On Monday 29 January 2024, the American Chamber of Commerce in Luxembourg (AMCHAM) held its New Year Reception at the headquarters of the Spuerkeess in Luxembourg-Gare.
The evening started with 45 minutes of formal speeches in a seated auditorium with around 220 AMCHAM members and guests.
Françoise Thoma, CEO at Spuerkeess, welcomed everyone and stated that we find ourselves nowadays with more violence, more uncertainty in the world. New year receptions should be times of enjoyment. In Luxembourg, we should be preparing our country for the future which the new government is doing with ambitious plans to make our country ready for the future. She conceded that it can be difficult to differentiate between what is essential and what is trivial.
Luxembourg's Vice Prime Minister Xaviel Bettel talked about his new role as Minister for Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, and for Development Cooperation and Humanitarian Affairs. Reflecting on the pandemic, he explained how important it is to work with other countries. He called for more stability and more peace and recalled Americans' role in Luxembourg's freedom and liberty. He mentioned the upcoming EU Council meeting and the challenge of convincing Viktor Orbán (Hungary's Prime Minister) to support the European Commission's action regarding Ukraine and Russia. He acknowledged the huge challenges of the world at the moment, in particular the level of hate he has witnessed between the people of Israel and Palestine; thus it being necessary to have reliable partners. He mentioned that during his two terms as Prime Minister he dealt with three US Presidents (Obama, Trump and Biden), confiding that two of the three were more predictable than the other. He also mentioned the American company Amazon that has grown considerably in Luxembourg over recent years. He also announced that in the coming months he will be visiting both the west and east coasts of the US in his current roles, including one trip with Crown Prince Guillaume. He recalled that both Mussolini and Hitler were elected and referred to the recent increase of the far right in European politics. He thanked AMCHAM for being part of the success story of the country of Luxembourg.
The US Ambassador to Luxembourg, Thomas Barrett, thanked Minister Bettel for work in his recent roles, and Paul Schonenberg and the AMCHAM staff for putting on this evening's event. He stated that celebrating the new year is about looking for a fresh start; however, the joy normally associated with a new year is missing this year from both a political and military standpoint. He said that he feels blessed for being stationed in a country that embraces peace and believes in democracy and the rule of law. He mentioned that American businesses and politicians like coming to Luxembourg, with a significant number of members of the US Supreme Court expected later this year in the Grand Duchy. He also mentioned that it is a core duty of keeping alive the memory of the US liberating Luxembourg. He concluded by stating that Putin's invasion of Ukraine is a brutal reminder of tyranny, and also called for peace in the Middle East.
AMCHAM Chairman, Paul Schonenberg, thanked Spuerkeess for hosting the New Year event, as well as the support of Amazon who sponsored the evening's reception. He thanked Minister Bettel for his passion and friendship, as well as Ambassador Barrett. He recalled his early years in Luxembourg working at NATO (NSPA in Capellen, then called NAMSA) and then Clearstream, after working for the military at the Pentagon. He told the amusing anecdote of being introduced to Luxembourg, including his first encounters with his neighbour, the then Minister of Finance, Jean-Claude Juncker. He concluded by stating that we have good fortune if living in exciting times, in Luxembourg.
The formal part of the event now concluded, the evening continued in the bank's main reception room with a reception of crémant and a walking dinner.