to get started, but it allowed the crowds to file in and get settled. The soldiers and police officers stood tall, still and silent parallel to the classical building which recently was ought from ArcelorMittal by the BCEE, where the royal family, VIPs, official delegates and politicians, were positioned. Murmuring began amongst the crowd as the minutes went along slowly, now well past the scheduled times. A smattering of police officers and soldiers lingered near cars and walked up and down the streets. Some talked to each other, but often they kept a straight face and inspected every face that passed with steel eyes. This is not an uncommon thing to see, especially for large events with such large crowds, but that aprehension was in the eyes and heart of every adult. With every minute that passed, the atmosphere crackled with growing tension.

And then. Four city buses making their way down the road. What could this be? Just as the crowd caught a glimpse of the words on the buses, a wave of confusion befell it, followed by bemusion. The buses passed by, and to everyone’s surprise, all the delegates, politicians and those honoured in the ceremony were aboard. It was an odd sight, seeing these VIPs on everyday buses like the average Luxembourgish worker. It was a humanising moment that relieved the crowd and let everyone settle down for the parade.

The Grand Duke and Grand Duchess arrived a little later, and participated the final ceremonies including an inspection of the troops by General Romain Mancinelli, the head of the army, Philippe Schrantz, CEO of the Grand Ducal Police, Étienne Schneider, Luxemourg's Minister of Defence, and the Grand Duke himself, before joining the other dignataries. The soldiers and police offficers started off in marching formation towards the Pont Adolphe to join the rest of the procession. They were shortly followed by a band, with large porcelain sousaphones and golden french horns. The band played one final song for the Grand Duke and the parade began.

It started with the Luxembourg army and it was the the moment many young children seemed to have been waiting for, as they eagerly jumped up to see better as they gripped the metal gates. First came an army jeep with a stout soldier standing out of the roof, in a firm salute, his gaze fixed on the Grand Duke. Following these were two massive modern tanks with mounted machine guns, striking even the adults with a humbling sense of awe and wonder, a testament to the strength of Luxembourg, a reminder of the work of this country’s soldiers and their sacrifices, a silent promise to never surrender under fear. From there, many utilitarian military vehicles followed, including massive trucks for transporting water and supplies, jeeps for troops and ambulances, all painted with in iconic military green.

For a second, it seemed that the sky had split asunder over the crowd’s head. A loud roar echoed through the narrow streets and a lucky few caught a glimpse of it as it passed for the first time overhead. But when it came round the second time, it was a sight to be seen. This specimen was an AWACS, a large Boeing airplane with a radar dome attached over its fuselage that acts as a hub to receive and send along messages and radar information. It seemed almost ridiculous at the time to many who were bewildered by its humorous outline.

Following them were the police, a fleet of motorcycles spearheading their formation. Next was a procession of police cars of all forms, including with a boat trailing behind it showcasing the national marine guard. When a group of police officers on bicycles passed by there was a stifle of laughs, but it was inspirationally followed by a wave of claps and shouts of encouragement. It was not only the Luxembourgish Police on display, many delegates from other countries were here to celebrate and brought some of their own police force and vehicles. German police cars and motorcycles with their yellow stripes, the French and even the Italians, who inspired a riotous laugh when their police Lamborghini rolled on past. A highlight of the parade were the canine divisions, which brought out a collective reaction of adoration.

The police were followed by the customs officers and then the firefighters, whose iconic red trucks caught the attention of all. At the end of the firefighter procession were two older vehicles with nostalgic designs and retired firefighters delightfully driving their old trucks. The last to go was the Red Cross, whose legion of ambulances was closed with one last flight from the AWACS.

While the parade was ongoing the sun had peeked out from under the clouds and stolen the wind away, but no one noticed until the end of the parade. The parade was captivating in every sense of the word, and all those who left it, left it with a feeling of pride and refound honour and respect for the Grand Duchy. For many the celebrations would continue down in the Gare district, but most went home, looking forward to relaxing afternoon with their families. Children spoke ecstatically, describing their favourite police cars and talking about all the amazing soldiers they had seen, wearing little firefighter hats and waving their miniature flags high and proud. The air was alive with the sound of every language under the sun, a sea of Luxembourgish, German, French, English, Portuguese, Italian, Chinese, Arabic and many, many more. Every face that passed was bright and plastered with smiles, from the enthusiastic children and their parents begrudgingly following behind, from the elderly and the young couples. For this wonderful moment everything else was forgotten, all fears, all worries, all stress. For this powerful moment, pride was planted in the hearts of children and rekindled in the souls of adults.

For this fleeting moment was ingrained in the memories of all.

Photos by Alexander Spanos McGill

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For the 4th year, EY in Luxembourg organised the EY award for the best young tax specialist in Luxembourg.

On this occasion, Tomasz Domanski has been announced as Best Young Tax Professional of the Year (YTPY) in Luxembourg at an award ceremony held on 21 June 2017 in conjunction with the EY Tax Club at the EY premises in Luxembourg-Kirchberg.

This contest is organised in more than 30 EY Offices in different countries. It provides opportunities for young talented students to take part and demonstrate their technical, professional and leadership skills in tax matters, not only in their own country but also internationally. Each EY office participating in this programme selects at the national level the finalists who will represent their country in the subsequent international competition.

In Luxembourg, the three finalists were selected on 26 May, on the basis of their demonstrated performance in analysis and solutions of tax case studies prepared by a team of EY Luxembourg tax specialists.

In order to evaluate the finalists, the jury was composed of partners from the tax department of EY Luxembourg, as well as tax specialists and influential members of the tax community from various backgrounds (academics and tax directors) in terms of creativity and analysis as well as their practical skills.

The winner of the EY Luxembourg Young Tax Professional of the Year Prize will take part in the international final which will take place in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, from 26 to 30 November 2017. This prestigious event represents an exceptional opportunity for the finalists from all countries to work closely with many tax professionals, tax professors, tax directors or associates at EY - all of whom specialise in international taxation. They will face challenges, such as solving case studies and individual interviews with jury members.

At the end of these events, four winners will be selected.

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