Juncker calls for EU army

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The president of the European Commission and former head of government for Luxembourg is proposing the formation of a European Union army to confront growing security issues in the region.

Saying this military force would “help us design a common foreign and security policy,” Jean-Claude Juncker also warned during an interview with German newspaper Welt am Sonntag, according to the Guardian, that Europe isn’t “taken entirely seriously” by Russia. Juncker says he believes that the absence of an EU army is one of the primary reasons why the union of 28 member states has failed to broker successful peace accords in Ukraine or stop pro-Russian separatists in the country’s east  who many say are being supplied and aided by Moscow and President Vladimir Putin despite multiple denials by Russia.

Juncker says “a common army among the Europeans would convey to Russia that we are serious about defending the values of the European Union.”

The army would not only defend member states, Juncker said, but also neighboring states a reference to war-torn Ukraine who is not a member of the EU.

His incipient proposal for a European military force, however, will face ardent and fierce opposition, particularly from those member countries who routinely criticize the European Union’s spending and encroachment on their sovereignty.

The most likely opposer: the United Kingdom.

British Prime Minister David Cameron shares a rocky relationship with Juncker and often throws red meat to the more conservative factions of his party, usually when his poll numbers plummet, by bashing the European Commission president and his policies. Funding the creation of an EU army would be no exception.

Both Britain and France could also harbor fears of an EU army undermining NATO, an organization in which the two countries are some of the most influential players.

But from Germany, Juncker’s idea is receiving support from a considerably powerful member of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s cabinet.

German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen, whom many consider a potential successor to Merkel, tells Deutschlandfunk, according to the Financial Times, that the “interweaving of armies, with the perspective of one day having a European Army, is, in my opinion, the future.”

Although not as powerful as Germany, Baltic member states Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania could also support some variant of an EU security force as they worry about possible Russian incursions into their own territories.

Take a shot for Luxembourg

I recently stumbled upon a travel blog titled go-eat-do.com by a photographer who snapped this photo on his visit to Luxembourg during the National Day celebrations in 2014.

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Lux Jell-O shots? This country obviously knows how to party patriotically.

Stuart Forster, the author of the photography blog from which this image came, writes a succinct entry about Luxembourg and the festivities surrounding National Day. Check it out.

One-stop shop for Luxembourg passport details

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From what I can scour, there isn’t much in the way of information online that details the steps for getting a Luxembourg passport if one is an American and recently received his or her lettre de recouvrement. I created a thread on the Luxembourg Citizenship blog that includes excerpts from emails sent to me by an employee at the Luxembourg embassy in Washington, D.C. He has been helpful and explanatory about every question I have had.

Click here for a direct link to the thread.

Luxembourg pixelated

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With its diminutive size, Luxembourg should be grateful it even occupies a lonely pixel on this cartogram, which shows what the world looks like based on nations’ populations.

Created by Reddit user TeaDranks, the graphic consists of tiny squares, each of which represents 500,000 people. With 520,672 people according to July 2014 estimates in the CIA World Factbook, Luxembourg barely makes the cut.

The gist of the map, and a story that an NPR blogger who wrote about the cartogram, is that some countries with huge swaths of land have smaller than expected populations (see Russia, especially Canada), India’s population has almost caught up with China’s, the United States houses only 5 percent of the world’s total population, and some cities in Asia boast populations larger than certain European countries — yes, yes, Luxembourg is definitely one of those.

For instance, the city of Shanghai in China is home to a population that hovers around 24 million. That’s 48 times the population size of Luxembourg. Shanghai also covers 2,400 square miles, whereas the entire Grand Duchy only has a hold on 998 square miles of land. Although the city of Shanghai includes more area, that doesn’t mean Luxembourg has a greater population density  astronomically far from it, actually. For every square mile in Luxembourg, there is approximately 521 people, give or take. In Shanghai, for every square mile of land, the range can be anywhere from 2,500 to 119,860 people per square mile, the latter being found in the “Inner Core” of the megacity.

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So, one could easily fit one-fifth of the entire population of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg into a square mile of the downtown area of Shanghai. In terms of land mass, one could squeeze about two and a half Luxembourgs in the city limits of Shanghai.

But this comparison is unfair: After all, Shanghai is not only the most populous country in China but also the world. I mean, come on. Would you really want to give up this gorgeousness:

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For this mess of shiny towers and rampant air pollution?

China Shanghai town city blocks of flats high-rise buildings city skyline Huangpu river flow Pudong evening travel traveling

Nah. We wannabe and recently converted Luxembourgers don’t need no fancy-pants skyscrapers.

Maybe if we all hurry up and complete our dual-citizenship projects, we’ll get Luxembourg nearer to the 100,000-person mark, and then when we surpass that oh-so-riveting milestone, the prime minister and grand duke can declare a national week of state-mandated and -subsidized drinking of Diekirch Grand Cru.

Prost!

Prost!

A wannabe no more

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It’s been a few years, but after being introduced to this project at the beginning of my senior year of college, I finally received my notification letter stating that I became a citizen of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg effective Dec. 22, 2014.

The letter arrived in my mailbox yesterday, but Sarah, who had been at a happy hour at the best place to get a cheap drink in the District, was the first to spot it jutting out of our tiny mailbox. She grabbed the large envelope and proceeded to stuff it in the fridge so as to surprise me. Not until she insisted several times that she was thirsty and wanted me to fetch her a glass of water from the Brita pitcher did I realize something seemed peculiar. Exactly a year ago, she tricked me similarly; flying back back earlier than me from seeing family for Christmas in the Midwest, she taped my certificat de nationalité to the bathroom mirror. When I returned, I didn’t notice the paper until after using the facilities twice that night.

Now it’s time to plan a day to head over to the Luxembourg embassy near Dupont Circle. Lucky for me, the embassy is only a few stops down the Metro red line. Hopefully soon enough I will be sharing a picture of my passport and trying it out for the first time in who knows where (maybe the Canadian border).

I have to extend a special thanks to my Great Aunt Mary Lou, for learning about the reclamation law when she attended Chicago’s Schobermesse in 2011, and to Sarah, who translated emails and spoke to administrators in small Luxembourgish hamlets so that I could gather all the necessary documentation. And thank you, the reader, for asking for help and giving it generously. We have established quite a niche community and should be proud of the work we have accomplished.

Now … IT’S TIME TO CELEBRATE … with some quetsch I bought in Luxembourg City last year.

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