US ambassador Randy Evans in a video message bid farewell to Luxembourg on Wednesday, a week before Joe Biden is set to be sworn in as the next president of the United States.
“The grand duchy is a treasure, hidden away, but with a light that shines for all to see,” Evans said, recapping some of the highlights of his career in the country, which began in June 2018.
Under ambassador Evans, Luxembourg signed a memorandum of understanding on space cooperation with the US in May 2019. More recently, the grand duchy become one of the founding signatories of the Artemis Accords, a gateway to the first Moon to Mars mission.
Following the signing, Nasa selected Luxembourg-based iSpace to help collect rock samples from the Moon and bring them back to Earth for analysis.
The US also committed to expanding the Warehouses Service Agency (WSA), a military depot in Sanem. The Luxembourg government pledged €225m over ten years for the project, with the facility used mostly as a logistics hub by the US Air Force, although the grand duchy’s military also uses it for storage.
Prior to his departure next week, Evans bestowed the US Ambassador’s Award to defence minister François Bausch. The award is given to an individual or organisation for advancing bilateral relations.
“We just kept getting things done,” Evans said about the cooperation between the US and Luxembourg over the past years.
The US has long criticised that Europe wasn’t contributing enough towards Nato. Luxembourg’s military spending is among the lowest in the group at just 0.6% in 2020 with commitments to increase this to around 0.7% by 2023.
Under his ambassadorship, Luxembourg and the US also ratified a tax treaty on exchange of information and avoiding double taxation that had been signed in 2009. The country also marked 75 years since the Battle of Bulge, which drew a bipartisan delegation to pay their respects at the US military cemetery in Hamm.
“So many things happened, they are impossible to even just list,” Evans said.
But Evans’ tenure wasn’t without controversy. The embassy published the space MoU after the economy ministry had told lawmakers and journalists that the document was confidential.
Like other US ambassadors to Europe, he also said Luxembourg could face ramifications if it included Huawei or other Chinese technology companies in its roll-out of 5G. The US had issued a trade ban against Huawei in 2019 over national security concerns.
Evans in 2019 submitted his candidacy for a US Senate seat for his home state, Georgia, to replace retiring senator Johnny Isakson. The position went to Kelly Loeffler, who lost against Democrat candidate Raphael Warnock in the January run-off elections.
Loeffler’s defeat--together with that of fellow Georgia senator David Perdue against Democrat Jon Osoff--secured the Democratic Party a wafer-thin majority in the Senate.
The embassy had declined comment over the US Capitol riots on 6 January, referring to a statement by secretary of state Mike Pompeo, calling for an end to violence.
Evans said he was leaving Luxembourg with “an undying appreciation for the only grand duchy in world, knowing the leaders in the US and Luxembourg now know much more about each other, have many more platforms from which to do great things and are able, ready and willing to let’s make it happen including honouring the past while looking to the future.”
Delano will be publishing an interview with ambassador Evans in its upcoming edition, available at newsstands later this month.