President Vladimir Putin: Your Royal Highness, Ladies and Gentlemen,
Allow me first of all to thank you for this invitation and for the warm reception. I would like to express my sincere admiration for your country, which continues to hold a unique place and play a unique part in European affairs. And I also want to pay tribute to the citizens of your country who respect their history and lovingly preserve the unique atmosphere and traditions of their Grand Duchy.
As you said, Your Royal Highness, this is the first visit by a Russian head of state to Luxembourg in the 140 years of your country’s national sovereignty.
I hope that today’s meetings will create new opportunities and lead to a new stage in our bilateral partnership.
Our countries do not share a common border, but as you rightly noted, they are good neighbours and have friendly relations.
These relations go back a long way. We are united by the interwoven threads of human destinies. You recalled that the dynasty of the grand dukes of Nassau has a blood relationship with the Romanov Imperial House. But these are not the only ties between us. The great Russian poet Alexander Pushkin’s younger daughter, Natalia, married Prince Nicholas, the brother of Grand Duke Adolf.
It was on the initiative of Russian diplomats that the status of your country as a sovereign and eternally neutral state was finally settled. We established diplomatic relations in 1891, and before then, Russia defended the interests of Luxembourg and its citizens abroad.
During the Second World War our peoples fought together in the ranks of the anti-Nazi coalition. Furthermore, as I understand, Luxembourg was one of the initiators of this coalition’s formation. We greatly value the respect that people here in Luxembourg show for the heroes who fought Nazism. The partnership we seek will have importance for our bilateral relations and for the whole of Europe.
On behalf of the Russian people, I would like to take this opportunity to express to all the people of Luxembourg our warmest wishes for peace and progress.
Allow me to propose a toast: to the prosperity of your family and your wonderful country, to continued success in developing mutually beneficial cooperation, and to the health of all present!
Grand Duke Henri: Mr President, Mrs Putina,
The Grand Duchess and I wish you welcome. We are very aware that we are pioneers in a way in relations between our countries. The Grand Duchy has never before had the honour of welcoming a Russian head of state.
Your presence here today is highly symbolic and holds great promise. But I think it is equally important to look back at history too, for it is the past that binds us in the present and paves the road to the future. Russia and Luxembourg are bound by not just longstanding but in many respects personal ties. It gives me pleasure to recall the relations linking the Romanov and Nassau dynasties, particularly Yelizaveta Mikhailovna, the niece of Emperor Nicholas I, who became the first wife of the brother of former Grand Duke Adolf. Many of the objects here in this palace testify to these solid family ties.
We should also not forget that after the Treaty of London was signed in 1867, it was Russia that stood by the Grand Duchy’s side as it took its first steps on the international stage, and it was Russia that temporarily represented Luxembourg’s interests in countries where our young state did not as yet have its own diplomatic missions. This assistance has borne fruit, for despite the most troubled times, Luxembourg has gained a worthy place in the community of nations.
Today, when Europe’s history and geography have merged and the system of blocs has given way to a world of openness, as a citizen of Luxembourg and Europe, I would like to assure you, Mr President, that relations with our Russian neighbour and partner remain an absolute priority.
The trade and economic agreements between our leading companies that will be signed during your visit pave the way to even closer cooperation to the benefit of our peoples. Russian culture is the expression of a flourishing civilisation and it attracts us like a magnet.
On the political level, despite differences on some issues, cooperation between Russia and the European Union clearly has enormous potential.
Mr President, our eyes are all on you personally now, for we realise the full measure of the responsibilities placed on you. It was to you that President Yeltsin passed on the task of turning the Russian Federation into a modern country and leading it to new heights.
Our entire continent has gone through much suffering over these last decades, but it is now firmly on the road to reconciliation and it will not be long before we reach this most important of objectives. I hope that your visit today will confirm once again the commitment to our common goals and ideas and reaffirm the importance of our relations, for Russia’s future is also our future.
I would like to raise a toast to the health of the President of the Russian Federation and his wife, to the prosperity of the Russian people, and to the development of friendly ties between our nations!