Editorial: Does obtaining Luxembourg nationality at your local commune truly signify a commitment to the country and political engagement?
As Delano celebrates its annual “expat edition”, the choice of that very loaded word has us perturbed. The term “expat” can have slightly derogatory associations, especially when used to label those who temporarily seek out high paying jobs in foreign countries about which they care not one jot, content to earn an extraordinary salary while living in a very comfortable ghetto of their own design.
However, the Oxford English Dictionary defines an expat simply as: “An expatriated person. In modern usage, a person who lives in a foreign country.” So using it as a catch-all to describe non-Luxembourgers in the Grand Duchy’s international community seems to be fair enough.
Indeed, a quick glance at our cover story stars reveals that being an expat in Luxembourg can mean having lived here for more than 40 years and speaking the local language fluently, or being a new arrival who has no intention of settling down here permanently. Often these long-term and temporary expats share a common sense of pride in Luxembourg.
As our cover story reveals, this can manifest itself in a willingness to pitch in and help support local organisations as well as the international community. And they are welcomed with open arms by Luxembourgers.
Despite the temporary strain placed on relations between some expats and the local populace following the results of the referendum in June, it is clear that the two communities continue to thrive side by side and that the fear of xenophobia has failed to manifest itself. Healthy, intelligent and respectful debate has replaced the initial overly defensive reactions on both sides.
However, the question of Luxembourg identity has still not been cleared up. The argument for language as defining a Luxembourger has been strengthened by the result of the referendum. And yet, there are still many Luxembourg passport holders who have not fully mastered Lëtzebuergesch, just as there are many non-nationals who have made the effort to learn the local language.
So the question that still needs to be addressed, and not just in Luxembourg, is whether a paper document, obtained for what could be entirely mercenary reasons, should really be the defining criteria for allowing political engagement?