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Prime Minister in Luxembourg: Together, we can create a success story in space activities

At the invitation of the Prime Minister of Luxembourg, Xavier Bettel, the Prime Minister Robert Golob paid an official visit to Luxembourg. This is a follow-up to Prime Minister Bettel's visit to Slovenia in February this year, when the two countries pledged to work even more closely together, particularly in economic matters.

The two leaders signed a memorandum on strengthening cooperation on space activities, discussed current foreign policy issues and advocated the preservation of the Schengen area.

Luxembourg is the second-largest investor in the Slovenian economy. Prime Minister Golob is therefore convinced that in regard to space activities and technologies, where Luxembourg is considered a pioneer, we can together shape the European success story.

Referring to flash floods that hit Slovenia at the beginning of August, Mr Golob stressed the importance of reliable communication in emergency situations where space-age technologies can play a significant role.  "This is one of the very niche markets where space technology is providing major solutions for dealing with future emergency situations. That is why we look forward to working together on space activities and believe that together we can offer more to the whole world, not just to our countries and citizens," he said.

The Prime Minister also underlined that he and his Luxembourgian counterpart work very well together in the European Council, as they share similar values and views on EU challenges.

They also touched on the EU's enlargement process towards the Western Balkans. According to Mr Golob, the enlargement process has been merely a technical issue for the last twenty years, but the Russian aggression against Ukraine has changed the view on the approximation process. "The process is increasingly becoming a geopolitical issue and not so much a technical one. And I believe that the Western Balkans is an area that should be treated in the same way," said Mr Golob, reiterating Slovenia's position that the Western Balkan countries should be treated in the same or similar way as Ukraine and Moldova in the EU enlargement process. In addition to the technical terms, geopolitical realities must also be taken into account. "We do not want the Western Balkans suddenly to become hostage to some foreign powers just because of a lack of attention from the Commission," he added. The Slovenian and the Luxembourg prime minister were united in their support for the equal treatment of all countries vying to join the EU.

As a sign of their support for one of the EU's greatest achievements, the two leaders visited Schengen, where the Schengen Agreement was signed in 1985. Only a fully functioning Schengen area, without internal border controls, can bring significant benefits to both people and the economy. The two Prime Ministers therefore agreed on the need for Member States to act responsibly at Schengen external borders.

The Prime Minister's official visit to Luxembourg was also accompanied by a strong business delegation from the space, wood and tourism sectors, which partook in the business forum. At the Luxembourg Chamber of Commerce, the two Prime Ministers addressed business representatives from both countries. They praised the promising plans of the business leaders and solemnly signed a Memorandum of Understanding on intergovernmental cooperation on space activities. The Memorandum’s aim, among other things, is to strengthen cooperation in space services such as Earth observation and satellite communications, as well as in space technologies, innovation and research, at both the entrepreneurial and institutional levels.

In his address to the Business Forum, the Slovenian Prime Minister recalled that values, similar to those shared by Slovenia and Luxembourg, facilitate mutual cooperation. "It all starts with small steps, which over the years become big steps, like the establishment of the Schengen area, without which the EU today cannot be imagined."  He said that, as a small country, you have to be open both politically and economically to achieve success. Since Prime Minister Bettel's last visit to Slovenia in February this year, in just over six months the two countries have managed not only to host a business forum for three different economic sectors, but also to establish a new air service between the two capitals. This will commence on 14 September and will be operated by Luxair.

In Luxembourg, Prime Minister Golob also met the President of the Chamber of Deputies Fernand Etgen and the Chairman of the Committee on Foreign and European Affairs, Cooperation, Immigration and Asylum Yves Cruchten. The discussion partners confirmed the excellent relations between the two countries and touched upon European prospects for the Western Balkans, the war in Ukraine and Slovenia's forthcoming membership of the United Nations Security Council.

He concluded his visit at the Robert Schuman's birthplace, where he met Slovenian judges and the prosecutor who work at European institutions. He reaffirmed Slovenia's commitment to the rule of law, respect for human rights and of independent judiciary. 

The Prime Minister was accompanied on his official visit by his partner, Tina Gaber, who attended a separate programme with Gauthier Destenay, the husband of the Prime Minister of Luxembourg. They visited the Möllerei building, originally built in 1910 to store ore and coke, as well as the library of the University of Luxembourg and the Biodiversum Camille Gira nature and forest centre.