Leading Article: M Santer, size doesn't matter

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The Independent Online
SLURS against small European states continue. It is only a few weeks since we rose doughtily to the defence of Belgium, unfairly caught in the chauvinist crossfire that accompanied Germany's attempt to make Jean-Luc Dehaene President of the European Commission. Now it seems we must take up our cudgel on behalf of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, following the likely appointment of its prime minister, Jacques Santer (above), to the post. Already, objections have been made on the grounds that the population of Luxembourg is about the same as that of Bradford.

Does size matter? Luxembourg has much to offer, despite a maximum length of 51 miles and a maximum width of 35. It is a land of scenic contrast, from vine-clothed valleys to castle-topped crags. There is banking and iron and steel, and, of course, Radio Luxembourg. Luxembourgers speak Letzeburgesch, a German- Moselle-Frankish dialect. The duchy, founded in 1354, is a constitutional monarchy under Grand-Duke Jean. His daughter, Princess Marie Astrid, was once linked romantically with the Prince of Wales; sensibly, she married into the Habsburgs.

One persistent myth about Luxembourg is that it performs badly in the Eurovision Song Contest. It has, in fact, won no less than five times. Famous Luxembourgers? Mr Santer has already proved agreeably insouciant: 'Luxembourg has in the past provided four Holy Roman Emperors, King Wenceslas, Henry IV, and a couple of others.' That is, of course, the less famous King Wenceslas (1316-1378), a medieval master of diplomacy. You should know, too, that the national motto, translated from the Letzeburgesch, is 'We want to remain what we are'. Another reason for Mr Major to approve.

(Photograph omitted)

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