Asselborn’s farewell to the EU: “I had time to prepare for it”

Jean Asselborn (LSAP) chose a theme at the meeting of EU foreign ministers on Monday morning in Brussels, which he will particularly highlight during his farewell to the big European stage: freedom of the press.

“There is complicity between the press and me in the positive sense of the term: we try together to explain Europe – and it is only through the criticisms of the press that our positions become credible,” declared the Luxembourger before the meeting of ministers. In many countries, the free press is threatened, continued Jean Asselborn. This must not happen in Europe.

Minister of Foreign Affairs in Luxembourg

Jean Asselborn’s warm words for representatives of the Brussels media are hardly surprising: the Luxembourger was very popular with the European press, and in particular the German press. His clear, sometimes undiplomatic statements were particularly well received. And Asselborn appreciated this international attention.

“I am not a diplomat,” declares the man who is still Minister of Foreign Affairs on this subject. “Diplomats always have to keep an eye on many things and are therefore reserved. But for policymakers, there are times when restraint must be put aside.”

A notable example when, in 2018, he said “Shit then” towards Matteo Salvini, then Italian Interior Minister, when he was rebelling against migrants. We asked him Monday morning if he regretted it: “Certainly not!”

Head of European diplomacy

“We can’t put 20 years aside like that,” says Jean Asselborn about his career as Foreign Minister and his work at EU level. During this period, he saw around 240 counterparts come and go, explains the LSAP politician with a touch of nostalgia. “I had enough time to prepare for my departure.”

Asselborn describes as the “finest moment” of his European career a meeting of European immigration ministers in 2020, during which he managed to bring young people from the Moria refugee camp in Greece to Luxembourg, a decision which Germany then decided to imitate.

Josep Borrell will miss Jean Asselborn

The moment of farewell is marked by incredibly dramatic events, said Jean Asselborn. After Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 and the deadly Hamas attacks in Israel on October 7, 2023, one wonders: “What mistake did we make (as foreign minister) that such a thing is possible and is not condemned by everyone in the whole world?

Asselborn, however, does not want to reveal anything about his political future: “I am going to the parliamentary group on Tuesday and then I will look at it with my colleagues from the LSAP.”

Josep Borrell, the head of European diplomacy who chairs the meetings of European foreign ministers, also says he regrets the departure of Jean Asselborn. “As a member of the Council of Foreign Ministers, he was a constant in our group for almost 20 years: he always made important contributions to our discussions and was never afraid to say what he said. thought,” declared the Spanish socialist. “We will all miss his wisdom and experience. Over the years we worked together, we became good friends. I hope he continues cycling – an activity he loves so much – and that we continue working together for the future of Europe and world peace.”

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