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Ambassador Evans Wishes Deputy Prime Minister Etienne Schneider a Fond Farewell
January 24, 2020


Two men stand next to an easel of themselves with another man in a meeting.

Ambassador Randy Evans hosted a farewell party at his residence for Luxembourg Deputy Prime Minister Etienne Schneider, who is stepping down next month.

Over 60 guests from the government, private sector, press and diplomatic corps attended the event, which was punctuated by warm remarks from Ambassador Evans and Minister Schneider.

Please see our full photo gallery from the event here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/usembassyluxembourg/

Toasts at the US Embassy Salute to Outgoing Deputy Prime Minister Etienne Schneider

Ambassador J. Randolph Evans:

Thank you, everyone for being here. I cannot remember the last time I’ve seen many of you. You have to come around more often I see all of you and this is, this is. This is a wonderful night actually.

Every time I meet someone who and I’ve had the great opportunity to serve with some unbelievable historical leaders, from speakers to presidents, to prime ministers and vice presidents and Deputy Prime Ministers, and every now and then you meet one and they’re a visionary.

They could see things that really other people can’t see. They can put together dots when other people don’t even know there’s a dot. They understand it when you say to them, when somebody says to you think outside of the box you think to yourself, there is no box because anything possible.

When I met Etienne, he was one of those people. And I’m not exactly sure why because there’s nothing in either of our backgrounds that we suggest that we would have immediately bonded, but we did.

And so as the new ambassador to, to the Grand Duchy, I came and for whatever reason, I know that he was somebody who I could work with. And I hope that he thought that I was somebody that he could work with. And I kid none of you when I tell you that much of what we did consisted of sitting around in a private restaurant with nobody, no press, no staff, no nothing, but the two of us and our imaginations, to think of what the possibilities would be and that takes that takes enormous amount of trust in our business, does it not? An enormous amount of trust, because when you walk away, you know this, when you walk away, you don’t know which of those people you meet with are going to go out and you’re going to read about what you said tomorrow and which of those people you know, are going to go back and see how can we make this happen?

Etienne was one of those people focused on doing making things happen for Luxembourg. And I focused on making things happen for the United States of America. And neither one of us ever lost sight of that. We know there were things we didn’t agree on, but we know there were many, many things we did agree. And the key was could you find those things that you agreed on and bring them together and we were able, I think, we were able to do that in a historic way.

Now, I think the part that surprised him just a little bit was when I said, Okay, great. The United States Secretary of Commerce is going to come over and sign and he had that look “Like. Yeah, right. You have a bridge you want to sell me. That bridge has been moved, but it’s in Arizona, but it’s still great.”

But he didn’t question and then the United States Secretary of Commerce, Wilbur Ross, flew in an incredible way. I won’t tell you all the details, but for Secretary Ross to in fact, make that trip was itself quite a miracle given the distances that he had to travel, to be here. But to come here to the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, to sit down with the Deputy Prime Minister to sign this agreement, to make it reality, which then became the foundation for other many other things that you read about regularly. Just last week we were in Washington DC with it two more, where we’re finding the things that we can work together which is really how, how people come together.

And for that I have been most appreciative and so I have a few gifts for you. None of which are good. One of which only because for those of you who haven’t seen it in the middle here is a picture of… You will see Etienne, Buzz Aldrin, and I hanging out in the living room. Now, I have to tell you, I don’t know what it was for you.

The idea that I’m hanging out with a guy I studied in history and I’m saying to them what, you know, Buzz, and I can’t believe I am saying “Buzz… Buzz, Buzz, you know, in 1969 and 70, we’re going to the moon every 4, 6, 8 months. Now we can’t go back for five years. What’s the deal?”

And he says, “Well, the truth is, and you were there you remember this. He says the truth is if we knew then what we know now, we would have never let us take off. We were, we were on a Model T sitting on a stick of dynamite. But we dared to dream.”

And he tells the story about how the when they came down for the landing everybody, you know, at that point was on the verge of trusting computers for their entire lives. And he said, “We go to have the computer landing and the computer has its landing on the side of a crater, which means that we would topple over to the bottom remember and tell you that and we know that we walk on the moon but we never come home.”

And he says, “Neil turns off the computer and does a manual landing there was only one problem. The fuel consumption was based on a computer landing. Suddenly, they’re burning more fuel because it’s a manual landing.” And he says, “I like looked at it and said, Hey, Neil that looks like a good place right there. Of course. All I heard was the fuel light going off saying we’re out of fuel. And we landed and as we landed, the engine shut out not because we had turned the engines off. But because the fuel was out. That’s how close it was for landing on the moon.”

But it’s also what dreamers do. Dreamers Dream big enough and they had the courage to see those dreams through. That’s what Etienne has done here and so I thought it only appropriate that Buzz would autograph a copy of our space pamphlet for you.

And only because I believe that you have only begun the many things ahead that had I have for whatever it’s worth autographed to you. And to it Etienne, an inspirational leader and visionary, A Hand of God copy, but my lovely bride got you this.

You have to open it so that I can tell you….. This is called a splash dish and the reason that she thought it was appropriate and she says, “His splash yet to begin.”

Etienne Schneider:

First of all, I would like to thank you for organizing all this for me that’s really a great, great honor to me and thank you to all of you for taking the time to be here. You know the, you know that you, you know, have a drink together and discuss a little bit together. I want to say a few words. So, you know, as the outgoing Minister the Economy will start not with the new space industry, but the old industry and our bilateral relationship. You know, when at last Luxembourg became independent, it was a really poor farmers country. And many people decided to leave Luxembourg because they were starving over here. And they decided, many of them, most of them decided to go to the US or to South America. Most of them went to the US. And they tried to get their luck over there. Find their luck over there. Then we had the second period, which was extremely important between the United States and Luxembourg. That was in the 1950s and 60s when big industrial, US industrial companies decided to settle down in Luxembourg put their production in Luxembourg, and that was starting with Goodyear in the 1951. And then in early 62, DuPont and both companies are still there, many more followed.

After them and to all of them are still here. All of them are still investing into the big projects over here in Luxembourg, I just want to mention the Mercury plant of Goodyear, which is their first actually fully automated production line, which they decided to put in Luxembourg. So that was a huge trust in in our country. I also want to mention the Tyvek, the new target plant of DuPont, which is also for us, you know, a very important decision because we were always you know, as a government, we always fear that one day Dupont would decide to leave and to go to some other place and when they decided to put this new Tyvek plant to Luxembourg, that was, you know, a great honor and, and, and pleasure for us as government because we knew that they would stick to Luxembourg. There were many others like Delphi, so many I don’t even remember all of them, but…

We are now working on another big investment from the United States. And that’s good. And if ever and I hope this will happen if ever they decide to do so that will be the biggest, the biggest investment ever done. The biggest industrial investment ever done in what Luxembourg we are talking about roughly 1.2 billion euros in investment. So we really, you know, hope that this will happen and that would really develop or help us develop our, our digital strategy here in Luxembourg as well. So that’s for the you know, more classical industry and our long term relationship.

I’m coming back to the period when you arrive and when we met, he came I remember the first time we met, you know, you came to my office with your I think Pepsi light, coke light and your hat! And I said Let’s see. Who is that guy? Funny guy because I had this experience already with Pete Worden, similar experience to Pete Worden when he came to my office was always telling this story. He was talking to me and he, you know, he said to do to go into a new space, new space mining and all the stuff. And I thought to think, “What did the guy smoke? And how do I get rid of him?”

But he’s still there. And he’s still working for our Advisory Committee on New Space. But when we discussed all these, you have so many good ideas, what we should develop and you said. “We have to sign the agreement between United States and Luxembourg.” And he is right when he said “Okay, yeah, let’s do that” A few weeks later. He’s calling me to say, ‘Wilbur Ross will come to will be coming to sign the agreement” And I said, “Who? He’s coming. He’s coming down here?” And so I didn’t believe actually.

But then he was there. We signed this agreement. We had lunch with him. And then I said, “You know, this something I don’t understand. You know, normally when Luxembourg signs an agreement with the United States, we have to fly to Washington. We’re lucky we signed this agreement with an under, under, under secretary. But this time you coming from Washington sign agreement, have lunch with us and fly back. Whoa, why?” And he said, “There are two reasons. One is him. One is him. And the second is that we really want to develop this new space activities together with European countries, but there’s only one who has really the view about what will happen in the next 20-30 years in space. So that’s why we want to sign this cooperation agreement with with you.” And then a few weeks later, actually, we got a contact to NASA to Jim Bridenstine. And we had this meeting with him. And again, we signed agreement who was their? Him.

And, and that’s just, you know, amazing to see how this works. And Wilbur Ross was negotiating a contract with the big Canadian Space company. I don’t want to get into details because I don’t know what is classified what is not and told he those guys, “You know, guys, we are doing a deal together but there’s one condition. You have to if you go to Europe you have to put your company in Luxembourg.” That’s exactly that’s exactly what we’re negotiating right now. And there you see that you have this partnership, which we sign and we signed a few of them. This is real, because things are really happening. And that’s really, that’s just great to see. That’s amazing to see. And I want to tell you that, you know, I’m only Minister for eight years but I never had I never met an American Ambassador was so much you know, implicated in all this and I really wanted to move things forward and to help, you know, develop the activities between and the relationship between the United States and, and Luxembourg.

Having said that, I have to tell you that I’m proud, as well, because you know, when I started my space resource initiative, there was my chief of staff who said “Don’t do that.” I said, “Why? Why not?” He said, “You know, we had one year in front of the elections if you start with this purchase, nobody will take you serious anymore.”

But I did it because I believed in what we were developing in, in the ministry, so with it, and then in 2017, and that’s why I’m so excited in the United States from New Space News. I got an award. The leader of the this award, I was given it in Washington. It was Ambassador Lucas was here. There she is.

She took it for me because I cannot I cannot be there because it was some, some trouble. So I thought this award and we made it public that this award and you know, prize was not really interested in because you know, it’s a minister, it’s a politician so we don’t have to talk about that. But what I never communicated is that the same year I got a second award again in the United States in Austin, Texas.

And why did I not communicate about that? The reason was the name of the award. I got this award you know, innovative ideas and being a great leader for new space etc. But the name of the award was Space Cowboy. And I thought you know if I should accept an award as Space cowboy in Austin Texas, they will definitely say this guy is mad.

Now is after the elections, you know, now it doesn’t hurt anymore if somebody would, would talk about that. So, you know, I had a great time, I had a great time with my teams in order to build up this new space venture, but also for the other developments with it in our in our daily business.

And nowadays, since I, you know, decided to leave politics and maybe one word about that I always said when I started in politics always said, a minister should not serve longer than 10 years maximum of 10 years because you always need as it is, in companies, it should be in politics as well. You always need new ideas, new brains, new inputs, and that’s why I decided for myself, I will not end up as you know, as most of my colleagues.

So I decided to do so. And, you know, a few weeks ago, I decided that the moment is there another should try to do something new in life and since I announced this on December 20th the question I get asked every day hundreds of times and also tonight is, “So what are you going to do?”

And you know I will just tell you because you know otherwise my evening will not be funny anymore to replay all the same, same stuff all the time. I don’t know. I don’t know yet. I just want to get out of this job.

And that I will, I will have discussions I got a few phone calls as you can imagine, but I told everybody you know, that’s wait for me leaving my office.

So I really I really see this after leaving office. But you know, course, if anybody has any good ideas feel free to tell me. Once again, Randy, thank you for organizing this. Thank you for your friendship. And I tell you, you know, the thing I really want is that we still continue to meet and work on crazy ideas. Because I know you’re a crazy guy. I’m a crazy guy. And I told him as well. I had lunch this afternoon with Mr. Minister Bausch. And he organized the visit to the US with Minister Bausch and he told Minister organizing meetings with senators and Bausch told me that, you know, when he after he talked to him, he said, “He’s crazy. Meetings with people we will never meet. And they met all these people and they had lunch today.” He asked me, “So what’s your programs today?” And I said, “I will be at the Embassy So?” He said, “Take care. This guy is dangerous. Why? He knows everybody.” And that is exactly what Wilbur Ross told me as well.

That’s exactly the reasons why I’m here. So, Randy, thank you. For your commitment to Luxembourg and let’s stay friends.