A few weekends ago, the European Union embassies in Washington, D.C., held an open house for locals and tourists to check out the embassies and learn about the countries they represent. After watching my sister’s convocation ceremony online …
One of few people who can be charming when doing the Richard Nixon pose.
… I hopped on the Red Line to get in as many European embassies as I could. My first stop: Luxembourg.
Just as I entered the queue outside the embassy, I ran into a former housemate, Lorena, from the rodent-infested residence on G Street NE. She has since moved, to the disappointment of the mice who loved devouring half loaves of her wheat bread.
After ten minutes had passed, we entered the grand lobby of the embassy where two people, a young woman and a portly man, were seated at a folding table. Both were quietly distributing pamphlets on Luxembourg’s tourism, economy and history. The two were unassuming. I picked up a pamphlet and said to Lorena “I wonder if the ambassador from Luxembourg is here.” The man looked at me, expressionless, and then turned his head toward the person behind me in line. I carried on past the large portrait of the strapping Grand Duke Henri and into the living room.
When I entered the living room, I said:
Picture frames on the room’s coffee and end tables showed the portly man at the table standing next to famous statesmen and women including Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.
Upon realizing my stupidity, I dropped a F-bomb under my breath, snaked through the rest of the first floor and then took a picture of Ambassador Jean-Louise Wolzfeld from across the lobby, where visitors exited on the other side of a red rope that cordoned the line entering the embassy from the line exiting. You can see me snapping the photo in the mirror behind him — the bag I’m holding was a free gift from the embassy, and I call it my EU man purse.
I’m not proud of the fact that I looked like a complete jerk in front of him. Herr Wolzfeld, a seasoned and experienced diplomat, boasts an impressive résumé.
Here’s his biography, thanks to Matt Bewig at Allgov.com:
The Grand Duchy of Luxembourg—a tiny (area: 998.6 miles2/2,586.4 km2) landlocked nation sandwiched between France, Germany and Belgium—sent a new ambassador to Washington last fall who has served in the U.S. before. Jean-Louis Wolzfeld presented his credentials to President Obama on September 19, 2012, succeeding Jean-Paul Senninger, who had served since August 2008. Wolzfeld is concurrently accredited as Luxembourg’s ambassador to Canada.
Born in July 1951 in Luxembourg, Wolzfeld earned his undergraduate degree at the Institute of Translation and Interpretation at the University of the Sarre, in Sarrebruck, Germany, and two Masters Degrees from the University of Paris I in International Public Law and in European Law.
Joining the Luxembourg Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 1977, Wolzfeld served early assignments as an attaché, as secretary in the office of international economic relations, and as a delegate at the 34th UN General Assembly in 1979. From 1981 to 1986 he was deputy permanent representative to the International Organizations in Geneva, Switzerland, serving as vice president of the Contracting Parties of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) in 1986.
Ten years into his diplomatic career, Wolzfeld was named to his first ambassadorship, serving as his country’s first ambassador to Japan from 1987 to 1993, with a concurrent appointment as ambassador to South Korea for part of that time. Returning to New York, Wolzfeld served as permanent representative to the U.N. from 1993 to 1998. In 1997, as chairman of the European Union delegations to the U.N., it fell to Wolzfeld to publically chastise the U.S. Congress for voting to refuse to pay a billion dollars in back dues as a protest against abortion.
Back in Europe, Wolzfeld served as director for political affairs at the Foreign Ministry from 1998 to 2002. He then served as ambassador to the United Kingdom, resident in London from 2002 to 2013 and concurrently accredited to Ireland, Italy, Malta and Iceland.
Wolzfeld speaks French, English, German, Italian, Spanish and Luxembourgish (a Germanic language spoken mainly in that country). He is not married.
I only had time to visit one other embassy, the Embassy of Ireland. Sad to say, Luxembourg, but Ireland won my heart over. Why? IRELAND PASSED OUT FREE CHEESE.