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The President met the President of the House of Representatives and the Prime Minister of Luxembourg

President Rüütel this evening met with the President of the House of Representatives of Luxembourg, Jean Spautz. They stated jointly that in the European Union small countries needed to work closely together in order to make their voices audible too. According to Mr Spautz, the Luxembourgians were sure that the voice of small countries would be better heard in future since Luxembourg's long-serving Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker as advocate of small countries in the EU was fighting for it.

Thereafter, the President of the Republic met with the Prime Minister of Luxembourg, Jean-Claude Juncker. The main issue of their meeting was cooperation with neighbouring countries. President Rüütel raised the issue of regional cooperation and found that just like Luxembourg was an essential hub in its region, Estonia could play the same role in its region. Since the Estonian border was going to be a section of the European Union's new border, Estonia could serve as a bridge between the EU and its new neighbours. Both the Prime Minister of Luxembourg and the Head of State of Estonia praised the work of the Estonian Border Guard.

Speaking about our bilateral relations, Prime Minister Juncker gave priority to economic relations and deemed the thus-far cooperation in this field to be unsatisfactory. According to the Prime Minister, the trade between Estonia and Luxembourg was modest and definitely needed to be enhanced.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Lydie Polfer, at a later meeting said that the Member States of both the European Union and NATO were going to receive Estonia with open arms. Next Monday, she would submit the NATO accession agreement for ratification and hoped she could also send the EU accession agreement for ratification before the summer recess. In addition, it was noted that Estonia and Luxembourg should cooperate more closely with each other at the European Convention. President Rüütel put the Benelux countries forward as a model for cooperation between the countries acceding to the European Union.

In the afternoon, the President of the Republic met also with the Mayor of Luxembourg, Paul Helminger, who observed that only 15 years ago a meeting like this would have been inconceivable, but now, Estonia having signed its accession agreement with the European Union, we were on equal terms members of the same large family. President Rüütel voiced hope that relations between Tallinn and Luxembourg City deepened after Estonia's accession to the European Union. The cities were linked together already by the fact that both of them were proud of their Old Towns having been entered into UNESCO's World Heritage List. To illustrate the similarity between Tallinn and Luxembourg City, the President of the Republic gave the Mayor as a present a reprint of W. Stavenhagen's engraving "Vaade Tallinna all-linnale Toompealt" (View from Toompea over Tallinn's Downtown).

Office of the President
Kadriorg, May 5, 2003

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