La pandémie a montré "des facettes positives" comme des "tendances plus sombres", nuance le Grand-Duc Henri. / © RTL
On Wednesday morning, Grand Duke Henri, Prime Minister Xavier Bettel and President of the Chamber of Deputies Fernand Etgen reflected on the past year, looked ahead into a brighter future, but also held a minute of silence in solidarity with the victims of Covid-19. A summary of key moments.
Grand Duke Henri: "Long live Luxembourg! Long live Europe!"
"The Covid-19 pandemic has radically changed our world", the Grand Duke said. "As a nation, we have shown solidarity and we have shown resilience and patience in the common interest. We can all be proud of this."
He continued his speech by thanking frontline workers: "Our hospitals have been able to hold up, despite an extreme strain, and together with the tireless commitment of all actors in the health sector, many lives have been saved." He proceeded by observing a minute of silence in memory of the over 800 deaths linked to the pandemic in the Grand Duchy.
Despite social distancing being crucial in curbing the spread of the virus, "it must not lead to the crumbling of society. Through vaccination and your active participation in this collective effort, we can come together as human beings again. For the well-being of all of us. We are on the right track, but we must not relax our vigilance", Grand Duke Henri underlined.
He further announced that later in the year the government will hold a commemoration ceremony for the victims and to honour those who made an exceptional commitment to the management of the crisis.
His speech then shifted towards societal topics: "The pandemic has shed light on the state of our society, in Europe and around the world. We can see positive facets such as cross-border solidarity, interwoven however with more dark trends, such as populism and untruths."
The head of state also remarked that limited protectionism can be useful ("globalisation is not a panacea and it is essential to keep a local, regional and European production of essential products") and the environmental emergency the world is facing ("we must seize this opportunity to shape a more sustainable way of life").
"The virus has taught us to take a step back from our habits and to be aware of the real priorities in life. Let us take this opportunity to put into perspective what really matters: humanity, solidarity, tolerance, respect."
He concluded by adding: "Next year, it will be 60 years that we celebrate the National Day on 23 June. My great hope is that we will be able to celebrate again, all together. Long live Luxembourg! Long live Europe!"
Xavier Bettel: "We are not letting anyone down"
Prime Minister Xavier Bettel said that especially in times of hardship, "we recognise the true greatness of a country. Together, we have already overcome many crises. In difficult times, we show solidarity. We look out for each other. We are not letting anyone down."
"So far, Luxembourg has weathered the crisis well. And it is above all thanks to you, dear fellow citizens", he added. “If we have weathered the pandemic better than many other countries, it is because we have chosen to go our own way. Our successful model is based on a large-scale testing strategy, which has allowed us to closely monitor the evolution of infections."
Bettel then took the opportunity to express his "great gratitude" to all those who contributed to this effort: the personnel of the care and health sector, the police and rescuers, the personnel of shops and supermarkets, teachers, civil servants, citizens who stayed at home to protect their loved ones, as well as fellow foreign citizens: "Without whom our essential sectors could not function, not before, during nor after the pandemic."
The country's National Day is "a symbol of our history. But 23 June is also synonymous with the future. The future of a nation that does not give up." Bettel also underlines the importance of a "strong Europe", and reiterates the importance of the fight against climate change and the resumption of economic growth.
He concluded by wishing everyone "a beautiful National Day and beautiful moments in the presence of those who are dear to you."
Fernand Etgen: "Schengen is alive"
"When we gathered here a year ago, the state of crisis was being lifted and we hoped that on the occasion of the next National Day we would have left behind us this dark chapter marked by Covid-19. Today, we know that the end of the pandemic is not something that passes within a day", declared the President of the Chamber of Deputies.
"But we're finally catching a glimpse of the light at the end of a long tunnel. We are moving, step by step, towards a new 'normal'. These are small, careful steps, a life with the virus, dominated by masks, tests, vaccines and the CovidCheck."
Etgen expressed his gratitude to the country's citizens and solidarity for the relatives of the victims. But the crisis has also shown that we can trust democracy, he continued, pointing out that the country's institutions have cooperated quickly and efficiently, and that a time like this shows the importance of having "stable and democratic institutions".
"Schengen is alive", Etgen remarked. "It is with cautious optimism that we are moving forward. And we are taking this path together, in Luxembourg and in Europe."