POLITICS & INSTITUTIONS - ECONOMY

100 years of Polish-Luxembourg relations



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Polish ambassador Piotr Wojtczak says the Grand Duchy is among the most welcoming countries to which he has been posted. The website and video project to mark the centenary of diplomatic relations is a “celebration of how important Poles have become in the multi-cultural Luxembourg society.” Screengrab: Polish embassy 

A new video and website showcase the ties between the two countries.

Grand Duke Henri and president Andrzej Duda have exchanged letters to commemorate the centenary of formal diplomatic relations between the Grand Duchy and Poland. Duda wrote that he hopes relations will continue to develop effectively “in all dimensions, especially at the political, economic and cultural level and in people-to-people contacts.”

It was on 18 April 1921 that Count Władysław Sobański presented his credentials to Grand Duchess Charlotte and became Poland’s first-ever ambassador to Luxembourg. He was based in Brussels, and it was not until 2005 that Poland established a full diplomatic representation in the grand duchy. Luxembourg opened its embassy in Warsaw a year later.

The Polish Embassy in Luxembourg has launched an anniversary campaign that includes a dedicated website (polonais.lu – solely in Polish and French) and an 8-minute video (with optional English subtitles). Polish ambassador Piotr Wojtczak says the project celebrates how important Poles have become in Luxembourg’s multi-cultural society--sculptor Katarzyna Kot-Bach and director of the Cineast festival Radek Lipka are among those noted.  “It also shows little known ties some Luxembourgers have developed with our country,” he said. “I have worked and lived in several countries, and I can say with all certainty the grand duchy is among the most welcoming ones. That’s why so many Polish people have settled here and we are now proudly sharing their stories.” Indeed, close to 5,000 Polish nationals live in the Grand Duchy today.

Fascinating stories

The video includes Trois-CL artistic director Bernard Baumgarten telling the story of a Polish dancer, Stenia Zapalowska,  who arrived in 1944 and helped establish standards for teaching dance in the grand duchy. And François Reinert at the Trois Glands museum talks about young Luxembourger Pierre Jengten, who in WWII managed to flee from the German army, to which he had been forcibly conscripted, and help the Polish Resistance.

Watch the video with English subtitles here.

“We worked for over a year to gather all the fascinating stories and have discovered some fascinating anecdotes,” said Polish consul Pia Libicka-Regulska. “The anecdotes should interest not only those interested in the Polish culture but anyone who wants to learn about the people who might be their neighbours or colleagues.” Libicka-Regulska says there are plans for the website to be an ever-growing project, with new names added in the coming month and years.

These days, Luxembourg and Poland share well-established relations in the financial sector, industrial production--including ArcelorMittal and Guardian--the space sector, logistics and fintech. Luxembourg in 2019 invested more than €24bn in Poland, making it the third-largest direct investor in the country. Commercial exchange topped €750m, according to the Polish embassy.

Modern day diplomacy

Luxembourg foreign minister Jean Asselborn is scheduled to hold a phone conversation with his Polish counterpart Zbigniew Rau on Monday, 19 April as part of the efforts to further advance and tighten bilateral cooperation. Asselborn has been critical in recent years of what he and many EU colleagues view as Poland’s disregard of judicial independence. However, diplomacy forges ahead and the two foreign ministers are also planning an in-person meeting for June.

The centenary celebrations will continue throughout the year, with a dance gala concert and photographic exhibition planned for when the covid sanitary situation stabilises.